Bill Evans on learning, self-teaching and the creative process…

“It’s better to do something that’s simple and real –  something you can build on because you know what you’re doing…”  ~ Bill Evans

A fellow aikido teacher (and musician) sent me this wonderful video clip of Bill Evans being interviewed at the piano. It was posted on the site of Edward Yu, author of the excellent book “The Art of Slowing Down”

Here Evans talks about the creative process, learning and the importance of enjoying the “step by step” learning procedure. He demonstrates on the piano.

Brief, delightful, rich!

myelin, habit formation, deliberate practice

How do we learn?

How do we get better at our chosen art?

Why does one person seems to progress faster than another?

Can we improve the quality of our practice?

Here are three reads to consider as you continue to plumb the depths of these questions in your practice:

1. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle


The talent code is built on revolutionary scientific discoveries involving a neural insulator called myelin, which some neurologists now consider to be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Here’s why. Every human skill, whether it’s playing baseball or playing Bach, is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse – basically, a signal traveling through a circuit. Myelin’s vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out. When we fire our circuits in the right way – when we practice swinging that bat or playing that note – our myelin responds by wrapping layers of insulation around that neural circuit, each new layer adding a bit more skill and speed. The thicker the myelin gets, the better it insulates, and the faster and more accurate our movement and thoughts become.

Read more about the Talent Code at Coyle’s website:

See a slide show about how myelin works on this page:

2. Can you Become a Creature of New Habits?

article by  JANET RAE-DUPREE  Published: May 4, 2008 In the New York Times:


“…brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

But don’t bother trying to kill off old habits; once those ruts of procedure are worn into the hippocampus, they’re there to stay. Instead, the new habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass those old roads.”

read more at:


3. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

“One of the most important questions about greatness surrounds the difficulty of delinberate practice. The chief constratint is mental, regardless of the field – evn in sports, where we might think the physical demands are the hardest. Across realms, the required concentration is so intense that it’s exhausting.  If deliberate practice is so hard – if in most cases it’s “not inherently enjoyable,” as some of the top reserchers say – then why do some people put themselves through it day after day for decades, while most do not? Where does the necessary passion come from? That turns out to be quite a deep question. But answers re truning up.”

read more from Colvin’s book at 

Keep learning, practice with attention and thrive!

Understanding Human Movement Dec. 7-9, 2012

Understanding Human Movement

Understanding Human Movement (UHM) is a three part, 45 hour course that presents a
comprehensive and functional view of human movement drawn from Darrell Bluhm’s 40 years
of martial arts training, bodywork experience and anatomy study. Each segment of the course
will include:
– Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons from the “Evolution of Movement” series,
developed by Frank Wildman.
– Presentation and discussion of Functional Anatomy (via video, use of skeleton and
– Movement activities drawn from Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, Mime and other disciplines.

The course will approach movement as one component of Human Action along with sensing,
feeling and thinking. Movement will be studied in the context of the evolutionary history of our
species with the recognition that all human action arises from a dynamic integration of brain,
body and environment. Well-organized movement will be understood as having certain qualities:
reversibility, even distribution of effort, freedom of breath, gravitational force transmitted
through the skeleton. The focus will be on how bones and joints shape movement, seeking
global patterns involving the coordination of the whole muscular skeletal system rather than a
muscle by muscle breakdown of action.

The course is structured around a theory of “Action Systems” developed by Edward Reed
(Encountering the World : Toward an Ecological Psychology). Each segment will consist of 15
hours of class time devoted to the exploration of two action systems.

First Segment (15 hours)
Focus: Orienting System and Perceptual Systems
Actions: bending and turning
Anatomy: spine, head and sensory organs

Second Segment (15 hours)
Focus: Appetitive System and Locomotion System
Actions: breathing, eating, walking and running
Anatomy: diaphragm, ribs, abdomen, pelvis, legs and feet

Third Segment (15 hours)
Focus: Manipulative System and Expressive Systems
Actions: throwing, tool use, non-verbal expression and speaking
Anatomy: shoulder girdle, arms, hands, face and vocal apparatus

Texts utilized in developing the course:
The Thinking Body, Mabel Elsworth Todd
Awareness Through Movement, Moshe Feldenkrais
Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological Psychology, Edward Reed
A Dynamic Relationship to Gravity, Vol. 1 and 2, Edward Maupin
The Body3, Tom Myers

Becoming Animal, David Abram
Anatomy of Movement, Blandine Calais-Germain
Anatomy of the Moving Body, Theodore Dimon Jr.

Visual Material:
Acland’s DVD Atlas of Human Anatomy
Youtube sites

The time has come for the second Understanding Human Movement session, Dec 7-9, 2012.  It is not required to attend the first segment in order to attend this second segment. Hopefully we can make this an annual gathering. Darrell Bluhm is prepared to come and continue sharing his years of experience and knowledge with us. 

Second Segment (15 hours), Dec 7-9, Sequim WA

 [It is not required to attend the first segment in order to attend this second segment.]

Focus: Appetitive System and Locomotion System

Actions: breathing, eating, walking and running

Anatomy: diaphragm, ribs, abdomen, pelvis, legs and feet

Fees: $220
Dates: Dec. 7-9th
Location: 281 Toad Road, Sequim WA 98382
Friday 6-9pm
Saturday Feel free to come watch Aikido classes from 9-11:45am
Saturday 2-7:30pm, includes a 30 min break
Sunday 9-12pm
Sunday 2-6:30pm, includes a 30 min break

Space is limited. Please contact Neilu via email or phone if you are thinking about attending.

