THE SCIENCE OF FORMLESS FLOW by Monya Gorelik, M.Sc. : THE FRACTAL NATURE OF NATURAL MOTION

Thursday, December 5, 2013

THE FRACTAL NATURE OF NATURAL MOTION

‘Naturalness’ of human motion is mentioned more and more often these days. There are many reasons for this and it is not simply because it is fashionable.
It is probable that the main reason for the return of the ‘Natural Approach’ to life in Western society was prompted by the understanding that any attempt to live life on earth contrary to the laws of Mother Nature, will come to a sad end for mankind and generally, for all living creatures on the planet.  
Part of this general trend and vision of life is the understanding of the importance of being natural in human motion. There many interesting methods that have featured in different kinds of sport and physical culture, which are based on the natural approach to motion. Good examples are Chi walking, running and the total immersion style of swimming.

In my opinion, these approaches and methods relating to the term “natural” are used intuitively in most cases. I believe that the intuitive approach in the way most people practice physical culture and sport is a requirement, but only a newborn baby, still untouched by civilization and culture or an extremely gifted individual, can rely on intuition. All others need analyses and a systematic approach as a necessary addition to the intuitive feeling. Very often intuition will appear in its greatest extent only thanks to systematic analyses.
The analyses of natural motion make it necessary to define what we mean when we talk about “natural motion“. I would like to offer the following definition:
Natural motion is that motion which is closest to the inborn motion applied under existing conditions in order to solve motor problems”.  
The motions of a newborn baby are intuitive and appear as inborn instincts. The newborn baby moves his legs, pulls or pushes objects, grips the offered finger – all these motions are intuitive and inborn.
Until now we have been discussing motor tasks of inborn motions. Let us now turn to the principal, general form of such motions. We can obtain some kind of an understanding of the natural motion of the human hand if we move a totally relaxed arm only by moving the trunk of the body. This is called free motion. It is not the same free motion as defined in physics, but it is the closest thing to it. It is the most economic motion in terms of the use of energy. The closer the hand is to the state of absolute relaxation, the closer to zero is the use of energy by the hand. This motion also corresponds most completely to the anatomical structure of the arm. Of course, that does not mean that muscles do not contract at all. This is physiologically impossible. There are special physiological mechanisms and reflexes that produce automatic contraction of elongating muscle fibers. Here we are only talking about the deepest possible form of relaxation.
Motions are shaped by the influence of habits, conventions and the dictates of the mind. All of our gestures, walking and mimicry, working and sport-related movements, are deeply affected by these influences. Unfortunately, in many cases, they are unnatural. As a result, many of our motions are not efficient enough. What is more, very often they significantly harm our physical, mental and spiritual health.
In order to return to our natural motion we need, as in meditation, to return to our roots, even for a short time and in limited fields. It is not easy, but it is possible. In this and the following articles, we will outline the methodology of such a transformation and its practical results.
In order to make motion faster and more powerful it is necessary to add muscular effort from the outset, simply to amplify what completely relaxed motion represents. Its character and principal form will continue to be the same. The effort will be relatively minimal in magnitude, in order to perform the task.
Similarly, to produce tighter or more extended motion in a particular direction, it is necessary to apply minimal muscular effort due to the beginning phase of the motion.
It is well known that the nature of an object’s motion depends on the location of the observer. During our investigation of the form of natural motion we will locate our imagined observer facing forwards, somewhere in the area of the solar plexus. The objects of his observations will be arms, legs and finally the torso, neck and head [5], [6].
1.    Study of arm motions.
First, we will investigate free symmetrical arm motion during rotation of the torso while standing. Such motion prompts the arms into motion while walking, but the element of rotation around the vertical axis is more accentuated.
Below are the diagrams of the motion of the palms of the hands as our internal observer sees it.
 
 In the upper diagram there is hand motion when the torso rotates in a counter-clockwise direction. Our observer will note that both arms perform the same counter-clockwise rotation as the torso.

