Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Exercising is extremely important for our health, for both physical and mental well-being.

Health and well-being are considered and intuitively understood as a natural phenomenon, something inborn, something that in ideal conditions could be found everywhere, until the rational human mind diverts it from it's course.

There are many forms of exercise, but currently I would like to speak about physical exercises related to movement and strength development.

Over the past few years, many coaches began to speak about returning to a natural state of health and physical abilities by means of CrossFit training in natural surroundings,
performing natural activities like climbing trees or rocks, carrying tree logs, running, swimming or crawling. Some coaches incorporate in their training program primitive life activities approximating tribal hunters or cave dwellers. Others perform different kinds of calisthenics, Martial Arts, Yoga, Tai Chi and other arts or activities which quite often appear under the name "natural". Many incorporate into their training a natural way of sitting or squatting, imitate the movement patterns of animals and so on.

The central idea they posit is that natural surroundings and activities will restore our inborn method of movement, our natural posture, health and well-being.

I think that some of these ideas certainly indicate very positive changes in our approach to training, but will these natural surroundings, living conditions and activities as well as the combinations of the different kinds of CrossFit training truly restore our natural movement, abilities and well-being?

Everybody, even elite sportsmen, need corrections to their technique. These corrections are a result of the biomechanical analyses of their performance, which is mostly carried out by coaches. This means that no quantity of exercising or length of training can fix some biomechanical problems. Many people think that more hours of training or more effort will make their technique utterly perfect or close to that. The reality is quite different. More hours of training sometimes also mean that technical mistakes become deeply rooted automatic movement patterns, which can only barely and laboriously be corrected.

Acting in natural surroundings with highly variable and changeable features demands a high level of dexterity, the ability to quickly change between automatic movement patterns or the ability to apply different combinations of automatic movement patterns. Automation of movement patterns and their standardization and stability (see my previous articles and the book of Prof. Bernstein "About Dexterity and Its Development") must come before the training in dexterity. Training in dexterity doesn't change these automatic movement patterns but rather is based upon these deeply rooted and highly polished automations.

These movement patterns are mostly old ones, developed during childhood and common "cultured" life under heavy social and cultural influences.

New movement patterns specific to particular CrossFit training and surroundings are developed if the need arises, on the basis of old ones. Unnatural culture and society influenced movement patterns will produce only unnatural new movement patterns, much like an inclined foundation will make the entire house inclined. If we want to build an upright house we have to fix the foundation as our first step. For example, barefoot running will not change the bad posture of those who have a slouching back with a forward protruding head and neck or scoliosis, even if the landing position of the feet will improve.

This means that in most cases our automatic unnatural movement patterns form the basis to our dexterity abilities.

In other words, training in dexterity will not change our movement patterns into natural ones (meaning close to inborn as much as possible – see my definition of Natural Motion). Rather, the unnatural movement patterns will create a kind of unnatural dexterity based upon them.

The same situation will occur with all kinds of CrossFit training in all surroundings, both natural or man-made.

For most of us a typical training session is much shorter than our regular daily activities. These activities can be considered in most cases as training in previous, common "cultural" movement patterns, which recovers them and makes them even stronger than before the training session. As a result, the training will be endless and Natural Motion will never be achieved.

Even those who try to consciously replace their old movement patterns with new ones and actually continue training during their regular daily activities wouldn't brake out of this cycle unless they train specifically in Natural Motion. This is because Natural Motion training must follow the natural order of its evolutionary development, which repeats itself during infant growth and then in every single motion. Bernstein said about movement that ontogenesis repeats phylogenesis (simultaneous recapitulation of motor control).

This means that we have to begin the training of Natural Motion with the most evolutionarily ancient torso and head movements and then follow the natural order established by evolution. No other movement related skill, equipment or surroundings can replace this natural training.

Natural Motion is the most efficient motion, created by Nature and not by human culture or rational thinking. It uses inertial and reaction forces more than any human-created movement pattern and is therefore considerably more efficient. It utilizes inborn reflexes synergistically instead of fighting against them. It reduces stress, both mental and physical, and dissolves body armor, and is therefore great for physical and mental health. Finally, yet not of lesser significance, it appears very beautiful and esthetic to our eyes.

As we have seen, we cannot recover our Natural Motion by training in unnatural dexterity even within natural surroundings. In order to achieve this goal, we have to train specifically in Natural Motion. Then we can develop Natural Dexterity, the most efficient and beautiful kind. Natural surroundings as well as rich and highly variable man-made surroundings can greatly help us in this mission. Moving objects and living partners can elevate our Natural Dexterity to the highest possible level. This can be achieved with games and sports designed especially for this purpose.

This seems to be the future direction for many motion-based arts and skills.

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