Sztuki Walki. Zwycięstwo nad sobą. Psychofizyczne podstawy systemowego szkolenia według doświadczeń Azjii Centralnej i Wschodniej
Janusz Szymankiewicz , Tadeusz Gałkowski
During times of relative geopolitical stabilization, many of the contemporarily developed schools based on AMA traditions have shaped their training principles, so that trainees can effectively improve and verify their psychomotor competencies, utilized in life under circumstances of a threat. It is obvious that the activities being conducted can never reflect the realism of an actual threat. The greatest amount of information on this subject is provided by exercises with sharp blade weapons.
Changes in behaviors, aimed at maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, frequently require adaptation and changes in the attitudes of trainees. The study of martial arts under supervision of a qualified master occurs over a long period of time. If that time is shortened, this leads to acquiring behaviors that are erroneous and harmful to health. Proper training leads to the learning of new movement patterns, automated so that they can be easily performed – without thinking.
Becoming familiar with the anatomy and physiology of one's own body, as well as subsequently appreciating a healthy lifestyle, requires an understanding of the interrelationships between the body and the mind, including the consequences of various behaviors.
Technical exercises, e.g. in the kenjutsu school, entail a great deal of risk, from the very beginning, requiring a great deal of commitment and responsibility from the trainees and trainers. Despite many attempts, the sport of kendo, which utilizes bamboo swords and artificial armor, can not reflect the actual realism of the situation. Questions posed to the master Yagyu Nobuharu (1995) at a conference, included the following:
What is your opinion (sensei) on the subject of contemporary kendo as a means for achieving effective fencing skills? Should one also practice koryu (ancient schools of fighting with a real sword)?
Yagyu Nobuharu's answer emphasized the following circumstances:
Contemporary kendo has its own rules and the relatively long history, dating back to the Meiji period (1868). This is more than 100 years and one should not make light of this history, even if the Yagyu Shinkage ryu school is older. Modern kendo has its own roots, traditions and rules. Yagyu Shinkage ryu has no rules (within the context of real combat) and this constitutes the difference between them. Contemporary kendo is worth recommending. However, if in kendo you shift your head to the side and the opponent strikes your shoulder, this hit is not credited by the referee. However, this is not appropriate behavior, when you're dealing with a real sword. For beginners, this is a good way to learn, but not at an advanced level.
When it comes to using a Japanese sword, the authors have observed an interesting phenomenon of a psychological block in a trainee that was to perform the tameshigiri test, which is cutting a tatami omote bale of hay with a real, sharp sword. The trainee had more than 30 years of training behind him in Japanese sports, achieved a level of 2nd dan and was completely physically fit. The fear of an unsuccessful attempt in a here and now situation demonstrated that many years of training, not reinforced
by simultaneous psychological preparation for extreme situations, even in the absence of any threat, caused the trainee to stop, not being able to perform the movement and subsequently refusing to participate in this apparently simple test.
Such a psychological block can occur in a competitor that has practiced a combat sport at the highest level. One example was the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the final fight of fencing champion S. Gruchała. Prior to the Olympics, it was known that only two competitors, matching her motor skills, could block her path to the gold medal. It would seem that the primary task of the Polish Fencing Association (PZS) should be to retain a psychologist on a regular basis, in order to achieve success. In reality, the competitor was clearly left to her own devices at this decisive time; losses incurred at the beginning of the clash could not be overcome, utilizing her own independent, persistent, but insufficient psychological mobilization. It would seem that in a situation where life was threatened, with the same psychological condition, S. Gruchała would not have any significant chance.
One cannot negate the value of sports competition, which can be an effective motivator in certain martial arts, allowing for progress in learning to be evaluated, but this cannot be the only goal of training. When training AMA at various levels of advancement, many exercises are performed, featuring varying degrees of threat, up until the vicinity of real combat, with all of its consequences. For example, situation is different in sports judo, the contemporary form of which is distant from its roots as a martial art, so it became necessary to introduce a group of goshinjutsu techniques, in order for it to maintain its defensive advantages (Pawluk 1975). We now have situations that are truly curious, when national and international championships are being held in jujutsu, which served as the basis for previously creating sports judo. Another example is sports kendo fencing, where upon simultaneous hits by both competitors, points are awarded to the competitor initiating the attack, while hits in non-regulation locations are not counted. Such competition violates the basic rule of the battlefield: above all, save your life.
