Thread: The martial arts placebo effect?
10/20/2009 8:10am, #1
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
The martial arts placebo effect?
I was reading the August/September edition of Cosmos magazine last night. From pages 61 to 68 there's an interesting article about the placebo effect and how it's effected by certain variables.
This had me thinking, in a retarded sort of way, if there could be a placebo effect on a person's self defence abilities from studying crappy martial arts.
One of the parts that made me think of this:
One extraordinary British study, completed by industry psychologists Alan Branthwaite and Peter Cooper in 1981, involved 835 women who regularly took painkillers to relieve headaches. It was a four-armed study, where the subjects were given either aspirin or placebo pills, and these pills in turn were either in blank, neutral boxes or in flashy, brand-name packaging. They found - as you'd expect - that aspirin had more of an effect on headaches than sugar pills; but more than that, they found that the packaging itself had a beneficial effect, enhancing the benefit of both the placebo and the aspirin.
MMA: Like it or not to the casual observer MMA looks like a couple of heavily tattooed thugs with no technique brawling. Obviously this isn't the case, but we're looking at things through the eyes of a laymen.
Kung Fu: Kung Fu has pretty uniforms, history, talk of honour and respect, exotic weapons and forms, the endless anecdotes of people using it in street fights and of the super human feats of old masters, and a massive amount of popular culture, everything from video games to movies, to give it the appearance of a more sophisticated martial art.
It's really no surprise that we have so many people who claim that martial arts like Boxing and MMA aren't martial arts and are inferior to compliant martial arts, just as we have people who claim that homoeopathy and acupunture are superior to western medical science.
Like how the packaging of the pills in the above quote, the packaging of the Kung Fu and other TMAs may help to give a sense of confidence and trust in a system among it's practitioners, thereby slightly increasing it's effects.
In a self defence situation this may also help the practitioner to unnerve their assailant as they may perceive a well trained martial artist.
Another interesting part of the article:
An elegant study, formulated by psychologists Ellen Langer and Alia Crum at Harvard University in 2007, examined the effect of simply being told that you are doing something healthy. Eighty-four female room attendants working in various hotels were divided into two groups: one was told that cleaning hotel rooms was "good exercise" and "satisfies the Surgeon General's recommendations for an active lifestyle", along with elaborate explanations of how and why; the other group did not receive this cheering information, and just carried on cleaning hotel rooms. Four weeks later, the 'informed' group perceived themselves to be getting significantly more exercise than before, and showed a significant decrease in weight, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index. Amazingly, both groups were still reporting the same amount of activity.
Just like the women in the study perceived themselves to be healthier after being told their activities would have such an effect, the ubiquitous anecdotes and legends in the TMAs may allow a practitioner to perceive effectiveness and fighting prowess, which could at least give them the confidence to do what the Kung Fu practitioner did in the earlier video.
Note also this part:...one (group) was told that cleaning hotel rooms was "good exercise" and "satisfies the Surgeon General's recommendations for an active lifestyle", along with elaborate explanations of how and why...
In support of my argument so far I would like to use this video, which we've all seen too many times, as an example.
YouTube - funny kung fu fight
Despite this not exactly being the ideal way to fight in any situation, it did at least help the Kung Fu guy. His training seems to have instilled the confidence in him to win the fight despite the less than orthodox methods, while the clearly Kung Fu stance seems to have unsettled the bully, something which is arguably just as important to his win, and which relates back to my earlier point about the packaging of an art and how it's perceived.
The final paragraph of the article has some interesting things to say about the use of placebos, which I believe has interesting parallels to martial arts.
Suffice it to say that while there may be a role for an ethical placebo, homeopaths have ably demonstrated that they don't have the professionalism to provide it. Fashionable doctors, meanwhile, stunned by the commercial appeal of sugar pills, sometimes wonder if they should simply get in on the act and sell some themselves.
Obviously the homeopaths/Bullshidoka can't be trusted to sell the placebos; at the end of the day there just isn't enough substance in what they teach for it to be effective against an aggressor with even moderate skills. These people need to be weeded out and exposed just as Bullshido has been doing for such a long time now.
The fashionable doctors could still dress up their packaging without watering down their system. A little bit of a placebo effect in the form of the styles presentation may even do a bit of good to the average practitioner, just as putting the aspirin in a fancy box helped it's effect, albeit psychologically.
Finally, there's the ethical placebo. Effective training with a bit of fancy dressing may be the best thing to get people away from the homeopaths while still giving them the Kung Fu movie feeling of the less useful arts.
Also in the last paragraph is this little quote:
...to exploit the research we have seen on the placebo effect, but only to enhance treatments, which really do perform better than placebo...
YouTube - Real super street fight (in Turkey)
YouTube - Fighting 1 vs 2
Just as if I had a headache I would rather aspirin to a sugar pill, in a street fight I would rather have studied Boxing than an untested martial art.
What I'm trying to say, and maybe open a discussion about, is that crappy martial arts may work to a point based on the placebo effect of their training, packaging and cultural perceptions.
Of course, note the part where I say to a point. The point at which they stop working, such as against a moderately skilled, aggressive or experienced fighter, is going to be far earlier than an alive martial art such as Muay Thai, just as there is most likely a point, such as a particularly nasty disease, where a placebo will have no real effect whereas proper medication will continue to be effective.
