Back to School, pt. 1

I’m in the beginning phases of a Masters degree in Human Movement science. This process will have a major impact on my knowledge of training practices and program design, and I anticipate that much of what I learn will spill over into this blog in the form of correlations to how training for fighting arts may be improved. The other students have diverse and impressive backgrounds, including karate/MMA, and I will learn just as much from them as from the course materials. I also owe Bob, Chopper, and everyone in our intrepid little group a tremendous debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to this path and providing some of the impetus for undertaking it.

One of the first tasks is to provide some information about how we ended up pursuing a degree in the HM field and what our specific goals and interests are are. So to kick off  what will essentially be a two-year geek out fest, here’s mine:


I’ve always been interested in how the brain and body work to produce movement, but I did not choose that path of study in college. Since then I’ve recognized that my broad interest in the martial arts and physical activity in general was turning into an obsession with anatomy, physiology and performance. After much independent study and taking related Human Performance courses at the college I work for, I decided to pursue NAMS’s CPT credential. I started there to get my feet slightly wetter in the field, and it only added to my curiosity and desire for further learning. Applying movement science concepts to my own training and instruction produced dividends that more “standard” training had not. Sort of by coincidence, I stumbled across ATSU while researching graduate level programs that might relate to my specific interests. The concept of a program devoted to the multi-faceted nature of human movement immediately caught my attention.

In the mean time I’ve been working on a project to create educational materials on up-to-date training methods and strategies for instructors and students of various fighting arts and sports. There are a lot of outdated and potentially injurious ideas out there about the how’s and why’s of training for fighting or self defense skills. I’ve come into contact with so many long-term practitioners who have ankle, knee, hip, lower back and shoulder problems brought on by the very training that was supposed to make them stronger and healthier. I firmly believe that all fighting arts/sports can benefit from improved physical conditioning methods that are oriented toward long-term injury avoidance as well as performance enhancement. Activity-specific training alongside the skill domains of various arts/sports can allow instructors to provide both safer and more productive training around their students’ individual chronic injuries and movement patterns, as well as their training goals (competition, self protection, etc.). My partner in this venture is a CES and CPT, and seeing how his knowledge has taken our own practice much farther than “standard” training alone motivated me to pursue this program. I want to be able to provide the best possible information and programming to my own students and peers, and to create the opportunity to transition into a career that is in line with my passion.

As an educator, I also have a strong interest in the application of physical training to enhance classroom learning and to help brain injury patients capitalize on neuroplasticty. I designed a pilot program for my institution based on the growing research into neurogenesis and enhanced memory recall as a result of intense exercise and I am eager to see how I might improve upon it. From my own experience as a brain injury survivor, I am convinced that individually-tailored physical activity is absolutely vital to making the most of the brain’s ability to recover from trauma. A specific sub-interest in this area is investigating what forms of motor representation and recall are used when people improve in a physical activity and how this benefits the rest of our cognitive abilities.

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