Another activity which are example is related to the Chinese sport of wu shu is san shou, which is a form of Chinese kick boxing. One curious feature here is allowing regulation takedown by grabbing the opponent's legs, for which the maximum amount of points is awarded. As a result, we have situations when the competitor himself exposes his head to a strike, for which the opponent receives one point of the same time performs a takedown for three points. The sum is positive for the competitor, but this has nothing to do with the martial art of kung fu.
This is reminiscent of watching the war in Iraq or Afghanistan on the television screen. When we switch the television off or change the channel, he distant problem seemingly disappears. The problem is that „real life” requires an individual to struggle with real situations and challenges that have to be met and from which one cannot isolate oneself.
It seems that our self image in AMA is frequently constructed in connection with fascinations that have a rather strong influence on the individual, demonstrating personal ideals that are worthy of being emulated. Some individuals can only identify with members of narrowly defined subcultures with Asian traditions, but a better method of understanding the complex interactions, arising from the psychophysical and cultural affectation related to AMA, may be a careful analysis of the data presented.
In researching cultural influences, we must continually remember who we ourselves are, where we come from and what our social position is (Baldwin, Longhurst, McCracken, Ogborn, Smith 2007).
When learning about the views of such cultural theorists and researchers such as Foucault, Lyotard or Rorty, emphasizing that knowledge is particular to a specific location and time and space, one can not fail to simultaneously notice that with respect to research on AMA systems, models of psychophysical adaptation are created that have universal characteristics.
Perfection in utilizing AMA strategy and tactics is achieved by intended technical actions and empirical knowledge. Nonetheless, the coordinated activities of the body and of the mind are achieved by a specific type of physical-mental perceptions, which appear spontaneously only after appropriately long and fully committed training. This training and appropriately conducted instruction constitute the actual completeness of activities in this approach.
First, the individual learns about the energy side of AMA, defined by system of skills and tactics that are applied; next, they are perfected during numerous repetitions, supplemented by continuous mental work. With time, the trainee begins to perceive the image of an energy system, but also the time-space and philosophical components, serving as the foundation for the respective martial arts school. The mind accepts this system as its own; as a result, it expands the scale of its capabilities to spontaneously apply techniques during actual combat. The problem is that this condition of the mind cannot be taught in any other way. It is achieved spontaneously at a certain point of training commitment and this is the essence of the specific enlightenment (illumination) of the respective martial art.
What was stated in XVII century by the Japanese zen monk and great mentor of kenjutsu masters, Soho Takuan (Yagyu 2002) is an excellent illustration to these reflections: skills and the principle (i.e. the systemic concept) are nothing else than two wheels of the wagon, driven by the force of the mind.
However, the enlightenment related to achieving the condition of Buddha in chan (Japanese: zen) is not directly related to many years of practice. That is only a certain type of preparatory work. One must reach the culmination point in the form of sudden enlightenment, which has been compared to jumping over Chatham, which Chinese masters of chan referred to as „Tao vision”. In this condition, knowledge and truth become indistinguishable, objects and spirits become the same [the difference disappears between the one obtaining the experience and the one that provides it] (Feng Youlan 2001, p. 296, 297).
The mind is shaped and developed during the training of martial arts; it may develop its activity on several levels:
– cultural, characteristic for the culture related to martial arts;
– accepting system principles as one's own, which provides spontaneity of reaction during times
of stress, caused by combat or training;
– skills of observing the opponent in three-dimensional space and performing an evaluation
of the level of threat.
At the very beginning, the path of an adept beginning his practice in a martial art should not be restricted by dozens of incomprehensible, original or adapted „rules”, „customs” and „traditions”, applicable today in many Western schools of martial arts / combat sports. Some of these are based on the lifestyle of people in Asia and components of Asian cultures, which are and will remain rather alien to somebody from the West.
The ritual training attire was at times and continues to be a daily discovery in this part of the world. In those situations today, they are mainly an export product and nothing more. Its absence does not change the value of knowledge and skills that are transferred and acquired. However, it may reinforce during the initial phase motivation and sense of well-being of psychophysically weaker individuals.
