THE SCIENCE OF FORMLESS FLOW by Monya Gorelik, M.Sc. : BACK TO MOVEMENT FUNCTIONALITY

Sunday, June 10, 2018

BACK TO MOVEMENT FUNCTIONALITY




Movement functionality is all we need if we mean movement.

First of all, we have to ask ourselves what is a movement functionality? 
After that, what does it change in our definition if we add the word "natural"?

Great majority of people instinctively understand the meaning of this expression. Nevertheless, this instinctive understanding can be not sufficient if we want to go deeper with this understanding and especially if we want to train movement of any kind, sport or motor skill.

For example, some guys can say that Movement Functionality means beautiful light movements. So, if we want to improve our Movement Functionality we have to make our movements nice and effortless. Other guys perhaps will speak about fast movements or economical movements. Is this correct? Will we later discover, perhaps, that these qualities are not what we instinctively feel?

For this and some other reasons we will define the terms we use. In other words, we will give clear explicit expression to our implicit feeling.

Let's start our analyses. Movement functionality includes fusion of two words – "movement" and "functionality". Even our definition will be applicable for every kind of movement, including fine motor skills, like piano playing or drawing with pencil, our main interest will remain mostly with gross motor skills. These gross motor skills have one most important for us feature – they naturally developing from inborn locomotor and behavioral reflexes. This inborn basis makes them very different from fine motor skills, which are result of cultural achievements and skillful and intelligent education. It's important to note that even fine motor skills can't exist completely alone and to some degree are based on gross motor skills.

In Merriam-Webster dictionary the word "functionality" is defined as " the quality or state of being functional * a design that is admired both for its beauty and for its functionality; "

In Cambridge dictionary appears definition of functionality as "the quality of being useful, practical, and right for the purpose for which something was made:
In civil engineering, a major component of functionality is safety."

I would say that even beauty of movement could be individually and culturally functional. For example, the beauty of dancers' movements, because the beauty of movements in most cases is the very essence of dance and the most important function of most dances is to be beautiful and touching. Nevertheless, the beauty can't be part of definition because functionality can't depend on specific culture or individual preferences. Of course, I don't deny existence of functional beauty, which seems doesn't depend on time or culture and provides the deepest, intrinsic and mostly unconscious layer of our perception. This functional beauty is a clear evidence of high movement functionality.

Therefore, we have to ask ourselves what the functionality of movement is, or in other words what is a practical, useful and valuable in human movement in general.

While speaking about human movement we have to keep in mind that the world around us is constantly and swiftly changing, that most of the situations in our life are unexpected and unfamiliar and we have to cope them swiftly and efficiently. In order to achieve functional progress, we have to learn new skills and apply new abilities.

The answer to the question of functionality can be found in N.A. Bernstein's definition of dexterity - the ability to find a motor solution for any external situation, that is, to adequately solve any emerging motor problem correctly, quickly, rationally and resourcefully.

"…It's not a skill or even combination of skills." It's rather "a capacity or an ability defining the relationship between nervous system and skills… that possess, first, exercisability and, second, switchability, or maneuverability" -  Nicolai A. Bernstein "Dexterity and Its Development".

Therefore, following Nicolai A. Bernstein I define movement functionality as an ability to move

-       Correctly (adequately and precisely)

-       Swiftly (fast and successful)

-       Rationally (expediently and economically)

-       Resourcefully (dodgy and initiatively).

Movement Functionality is not a Dexterity. It's rather a quality of some motor skills to be successfully applied or usefulness of movement for action performed with dexterity.  

In previous chapters I stressed great importance in recovering Natural Motion and Movement.

Therefore, it would be just natural to understand what does it mean "Natural" when applied to Movement Functionality. I will use my definition of Natural Motion: “Natural motion is that motion which is closest to the inborn motion applied under existing conditions in order to solve motor problems”. The difference between movement and motion is rather a difference between specific (movement) and general (motion). Therefore, we speak rather about specific application (Natural Movement) of general Natural Motion. Therefore, Natural Movement Functionality is Functionality of specifically applied Natural Motion.

The Natural Motion, its properties and advantages were already extensively analyzed and discussed. We saw that Natural Movement has higher degree of functionality than any "human created" movement, based on rational thinking or originated on cultural or social background.

There is another subject closely related to functionality of any Natural Movement – Natural Motion in general has high positive transfer of training. It means that Natural Movement training improves future learning or performances of virtually any other movement. This is a huge advantage comparatively to any other training, even if it's related to future training.

Therefore, Natural Movement training can provide the most desirable result while developing Movement Functionality both in present and future.                                                                                 

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