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Old 06-19-2012, 10:58 PM   #1
Janet Rosen
Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
Slow, mindful movement

FASCINATING column on the neurology behind learning via slow, mindful movement
things like sensorymotor amnesia and neuroplasticity.

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:02 PM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
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Dojo: Team Combat USA
Location: Olympia, Washington
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 4,376
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Thanks...good stuff. I've been going back and reading my feldenkrais materials over the past few weeks. I am trying to work with my students on this very thing.

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Old 06-20-2012, 12:39 AM   #3
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,243
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Dr. Maxwell Maltz talked in a similar fashion in his book "Psychocybernetics" years ago. Gary Lefew used to require all of his students to read the book before attending his bullriding schools. It was amazing to watch his students sitting on a bale of hay visualizing a bull ride in slow motion. He produced a good number of pretty fair hands (and probably still does).

"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:19 AM   #4
Dojo: Aikido Terrey Hills
Location: Sydney
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 120
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Wow, that makes so much sense! What I've been noticing is that while I can do segments of a technique quickly, putting them together makes me go very slow to just have that awareness of what's where and how it feels.

My sister also used to mention something about the residents in the nursing home where she worked going along this path when it came to the recreational activities planned.

The world changes when you do.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:44 AM   #5
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Systema's use of slow practice fits right into this way of thinking. This nature of training had a major impact upon my own training and influences how I teach. I tell students to only practice at a speed where they are connected with themselves and the other person in a way that they can sustain awareness throughout the entire process of attack-thru execution of technique.

Marc Abrams
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:26 AM   #6
Chuck Clark
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Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,134
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Slow movement that is sound in principle is absolutely necessary to understand and develop movement that truly "fits" your body. When you can do sotaigata training with both people going slowly with proper coordination together you then have a real laboratory to work in and explore and grow. Slow randori in that laboratory is absolutely wonderful and necessary to develop real understanding of randori. Intuitive problem solving at slow speeds will lead to your own mastery.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,888
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Yea, that's it ... I am mindful ... not slow ... mindful.

Good read. Good information.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:24 AM   #8
Chris Parkerson
Dojo: Academy of the Martial Arts
Location: ohio
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 740
Re: Slow, mindful movement

Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Systema's use of slow practice fits right into this way of thinking. This nature of training had a major impact upon my own training and influences how I teach. I tell students to only practice at a speed where they are connected with themselves and the other person in a way that they can sustain awareness throughout the entire process of attack-thru execution of technique.

Marc Abrams
Tactical guys say, "slow is smooth; smooth is fast".
Perhaps we could augment the saying.
"slow and connected is smooth, and smooth is efficient."

: )

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Old 06-22-2012, 12:09 AM   #9
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Location: San Diego CA USA
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Posts: 561
yaaaay neuroscience!

Hi Janet! Thanks, I love reading (and thinking about) stuff like this.
I like where the article ended up, and I think he is right on about modulating plasticity by consciously increasing attention, and through slow movement.
And especially, the part about habitual "dead spots" is right on, and I think is the strongest part of the article from the point of view of advocating slow, mindful movement. I've come head to head with this little demon (bad motor habits / dead spots) many a time.

Other bits in the article I take issue with though. I wouldn't expect everyone to read this, but I mention these points as food for further thought/discussion in case anyone is inclined:

-going "easy" (low force values) is not equivalent to going "slow" (low velocity values). Both are important but the article seems to conflate the two. We should probably think about both, but we should keep in mind that they are separate things and don't have to always go together.

-all the talk about Weber's/Fechner's law is a little misplaced. The point is that the Just Noticeable Difference scales WITH the stimulus intensity. In the author's hip extension example, if you are recruiting some flexors along with your extensors, then it doesn't matter if you go slow or fast, hard or easy-- you'll be at 80% efficiency when going hard and 80% efficiency when going easy (because the accidental/habitual flexor activation will scale with the intentional extensor activation). So if 20% antagonism is too little to perceive at high intensity, according to the something like Weber's law, it will also be too little to perceive at low intensity. Of course, I am totally wrong if anyone knows of evidence of these "bad habits" staying constant instead of scaling with level of effort. My feeling (from personal experience) is that such internal fights get rampant as effort increases, so it is actually the opposite of what is written in the article.

-Where Weber's law could actually be defended as being important to slow practice, the author didn't mention: lets say some external force (not your own accidental recruitment of flexors when you are trying to extend) is being applied to you while you try to do something. This force is not something that changes when you go hard or easy (as is true for most forces that impinge on you but don't come from within you-- they are independent of what you are doing). So if it is 2 newtons in the left direction, it will be 2 N if you go hard and 2 N if you go easy. When you go hard, your force production will "swamp" the magnitude of this external force. But if you go easy, then you will perceive (and thus learn to deal with) this force much more easily. Slow, mindful kihon anyone??

Anyway, thanks, great to read and think about!

ps. Other forces that don't change whether you go easy or hard include:
-your own weight
-the ground reaction force coming up on your feet
Thus going slow and easy even without a partner can help you feel how what you do is either fighting or aligning with what the ground and gravity are doing.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #10
Location: New Zealand
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 67
Re: Slow, mindful movement

I think Weber's law does apply because the stimuli include movement. the main stimulus he talks about in the article is muscle tension ("intensity of muscle effort") but you also perceive movement through muscle stretch plus rate of change of strecth and joint position (proprioception) plus rate of change of joint position.

We normally think of slow movements as relaxed ("gentle" in the article) - slow, tense movements being quite unnatural-feeling to perform and watch . But I would be quite interested in anyone's thoughts on deliberately tense movements for those 'dead zones", something similar to Goju-ryu karate Sanchin kata.

I know I have had to work hard on my abdominal obliques to get them consistently activated and i wonder if my gluteals need the same work. Might get me arrested if I do them in public thought :-)

David McNamara
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