Peripheral Vision in Martial Arts Experts: The Cost-Dependent Anchoring of Gaze

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Research on martial arts has suggested that gaze anchoring is functional for optimizing the use of peripheral visual information. The current study predicted that the height of gaze anchoring on the opponent’s body would depend on the potential attacking locations that need to be monitored. To test this prediction, the authors compared high-level athletes in kung fu (Qwan Ki Do), who attack with their arms and legs, with Tae Kwon Do fighters, who attack mostly with their legs. As predicted, the results show that Qwan Ki Do athletes anchor their gaze higher than Tae Kwon Do athletes do before and even during the first attack. In addition, gaze anchoring seems to depend on 3 factors: the particulars of the evolving situation, crucial cues, and specific visual costs (especially suppressed information pickup during saccades). These 3 factors should be considered in future studies on gaze behavior in sports to find the most functional, that is, cost-benefit-optimized, gaze pattern.

The authors are with the Inst. of Sport Science, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Vater (christian.vater@ispw.unibe.ch) is corresponding author.
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