In the lower diagram there is hand motion when the torso rotates in a clockwise direction. Our observer will note that both arms perform the clockwise rotation. We call the figure, produced by the trajectory in the space of two hands free motion, “Fish Play” or “Two Fish Play”. With the help of our imagination we can observe two “fish” in a “spherical aquarium”. The left fish represents the left arm and the right fish –the right arm. The arms move in the direction indicated by the arrows. It is important to remember that “fish play” is three-dimensional. 
When the arms move freely both fish will be the same size.
Our research shows that not only palms, which can be observed with comparative ease, but also forearms, shoulders and shoulder-blades move in the pattern of “fish play”. One can see clearly that motions of the entire arm and its parts – the palm of the hand, forearm and shoulder, all have the same principle form of “fish play”. This kind of motion is called “Fractal Motion”.
Examples of fractal motions include sea waves, the streaming of water in rivers or of blood in blood vessels. Atoms, planetary systems and galaxies are another example of fractal motion. More precisely,  the fractal is the structure composed of structures similar to itself. Fractal can be used not only to describe the structure of a construction but also the nature of some process or motion.
Until now we have mentioned only free motion. This motion is not always possible. For example, if one carries weight in his hands, a distortion occurs. More precisely, a forcing component, caused by the weight of the load and the inertia of its motion, occurs against a background of the constant power of gravitation.
This component changes according to its value and direction. Such motion of the arm in the presence of external forces as well as motion performed by active contraction of the arm muscles  is defined by the writer as “Forced Motion”. Clearly this definition will be right not only for the arm but also for any other body part and for the body as a whole.
Observation and analysis show that “Natural Forced Motion” can also be described by means of fractal fish play, as “Free Motion”. The “aquarium” and “fish” may, of course, be asymmetrical and the trajectory itself can be three-dimensionally extended in one or other direction.

2.  Natural and Reversed Movements of the Arms.
Except for free motion of the arms as described above, there is another kind of free arm movement. In motion such as that described above, the internal observer sees the torso and arms rotate in same direction. Such a movement of the arms is called “Natural Movement of the arms. In another kind of free motion, the arms rotate in the opposite direction to that of the torso, still following the same principle or general trajectory fish play. This is known as “Reversed Movementof the arms.
As a natural forced movement the reversed forced movement is described similarly as fractal fish play. In both cases there is some delay in rotation of the arms compared to the rotation of the torso.
Natural and reversed movement can be observed in crawling, walking, running, jumping, throwing, hurling, punching, kicking and other natural motions.   
We will see that with very few exceptions what is said regarding the arms is also applicable to the legs.
3.    Leg motions.
Of all forced movements the most interesting one is probably an interaction of the body with the ground. In the main, we will discuss support from the ground for a standing or moving body, when at least one leg is on the ground. Instances of two legs moving freely are comparatively rare. Examples of this include hanging by the arms, swimming or jumping.
When standing on the ground, the legs perform forced motion. Being connected with the ground by means of friction, the legs, even though this sounds strange, move our planet. Of course this is a very minute, negligibly small motion. What is important for us is to understand that we are speaking about forced motion according to our definition of it. When only one leg is based on the ground, it is only this leg that performs the forced motion while the other leg can perform free motion.
The free and forced motions of legs, as well as arms are described as fractal fish play. The hips, ankles and feet move in the same principle form of trajectory.

