“Everything and nothing” – Teachers Perspective


People go to school and they graduate.

Teachers teach and sometimes pupils learn.

Maybe the pupil learned only part of what the teachers wanted to teach them. For example they may have learned enough maths to get by and then as life developed they get or work out what else they need to know.

You can never be sure what you teach is what they learn as that is their experience. You are not there to sort the whole of the rest of their lives. We all exist in time and the future and their future needs will solved by them and applying what skills they have.

Be careful not to end gain and want more than this:

  • I feel better – yes
  • I feel lighter – yes
  • I am clearer in thought – yes
  • I can do that better – yes

Do you see that they get out of it what they get out of it, it is everything and nothing all at once.

What is the purpose of education, in its broadest and narrowest sense be it Somatics, school or sport?

An answer and one i favour is not performance per se, or even qualifications, it is merely the desire to learn and be interested. School cannot teach everything, but it can give you skills and set you off in a direction.

In the case of sport there is usually only one winner, so what of the rest, have they wasted their time? Or is their value in playing and competiting even outside the rostrum? Is the medal the only reward or can value be had from mastery and play?

In the case of Somatics, if they are in pain, or immobile help them with that and let them be on their way, on their way to be free. Let them find mastery in the rest of their lives and not expect it within the sessions. Our education doesn’t finish with graduation and neither in the confines of a movement session.

Things moving freely.

Further Reading:


Pathways – Habits

"PurkinjeCell". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PurkinjeCell.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PurkinjeCell.jpg
“PurkinjeCell”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PurkinjeCell.jpg#mediaviewer/File:PurkinjeCell.jpg

The more a motor pattern is undertaken, the more well trodden the pathway becomes.

The less a pathway is used the more it becomes overgrown.

You will have developed both helpful and unhelpful habits which have both laid down pathways. Maybe the unhelpful habits are remnants of a once useful habit.

Take for example an injured ankle, this will invoke a limp. Long after the injury has healed the limp may remain with the resultant tightening at the waist and the extra load on the other leg. Long after the initial injury has healed the compensatory patterns may cause other issues, the passage of time will hide the original cause.

People sense the pain but not the movement pattern causing it.


Further Reading:

Purkinje Cell



Three words.

Whirlpool Galaxy M51 & Companion Galaxy [hs-2005-12-a-large_web]

Grace comes down to three words:

“Things moving freely”

Those three words are exhibited in the cosmos and are the way of graceful animal movement.

In the case of animal movement what is preventing graceful movement? Structural issues aside let us focus our gaze on the nervous system.

Ask yourself this question with experience and not words:

How is your nervous system holding you?

When lying down on a firm surface yield to it and see how you are lying are you holding yourself even when the unyielding surface can support you?

Ref:  http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/entire/pr2005012a/large_web/

Go Towards….

can you touch the floor copy cropped

Have you ever had pain occur when you pick something albeit small up off of the floor.

Two things come to mind:

  1. Its probably not that incident that was the sole cause, merely it was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. A build up of tension from repeatedly doing similar activities which comes to meet a threshold, cue spasm to protect the back.
  2. Adults often pick things up off of the floor by staying as far away from them as possible, in other words not squatting. Go towards the object instead of trying to stay upright, not just using the back but the joints of the legs also.

The paradox is what we do, to get the object we stay away when the opposite would be the better course of action.


Can you touch the floor?

By this I mean can you touch it and not merely press or push on it?

Try getting up in different ways, varying:

  • Amounts of hand pressure
  • Amount of contact be it fingers, palm, fist…..

What do you notice happening with other parts of the body when you vary pressure and amount of contact?



Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning in a general sense.


Continuing the theme of self-awareness/sensitivity to improve technique let us look at the use of a witness.

A witness is good for safety, reassurance and feedback.

Over time reassurance is less important as the paddler becomes more confident, safety is a personal thing.

Unless the paddler is calm and using the minimum required effort then they will not develop self-awareness and sensitivity to be able to take comments on board and change their technique or in time become self-aware.

A lot of paddlers listen to the comments but then apply the same amount force, take the same line or use the same strokes this makes the witness of little use. #WorkInProgress

witness - 1st person - 3rd person

Get a grip.

Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to gripping in a general sense and could be applied to many things such as:

  • Writing: gripping of a pen, quality of handwriting and any pain
  • Cycling: the ability to control the bike with ease and any pain in arms, shoulders or neck.

Continuing the theme of sensitivity.

Gripping hard can cause problems (see carpal tunnel) esp when flexing and extending wrist. But that aside try this experiment seated and with an empty hand. Repeat each step a couple of times. Try with dominant hand in first instance.

  1. Clench fist and relax.
  2. With hand on forearm clench fist again.
  3. With hand on Deltoid clench fist again


What do you notice when you clenched fist?

Takeaway points:

  1. Functionally the hand starts in the forearm.
  2. The harder you grip the tension goes up the arm and stiffens the shoulder girdle.
  3. This tension up the arm results in less mobility when side support is required, which can result in strained shoulder/dislocations.
  4. Try using the back when paddling forward and the arms for other strokes.
  5. Your grip does not need to be that hard, it will prevent a fluid action.
  6. Gripping hard will reduce your sensitivity of the paddles position in space.
  7. So basically relax your grip when you paddle, the correct amount of tension is “enough” and no more.
  8. What is useful tension and what is not useful tension.


The sensory motor homunculus resizes the body parts of the human being according to the amount of cortical representation it has. The hands, lips are larger and the torso is small as the amount of brain processing power devoted to that body part is less.

Motor somato

  • Trauma aside, be it accident or surgery, where is your pain?
  • Is the pain in the enlarged “smart” regions or the small “stupid” parts?
  • Is society plagued by hand and lip pain or by back, hip & knee pain?



Although originally published in relation to kayaking/canoeing this post is applicable to learning a movement or sport.

Messrs Weber-Fechner

Do you sense by hitting or stroking? By pulling the blade mindlessly through the water or slowly and therefore sensing the resistance of the water against the blade? The latter will educate you to the angle of your blade.

This is applicable not just to paddling but to all sensing.

Further reading: Weber Fechner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weber–Fechner_law