Neilu Naini,  360-477-5301

A Change of Focus…

To date, the homepage of Movement Arts Northwest has displayed a compilation/ selection of upcoming Movement Arts events held in the Pacific Northwest. I am now going to change the focus of the front homepage.

I still encourage you to post your events within the movement arts categories listed in the left-hand sidebar! I am happy to post your event listings. Simply choose the category/ movement art most applicable and submit a comment. Write as you would address a prospective participant/attendee/student. Please include a web link in your listing. I will read your submission, check that your link is working and  I will approve the comment for display (as long as it is an appropriate posting). Thank you to all who have participated in posting events.

This site will continue to be a resource for movement arts events in the Pacific Northwest as content is generated by users.  The events calendar is in your hands, gentle readers!

More movement arts!

Do you see a missing category? Please submit your ideas for movement arts that belong in the list. Send in an article describing the art you enjoy. Write an educational  “What is ____” description of the art/ practice along with some links to relevant sites based in OR, WA or BC Canada.

Move, learn, practice, train, center, refresh, breathe and thrive!

Suzane Van Amburgh

movementartsnorthwest (at)




Movement Arts Events ~ Summer/ Fall 2012

Summer/Fall 2012 

Upcoming movement arts events (updated periodically)…


Alsea, OR

Aug 30-Sept 3: Martial Movement and Traditional Life Skills at the Ancient Arts Center with Mathewson and Bluhm Senseis:

Eugene, OR

Oct 5-7: Deena Drake Sensei, Aikido Weapons Seminar at Eugene Aikikai:
Oct 28: Feeting & Walking  at Eugene Yoga, Eugene OR, 1-4pm. Instructor: Kim Cottrell. The process of putting one foot in front of another to ambulate seems such a simple thing and yet the nuances of balance and forward motion can be refined and honed in such a way we can present our most nimble and deft self to all our activities. We can float through our lives and find pleasure in walking the path. For event registration details go to:

Portland metro area, OR

July 26-28: Friendly Pheromones Dance Co comes to Conduit Dance Studio:
Aug 3-5: Aikido seminar with  John Messores, 6th Dan at Budo Dojo, Beaverton:
Aug 9 and 12: Thursday evening and Sunday morning at Multnomah Aikikai, Portland
Aikido classes with special guest instructor Amnon Tzechovoy Sensei, Godan, Shidoin, from Birankai Israel:
View the flyer:
August 10-11The 2012 Galaxy Dance Festival at Portland’s Director Park. It’s an eclectic mix of dance performances, classes and demonstrations – all FREE to the public. Over 20 presenters including the Native American Education Program presenting traditional Native American dances:
Aug 19:Fluidity, Dexterity and elegance is the August theme at Vital Human,  Portland’s Community Feldenkrais® Clinic.  Easy introduction to the Feldenkrais Method®. Low-cost individual sessions:
Aug 31-Sept. 2: Aikido seminar with C. Mulligan/Y. Okamoto Senseis at Portland Aikikai (20th Anniversary!)


Seattle, WA

Sept. 7-8: Aikido seminar with Y. Okamoto Sensei at Puget Sound Aikikai, WA (15th Anniversary!)

Wednesdays: Awareness Through Movement® classes with Lila Hurwitz. Capitol Hill, Velocity Dance Center. Ongoing, drop-ins welcome:

Vancouver, BC

Aug 24-26: Aikido seminar with Senseis Ishiyama and Bluhm at Mountain Coast Aikikai, Vancouver BC:

Victoria, BC

Tuesdays: Awareness Through Movement® classes with Alice Friedman, 5:30-6:45 at Still Point Studio, Harbour House Hotel, Salt Spring Island:

Happy New Year of the Dragon!

2012 Happy New Year of the Dragon! 

Upcoming movement arts events (to be updated).

Body Worlds ~ Let’s Go!

BodyWorlds Headshot

Body Worlds exhibit

Field Trip!   Gather up family and friends – we’re visiting  “Body Worlds and the Brain” at OMSI in Portland Oregon on Sunday January 22, 2012. 

Wouldn’t it be fun to go see the Body Worlds exhibit with a bunch of people who study movement? Martial artists, dancers, Feldies, yogis – come one come all.

The focus of this exhibit is on the brain, and if you haven’t seen a Body World’s exhibit before, it’s a very interesting and fascinating way to observe the human body, a unique experience. Here is a brief description and a link for those of you who are not familiar with the exhibit:

“Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS & The Brain

includes more than 200 authentic human specimens and highlights neuroscience, brain development and performance. Through respectful, aesthetic displays, this all-new exhibition invites intensive study and profound reflection on the power, beauty, and fragility of the human body”

The deadline for discounted tickets has passed but you can still come with us!
 Here’s what to do…

1. Contact OMSI directly to reserve your tickets and request the designated date and time  of January 22, 10am. Then meet up with us on-site at OMSI.
2. Send an email to Tell us you want to go to Body Worlds with Space To Move!
This trip is organized by Suzane Van Amburgh of Space To Move & Multnomah Aikikai.