Updated: Apr 10
→ And why you should practice conceptual thinking
In this post I want to talk about conceptual thinking, in my opinion the most important skill for learning movement. Whenever I teach movement I make use of conceptual thinking within movement.
Let's start with the definition I use..
Conceptual thinking is the ability to understand a movement by identifying patterns or connections with other movements that you already know and embodied
Understand more moves with less experience
Learn movements faster with less confusion
Become your own teacher / less dependant
In other words.. an important skill to quickly learn and broaden understanding of movement.
Let me illustrate this with an example:
When you learn how to punch in your boxing or MMA class, and the trainer is showing you the motion of punching. He shows and explains how to start a punch by twisting your hips and transfer the power created there into your arms.
Now, when you have the ability to immediately link this movement to a throwing motion that you already master — because you’ve thrown a ball hundreds of times during soft-ball games in P.E. — it is much easier to understand and learn the punching motion.
You understand where the power comes from, and you simply revisit the technique of throwing and tweak it here and there until it is your fist instead of that soft-ball in high school. This skill is applicable to ALL movement
However, you do need a basic understanding. But the better you become at conceptual thinking, the more movements you figure out with less experience. But over time, by learning more movements, you also have more experience. So it will be an exponential curve anyway.
I am most experienced with this skill within dance, martial arts and acrobatics. But it transfers to all kinds of movement. But I above all movement I am familiar with figuring out this skill in itself, and it is truly fascinating. A golden bullet for anyone that enjoys learning movement.
How to start?
1. You need a basic understanding of movement, in other words → experience.
So the start would be to move in areas that interest you. It doesn't matter how bad you are, just begin.
2. After gaining some experience in the area you wish to master → start to look for overlapping concepts
3. With the experience of your humble beginners experience start to explore these new pathways.
Having this skill is great but be aware that when you become good at conceptual thinking, your body often becomes the weak link in the chain of mastering movement. It will lack something that prevents you from doing or even attempting the movement. This can either be flexibility, power or coordination. More about that coming next..