Smith’s Rules of Design #2

9:23 PM Monday, March 29, 2010

As I noted last week, while in the doctor’s office I came across an article in the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics” titled, “Smith’s Rules of Design." Because the rules apply so well to the martial arts, I wanted to write about each of them separately.

This is number two in a series of four.

2. Study the Problem

The Scientific Method of studying a problem reads this way:

1. Define the question
2. Gather information and resources (observe)
3. Form hypothesis
4. Perform experiment and collect data
5. Analyze data
6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

The Scientific Method has gotten the modern world very far and is the standard of research, good stuff, imperial evidence, and reductive thinking. If you use these six points in trying to discern your art, you will go very far.

However, the greatest martial artists we have seen have been, as the title implies, artists. They have, or have had, the ability to take a situation and intuit, or sense, the situation without much reasoning. They have, through hours of practice, studied the problem. And after some time they have blended the scientific with the art and solved the problem.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Jeff Kelly

  2. It's an interesting idea, to apply the scientific method to martial arts, but I believe you're right in that it must be modified to remain effective. Scientific process was pretty much designed to note and work on observable phenomenon insomuch as an experiment by one researcher could be performed by another to achieve the same (or similar results). Perhaps part of what makes us artists is that a situation or fight contains too many variables, a large number of which are internal and obvious only to each individual engaged in the situation.

    It's sort of like the people that try to quantify martial arts techniques just by the force measured by an impact sensor, or some basic (or advanced) physics calculation the researcher hypes up thereby telling us what techniques do and do not work. the techniques might not work for them, but it doesn't mean they won't work for everyone or in the reverse case, on every opponent.

    Still as self examination, this is a great idea, even better if you apply it to other scenarios and get yourself thinking in a tactical mindset, always asking yourself "What if...?"

    Jeff Kelly

  3. Jeff -

    Realism is in the field, the laboratory is not real, however it is an way to seek controlled and consistent information.

    2 cents

    Kris Wilder

  4. 淑娟瓊文

  5. I know from personal experience that if you take the time to study or analyze the problem, that often times you can end up being able to improve it with a little modification, or in some cases, a lot.

    Either way, you have made it better than it was before. Not all things can be modified because often times they work fine if you are shown how to use them correctly in the first place, which unfortunately seems to be the rarity rather than the norm.

    However, don't get all caught up in the world of "What if..." because that can end up dooming you to failure if you do too much of it. A little is fine, but overdoing it causes more problems than you will ever be able to solve or handle.


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