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The Principle Of Fulcrum In Human Movement

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

It is difficult to find movement principles that are potent enough to hold water in a variety of applications and disciplines. The reason is that those principles are very often hidden within what we already do regularly.

For example, principles from physics or biology are based on careful observation of what is already there. Osmosis and gravity existed before they had a name and it took a long process until the right train of thought defined them as forces of nature.

In movement, observation is challenging because it inevitably influences the object that is being observed. While we can argue if observing a tree makes a difference in how it grows, it is quite obvious that a mover that is being observed moves differently than when they are alone. However, a careful and attentive search can point towards some principles that will be more "truthy" (a borrowed term from Philosopher Timothy Norton) than others. The standard for truthiness is simple, principles that survive changes of context carry more possible development than others. I am doubting the relevance of a nuanced spinning 3 pointer in basketball outside of the sport, or a jumping spinning kick outside of a competitive martial arts rule-set. Nevertheless, landing mechanics of both examples can serve even an elder mover who is looking to reduce pain while going down the stairs.

The 'fulcrum' is one of those universal principles in my opinion. The fulcrum is an idea that is most commonly used in machines or engineering. It refers to the single point on which a balanced bar is supported. The pivot of a lever is another way to think of it. A fulcrum can also be more abstract and relate to the main thing, or person, that is needed for work to happen or for a situation to move forwards. When borrowed into the context of human movement, it means a point of contact with the floor that carries most of the weight, and therefore, can change the body's direction efficiently.

I've been studying and practicing this idea for the past few years and learned that it is mostly found in 3 types of activities:

1) Activities that involve fluent weight shifting

2) Activities that involve extending limbs further than "neutral" extension

3) Activities that involve moving while carrying heavy weight

In other words: there is a technical overlap between Surfing, Ballet and Sumo Wrestling. This overlap is expressed elegantly through the idea of the fulcrum.

I invite you to ask yourself if more awareness of fulcrums in your own practice can benefit your skill development. Furthermore, can it benefit your general lifestyle and daily movement?

In the video I demonstrate the idea through a floor work sequence and a partnering drill during a recent Movement Archery workshop in Amsterdam.

* If you would like to experience the teaching philosophy of Movement Archery have a look at our upcoming live workshops and our online courses.


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