I was reading how children learn to make sense of the world, how they learn about the world, how we learn about the world. How we know that Paris is a city, and a chair is a chair, and that we can sort postage stamps by – for example – country, size, colour, or type of illustration.
“Everything that a child can perceive—whether a piece of furniture, a dog or a cat, or a letter of the alphabet—must be represented by a different category within his cognitive structure. If he has no system in his mind that separates dogs from cats, then he will perceive dogs and cats as the same kind of animal.” – excerpt from Frank Smith, „Comprehension and Learning”
I felt so excited while reading this. Oh, this makes so much sense! Oh, this is so interesting!
“When the topic is the human brain, there is a natural tendency to talk about categories that have names. Categories that have unique names are often referred to in psychology as »concepts«. But it is not necessary for a cognitive category to have a name. We can distinguish many kinds of objects for which we as individuals do not have a name. Infants distinguish classes of objects from each other long before they have names for them; in fact it is generally necessary to have a cognitive category before a name can be learned.” – from the same book
I was thinking, „Oh! I know this one! Babies try to put everything into their mouths and they discover what is edible or inedible, that’s categories without names.” Edible items: banana, breast-milk, water, porridge, french fries. Inedible items: big toe, fist, blanket, mom’s nose. I guess: at some point early in our babyhood we had our first successful, sufficiently pleasant, sensory only „this is edible” experience. And shortly after an equally successful but disappointing „this is inedible” experience. And thus we found out about the existence of „categories”, something that doesn’t exist physically, but does exist somehow anyways, and that has the power to group items into edible and inedible. A powerful discovery. I guess that night we slept very well.
I was excited to write a commentary and relate this to what I know about movement. How would I categorise movement? Would I sort it by functionality? Or group it up according to adjectives? How could or would or should I do it?
I did a Google search to see what others have thought of so far. Planes of motion. Primary movement patterns. Rotation. Flexion. Extension. Anti-Rotation. Anti-Flexion. Anti-Extension. Anti-Lateral Flexion. Hip Hinge. Hip Dominant. Vertical Push. Rotational and Diagonal. The movement direction of an exercise. The primary joint lever.
Ok, there goes my motivation and excitement. Reading these technical descriptions in isolation, all by renowned researchers as well as strength and conditioning coaches alike, made me feel tired. I find these bland lists, even when connected to strengthening and stretching exercises, hardly exciting. At least not at a first glance. I find it immediately more exciting to read about apples:
„The primary products of the oxidation of apple phenolic compounds are o-quinones, and the resulting colour of the cut fruit surface will depend on the type of phenol oxidised. Use of a short heat treatment (70-90°C) to inactivate the enzymes, or ultrafiltration to remove the o-quinone products, are two ways in which discolouration can be minimised in commercial products.” – excerpt from Apple Facts by Quadram Institute
That’s how they do it! I wondered why stuff nowadays stays looking sharp on the shelves. Growing up on the countryside, 30 years ago, sliced apples weren’t like that at all.
So I found that out about myself. There’s something else, something deeper about movement, something that connects it to my soul. The soul. Maybe that’s why we have this »concept« of »the soul«, to know if something touches someone’s soul or not. How come Moshé Feldenkrais’s movement sequences touch my soul, but learning how to correctly lift a barbell – and name the muscles and primary movement patterns involved – does not?