In many competitive sports, players need to quickly and continuously execute movements that co-adapt to various movements executed by their opponents and physical objects. In a martial art such as kendo, players must be able to skillfully change interpersonal distance in order to win. However, very little information about the task and expertise properties of the maneuvers affecting interpersonal distance is available. This study investigated behavioral dynamics underlying opponent tasks by analyzing changes in interpersonal distance made by expert players in kendo matches. Analysis of preferred interpersonal distances indicated that players tended to step toward and away from their opponents based on two distances. The most preferred distance enabled the players to execute both striking and defensive movements immediately. The relative phase analysis of the velocities at which players executed steps toward and away revealed that players developed anti-phase synchronizations at near distances to maintain safe distances from their opponents. Alternatively, players shifted to in-phase synchronization to approach their opponents from far distances. This abrupt phase-transition phenomenon constitutes a characteristic bifurcation dynamics that regularly and instantaneously occurs between in- and anti-phase synchronizations at a critical interpersonal distance. These dynamics are profoundly affected by the task constraints of kendo and the physical constraints of the players. Thus, the current study identifies the clear behavioral dynamics that emerge in a sport setting.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 20-December-2012
Author(s): Okumura M., Kijima A., Kadota K., Yokoyama K., Suzuki H., Yamamoto Y.