Does this excuse crappy training being sold as self defence? No. I'm just offering it as a possible, although unlikely, explanation of why bad training occasionally works.
Finally, this may give us a neat solution to the problem of labelling such non-alive arts as TMA, an unfair (to TMAs such as Muay Thai, Boxing and Judo), and inaccurate title.
I propose we now call them PMAs, or Placebo Martial Arts. Or we could use the slightly more inflammatory PMS, or Placebo Martial System.
This would also mean the people we once described as Traditional Martial Artists would now be called PMS Sufferers.
Well, that's all I have to say. Before the inevitable arse raping I would like to ask you lube up and please use condoms.
10/20/2009 8:16am, #2
The time I spent reading this I will never get back..
10/20/2009 8:19am, #3
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
10/20/2009 9:20am, #4
- Join Date
- May 2007
Important safety information for Placebo Martial SystemsTM
Placebo Martial Systems (PMS) are indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve the martial spirit in delusional adults suffering from a crushing lack of self-confidence. PMS are available in most strip malls and shopping outlets near you.
Important Limitations of Use
· PMS should not be used in actual, unscripted altercations, such as street fights, assaults, jailhouse turf disputes, barroom fisticuffs, etc.
· Coadministration of PMS and actual, effective martial systems is not recommended
· Use of PMS with alcohol is not recommended
· Initiation of PMS in adults with established small-man syndrome, penis envy, inferiority complex, superiority complex, or history of victimization
Boxed WARNING: FAIL
· PMS, including but not limited to aikido, bujinkan, hapkido, most forms of karate, ninjerism, systema, tkd,_ing _un, and land-fill elmoarism, cause or exacerbate fail in adults. Observe such adults carefully for signs and symptoms of fail (including excessive, rapid weight gain, delusions of effective fighting capability, stubborn adherence to delusions despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, fight ducking). If these develop, the fail should be managed according to current standards of facepunching.
· PMS are not recommended in adults seeking to avoid fail or those seeking actual fighting skills
· A meta-analysis of 42 clinical studies (mean duration 6 years; 237,651 total patients), most of which compared PMS to effective martial systems, showed PMS to be associated with an increased risk of facial reconstructive surgery, dental replacement, orthodontia, and general body trauma.
OTHER WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
· Initiation of PMS is not recommended for anybody, really, unless you’re a *****
· Dose-related idiocy, weight gain, and anemia may occur
· LARPing has been reported
· Increased incidence of bone fracture
· Onset of menstruation can occur in males
Last edited by Angry Mandrill; 10/20/2009 9:25am at .
10/20/2009 9:57am, #5
10/20/2009 9:59am, #6
10/20/2009 10:21am, #7
Gladiators Academy Lafayette, LA
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
- Lafayette, LA
- Judo, MMA, White Trash JJ
People are stupid its just that simple you can do all the studies test and experiments that you want but it boils down to the fact that people are stupid. They will believe what any one tells them and the more people who say it the more true it will be. People are so stupid that they made a show to explain to them that the stuff they think is true isn't, Mythbusters. They still argue with them after they are proven wrong.
Those of us who have seen the truth in martial arts are just not accepted. We go against the grain and are considered extremists. We have no need to lie or deceive people about what it is that we do. We let our actions on the mat speak for themselves and leave it at that. If you don't like what we do and want to go do shitty karate/kung fu then so be it but STFD and STFU when it comes to what we do. I ain't going to your dojo telling you your kata sucks so leave me the **** alone.
Delusional would be another word. Look the recent threads on here about people wanting to make up their own martial art style. I been doing this **** for over 20 years now and still don't know ****. People just can't accept the fact that they are mortal and virtually the same as the next guy. They want to stand out or be know for something. Who fucking cares. I am going to leave this world one day and my children are going to be my legacy. If I treated them well they will speak well of me for to their children and so on and so forth. That is my contribution to society. The martial art stuff is just something I do to keep me from going on a shooting spree on Saturday afternoon.Judo is only gentle for the guy on top.
10/20/2009 10:28am, #8
TBH, I think a large part of it is that people see MMA/Muay Thai/Boxing/Grappling guys going at it on TV and think that they need to be hardmen or super-fit in order to take part and be taken seriously. So, they're all like "Meh, that'll never be me".
Then they go to your typical TMA non-contact dojo and see regular guys doing it and apparently being successful.
Kinda like how skinny guys can get intimidated at the gym and decide not to bother when they see the muscle hulks working out...
10/20/2009 10:31am, #9
- Join Date
- Oct 2007
Yeah, I'm a *****. I'll admit it. :gaygay:
10/20/2009 2:46pm, #10
- Join Date
- Aug 2008
- Maryland - USA
- BJJ, MT, JJJ / Judo
i honestly only read the first 2 paragraphs. when i scrolled and saw the other 50 pages of stuff... yeah...
lol there is that "im a complete badass, i'll take on anybody" stage everybody goes through after a couple months of training.
as for placebo, check this article. interesting stuff
rambaa somdet. hes one crazy ************ haha