Sunday, May 05, 2013
Loud Wordless Baseball: Heejun Kim meets the Japanese Little League
When Japanese play sports they make meaningless noises, most famously the kiai shout of karate. Various meaningless shouts and calls are used by Japanese sports persons of all types, from tennis to (in this video) little league baseball. Sports persons are taught to throw out their voice (koe wo dasu) in order that they concentrate. Why?
Heejun Kim (2005) has demonstrated that while Westerners perform marginally better at task when they are required to vocalise their thoughts, when East Asians are required to "vocalise their thoughts" they perform significantly worse because Japanese thoughts are not in language. Conversely, when Westerners are required to make meaningless vocalisations they become significantly worse at a task since it prevents their thoughts, whereas it negatively impacts upon East Asians very little.
It seems clear that making meaningless vocalisations can in fact improve performance among Japanese, such as those playing baseball in this video, since (I argue) these meaningless vocalisations clear the mind of linguistic thought and allows the players to concentrate upon their Japanese-style-thoughts, which I argue are visual.
The throwing out of the voice or destruction of the logos is a common theme in Japanese culture especially Buddhism where people chant the name of the Buddha, count breathes, or simply and directly attempt to silence the mind. I argue that the central ritual act performed at Japanese Shinto Shrines, that of "harai" literally sweeping away, or purification by waving zigzag strips of pure white paper overy people's heads, is also intended to exorcise the mind of the dreaded logos.
Kim, H. S. (2005). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Social Cognition: Key Readings, 63.http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/labs/kim/kim_2002.pdf
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.