The Connection between the Body and the Brain


October 2016


 

Top executives frequently have basketball nets and such in their office; it makes sense to combine the physical with the mental, as they are so closely connected. Our philosophy at the Dojo (karate school) is to stimulate consciousness and awareness primarily through physical activity. Jean Piaget, famous for his contributions to Developmental Psychology, was the first to realize that all concept development begins physically on a sensory-motor level. Even the most sophisticated abstract concepts can only develop as a consequence of earlier appropriate sensory-motor practice.
Glenn Doman, the internationally famous pioneer of “The Institutes for the Development of Human Potential”, realized long ago that brain-damaged children could often be led to a full recovery if natural reflexes were appropriately stimulated to encourage the next necessary steps in development. One day, while listening to a severely brain damaged five year old boy reading to him on a high school level, he asked himself the question, “what is the matter with normal kids who cannot read”. He went on to modify his techniques, which had been developed to teach brain-damaged children, to enable him to teach normal babies (aged 6 months -3 years) math and reading. I used his methods when teaching my daughter to read as a toddler.


 

( Sensei Sheila holds a pad for Carmen to kick at the Shiaii )   (Photo by JoEllen Bate)

Newsletter October 2016

( Notice that Carmen has her standing foot precisely angled, her hands are up, her head-neck orientation is great and her shoulders are relaxed. Her kicking foot is perfectly formed. She is balanced, poised and powerful as a result. Carmen is age 6 and a Karate Tiger. )

 


 

F.M. Alexander created his technique for the attainment of poise following research on his own voice. The “Alexander Method” has since been expanded to utilize reflexive movement to retrain the body to accomplish all manner of physical skills, while maintaining a state of relaxed poise. The tendency, Alexander noticed, was for students to “muscle up” prior to moving, often in a way that made smooth natural movement impossible. His training method allowed his students to learn to extend into what they were doing, regardless of what the action entailed, rather than contracting into their movements. All movements in the MuDoKai curriculum are to be taught and practiced using the “Alexander Principle”.
In our rush to conform with the traditions of the public education system, like homework and coaching for tests, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of developing our children's thinking skills. Jean Piaget showed how the development of thinking is connected to physical activities. Stimulating a child’s neurology in karate class leads to the development of new conceptual thinking skills, and is a practical way to promote the essential growth of children’s thinking abilities.
Our program is excellent for adults as well. After all, we are never too old to learn.


2016 Shihan Robert H. Mason