    4.    Motions of the torso and head.
Usually we pay less attention to torso and head motions compared to the motions of our limbs. However, these motions are no less interesting and important. They provide a kind of base or support ground for the limb motions. The quality of the torso and head motion predetermines the quality of body motion as a whole.
As we have already seen, our limbs consist of three parts. The arm has the shoulder, forearm and hand. The leg has the thigh, calf and foot. The torso and head, as limbs, also consist of three interconnected volumetric parts. These are the pelvis, chest and head. They do not have the “twoness” of the limbs and for that reason their “aquariums” change very little. Representatives of osteopaths and applied kinesiology will definitely confirm that pulsation of the head and pelvis plays a very important role in the functioning of the human body. For practical purposes we will assume that in this case these “aquariums” do not change their dimensions. The more rigid the construction, the flatter the fish will be. In this case, as a result of rigidness of construction, the fish will be flat and their bellies will adhere to their backs. In this way our fractal fish play model  provides a fine description of the natural rotational motions of the pelvis, chest and head.

5.    Oneness.
We have already seen that natural motion of the entire body as well as its separate parts obeys the single law, which we call fish play.
The use of natural motions for any motion-related tasks will result in all motions becoming permeated by a spirit of oneness. This oneness of forms definitely impacts on the meaningful and emotional components of motion, making them more balanced, harmonious and spiritual. Behind natural motion, with all its apparent diversity, stands the one motion idea. This oneness produces incredible richness of palette and beauty in the natural motion arsenal and also shows itself in the fact that the same fractal describes the general form of motion as well as body-structure itself. It seems certain that the person who said that God is a junkman, was right. Once God found the successful solution he used it again and again, each time adapting it for new and diverse needs.
The general form of natural motion, its morphology, obeys the law of fish play, which is illustrated by the ancient Chinese symbol of Taiji.

The kinematics of natural motions is depicted by other ancient Chinese symbols – the trigrams and hexagrams of Fu Xi, the first Chinese Emperor, who lived thousands of years ago.


Ba means eight and gua means trigram in Chinese. Fu Xi Bagua means eight trigrams of Fu Xi.
It has been proved mathematically that these signs, when observed as sets of lines, did not happen simply by accident. It can be said with a probability close to 100%, not less than 1 - 1 / (8!) =
1 - 1/1,625,702,400, that this is a code of natural motion, that has been passed down from the prehistoric era and had been completely forgotten until it was decoded by us, only recently, many thousands of years later.


The discovery of these amazing facts has permitted us to understand the true character of natural motions of the whole body and its individual parts and how all these motions correspond with each other. It was thus that practical methods for the investigation of the natural motion and its study were discovered. This will be discussed in more detail in a future article.
   6.     Combining together.
In the middle of the 20th century the genius scientist N.A. Bernstein offered the theory of motor control of the vertebrae [1], [2]. The writer believes that Bernstein’s theory, in a very simplified version represents, to some degree, a kind of replica of Haeckel’s theory of recapitulation, likening the motor control of every motion to the evolution process. Therefore the levels of evolutional development of the various classes of living creatures – phylogenetic ancestors - are reflected in motor control, similarly to the way they are reflected in the general forms of fetuses in the process of development, according to Haeckel. In very general terms, Bernstein’s theory points to the correlation between the levels of motor control and motion apparatus.
The motions of vertebrae are performed by rotations in skeletal joints. Our studies have lead us to believe that the levels of motor control, corresponding to the levels of evolutionary development, are performed by corresponding levels of joints and muscles, which we have successfully found and determined.
Therefore we believe that the body and its program for motion management or in other words motor control, constitute a fusion. This fusion consists of layers –functional structures of the Central Nerve System (CNS), the levels of joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles and correlating them levels of motor control. These layers correlate with the classes of living organisms. Every motion includes them in the same sequence that they were created and developed during the process of evolution. This is the theory of motor control recapitulation.
 The writer hopes to cover this in a future article. At this point, it is important to state that the linking of motor control levels to levels of joints and the evolutionary sequence of their incorporation in motions, have provided us with an opportunity to create the practical methodology for teaching “natural motion”.
This methodology appears to repeat the motor control development of the child and make it possible within a few days to “recall” the entire process of evolution from amoeba to mankind. Among animals this process happens instinctively, in parallel to the growth of the baby and helps to take possession over the entire arsenal of motions required for hunting, fighting and everything necessary to sustain life. This process must be short in time and not last for too many years. We only need to think what would happen to a cat, that might need 20 years to learn martial arts to understand these implications! The methodology created and used by the author and his students has shown its credibility most effectively over years of practical application.

