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[中][Eng]從人體動作到自身學問 From Human Movement to Self-Knowledge

中文校訂Chinese Editing:劉詠芝 Iris Lau

(原文刊於2008年《舞蹈手札》第十冊第三期 Originally published on dance journal/hk 10-3 in 2008)


The Study of Human Movement

每當我告訴朋友我對人「動」的現象 (phenomenon of human movement)甚感興趣,並且熱中於對它的研究時,他們總是報以困惑的目光,好像不明白我在說些什麼。為何人「動」的現象可以令人著迷?而研究人的動作又是怎麼樣一回事?

Whenever I tell my friends that I am quite fascinated with the phenomenon of human movement and am very enthusiastic about the study of it, they tend to look at me perplexed as if they do not understand what I am saying. Why is the phenomenon of human movement fascinating? And what is the study of human movement about?


For a normal and healthy adult with no problem doing any daily activity, one tends to overlook how one moves. It will even be harder to imagine the same person becoming interested in the phenomenon of human movement. Yet. I would like to remind those who can move freely with no limitations to really treasure this innate ability. If our ability to move freely is diminished, we will then not take our ability to move for granted. For example, a person with low back pain will become very conscious of how he moves in order not to trigger the pain. Losing our ability to move completely is one of the greatest misfortunes in life.


Structure and Function

身體的結構當然對於我們如何活動有決定性的影響。活動能力上的障礙,往往與結構上的問題相關。例如一個患有嚴重拇襄炎的人行走時會有困難。矯形手術或許是解決結構問題的方法,但假若我們要把這問題澈底根治,便必須找出問題的原因。在各種不同因素下,我們有需要從「功能」的角度——人走路的模式——來看這間題,亦即是要觀察這人慣性走路的方法。觀察一個人活動的模式,就是觀察他如何運用自己身體。因此動作研究是可以提供自身學問 (self-knowledge) 的途徑,特別在我們如何去運用身體。

The anatomical structure of the human body definitely plays an important role in how we are able to move. The diminishing of our ability to move often relates to some forms of abnormality in our anatomical structure. For example, a person with severe problem of bunion will have difficulty walking. Surgical operations in general will be employed as a remedy for structural problems. Yet for an ultimate remedy for the structural problem we need to find out the cause. Amongst the many factors, it is necessary to look at the problem from a functional viewpoint, which is the way the person walks. The habitual pattern of walking often sheds light on the cause of the problem. To look at how one moves is to look at the way one uses one's facility to act. The study of human movement offers insight go self-knowledge in particular with the way we use our body to move.


Habitual Use of the Self


F. Matthias Alexander practicing his own developed Alexander Technique with a lady.

有些時候,身體功能上的障礙不一定有相對結構上的問題。在這,我想引用一位身體運作研究的先驅者亞歷山大 (F. Matthias Alexander) 的一次親身體驗來支持這個論點。亞歷山大是十九世紀來的一個莎劇演員,但當他演出時,說話聲音總是變得嘶啞難聽。雖然做過了很多詳細的檢查,醫生們也找不出問題所在。在別無他法下,亞歷山大決定要自己找出原因。他透過一個三面的組合鏡子非常用心的自我觀察,終於發現到問題所在。他觀察到自己每當發聲時,便會急促地仰頭吸氣,把頭壓到頸和脊椎上。顯而易見,亞歷山大的問題並非是結構上之毛病,而是錯誤地運用身體。要糾正問題,便是糾正他運用身體的慣性模式。

Sometimes functional problems do not always have a tangible physical counterpart. This can be best illustrated by the example of the Shakespearean actor F. Matthias Alexander who first developed his bodywork technique in the last decades of the nineteenth century. He suffered from chronic hoarseness when performing. The medical experts were unable to provide him satisfactory solution to his problem since no physical defect with his vocal organs were detected. Eventually Alexander decided to solve the problem himself. Through painstaking self-observation with a three-way mirror, he discovered that his hoarseness was a result of misuse of his body. He noticed that whenever he attempted to project his voice, he gasped for air by pressing his head down onto the back of his neck and spine. It became clear that the way to solve his vocal problem was to correct his habitual use of his body with a more refined movement pattern.