The same applies to training and masters degrees, introduced in Japan during XX century, and adopted mainly due to commercial considerations by martial arts and combat sport organizations in Korea, Vietnam and also in Europe (with further attempts to popularize Japanese dan degrees, even in Chinese wu shu!). Training that resembles a military drill came to the West from Japan after the II World War. Up until the period of the so-called Meiji restoration (1868), it was absent in military schools. In all of Asia, the teaching method referred to as hand-in-hand was dominant, i.e. the direct transfer from the master to his disciple. For this reason, exercise groups and as a result, training rooms where small. Usually, a single student practiced with the teacher, while all others observed and analyzed their conduct.
We emphasize these elements, because dozens of trainees, and what is worse – also their teachers – overemphasize the importance of the sacrum, the quintessence of which is primarily training attire, degrees and also about a dozen seconds or so of zazen (sitting meditation from the practices of Japanese zen sects) upon commencement and upon completion of training. In addition, there are exercises in the form of a drill. Under such conditions, spurious topics become the most important, rather than focusing on the essence. This is an effective means of discouraging the trainee from independent thinking and mental commitment to the martial arts system being studied. Martial arts / combat sports, understood and popularized in this manner, have become a certain type of fraud. Despite having a high degree of advancement, the teachers frequently do not understand the systemic essence of the AMA they are practicing, the principles governing its completeness, which are based on experiencing and interpreting certain values. On the other hand, theories are created on the humanitarian foundations of self-defense techniques, but the humanitarianism is based only on criteria which are applicable within Western culture.
Under such circumstances at the beginning his training, a candidate who came to struggle with his own weaknesses, looking for a means of enhancing the strength of his body and soul, is stripped of his right to think independently. From the very start, is attacked by a certain type of ideological indoctrination (in our opinion, a relatively primitive) and placed in an undesirable position – even though their primary motive was searching for a fragment of life, in which everything depends on the individual, i.e. a yearning for freedom, to which the individual himself defines and expands the boundaries.
The only „degree” awarded by the great kung fu master Wong Shun Leung at the end of the Ving Tsun kuen system training Path, in conformance with many centuries of tradition, had the form of a calligraphy, providing the right to utilize his name and the name of the style in the future school of the disciple, confirmed by his personal signature. He himself wore contemporary training attire and looked suspiciously at individuals that donned Chinese garments. He only wore the attire corresponding to the ancient culture of this country for special occasions and would never wear it on the street.
In 1982, during a training camp of Polish kendo competitors under Ando Kozo (1940–2003, 8th hanshi dan - at that time there were only 7th dan), instructors agreed upon an examination program for the lowest training degree – 6th kyu. After reviewing the program of the examination Ando sensei stated that in Japan, the program for the 1st dan is easier.
Ichikawa Isao (1935–1996, 10th karatedo dan), hanshi from the Doshinkan organization, without any problems awarded degrees up to and including the 3th dan only for regular attendance at classes, without special examinations. It was only the 4th dan and the title of renshi, which authorized independent teaching and managing a school that became a true challenge. However, here there was also no formal examination or conditions when it comes to time spent in training. It was only necessary to concentrate on the exercise and submit to a frank evaluation.
The current shihan (master of the martial arts school) for the traditional Japanese Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu martial arts school, Otake Risuke, only awards a few degrees during the entire training process of over a dozen years; strictly speaking, these are not degrees, but a confirmation of admission into learning the next group of kata for that system, which is related to the appropriate level of psychophysical development of the adept and is a not related to time. The budo mystique is significant for Otake Risuke only as a practical tool, useful for understanding the knowledge being conveyed. Violation of this rule leads to exclusion from the school.
In martial arts, form is always connected with their utility. The fragmentary optimization of training methods, especially when it comes to the process of developing psychomotor characteristics, based on Western experience in the general theory of sport, is merely a basic importance in this context.
When we refer to the process of developing psychomotor competencies within a system framework or the conditions of their effectiveness, in certain individuals, such an approach mainly results in the creation of a false sense of security. It is significant to answer the question: why practice martial arts, when any firearms are incomparably more effective? In their considerations, Polish researchers into the phenomenon of martial arts avoid answers to the question on how to develop the mind, when the exercises become only a series of incomprehensible movements, performed in Oriental attire.
