The Roots of the Natural Mobility Tree

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

Natural Mobility is an approach to developing greater range of motion, movement potential, and general wellness. It integrates elements of all the disciplines that I have spent the most time practicing. They all benefit and compliment one another, and fit together in a perfectly synergistic way, approaching wellness from a unified perspective of both the traditional, and the cutting edge; from the east to the west; from the healing arts, to the martial arts, and the best complements in between.

The first connection I would like to make is between eastern and western approaches.

Eastern approaches look at the body from a functional perspective, whereas western approaches have traditionally viewed things from a structural perspective. This means when Eastern medicine talks about meridians, they are thinking about the connections made between functions in the body, not necessarily the obvious structural form. Western science tends to look at things from a microscopic view, and eastern tends to look at the macro, or bigger picture. I don't see these as opposing approaches, I see them as two unique viewpoints. These viewpoints can be used as tools to understand something deeper, provided that we don't fall into a trap of pitting them against one another, and rather let them compliment each other.

The next connection I'd like to make is between martial and healing arts.

If we understand how bones break, we can better understand what it takes to prevent it, or heal from it. If you know how things are built, they are much easier to destroy, and vice versa. Even though the intention is polar opposite, destroying and building follow the same rules. Looking at healing arts like Shiatsu therapy, and martial arts like Taijutsu, the way we use our bodies are very similar. In Shiatsu, the therapist must work with their hands below their center of gravity, if they are using arm muscles to work, it is not Shiatsu. Shiatsu is about applying the body-weight through a stacked structure, using gravity, not muscular force to do treatment. Any muscular force from the therapist creates resistance from the recipient. Likewise, martial arts requires one to move from their center of gravity and use structural integrity and gravitational force to respond to their opponent. Any muscular force from the martial artist creates resistance and expectation in the opponent. The way we use the body is martial and healing arts is thus, the same.

The integration of traditional and modern approaches is key.

The martial and healing arts that I practice have a long history, and the way people moved by default back then differs greatly to how people have devolved to move now with our culture's increasing levels of sedentarism over the last (not even) 100 years. Because of this there are some things that need to be emphasized that were not considered when these traditions were conceived.

I have found that methods such as MovNat and Functional Range Conditioning recognize the current state that people in today's world are in, and offer a starting point to help their human bodies move and feel how human bodies should. Without fixing these core movement inefficiencies, building a martial practice or Shiatsu skills will be like building a house on a mudslide. Movement & mobility training make it possible to change the way we use our bodies and lay the foundation for cultivating more complex movements

I am integrating lessons from the Japanese healing arts of Shiatsu, Meridian Stretching, Sotai, and Kenbiki Therapy, and martial arts of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, with the western approaches of MovNat Natural Movement and Functional Range Conditioning. In this article we will discuss the connection of all these practices in how they are relevant to movement and mobility development.

Here is a description of each of these practices: Practical Movement Modalities: MovNat Natural Movement Training

A health and fitness discipline based on the practice of human movement including quadrupedal locomotion, balancing, climbing, running, lifting, and much more.​ This practice can be very dynamic, or very slow, and controlled. What makes it unique is it's scale-ability, taking into account the limitations of some people and showing them a path from where they are starting, while offering progressions to challenge those who are more physically inclined. Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu This Japanese system of self defense doesn't just integrate strikes, kicks, blocks, joint locks, throws, holds, chokes, and much more, but it also contains a comprehensive conditioning method. This method involves key exercises for mobilizing the hips, feet, hands, as well as breathing exercises and meditation. It also involves the practice of locomotive skills such as running, climbing, throwing, rolling, jumping, walking, falling and getting up, and more. Mobility Development Modalities: Meridian Stretching Shiatsu's system of stretching and mobilization that aims to balance the build up of tension in the body and promote the natural circulation of subtle energy. In it's base form this involves 6 key stretches with many different variations. This is like an expanded version of the Bujinkan stretches, with more of an emphasis on opening the whole body, rather than specifically mobilizing the hips.

Functional Range Conditioning

A comprehensive joint conditioning system to increase mobility and movement potential, improve the function of the nervous system, and safeguard your joints.​ This method is about extremely slow and controlled movements, mostly joint rotations and isometric contractions so expand your range of motion. This is ideal for people with specific joint flexibility issues in a particular part of the body.

​Sotai Therapy & Exercise

A Japanese method of movement therapy and exercise for structural alignment, mobilization and relief of abnormal pain and tension.​ This involves movement in the direction of least resistance synchronized with the breathing, and sometimes with resistance from a partner. This is ideal for adjusting issues regarding structural misalignment in the body. Sotai is a true hybrid between therapeutic treatment and mobility exercise.

Therapeutic Treatment Modalities:

Shiatsu Therapy

A Japanese form of pressure point therapy for relief of pain, and abnormal tension, as well as increased circulation. This can be learned and practiced on yourself to treat sore muscles, minor injuries, and prevent injuries.

Kinseiryuhou Koshiki Kenbiki Therapy

A Japanese therapy that involves adjusting the alignment of the tendons of the body to relieve pain, abnormal tension, and structural disorders. This is not something you do on your own, but an adjustment takes just a few minutes and usually has a profound effect. We use this system to better understand our relationship with the tendons and ligaments in our bodies. How they all come together: Natural Mobility is like the trunk of a tree, and these disciplines are the roots, some deeper than others. It's one thing to look at varying disciplines as supplementing one another, focusing on what makes them different. I look at the common principles shared by varying disciplines as a means of discerning what is the foundation of the practice, versus the technical aspect of desire-specific applications. This may seem like a lot of modalities, but they each have their place, and work very well together in what I teach as principles. I hope you can better understand why I carefully selected these methods. Though I often do one specific practice, such as teaching Taijutsu or MovNat classes, or doing a therapeutic treatment, know that I have these tools to draw upon if something comes up that needs an out of the box solution.

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