Movement development in eight phases

Movement development in eight phases

Natural phenomena follow a common procession of energetic states.

  • The day, the lunar month, the year.
  • A respiratory cycle, a heartbeat, a sound wave.
  • The lifespan of an organism, of a celestial body, of the universe itself.

All these are characterized by tidal phases.

Sunrise, midday, sunset, and midnight are like the spring, summer, fall, and winter.

We can take inspiration from nature and structure our movement practice(s) deliberately in wavelike patterns, so that each phase is immanent in the prior one and facilitates the next and the whole arc is rhythmical and coherent.

Here is a (conceptual) eightfold cycle of movement development, analogous to the eight key seasonal transitions of the year.

For each transition I propose general concepts and characteristics of the practice. These phases are abstract — they could all occur in the span of a single session or a day, or over a micro- or meso- or macro-cycle of training periodization.

Perhaps this can help generate insight into your own landscape of movement.

The Start of Spring

Awakening, Sensing

  • Initiation of movement from stillness.
  • Activation of the physical and cognitive faculties.
  • Moving with subtlety and caution, as if recovering from an injury.
  • Observing internal and external states, provoking insight without exertion or prejudice.

The Spring Equinox

Alignment, Rehabilitation

  • Self-corrective practice, establishment of rhythmical harmony.
  • Integrated articulation of the joints and remediation of asymmetries.
  • Movement without forcefulness.
  • Directed effusion of life energy throughout the body.

The Start of Summer

Coordination, Expansion

  • Introduction of novel and dynamic patterns.
  • Mapping elastic limits, harnessing momentum, taking flight.
  • Orchestrated distribution of stresses across one’s whole structure
  • Maintaining interconnection, not leaving (any part of) oneself behind.
  • Available for the unexpected, without acting impulsively.

The Summer Solstice

Accumulation, Furtherance

  • Intelligent overreach provokes an adaptive response and greater empowerment.
  • Drawing on newly established collaborative networks, coordinative pathways, and an available surplus of energy.
  • Enhancing raw attributes such as strength and endurance beyond previous limits.

The Start of Fall

Refinement, Application

  • Grooving the technical skills and patterns specific to our life-context, our chosen disciplines.
  • Creativity is fostered by recognition of (and respect for) limited time, resources, and energy.
  • The practice is like rehearsal.

The Fall Equinox

Execution, Letting Go

  • The decisive kinetic action or performance.
  • Something is at stake.
  • This is the artistic, martial, athletic, vocational, or otherwise meaningful activity in which the quality of our preparatory work is revealed.
  • Our movement is reflexive, effective, unobstructed, non-harmful.

The Start of Winter

Reflection, Integration

  • There is no more striving.
  • We calmly witness the results of our follow-through and consolidate the benefits of success or lessons learned.
  • The practice is an internal process of down-regulation, recovery, and evaluation.

The Winter Solstice

Emptiness, Introspection

  • The body-mind is like space, or “fire unbound.”
  • In this rest-pause phase there is no goal-directed activity, only silence, and listening.
  • All attachment is abandoned and we are reconnected with the vital center.
  • The practice is invisible, reflecting the emptiness of completion.

View of the seasons from space (NASA)-