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, pa.aikido@gmail.com  360-477-5301


Upcoming events in the movement arts

Aikido events  in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Please add your Aikido event to this list by submitting a comment below. Include a website address in your posting.

March 2010

27-28 Seminar with Elmer Tancinco Sensei at Eugene Aikikai

27-28 Daito Ryu Aikijutsu Seminar with H. Popkin Sensei at Budo Dojo: http://www.budodojo.com/

April 2010

9-10 Yamada Sensei at Puget Sound Aikikai, Seattle WA: http://www.pugetsoundaikikai.org/

24  Aikido seminar with Daniel Kempling, Sensei at Aikido Takayama, BC Canada: http://www.aikidotakayama.com/events.html

25  Portland Area Aikido dojos gather for the  Annual Friendship Seminar on Sunday April 25th. This year’s hosting dojo is Budo Dojo of Beaverton Oregon. No fees charged, but this event is a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank. For more information visit:

April 30-May 2  Seminar with Bethiaume Sensei at Two Rivers Aikikai, Portland OR: http://www.2rivers.org/event.htm

May ’10

02  Seminar with Bethiaume Sensei at Two Rivers Aikikai, Portland OR: http://www.2rivers.org/event.htm

07-09 Aikido and Iaido Seminar with Daniel Kempling Sensei at Eugene Aikikai

June ’10

July ’10

01-04 Martial Movement/Traditional Life Skills seminar retreat with D. Bluhm Shihan and M. Mathewson Sensei at Ancient Arts Center

Sep ’10

11-12  Bokken and jyo weapons seminar with Mike Flynn Shihan at Eugene Aikikai

Pacific Northwest Regional Aikido Seminar featuring Senseis F. Ishu Ishiyama, 6th dan and Darrell Bluhm, 6th dan.

Birankai North America (Northwest Region), in association with Puget Sound Aikikai, is pleased to host a Regional Aikido seminar featuring special guest instructor F. Ishu Ishiyama Sensei, 6th dan and Darrell Bluhm Sensei, 6th dan, March 14 & 15, 2009, at Puget Sound Aikikai in Seattle, WA.

Aikidoka of all styles and affiliations are welcome to join us for this weekend Aikido intensive, which will provide you with an opportunity to deepen your training through the high quality instruction offered by these experienced and dynamic teachers.

Flyer pdf available here:


Special Guest Instructor:  F.Ishu Ishiyama, 6th dan
Chief Instructor of Vancouver West Aikikai, Vancouver BC

Dr. F. Ishu Ishiyama started training in Aikido in 1968 in Osaka, Japan and has been teaching Aikido for over 35 years. He is a student of the late Bansen Tanaka Shihan, of Osaka Aikikai. In North America, Ishiyama Sensei trained extensively with the late Mitsunari Kanai, Shihan, Chief Instructor of New England Aikikai and with Yukio Kawahara, Shihan, technical director of the Canadian Aikido Federation. Ishiyama Sensei is known for his dynamic technique and impactful teaching style.

Darrell Bluhm, 6th dan
Chief Instructor of Siskiyou Aikikai, Ashland OR

Mr. Darrell Bluhm began his study of Aikido in 1970 and became a student of Kazuo Chiba, Shihan in 1981. Bluhm Sensei holds Shihan certification in Aikido from the Aikikai Foundation – Aikido World Headquarters and is a member of the Birankai North America Senior Council. He is also an instructor of Yang-style Tai Chi and certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. Bluhm Sensei is known for his focus on integrated movement and insightful instruction on the interrelationship between body arts and weapons training.


Seminar Schedule:

Saturday March 14th                   12:00 noon to 5:15pm

Sunday March 15th                  10:00am to 12:30pm


Seminar Tuition:

Full Seminar                             $95.00 USD

Saturday only                          $70.00 USD

Sunday only                            $35.00 USD


We kindly request that all participants pre-register by March 1, 2009.  We are pleased to offer two options for seminar registration: either online with secure payment via PayPal, or by mail-in of the paper registration form and payment by cheque.   

Online pre-registration Option: 

Please visit the Mountain Coast Aikikai Seminar Registration webpage page: http://www.mountaincoastaikikai.com/seminar_online_regn.html

Mail-in pre-registration Option: 

Please complete the registration, read and sign the waiver and release forms (if you have not received forms in the mail, they are available online for printing out at http://www.mountaincoastaikikai.com/seminar_mail-in_regn.html include a check with payment (in US Funds) along with the completed forms and mail to:

Seminar Registration
c/o Mountain Coast Aikikai
#535 – 3495 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC  V5Z 4R3

For additional information about registration, downloadable PDFs of materials or questions about the seminar, please contact:
Mountain Coast Aikikai: 604-737-7395

Seminar Location:

Puget Sound Aikikai, 101 Nickerson Ave. #130, Seattle WA 98109.

Puget Sound Aikikai is located on the north side of Queen Anne Hill, near the Fremont bridge, at   101 Nickerson Ave. (directly behind Tully’s Coffee.) (Link to Map). For questions regarding the dojo, directions, parking, or accommodations please contact:
Puget Sound Aikikai : 206-341-9801



We invite all Aikidoka, regardless of affiliation, to join us in this seminar, to train together and strengthen the bridges between our various dojos in the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.


