What Is Movement Learning Systems?



 MLS is about so much more. The Scientific Method, mathematics, physics, biology and information theory. Movement science, evolution, philosophy and biomechanics. The Constructal Law, the history of ideas, consilience and big and small history. These are some of the ideas and subjects I will be addressing in my blog. I hope you’ll join me. It will be interesting and fun.

Movement Learning Systems. What does mean? It means exactly what it says.  Learning through movement, systemically. The first two words are familiar however systemic may be an unusual word to use. In systems thinking the important aspect is not how a part performs but how the relationship between parts maintain a smooth working environment. When there are physical challenges or performance issues, the movement system compensates in order to continue to function properly. So, MLS is what it means and does. 

There are three streams of thought that make up MLS. The first stream is Somatic Movement Education. Somatic means body oriented. When you move, how does it feel physically? Somatic education methods use this awareness of sensations, internally and externally, along with acute attention to give a more complete picture of what you’re trying to achieve. MLS is profoundly influenced by the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, Israeli engineer, scientist and Judo master. He developed his method from the 1930’s through the 1970’s. Though unfortunately packaged as alternative care, it is instead the premier method of movement education. His work has influenced traditional rehabilitation and performance enhancement.

 The second thread is the Japanese defensive martial art of Aikido. Aikido uses timing, rhythm, balance and spatial strategy in order to neutralize aggression.  The Aikido that MLS uses is close in origin to the martial art as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. It is precise, using kinematic linkage for control and the unbalancing of the aggressor while moving through the easiest path possible to bring the assault to a close. In Aikido, it is never where the movement appears to be but the path it follows in space. MLS uses this unique idea of predicting the future path of the movement. This develops a more dynamic picture of what one is intending to do.

 The final element of MLS is Music Performance Strategy. You learn many things to become a performing musician. One of the fundamental strategies is Theme and Variation. For example, play a familiar eight bar phrase in a particular musical style. That’s the Theme. Then play the same eight bar phrase in different ways. Loud or soft. Fast and slow. Up an octave or down an octave. These are the Variations. Then you play the same phrase in the same musical style and see what has changed. Not better or worse or right or wrong. See if what has changed comes closer to what you want to communicate.