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The Domains of Natural Movement

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

In the MovNat system, the practice of Natural Movement can be divided into 3 domains. These domains include the categories of locomotion, manipulation, and combatives. Locomotion is about getting from point a to point b, manipulation is about moving objects in your environment, and combatives is about self-defense skills.

Locomotion: Point 'A' to Point 'B'

Locomotion can be further divided to include ground movements like transitioning between sitting or lying positions, crawling, rolling, and squatting as a dynamic movement, not just a resting position and resistance exercise. Another division of locomotion is gait, which includes walking, balancing, and running. This also includes skills like running up or across vertical surfaces to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. There are also airborne movements which include jumping, and vaulting, as well as suspension skills like swinging under a branch or bar, climbing up and over, and climbing or traversing under the edge of a wall. Locomotion goes deep, and is usually present in some way in the practice of many skills in the other domains.

Manipulation: Interacting with Another Object

Manipulation is all about lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching. Carrying can be combined with many skills in the locomotion domain, like balancing carries, vaulting or climbing while managing a load, crawling and dragging something heavy, and your imagination is the limit here once you have all the fundamental pieces in place. Throwing could be something light or very heavy, could include one hand or two, could be an object like a ball, or a special tool like a throwing weapon. Manipulation is what happens when your movement involves the inclusion of an object outside of yourself.

These two domains are where the MovNat certification really focuses in on, and this builds the foundation for all other movements. Combatives and Aquatics are specialty courses in the MovNat system and a little too specialized and involved to include in the basic certifications.

Combatives: Self-Defense for Survival

The combative skills in MovNat can be boiled down to striking, kicking, and grappling, but these are deep skills that require years of devoted practice to really apply in reality. The MovNat Combatives course will teach you which strikes are most reliable for untrained individuals, what targets are the most effective for breaking contact with an aggressor, and adopting the mindset of breaking free and escaping, rather than staying to finish the fight like a sport.

This is very much about situational awareness and developing your instinct and understanding of different kinds of violence. It’s deep enough to merit a weekend-long course on it’s own and even then, you shouldn’t expect to be learning how to beat people up. Being able to really fight to protect yourself and others is not something you can learn in one shot, it’s something that needs to be cultivated through consistent disciplined practice over the course of several years. The mindset of MovNat’s combatives course is to be aware of, prevent, and disengage from a physical altercation, not dominate it.

This skillset can be considered a mix of locomotion and manipulation in a very specific context.

Aquatics: Natural Movement in the Water

While a part of locomotion, the conditions of this movement are complex enough to merit it's own section. When it comes to aquatics we look at the basic strokes and how to reduce drag while we swim with proper form, also underwater swimming, some introductory free-diving principles, and breath-hold optimization. These are simple concepts, but take a lot of practice and training to be able to apply it efficiently.

The Full Spectrum

In review, the domain of locomotion include skills like ground movement, gait (balancing, running, walking), jumping, climbing, swimming, and is characterized by the necessity to move from point A to point B. The domain of manipulation includes lifting, carrying, throwing and catching, and is where MovNat connects to the strength training side of fitness. The domain of combatives includes striking, kicking, and grappling, as well as the application of locomotive movements from a defensive perspective.

Natural Movement is all about reconnecting with the full spectrum of human movement patterns. These domains are just one way to divide these skills, and more importantly how to look at the movements we need to integrate in our lives to stimulate our biological movement needs.

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