7.    Quality of motion.
In case of incomplete predictability of external factors and the ability to achieve the necessary degree of repeated precision of motions (meaning standardization and automatization of motions) the writer proposes an evaluation of the quality of motion according to following parameters:
1.     Precision
2.     Possible velocity
3.     Minimal energy cost
4.     Universality and versatility
5.     Universality and versatility of transitions between functionally different motions, to and from
6.     Speed and ease of automatic skill creation and its soundness
7.     Versatility and ease of skills transposition
8.     Stability of motion relative to external obstructions
9.     Low level of the motional stress (stress caused by motion)
10. Low level of traumatism
Our investigations and experiments over many years have shown decisively that natural motion especially, to the fullest extent, correspond these criteria. This can partially be explained by the fact that natural motion is based on inborn instincts and reflexes and not by confronting them frontally [7]. It can also be partially explained by the fractal nature of natural motion, when motions which are totally different in meaning and initiated by different parts of the brain cortex, are performed by uniform body motion and memory. Let us not forget the inborn emotional response, produced by natural motions. This emotional reaction on motion harmoniously combines with inborn instincts and natural motion like members of a sporting team, who support and encourage each other [4].
Based on his results, the writer believes that Mother Nature or evolution or God resolved the problem of many parameters and degrees of freedom of motions when fractal natural motion was created. The high quality of motion is a necessary condition of functionally effective motion.
Undoubtedly with natural motion it is much easier to train dexterity or adroitness, which is so important in everyday life, in work and in sports [1], [3].
Prof. Bernstein describes it thus [1]:
 “Adroitness is an ability to resolve any situation by motion, meaning the ability to resolve any locomotor problem” (translated by the writer from the Russian language original)
1.     Correctly (meaning adequately and precisely),
2.     Quickly (meaning fast and harmoniously)
3.     Rational (meaning practically and economically)
4.     Creatively (meaning demonstrating flexibility and using initiative)
It would be incorrect to conclude this article without noticing some of the difficulties related to the described method. Based on our experience, the main difficulties during coaching using this method are related to general coordination, spatial imagination and simultaneous tracking of limb joints, torso, neck and head.

About the author:
Monya Gorelik has been studying motion and its applications in different fields, practically and theoretically, for more than 30 years. For 30 years or more he has practiced yoga, martial arts, and other arts related to motion and health practices. He is engaged in development of fractal method in motion study, and is the founder of ISAI or Israeli Art of Integrity, and was previously Secretary General of the Wushu (Kung-Fu) Federation of Israel and a European International judge. He has lectured and coached in Wingate Institute – the national center of physical culture and sport, and also coached in the college of theatrical art DATA in Israel. Monya Gorelik holds an MA in Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences.
References:
[1] Prof. N.A. Bernstein “About dexterity and its development”,
P.H. Fizkultura I Sport, Moscow, 1991
[2] Prof. N.A. Bernstein “Physiology of motions and activity”, P.H. Nauka, Moscow, 1990
[3] Prof. I.M. Feigenberg “From reflex to model of Future”, P.H. Smisl, 2004
[4] Prof. I.M. Feigenberg “The Brain, Psyche, Health”, P.H. Nauka, Moscow, 1972
[5] M. Gorelik “The natural method of physical development of man in ISAI system”,
Materials  of III International  Scientific-Practical Conference ”Physical Culture and Heath of Colleges Students”, Dec 22, 2006
[6] M. Gorelik “Lectures in Wingate Institute”
[7] Arthur Prochazka, Francois Clarac, Gerald E. Loeb, John C. Rothwell, Jonathan R. Wopaw “What do reflex and voluntary mean. Modern views on ancient debate”, 1999

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