Knowing that it is in the nature of all things to transform and grow, how can one innovate without making grave mistakes or ending up practicing something worthless?
One of the fundamental topical issues of alive fields, lays in understanding where to go next.
Let’s address this matter.
Just as we are learning from evolutionary biology, a practice cannot change in the blink of an eye. It needs time to mature, diversify, and develop. It requires strong roots and daily work to branch out into a strong tree.
I am choosing the paragon of plants not by chance, as they well reflect the need for a long-term strategy and the need for galactic patience. They don’t patch outside things to themselves, rather they unfold constantly in an expansive stream.
This means that pieces cannot be added at random but need to follow a certain logic (unless you wish to have an unstable and abominable Frankenstein at your disposal). It won’t serve you well and it will be rapidly forgotten.
A movement practice to be growing well needs continuity (in terms of practical progression, honest pruning, direct branching), comparison (with history, with other researchers, and with practitioners), integration (in terms of skills, attributes, and qualities).
One should first learn how to stand, then how to take a step, then how to run, then how to display adroitness in a game and so on. Complex abilities build one on top of the next from exact yet infinite origins. Capabilities should continue to evolve in the direction of increasing complexity and into the development dexterity: making sure that the skills learned are linkable, accessible, and real. If a field doesn’t require skill acquisition, it won’t induce real change and it won’t be transformative.
If parts of one’s practice does not respond to these rules, it should be pruned away from the main direction, and transferred to corollary junctions.
On the other hand, when there is a potential part of the system that can evolve it should be expanded and nurtured.
A constant observation in relationships between present and past should happen at any stage. Only once a tradition is absorbed completely then it can be evolved. Thinking of doing innovation when one is just repeating pieces that had already been discovered is often happening. This leads to three problems: wasting valuable time, a stall in innovation, and retroactive plagiarism. Nobody will believe you if you try to convince the world you were the first one to discover the theory of relativity in your room in 2022, and overall, it will not be in line with where research is edging right now, a complete waste of resources.
Aside from the past, this means that you also have to make sure you know where a field is being led, from thinkers and theoretical explorers but also in the undergrounds and in the web. Some phenomenal practitioners are shooting new ideas from the shadows, through direct experimentation. You should know about them.
When new material is created it should be amalgamated and cross tested in a variety of platforms for examination, in scenarios for growth, and at times even back to the original roots. This is one of the strongest controls one can install to make sure not to go off track. So, here’s a few questions to keep in mind.
– Is the skill you trained reappearing in your continual practice?
(i.e. of skills: jumping, sliding, swinging…)
– What are the attributes that comprise the field you are studying?
(i.e. of attributes: lightness, control, repeatability…)
– Which qualities are at the base of what you are training?
(i.e. of qualities: memory, strength, sensitivity…)
If these questions are not asked, it is likely that one will end up training without a coherent sense.
Here’s a diagram that exemplifies the approach I have when creating new material in the movement practice of my school (and takes into consideration the three laws I talked about up here): I explore and absorb a practice well rooted in history, I break it down in vast scenarios, in them I identify platforms for study, and inside them I develop attributes, skills, qualities, and movement principles which communicate with one another. Not the other way round. In this way I can make sure things are evolving without detrimental sophistications.
In hope this will serve innovators to continue develop this field and practitioners to discern a good direction from a confusing or damaging one.
Bring it on 2022!
Until next time,