Gert Camfferman‎ > ‎

Could we take advantage of the higher 'refresh rate' of our peripheral vision ? And should we avoid saccades during fast actions?

Geplaatst 5 jun. 2017 06:54 door Gerdy C   [ 8 jun. 2017 10:09 bijgewerkt ]
Did you ever think about what your eyes are doing during your encounters on the strip ?

My interest in the subject came about since I started using a slow motion camera (for the lack of mirrors) which has a frame rate of 240 frames per second (FPS) and you could see so much more. What about our eyes ?

Did your teacher ever address the question where or how to look? There seems to be  no standard teaching, I discovered poking around a bit in forums.

That's why I wanted to present some important facts about our eyes here (not mentioned in the forums) and raise some ideas based on these facts about using our eyes on the strip.

How cameras and how our eyes do the job
The actions become amazingly detailed with 240 FPS, very nice for studying what you are actually doing ! (nice prolonged launch example). And that camera made me wonder whether it would be possible for our eyes (read brain) to raise the 'FPS rate' in order to have more information on  the strip. Our eyes+brain work a little bit different from a camera, which takes a series of pictures with a certain FPS rate. The eyes do a continuous information intake and the brain has to 'chop' that information into useful images,  which results in a sort of 'FPS rate'. There are polemics about the 'FPS rate' figure, but this is not so important for our purpose here. What we know for sure is that movies with 24 FPS, result in our brains as smooth motion. Under 16 FPS we already notice some 'stutter', but with 10 FPS .. 12 FPS our brains are fast enough to discern individual images (although motion is still experienced).

The brain appears to be capable of higher information intake than in movies
The figures above in themselves do not give us much insight for our sport, however adding two other facts might open useful perspectives:

1-Peripheral vision needs higher FPS rates to perceive smooth motion
Looking for more information I came across the Game world which relies heavily on reaction times on visual cues and there I found they have to use 90 FPS in order to get motion in the periphery of our visual field appear to be smooth ! (1). This proves that the brain processes more information per second coming from our peripheral vision.

2-And emergency situations can raise peoples information intake rate
During accidents some people report slow motion camera like experiences: They can remember more details than normal in a short period of time. Apparently the brain is able to process and store more details in a sort of 'emergency state'.  

This made me wonder, could we use this knowledge to our advantage? Although peripheral vision does not give us as detailed information as our fovea (central field of vision - sharp vision spot) does, could we train ourselves to incorporate peripheral information more? And/or could we find ways to get our brains in the emergency state processing, in the phases where we most need it during an encounter? (My first guess: Widen your eyes a bit.)   

It's important to know information intake can also be diminished: Saccades.

Very much worth to know for us fencers is what happens the moment we change our point of gaze, called a saccade.

During a saccade information intake/processing is hampered because:

1- We become effectively blind for 0.020s to 0.100s. (2)
2- Our perception of space and time undergoes strong distortions. (3)

I've never before consciously observed whether we fencers do stabilize our gaze automatically during a fast action. But yesterday evening I checked it for myself and I can tell you now that I didn't.  

Experience it for yourself
Based on the knowledge above, René and myself have been experimenting with avoiding saccades while parrying a  riposte (random, in 3 lines) received after an attack lands on a Quinte parry. From our experience I can advise you to try stabilizing your gaze, it makes a difference ! Doing so you avoid saccades and at the same time you use more of your peripheral vision.  See the how to in the drill directly below.

Drill proposal
In partner training, make a cut to the head which lands on a Quinte parry. While making the cut, steady your gaze and look at your partner as if (s)he is in a photograph of a landscape: Use a somewhat wide angled gaze, with no focused attention on any spot. Now try not to move your point of gaze anymore while parrying the riposte (in order not to 'blind out' any valuable information in this short time interval and in order to take advantage of your faster peripheral vision). That's it about the eyes.

Here are some technical aspects to the drill: Step back a little and do not intentionally try to parry the riposte (!) since this will most likely result in 'wild' movements of your arm (in our MA terminology, your weapon 'becomes too Yang'). Instead, use the spring force with which your weapon bounces of the Quinte of your partner and let your weapon spring back to an effective Quinte position. A riposte to the head appears to be peanuts for you now (you don't even have to fasten your grip). But in case you happen to get a riposte to the side, moving your point downwards with your fingers only from this Quinte position, appears to be enough to parry that.  If the riposte is to the breast let the point lower by relaxing your grip. What you effectively practice in this way, we call 'making the point Yin' :-) and you can add a little bit of hip rotation if necessary.

Extended drill: Parrying energetic attacks with a 'Shoong' response.
It appears to become harder to avoid 'a wild arm' movement (Yang response) if the riposte is made with an energetic feint to the side, followed by a cut to the breast. If your partner is able to elicit a Yang response in your system, this produces a great opportunity to practice to let go of the Yang and replace that by a parry with 'the point Yin', in other words to take the attacking blade in with relaxation. If you succeed this will be a very comfortable experience, which is called 'Shoong' in TaiChi. Shoong loosely translates to 'relaxed', but it also has the qualities of being highly alert, responsive and comfortable, without stress.     

I wish you a Shoong drill :-) and please tell me what you experience (to complete my knowledge base :-)
Comments