“one who is looking for knowledge is like arrow thrown towards the sun. if that arrow ever touches the sun, it will not come back; but if it touches the sun and comes back to earth, it will no longer be an arrow.” Gourmantché proverb
Moyo! (greetings) This information is intended to help others understand certain conclusions that I have come to throughout my years of training. I by no means allude to having all the answers nor do I proclaim to be a guru of some sort. This is just my interpretations on the Concept of using Movement as a means of fitness, lifestyle and health. Ume Njalo (may you stand forever).
Studying science over the years, I’m fascinated by new discoveries, and how life itself operates. scientific approach and literature intrigues me. One concept taught in biology field is the central dogma of biology. Influenced by this, I decided to create my own “dogma” for movement. Now as a science advocate, I caution from using such words as dogma, and I am a campaigner for “data of dogma” with that said dogma has it place but also should be open to change in the face of new evidence. An even bigger influence is my experience with African culture, martial arts and ADD/Parkour. The practices mentioned have heavily shaped my view of fitness and movement from this I radiate.
With no further due…
The Central Dogma of Movement
Longevity > Utility > Expression
· One should prioritize longevity in practice and training. One should aim one’s training to the point where they can still train regularly even in old age. One’s training should prevent chronic injuries and health issues.
· Next one’s training goals should be rooted in usefulness for everyday obstacles, self, family and community.
· Lastly, one’s training should deal in human creativity/expression.
What is movement?
There is no monopoly on how to define movement but before we move forward, it is necessary that we attempt to define it in relation to physical fitness. Movement is a wide approach to physical fitness training that aims to incorporate the entire body to achieve greater physical goals, in contrast to the more conventional methods of training muscles in isolation of each other.
Natural & functional Movement
The concepts of “natural”, “functional” or anything similar have always been misleading to me. To say that someone practices natural movement is to say that one can practice unnatural movement, the same can be said for concept of functional. What we should ask is how can one do such a feat as be unnatural? For the most part we all share the same anatomy, so wouldn’t anything within the realm of human kinetics be considered natural? Is a break-dancer, powerlifter, wrestler not natural? Is their movement not functional to his/her environment? I think what people are alluding to is that what they deem as “natural” movement is what is closer to humankind’s life history, or Functional movement is more translatable to everyday body mechanics. with that said I still ask, who’s to say that one’s movements aren’t natural? unless we are defying human anatomy, how can we move unnaturally? How we choose to move is only limited to what we want to accomplish in the movement. “we are all human, so every style is limited to the same movements”.
“A man may be born to a heritage, but wisdom comes only with age.” Yoruba proverb
When I played sports as a youth in High School I accumulated quite a few injuries that I still deal with till this day. On retrospect, a lot of the training methods were designed for one thing, maximum output. To run faster, jump higher, and hit harder with-out regards to how this method of training would chronically affect the body. I found that most of the methods that were utilized for training were effective for a certain skill but never for how to deal with the result of preforming a certain skill. In other words, the training rarely ever focused on nor incorporated proper form or techniques to prevent injuries. Years later I still see this kind of method implemented quite frequently in conventional gyms and fitness all over.
For those who are professional athletes this type of training can be useful for their short-lived career because their income is determined by their performance in a highly competitive sport. But this only speaks to a very select and small population in the world. However, you rarely see many retired athletes still in the same physical shape in their “prime”.
As a youth most of my fitness goals were simple. Be the strongest, be the fastest. in my training, I never considered my net health, chronic injuries in short, I rarely thought ahead
I personally plan to live along time, in doing so I not only want to continue to be healthy I want to still be able to move gracefully.
As they say it’s better to be a slow lit candle than a flash in the pan
“to be strong, to be useful”
This saying is used commonly throughout the parkour/ADD community. it centers one’s training around the idea of being useful to oneself, family and community. In the western world, the major theme in the fitness community is to look a certain way, to have a “beach body” to be physically pleasing to the eye. I personally find this route to be not only shallow but short lived. If this is what motivates you then so be it. I have found that when one puts purpose for training towards something outside oneself then one will really start to see results in one’s training
Now let me be clear. I don’t believe training for the perfect body is entirely wrong, but I do believe that this shouldn’t be at the top of ones’ list/goals (unless of course you are a competitive body builder or model of some sort). In my opinion looking the part should be a biproduct of the lifestyle/training one partakes in, not the means to an end.
If we prioritize a certain “look” then our training is bound to be insufficient, in conventional fitness it is very common to see individuals who train this way by isolating certain muscle groups while neglecting others, or
what we can call working their “show muscles”. This type of training is like a high-performance sports car that looks fast and powerful but can’t Perform on an amateur level.
Our approach is rooted in the idea that we are only as strong as our ability to be of use to not only ourselves but our family friends and community. Therefore, our training should reflect this idea, by prioritizing methods & techniques that allow us to function optimally in mundane to the extremely demanding situations & environments.
Expression as an aspect of movement isn’t necessarily practical, yet it is where you find your biggest progress. This is probably the most difficult aspect of training especially in the beginning.
we can look at skateboarding for a clear example. a skater, in the beginning will work on maneuvers or techniques that are practical for riding a skateboard. This would be anything from learning to stay balanced to learning how to brake, and finally learning to ollie. Once one masters the ollie they will most likely go to learn techniques such as kick flips, heel flips, nollies and so on. The ollie is probably the most practical “jumping” technique, but what we see for the most part is mastering the ollie is where the training just begins. It is this type of expression that exceeds practicality but yet has made skating what it is today and it continues to evolve & improve the art.
There is an African proverb that states “come in your own name not in my mines.” And this means never copy something 100 percent. This is relevant because we are not carbon copies of each other, not one is born the same, and for sure no one experiences life in the exact same way as someone else. our expressions should be no different our uniqueness or unconventional methods is what drives innovation & true progress in all facets of being human.
“practice is higher than theory”
M. Baba Shango
These principles can stand on their own but to utilize them all in the right moments we really get the most out of our movement & practice. We need structure to become structure-less; Form to become formless, fluctuating between these modes of movement to create something dynamic. In the African world of music and rhythm, there is often a musical pattern that remains constant, but what makes the music so vitalistic is what I call the “Jazz”. The jazz component is the breaking free of monotonous rhythm patterns, deviating and dwelling in free and almost chaotic expressions only to come back to the source (the constant/repetitive pattern). This “Jazz” can be applied to our training. The approach with Ona-Omi is to utilize techniques, sequences, patterns, and forms but to be able to deviate from this to create vitality within our own
development (i.e. central dogma of movement). Now that we have some understanding of the theory now its time to start to practice. Good luck & may you stand forever!
 I should note that these concepts can bounce around and interchange in priority but for the most part should remain in the given stratification, especially in the beginning of one’s training. More explanation to come.