Movement Inspiration 4/10/14 Moving Silently by Simon Thakur

I am in austin for the paleo f(x) symposium with no time to write so have some other bloggers who have kindly offered to fill in, this is from Simon Thakur of ancestral movement

One of my great sources of inspiration is what I call “ancestral movement” – the title of my blog. Basically anything I can think of which would have been an essential movement skill at some point in human history. Often, I’ll find that these things, which would have been central features of human (and pre-human) life for millions of years, are now almost completely missing from the lives of most adults. Rafe’s been sharing a constant stream of them here in these movement inspiration posts: climbing, wrestling, jumping, moving with a partner, dancing, play. Fundamental stuff. The one I’d like to share today is another that’s far too often neglected, even among those of us who like to stay active: moving silently.

Like so many of the activities which I call ancestral, moving silently is something that all children seem to practice, without ever being taught. There’s something inherently cool about sneaking around: your senses become heightened, you become aware of the subtle shifts in weight and balance as they relate to crunching leaves or creaking floorboards, you feel your breathing and the beating of your heart, you become mindful of all of your movements and the space around you. Adrenaline surges and your whole system switches on. It’s ancient stuff – far, far older than humanity – and we’re still totally wired for it.

Moving silently (or, more accurately, attempting to move silently) also has a massive effect on the mechanics and quality of our movement. If you want to know what I mean, have a little play around with jumping, and notice how you land. Quiet, soft landings are good landings. Silent landings are the ultimate! All of the joints of the body have to soften to absorb the force of impact, if you roll then the whole body has to soften into a smooth, even curve – or else you’ll feel a big thump on one particular part. Obviously, the mechanics of quiet landings are the exact mechanics required to minimize impact and thus injury.

One drill we practice in our classes is free play or brachiation on the monkey bars, with silent landings. It is amazing to watch the difference in people’s movements: when they’re not focusing on being silent they’re doing all these big jumps and thumping and hitting the ground, their bodies are all stiff and blocky, the lack of awareness is visible. As soon as they make the switch to silent landings – quiet isn’t good enough, they must strive to be silent – suddenly everyone’s movement becomes graceful, smooth, their bodies glide through the air, toes reaching towards the ground, bodies coiling softly to absorb the impact and then lightly springing back again to catch the bars. It’s beautiful.

Here’s another fantastic drill:

The element of silence can be added to any and all of your movement drills (you might have to turn off the stereo) – give it a try!”

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