SP ARCHIVES: Movement Patterns Questions

Luciano wrote:

In fight I saw squatting (to takedowns and submission) is one of the top most beneficial major movement patterns that we can study and train everyday; the others being upper body pulling (clinch), upper body pushing (strikes and punches), torso flexion, torso extension and torso twisting (strikes with the limbs and head).
Beyond this natural movements, all others are derivations, ins´t?
Does the head counter balance follow this three torso movements too?

In eastern martial arts, the stability core is the “Hara” (in japanese jargon). But that guys want fix (or freeze) this center in a single point (“Tanden” / “Dantien“) in time and space.
After I watch the Morris Method DVD´s, I saw one great difference in your approach: you show a mobile center around the body´s axes!
Sometimes your movement remember a Pakua Chuan style…
Maybe the correct use of our mass center (CoM) and all that physical forces around it are the lost ring in martial arts, technically speaking. I´m awareness about the mass center (and gravity center) of my body in stillness, but in movement the problem increase.
Please, what are your advices regard this topic: Mass Center (i.e. Tanden) and Torque Forces inside that movement patterns to release shockwave in fight?
Do you use this movements to absorve impacts too? What do you think about the absorption of impact practice in martial arts?

Steve replied: You can define the body by the way it extends, bends, twists, and flexes. It can do that in a multiplicity of ways. When I refer to ‘bequeathed behavioural patterns’ what I mean are those patterns which have evolved and have proved successful for us through natural selection. They work. Standing, walking, running, climbing, catching, throwing, striking, pushing, pulling, lifting, etc. They’re basic patterns.

Underlying these bequeathed behavioural patterns, are inherent reflex patterns that are hardwired in. These allow us to function at a reflex level with a dynamic equilibrium, without us thinking about it. In fact, thinking about it can actually negate the inherent pattern.

The latter patterns have been understood instinctively/intuitively by the Chinese and they have sought to explain it in terms that were contemporary to them. But we’ve come a long way since then, just as Western kinesiologists have come a long way since Aristotle.

The science of movement is a complex subject. But the actions themselves, the functional patterns, are not. They are unambiguous. We’ve got lots of examples of running, jumping, climbing, throwing etc. that we can refer to. So if you need to modify patterns for the martial arts, you might start with a throwing pattern to modify into a strike, and then tactically alter it so that it’s applicable in a fighting context.

However, in most martial arts the movement pattern is seen out of context of the inherent reflex and bequeathed behavioural patterns. A punch, for example, is taught in isolation and without reference to the innate throwing pattern that all children exhibit without instruction.

So to come round to your observations about movement patterns, the way that you’ve broken it down is limited. When you look at something, you look at it with the limitations of the information you already know. Observing fights is very useful for determining things like key moves and tactics, but in order to have the criteria by which to see the fight accurately when it comes to movement, you need to understand how the laws and principles of force and motion can be applied to the human body, as well as the fundamental patterns of movement and the reflex patterns that underlie them.

And that’s why it’s sometimes easier to refer to a fundamental pattern which you already understand, and then look at how that can modified and tactically organized for fighting. For example, how can a running pattern, where the momentum of the arm action is transferred to the leg, be modified and applied to kicking? Or how can throwing be modified to becoming punching? The pattern is there, and you can see it in lots of other movement applications outside fighting.

That’s why I look outside martial arts for my clues. The underlying patterns can be seen being functionally performed in many other sports and activities. There’s a resemblance between kicking a football and kicking a man, it’s just that (as I just pointed out on another thread) when you’re kicking a leg, you don’t kick it like a football. You’ve got to angle it tactically so you don’t end up with your leg broken like in those clips we saw. But in terms of the fundamental, gross movement pattern, the two kicks are similar. And better to refer to the football player than to refer to most martial arts, go back to the fundamental and then alter the detail to suit your needs as a fighter.

Even if the martial art is a good one, like Muay Thai or MMA, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. So it’s good to step outside and look at human movement as a whole. Get into the science of movement.

As for the second part of your question. S. Higgins wrote, ‘Movement is inseparable from the structure supporting it and the environment defining it.’ If martial artists stopped referencing traditional interpretations (tan tien, hara, etc.) or coming up with gobbledegook kinesiology not grounded in working science, and studied this statement instead, then the whole answer would be obvious and this forum wouldn’t be needed.

You’ve got to change your approach. The answer doesn’t lie in the traditional way, and to continue referencing them just keeps you stuck. You’ve got to change your references.