The Magic of Human Touch under Fighting Conditions. Experiences with the Japanese Martial Art Aikido.
Prof. i.R. Dr. Thomas Christaller
Bewegung & Lebenskunst. Bonn
Since a few decades human touch became a hot topic in behaviour cognition, brain science, and psychology. Since the antiquity in Greece touch was regarded as the most primitive, animalistic sense in humans far away from the visual sense and its importance for human intelligence. Only Aristotle in one of his texts wrote that touch is the sense which makes us human. Today there is a huge amount of publications about the different roles touch plays in our capabilities to build up reliable social relationships with other humans. In general the appropriate touch helps you to trust others, becoming more self-confident, learning and performing better at school or university as well as performing a task.
In a way the forms of touch used in a fight have the opposite effect. They should hurt and dominate another person up to the point where this person gives in and subdue to the stronger, mightier, more brutal one. The major part of the training in the martial arts concentrate on techniques to control or hurt another person. The smaller part of the training is how to endure pain. The better you are in this the higher your chances are that you can take in punches. Aikido is a martial art and has many very effective powerful techniques. But important is that you start to harmonize the forces of the other person with yours in a way that the person looses balance and you can finish a proposed attack in a way where nobody is threaten, hurt, dominated. In a way it is stopping the fight before it is overwhelming you.
In the talk the neural and psychological aspects of human touch are taken into account to explain and understand the phenomena of so-called no-touch throws. Here without or very soft touches an attacker can be overcome being unable to follow his intentions of the attack. Finally the claim is that social touch is what makes us human.