Combat, defined as exercises with a partner, but not a potential opponent, becomes merely a variety of play and gymnastics. In other places, it is stated outright that martial arts are more of a myth, ritual and art than sport (physical culture) (Cynarski 2004). However, such a view cannot be reconciled with the views expressed by Ratti and Westbrook (1997) that no other form of activity has remained so strongly related to life, defined as movement, energy and continuous transformations. No other form of activity required such complete coordination of all available forces and the equally constant and undisrupted flow of energy in order to achieve its goals.
All of what has been said so far about learning and development, related to AMA practices, emphasizes the fact than when they are performed in a manner that is premeditated and conscious, they boil down to understanding the importance in controlling four elements: energy, i.e. the utilization required fighting skills; time, i.e. principles governing reactions within various time frames; space, i.e. the ability to cause contact with the opponent; and work on oneself. In a certain manner, it is possible to bypass the second element and immediately control space and time, but it is not possible to properly utilize any martial arts technique without achieving control over oneself.
The essence of practicing of martial arts is not achieving some short-term sports goal, but mainly to optimize the growth of an individual (as the result of a long-term process) during his entire life (life span development, Lerner, Bush-Rossnagel 1981). The phenomenon of changes, taking place in the organism during the process being discussed, leads to an optimization of functioning, both in the physical sphere and in the psychological sphere. With respect to physical development, the core consists of transformations that enhance physiological and motor functions.
On one hand, personal development depends on respective inborn traits; on the other hand, it depends on factors in the environment where the individual lives. This is the reason for the significant role of the martial arts school teacher (master), as well as the continuity of traditions and utilizing the experience of previous generations.
In a broad understanding of systemic AMA teaching, their importance for exchange experience between cultures of the East and cultures of the West, especially with respect to the creative realization of the goals of daily life, the concept of cultural adaptation becomes particularly significant. The basic goal of intercultural psychology is seeking to verify all statements that the researchers of its primary discipline have accepted as absolute proof, without appropriate evidence.
Important terms related to intercultural psychology are etic, meaning everything that is general, and emic, meaning everything that is local, limited by its context. Every research project begins with a local hypothesis, so it is emic (Boski 2009, p. 33, 34).
Intercultural psychology primarily represents an approach that corresponds to a description of behavior, prepared by an observer in a manner that is culturally neutral, but which focuses on discovering the universal laws governing human behavior in various, separate cultures. This culturally oriented approach attempts to capture the unique factors, occurring in the experiences of individuals living within a respective ethnic group and resulting in the individuals behaving in a specific manner.
In order to understand the development of individuals from various cultures, Leong and Brown (2007) have proposed to integrate the results of research from the standpoint of two approaches: cultural importance and the specific nature of the culture. As an example, these approaches can be found in the work of American researchers, seeking a way to understand the nature and influence of cultural factors on human behavior. In the United States, cultural anthropology has had a major impact on psychology.
The creativity, analyzed by Leung, Maddux, Galinsky and Chiu (2008) in their research, is a process of creating something that is simultaneously innovative and useful. This process is a phenomenon that is accompanied by sudden eureka moments at a subconscious level. The central point for methods of creative cognition is the assumption that these processes are not significantly different than the cognitive processes that control our daily activities. In conformance with this view, every individual has creative potential, so long as he effectively utilizes cognitive processes to develop creative solutions. In this context, culture is a double edged sword. On one hand, it constitutes a set of conventional, learned behaviors, which help individuals coordinate their social behavior, and on the other hand, when an individual is immersed in it and exposed to the effects of only a single culture, routine and conventional knowledge acquired as a result they limit the development of such creativity.
Multicultural experience may also occur at two levels. When an individual is required to come into contact with an alien environment, they may experience cultural shock, feeling anxiety and disorientation under circumstances when what is known and dear is absent. Nonetheless, while experiencing only a single culture, they limit creativity; multicultural experience may stimulate it. People learn new ideas and solutions, due to the multicultural experience that they have acquired.
Such experience allows one to notice that the same forms or behaviors may have varying functions and consequences. The stereotypes acquired in one culture may be undermined and destabilized, as new and alternative experience is obtained. Multicultural experience allows one to gain access to non-conventional knowledge, after adapting it to their respective mother culture.
