Skip to main content

Hacking Fluid Natural Movement by Mark Hatmaker


Let’s attempt to walk smoothly the following seemingly unlikely path: Dog-Interactions, Successful Camel-Herding, Stalk-Hunting, 19th-Century French Literature, and finally end with an exercise called The Movement Soundtrack.

Some people inspire more negative reactions in dogs than others. Some dogs need a warming-up period so that the dog can learn the newcomer’s place in the hierarchy. Dogs can be slower to respond to those with herky-jerky, un-flowing, or quick body movements. Such movement, whether it be borne of aggression, nervousness, or simply the ingrained movement pattern of the human are read as aggressive or suspect by the dog.

If the dog begins barking [the nervous signal] and the human jerks back or retreats, this triggers the dog’s pursuit mode, the interaction deteriorates. The jerking back or retreat seems to “confirm” that this was an interloper or submissive animal to be dominated; a possible friend or dominant animal would not stand-down so easily.

Conversely, nervous or uncertain dogs respond very well to humans with easy fluid movement. Those who do not stand-down to the nervous bark but rather remain smooth and seek to engage. This goes a long way to making the introduction a success.

Tangent #1: Literature and anthropology regarding indigenous peoples often refers to the easy, fluid, smooth movements of tribal peoples; the characteristic effortlessness or suppleness. Some have postulated that this is due to an active lifestyle that over time has ingrained fluidity, others say that our ungainly footwear and unnatural environment fosters ungainly unnatural movement.

Both of these might be the case, or at least part of the answer.

But, consider the following with the above example with dog interaction in mind. Cultures with a close affinity with a particular species, a working-relationship [the Comanche with horses, the Bedouins with camel, the Basque with sheep, et cetera] from an early age those embedded in the tribe/culture learn that fluid and smooth is the way to make for fluid and smooth interaction with animals in your purview.

Tangent #2: Indigenous hunters know that whether utilizing “still-hunting” tactics or stalking tactics that require close-kills, fluid and smooth is the watchword from day one.

Herky-jerky, discombobulated, “This is my aggressive walking to the subway stride” is not conducive to the horse herd, the antelope approach, or circling the watching wolf pack.

Smooth, fluid, some would call it calm and natural movement, seems to be the watchword for successful hunters, hunters that have to come close to prey, not those with scopes or other long-distance methods.

Smooth, fluid and intentional is also key when moving among a wild horse herd 400 strong.

And, we don’t need science to tell us this as we all feel it in our bones, but…all the same, studies show that we perceive those with smooth, fluid movement in stride, gesture, overall body-language as more powerful, confident and in control.

Herky-jerky body-language can be perceived as submissive when withdrawn or overcompensating or ridiculous when used in an aggressive manner.

Smooth, fluid, in control of the body is the ideal for hunters, herders, meeting your neighbor’s dog for the first time, navigating the club from door to bar, standing down the potential aggression, hell, simply moving from couch to mailbox.

Tangent #3: The following can be found in Anatole France’s 1894 novel Le Lys Rouge (The Red Lily.)

A character recognizes another character from a great distance on a Parisian street. He is asked how he could have recognized her from so far away with so many people about.

He said he had recognized her in the distance by the outline of her figure and the rhythmic movement of her walk.

“Graceful motion,” he said, “is to the eyes what music is to the ears.”

With that lesson in mind, what might the “music” of your walk, the melody of your own movement be as seen by others?

Let’s go it one better and assume nothing.

The Movement Soundtrack Exercise

We usually fall into two camps, we move in our habitual patterns with zero-idea of how we appear to others or the horse herd, or…

We “think” we have an idea of how we are perceived. We may assume that our swagger is accompanied by the soundtrack to Black Panther but if viewed on video we may have the same somewhat disconcerting experience as hearing your voice on audio playback for the first time: “I sound like that? Oh, God!”

For the exercise you can one of two tracks, both if you’d like.

Track 1

·        Set up a tripod and record yourself doing several common motions. Walking, sitting and getting up from a chair, pouring a glass of milk, as many mundane things as you are willing to encounter in a day.

·        Make this video session at least 15-minutes as you will be on “good behavior” initially and offering a “pose” of how you move.

·        ¼ hour seems to be enough to allow you to fall into your natural pattern.

·        Play back, view. Self-assess.

Track 2

·        You can skip the video assessment and assume that we could all use improvement.

·        Create a soundtrack in your head, one that inspires the movement you wish to convey. Over time we behave more and more like our own movement. A good thing in the case of fluid movement and conversely…

·        Ideally, the soundtrack we choose for our inner-ears is one of wolves in the distance, of the nickering of a horse-herd, the tiny snick of a branch off to our left as some unseen possible prey or predator tips its presence.

This “natural soundtrack” will likely cure us of super-hero notions or doorman/bouncer puffed stance and swagger and get us closer to a natural fluidity that signals a good hunter, a good warrior, a good predator, and a good friend to dogs.

Comments

  1. Brilliant. A western take on an eastern method I've been using for years -- I'm adding your method to my repertoire! https://remitchelljr.com/2019/02/12/walking-meditation-and-natural-movement/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Warrior Awareness Drills by Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific…

Awareness Drill: The Top-Down Scan by Mark Hatmaker

American Indians, scouts, and indigenous trackers the world over have been observed to survey terrain/territory in the following manner.
A scan of the sky overhead, then towards the horizon, and then finally moving slowly towards the ground.
The reason being that outdoors, what is overhead-the clouds, flying birds, monkeys in trees, the perched jaguar—these overhead conditions change more rapidly than what is at ground level.
It has been observed by sociologists that Western man whether on a hike outdoors or in an urban environment seldom looks up from the ground or above eye-level. [I would wager that today, he seldom looks up from his phone.]
For the next week I suggest, whether indoors or out, we adopt this native tracker habit. As you step into each new environment [or familiar ones for that matter] scan from the top down.
I find that this grounds me in the awareness mindset. For example, I step into my local Wal-Mart [or an unfamiliar box store while travelling] starting at the top, t…

Resistance is Never Futile by Mark Hatmaker

Should you always fight back? Yes. “But what if…”


Over the course of many years teaching survival-based strategies and tactics the above-exchange has taken place more than a few times. The “but what if…” question is usually posed by well-meaning individuals who haven’t quite grasped the seriousness of physical violence. These are people whose own humanity, whose sense of civility is so strong that they are caught vacillating between fight or flight decisions. It is a shame that these good qualities can sometimes stand in the way of grasping the essential facts of just how dire the threat can be.


The “but what if…” is usually followed by any number of justifications or pie-in-the-sky hopeful mitigations. These “but what if…” objections are based on unfounded trust and an incorrect grasp of probability. The first objection, unfounded trust, is usually based on the following scenario.


Predator: Do what I say and I won’t hurt you.


Or, some other such promise to the victim.


Now, these sorts of …