Basic Nature of Human Movement

亞歷山大的發現看似簡單,但卻提供了很多重要的觀點,幫助我們了解動作的一些基本性質 :

(1) 通常我們對如何運用身體來活動是不自覺的。我們普遍會很清晰的知道行動之目的,和卻不自覺「動」的過程。例如走路時會知道我們要去的目的地,但個中身體如何走路,卻是不自覺。

(2) 人與動物不同,我們一套套的動作模式並非與生俱來,而是從學習和不斷重複中培育出來。這些學習在我們出生初期尤其重要,嬰兒每天的主要活動,莫過於學習如何去活動他們的身體,和建立一套基本動作模式 (Movement Pattern) 。透過動作,嬰兒同時體驗自身和認知外在的世界。

(3) 從學習而得來的動作模式,就像電腦程式,儲存在我們的神經系統中。當我們要履行日常活動時,神經系統會自動從「程式倉庫」中記取基本組合,並把它們組織起來。這都是在潛意識中運作,故我們一般的行為和反應都不自覺地有它固有模式。這「設計」把生活簡化了,因此,學習過的東西無須再學,好讓注意力可以投放在別的事情上。


Simple as it might seem to be, Alexander's discovery offers many important insights into the basic nature of human movement:

(1) Usually we are unconscious of how we move. What we are conscious of in our act is our intent rather than the process of moving. For example, we walk without knowing how we walk. Yet we are quite conscious of where we want to go.

(2) Unlike animals, we are not born with a repertory of ready-made motor skills. All patterns of movement in human beings need to be nurtured and learnt especially during our early stage of life. Babies’ daily activities are mainly in learning and building repertory of a fundamental movement patterns. Through movement they come to perceive the self as well as the world.

(3) What is learnt is stored in our system. Like a computer, we are programmed to behave habitually with a set of specific responses without our conscious awareness. The set-up simplifies life so that every time we act we don't have to re-learn and consciously work out the countless neuromuscular responses involved.

(4) Since circumstances under which we grow up are different, we each possess our own signature of habitual patterns of moving. These patterns of moving that have been built over years may or may not be efficient, coordinated, and free of unnecessary tension. To re-pattern what has already been programmed is no simple matter. And everyone's remedial need is different.


Self-Knowledge and Physical Fitness

運動是身體健康的基本。這是我們常常聽到的忠告。不過是否所有運動也有益處呢 ? 尤其是今天市場上出現形形色色的健身運動,我們應該如何選擇?又會不會選擇錯了,反而令身體受損多於受益?似乎,做運動可否帶來健康是基於下面兩個假設:

(1) 有自身學問,亦很明白個人需要;

(2) 對挑選的運動及其本質有一定程度的理解。

通常一個鍛鍊有益與否,不但在於我們的選擇,更在於這鍛鍊的「做」法。眾所周知,跑步可以改善心肺功能。我們都會跑步,但每個人都有獨特的跑步方法。例如,跑步時習慣把胸腔向前提、兩肩打開,便會增加下腰受到的壓力。如何去協調身體來跑步,便影響了跑步鍛鍊出來的成果。我們常常自稱太忙,而沒有時間去建立自身學問和理解自己身體運用的慣性模式,又或者把這責任託交給私人健身教練。但是,與任何學問一樣 ,要找到一個資深而通曉的老師並不容易。健身行業猶如萬花筒般,有著各式各樣的產品和導師,如何去挑選一個適合自身需要的教練和鍛鍊形式,仍離不開某程度的自身學問和和對動作的理解。現今世代令我們每個人也受到時間的壓力,但假若我們真的希望保持健康,我們便不應以繁忙作藉口,不找時間建立自身學問。

Exercise is essential for good health. This is a common advice that we often hear. Yet are all exercises good? With so many different kinds and forms of exercise in the market, how do we know what to choose? Is it possible that with an inappropriate choice, exercise can do more harm to us than good? Whether exercise can make us healthy seems to be based on two assumptions:

(I) I have good self-knowledge and an understanding of my individual needs;

(2) I have basic understanding of the nature of the exercise.