The influence of foreign cultures includes various values, which may even be in conflict with values derived from another culture. Since varying contents provoke a search for the links between them, the process of looking for solutions may lead to greater cognitive expansion than that is the case with individuals living solely within the framework of a single culture.
To summarize: multicultural experience, including experience related to areas specific to AMA, may stimulate creativity by:
– providing direct access to ideas, derived from other cultures;
– creating the ability to appreciate many functions appearing as a single form by destabilizing
routine structures, thus opening up access to new values;
– facilitating the psychological readiness to accept data from new and previously unknown
sources and places, enhancing the skill to synthesize apparently contradictory ideas.
The results of research presented point to the fact that the mere exposure to an alternate culture is insufficient to utilize such experience, it is necessary to open up to such a culture, involving a certain intellectual effort, related to adapting various ideas to new conditions.
Although research demonstrates that life over a longer period of time in a foreign culture has the greatest impact on the development of creativity, one cannot deny the importance of short intercultural contacts. One can also assume that the greater the differences between the foreign culture being experienced and the individual's own country, the greater the potential to enhance creative abilities. Contemporary globalization has increased the intensity of intercultural contacts and the opportunities to obtain multicultural experience.
With respect to martial arts, the study of development (auxology), devoted to individuals from their conception until their grave, finds opportunities to observe and register desirable changes in individuals that practice them. This is connected with particularly strong emotional bonds observed in persons that are committed to mastering of AMA.
In contrast to competitive sport, where the dominant evaluation is the capability (effectiveness) of individual, the advantage of martial arts training include:
– enhancing faith in one's own abilities and appropriate self-evaluation (empowerment);
– acquiring a sense of responsibility for one's own acts, decisions and choices;
– obtaining resistance to stress caused by exertion and training methods during exercises (resilience);
– developing the ability to overcome one's own psychophysical weaknesses and control aggression;
– perfecting one's motor, intellectual and adaptation capabilities, as well as skill to appropriately
– participating in dialogue and interchange between the culture of the East and the culture of the West;
– developing the skill of auto-creation (the individual is the creator of his own development –
Lerner, Bush-Rossnagel 1981).
Based on the data presented above, it is worthwhile to have only certain proposals, pertaining to further research efforts in this field.
As emphasized by Boski (2009), within the Asian tradition and in places where principles of Confucian philosophy with associated elements of Taoism and Buddhism play an important role, the foundation in tradition and the resulting hierarchical nature play a significant role. Also significant are such values as maintaining social harmony, demonstrating compassion and discharging duties.
Is worth emphasizing that quality of life, related to a subjective evaluation, may be connected with ancient Confucian principles and concepts of a value system. For example, this was demonstrated by the results of comparative research, obtained before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Two groups of handicapped fencing competitors were examined, 25 individuals each from Poland and from China. The Chinese competitors prepared for the Paralympics, organized directly after the Olympic games. The questionnaire Quality of life – examining the availability of goods and services, developed by R. Templer and C. Mercier from McGill University in Montréal, was administered in its Polish adaptation by M. Główczak and his associates (1996).
Certain highly characteristic differences were revealed, demonstrating a greater willingness to subordinate their individual rights to the good of all Chinese competitors, who made efforts to ensure harmonious relationships with their trainer and other team members. What was seen here was a distinct effort to subordinate individual preferences to higher values, deriving great satisfaction form representing regions related to their place of origin and that being given opportunities to achieve success in sports. They were less inclined than Polish competitors to pursue their own individual rights in situations in situations, where there were actual or perceived limits on the freedom to choose various solutions.
One can assume that this is the result of the priority emphasized for centuries in Confucian philosophy to harmoniously develop relations with other individuals, as well as the importance of traits that comprise the concept of collectivism. This was written about by authors that include Bolesta (2006) and (1995), emphasizing the complexity of cultural and historical circumstances, comprising social interactions in Asian countries.
It seems that research efforts pertaining to AMA should not only probe the ethical and cultural implications, but also attempt to utilize the capabilities offered by the ethno-methodological approach. This has been referred to by many authors, commenting on the influence of prominent thinkers from Asia, reflected in the approach to AMA training and warning against the unnecessary release of aggression, proposing various methods of counteracting it.