Seminar Planning Committee:

Daniel Kempling

Jobe Groot

Malory Graham

Suzane Van Amburgh

Martial arts and Dance

There is a natural alignment between dance and the martial arts. This was recently presented in a dynamic way by Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet with the Shaolin Monks. Seeing the dancers and the monks on stage together afforded us the opportunity to compare and contrast their movement qualities. Both clearly embody self-awareness and precision of motion, yet the very way they walk across the stage is so different. When the dancer extends his arm there is a quality of movement tapering off his fingers and continuing out beyond his body. In this case, the ground is a platform for movement to grow upward and outward. The flow and line of movement is primary. When the Shaolin monk extends his arm the movement has a clear destination, a stopping point. The function of the movement is primary (in this case a punch). It was an impressive experience to witness such highly trained and dedicated movement artists on stage together. I hope to see more of this kind of collaboration among the movement arts.

The performance was brought to Portland by Whitebird. See the photo (by Marty Sohl) and description below….

Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet with the Shaolin Monks

Wednesday, September 24, 2008  7:30pm – Portland Oregon

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

“Alonzo King – one of the few bona fide visionaries in the ballet world today.” -San Francisco Chronicle

From California / China

Long River, High Sky

Ballet meets martial arts in Alonzo King’s recent thrilling creation, Long River, High Sky. One of the United States’ most celebrated choreographers, Alonzo King creates contemporary ballets that are hailed for their ability to connect audiences to a profound sense of shared humanity. He has become renowned for his unique collaborations with composers, musicians, and visual artists. Now appearing for the third time on White Bird’s stage, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet will join with the Shaolin Monks of China to create an unprecedented synthesis of Eastern and Western forms of movement. As you experience this fascinating work, you will quickly recognize how King is not only blending two distinct cultural traditions but also demonstrating how interconnected the worlds of ballet and martial arts are.


Read the cover story from the Oregonian A&E by clicking here.

Running Time: 2 hours including intermission

There is a video clip on the whitebird.org site:


photo by Marty Sohl

-posted by spacetomove

What are Movement Arts?

What are “movement arts” anyways?

Eastern versus Western Movement Arts

In the book “Discovering The Body’s Wisdom” , copyright 1996, author Mirka Knaster offers fuel for our discussion of “movement arts”. The scope of her book includes more than movement arts alone. She introduces various forms of bodywork, healing arts, and related issues. She uses the term “Body Ways” as an inclusive umbrella. However, in regards to our discussion she makes a useful distinction between Eastern movement arts and Western movement arts.

Chapter 14 is devoted to “Eastern Movement Arts” and Knaster introduces Chi Kung (aka Qi Gong), Tai-chi Chuan, Aikido, Karate, and Yoga. Excerpts below:

“While you can engage in these movement arts strictly for physical conditioning, or in some cases, for defending yourself, they are also methods for quieting the mind. Their highest purpose is unity and harmony, within and without. You can use them to cultivate consciousness and moral character. Some writers contend that these arts originally developed in relation to spiritual practice and that in certain aspects they still reflect such philosophies as Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Shinto. they are as much a way of being as a prescription for doing. They can foster self-knowledge and strengthen your connection to your own body wisdom.”

“As a kind of meditation in movement, these Eastern arts emphasize conscious awareness and effortless action – what the Taoists cal wei wu wei, ‘doing nothing’ or ‘not doing’, and the Buddhists cal ‘right effort’. In this regard, these body ways are similar to Western functional approaches. … To perform these arts skillfully, you must rely on proprioceptive cues – sensing yourself from inside – before checking your form on the outside.”

Chapter 11 is devoted to Western Movement Arts. Here she includes Laban-Bartenieff, Pilates, Ideokinesis, Contact Improvisation, Continuum, Kinetic Awareness, Authentic Movement, Skinner Releasing Technique, Wetzig Coordination Patterns.

She begins the chapter:

“Eastern movement arts, such as Tai Chi Chuan, Yoga, or Aikido, began in relation to self-defense and/or spiritual practice and evolved as healing arts. Western movement arts had a different beginning – in the world of dance. And although you can use some Eastern and Western movement arts as exercise, that’s not their purpose. Mindlessly repeating movements does not help you break into new territory, whereas unpredictability in movement can awaken you. Aerobics may add years to your life, but it won’t necessarily add life to your years.”

“Since how we move is how we function, many Western movement arts have a lot in common with functional approaches. … But unlike the functional body ways, the movement arts originated with dance and choreography professionals, or established a foothold first among them, to help elevate performance levels.”

“During our early years we explore endlessly, twisting and turning, rolling, reaching, climbing, and falling in the process. But as adults, generally we stop delving into new possibilities and become fixed in the way we move, think, and express our thoughts. We move through life in familiar ways because when we step outside of our usual limitations, we tend to experience confusion and anxiety. We don’t realize that we can also experience enrichment. Restricted movement goes hand in hand with a restricted mind. When we free our movement, we also free our personality. Emotional and mental liveliness accompanies effortless movement.”

“In teaching new movement possibilities, the movement arts may help you gain a new ease in your body and expand not only how you move but also how you feel and think. you can learn to move from within your own body rather than from an external image, and you can discover how to move at your own pace, without pushing and causing tension. You can use these arts as a tool for exploring who you are.”

Again, these excerpts above are from “Discovering the Body’s Wisdom” by Mirka Knaster.


What forms do you think of as “movement arts?”