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

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:

April 2010

9-10 Yamada Sensei at Puget Sound Aikikai, Seattle WA:

24  Aikido seminar with Daniel Kempling, Sensei at Aikido Takayama, BC Canada:

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:

May ’10

02  Seminar with Bethiaume Sensei at Two Rivers Aikikai, Portland OR:

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

Learning How To Learn: Education for the Future

Feldenkrais Method® Conference, August 2-6, 2009  in Forest Grove, OR

Learning How To Learn: Education for the Future. Click here to view PDF

…or copy and paste this url into your browser

This conference brings some of the best teachers in the field from all over North America. They will teach free Awareness Through Movement® Classes and low cost workshops through the week. There are options for participation. Read on !

-Space To Move

Experience the Feldenkrais Method® in Forest Grove, OR this summer!

Learning How To Learn: Education for the Future
Feldenkrais Method Annual Conference
Sunday, August 2- Thursday August 6, 2009
Pacific University
Forest Grove, Oregon

Reconnect with your natural ability to move, think and feel at the Conference! Participate in a workshop or, better yet, give yourself a five-day immersion experience. Housing is available on the beautiful Pacific University campus in the foothills of the Oregon Coast mountain range, 30 minutes west of Portland and one hour from the ocean.

To register for workshops or learn how to plan your conference experience visit:

Friends of Feldenkrais® receive 10% off registration- Join now and save!

Public workshops include:
S2: The Effective Voice: Teaching from a Feldenkrais Method® Perspective
Marina Gilman

SM1: Learning How Babies and Children Learn
Donna Ray, MA, MFT

SM2: Esther Thelen’s Legacy: Applying the Relationships and Processes of Research to the Feldenkrais Method®
Pat Buchanan, PhD, ATC, PT, James Stephens, PhD, PT, GCFP

M2: The Ability To Reason: Learning For the 21st Century
Linda Flanders

W1: Awareness Through Movement® and Awareness Through Stillness
Russell Delman

W2: Power Learning: The Feldenkrais Method® in the Classroom
Beth Sidlow Mann

W3: Integrating Tellington TTouch® into your Professional Practice and Everyday Life
Linda Tellington-Jones

H1: Neural Moonlighting: Snooze your way to better memory, learning, and motor skills
Michael Krugman

H2: 1 mm: The Difference Between the Impossible and the Possible
Judy Remedios

H3: Creative Learning through Movement with Children
Sonja Sutherland

FREE  Awareness Through Movement® Classes

Sunday Aug. 2 – Thursday Aug 6, 8:30 am – 9:45 am

To register and for more information, please visit:

Questions? Contact:
Lynn Ford
Membership and Conference Assistant Phone: 800-775-2118 ext 125
Fax: 503-221-6616

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:

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 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

Movement Arts ~ Space To Move


Change happens.

Our ability to adapt to the continually changing environment keeps us healthy and allows us to thrive. Be present and aware of what’s actually happening in the moment. Stay centered and organize yourself to meet the challenge before you. When you find yourself in the tight spot remember there is always space to move.

Learn, practice, thrive.