Data from developmental psychopathology, providing explanations on the neuronal basis for flexibility in behavior occurring during dyad interactions, may be equally noteworthy. It may have its basis in properly functioning neurohormonal systems, responsible for coping with stress. In this context, one first mentions the axis consisting of three structures: the hypothalamus, the pituitary f\gland and the andrenal cortex, controlling the excretion of the stress hormone – cortisol (Walker and Cicchetti 2003). Biochemical research on competitors demonstrating a greater or lesser capability of adapting to various situations of fighting and regenerating energy (resilience), may reveal – so it would seem – very interesting rules related to this type of repercussions.
An interesting and multifaceted subject, especially with respect to Japanese warriors, appears to be simultaneous consideration of the issue of satori, i.e. illumination (enlightenment) in martial arts, training kata forms, which are repeatable forms of movement in the context of autosuggestion, and training the mind within the context of the condition of fudoshin related to coping with stress, but actually its conscious utilization to enhance the effectiveness of fighting, controlling and releasing energy in the form of screams referred to as kiai and finally, the willingness to commit a certain type of self injury (here the equivalent of committing suicide), referred to as seppuku (harakiri).
We are referring to the above average effectiveness and the absence of fear, among many advanced Japanese warriors, especially those from the period of the XIV/XVII century. Considering that the training of bushi and samurai family children in martial arts began at a very young age, a high level of advancement was achieved by a significant percentage of this social group. In this context, it is worth considering the issues of so-called episodic reactive psychoses, occurring during actual battle.
The high competence and combat skills of certain warriors, evident in the descriptions of battles that took place during the period of the Chinese Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms, or the local wars fought in Japan, especially during XVI century, can also be considered from the standpoint of so-called battle trance. In the context of researching this aspect in various cultures, for its achievement, the significant common characteristics are: a certain type of singing or sounds emitted (Japanese: screams of kiai), ritual dance (Japanese: kata [executing repeatable forms with weapons, reminiscent of forms from Chinese court dancing]), readiness to injure oneself (Japanese: seppuku) and a special condition of concentration (Japanese: fudoshin), resulting through a specific type of autohypnosis a unification with a deity (e.g. the Japanese gods Marishiten, Bishamon, Futsunushi-no Mikoto, Takemikazuchi-no Mikoto).
There are many opportunities in the area of psychophysical processes, which have not yet been the subject of researchers’ interest, but related to processes taking place outside the context of the conscious processing of sensory stimuli. This was analyzed as so-called passive attention. The activities that are related to it exceed the framework of controlled behavior and the regulated activity of the central nervous system. The facts that we observe when analyzing the behavior of individuals that practice AMA, at times seem to point to the involvement of the autonomous nervous system, independent of our will. There are very broad prospects here for utilizing modern methods of observing the brain and concepts that refer to complex dynamic systems in conducting such research (van Geert 1994, Gałkowski 1998).
Is the concept of combat (as an activity performed in a variety of situations and conditions) susceptible to analysis, without considering the impact of traditions and cultures that entire generations of the respective nation lived with? The context of traditions and generational experience supports a holistic and historical approach to performing analyses and evaluations of such activities. The influences that we are referring to may have an adverse impact on objective evaluations and on accepting certain universal values. Nonetheless, it seems that we can benefit greatly by reflecting the data and proposals that are provided by research in the area of cultural psychology, when evaluating various social behaviors.
Certain aspects of fighting a rather popular and easily accepted in the Polish national culture, especially those connected with heroism, courage, devotion and accepting personal danger, in the name of higher goals. The values related to the fight for independence, fought by necessity in conspiratorial conditions, forced individuals to act in a double role, to conceal themselves, to go into hiding, to conspire and to disguise their intentions. Under such circumstances, an attitude of openness and trust to others could have fatal consequences. By necessity, vigilance and caution in establishing personal relationships became a certain type of defensive shield. These Polish experiences during many years cannot remain without an impact on present-day reality. Contemporary reality poses new challenges and is built on relationships that are built upon mutual trust and a candid exchange of information. Openness in contact with others is the foundation of psychological health and the effectiveness of one's own actions. Combat is not necessarily an aggressive discharge of accumulated tensions and conflicts. It is noteworthy that it can be a means for triumphing over one's own weaknesses, limitations and imperfections, which can be and are worth overcoming.
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