chapter
Perception-Action Coupling in Karate Kumite
Pages 5

Historically, cognitive models have dominated research in sport with the assumption that perception, decision making and the effector mechanism can be investigated independently (e.g., Marteniuk, 1976). One of the most productive areas of cognitive research has been the investigation of proficiency-related differences in anticipation (see Abernethy, 1987). The tasks usually employed to determine the existence of expertise differences involves perception being decoupled from the natural response action (e.g., event perception coupled with a push button response). The cognitive explanation for these expertise differences are predicated on the notion that advance cues are better utilized by the more experienced performer. The highly skilled athlete is able to detect the pertinence of information in the display by referring to memory. The speed of decision making and response planning is enhanced because of a reduction in the amount of information to be processed. More recently, the emergence of the ecological approach has provided a contrary view of motor control. Perception and action are viewed as being tightly interlocked processes which cannot be investigated separately (Bruce and Green, 1989). Bootsma's (1988) data from a coincidence timing task supported this perspective. The repeated measures design required subjects to intercept a falling squash ball with their own arm, an artificial arm or to indicate verbally as the ball passed through a hole in a table. There was a lower degree of variation in movement initiation in the natural arm condition (i.e. perception and action tightly coupled) compared to when action was decoupled from perception (i.e., verbal response). On the basis of Boots rna' s (1988) findings the typical information processing paradigm may not be appropriate for assessing inter-individual differences in perceptual skill (Williams, Davids; Burwitz & Williams, 1992). Therefore, there is a need for research into alternative paradigms used to determine skill based differences in anticipation. This specific study uses karate kumite as a research context and focuses on methodological differences in coupling perception with action. There were two main aims: (a) to ascertain if there were any significant differences in using different degrees of ecological validity (i.e., verbal resppnse of a typical cognitive paradigm or a physical response required by action systems theorists) in the tasks measuring response time and accuracy; and (b)

to determine if there was any significant difference between experienced and inexperienced Karateka in performance on the two types of anticipation task.