Often whether an exercise will benefit us or not depends not only on what exercise you do but also on how the exercise is performed. For example, the exercise of jogging is known for its cardiovascular benefit. Although we all run, our way to run is unique. A person who habitually runs with shoulders back and chest pushing up and forward places a great deal of stress on his low back. How a person coordinates his body to run affects the outcome of the exercise. We may claim that we are too busy to have time for self-knowledge and understanding of our habitual use of our body. We can delegate the responsibility to a private trainer. Yet like all disciplines, finding an experienced and knowledgeable teacher is not easy. The physical fitness industry is like a kaleidoscope with a wide variety of products and teachers. How to select a trainer and a discipline of fitness to suit your need still demands self-knowledge and good understanding of human movement. The modern age is stressful, everyone feels the pressures of time. Still, this cannot be an excuse for us not to spare time for self-knowledge if we really want to stay healthy.


The Mind of Movement


行為是一個身體與精神之共同現象 ,精神的功能與身體的功能相互關聯。我們動作的運用反映我們的慣性思維、情緒和信念。假若你在繁忙時間的地鐵站內細看走過的人,你可以發現,現代的急速步伐令所有人處於焦慮之中。 雖然很多人也同意身體與精神是相關的,但要經歷和這方面的個人體驗,才明白其中意義。筆者就有這樣一個深刻體驗。就讀大學初期 ,我曾一度陷於情緒低潮,思想被各種各樣沒有答案的生命命題所糾纏。後來一位朋友提議我參加瑜伽課程。當中,導師以不同的延伸及深呼吸之練習,加上細心的引導,令身體內積壓的壓力短暫地釋放, 使我在每堂課終結時,身體都感覺非常舒暢。奇妙的是,透過培育一個舒展和諧的身體 ,我的精神變得安靜和鬆弛。


The discussion in the above centers on the physical aspect of human movement. For every action, there is a mental component as well as the physical counterpart.

Human behavior is a body-mind phenomenon where the functioning of the mind and the functioning of the body are interrelated. Our way of moving reflects our habitual thinking, feeling, and belief attitudes. If you take a look at how people walk in the metro during rush hours, you will see the anxiety caused by the fast pace of the modern era. Although everyone seems to agree that mind and body are interconnected, this statement has no particular meaning unless it is supported by personal experience. I do recall a body-mind experience, which had a strong impression on me. I was at college at the time and was going through an adolescent crisis. I was depressed and my mind full of many unresolved philosophical issues. With suggestion of a friend, I took a Yoga course. With careful guidance, I learnt how to breathe deeply. Through gentle stretching from different angles and dimensions, tensional blockages and stresses were temporarily released. At the end of every class, I felt refreshed. I was delighted to learn that my mind could become calm and relaxed through the cultivation of a free, easy, and open body. It is not to say that all the issues in my head had resolved.

It is only that I felt so centered that I was able for the time to accept those issues with ease. Perhaps the ultimate transformation has to come from the enlightenment of the mind.


Process vs. End-Gaining

動作並非實物。它是一個身心的過程,可以作為認識自身的媒介。專注「動」的過程,會加強自身的體驗。要達至自身學問,我們需要把行動的焦點,投放於「動」的過程而非最終成果,更要持開放和態度去體驗當中的過程,不去追求立時的成效。或許今天的教育是以成果為本,和我們慣性地把知識視為在客觀世界中可以擁有的東西,而忽略了主觀自身的重要。我還記得一次教授一群快將畢業的大學生的經驗。在這個名為「動的藝術」之工作坊中,學生隨著導引去活動、探索和嘗試。他們受到鼓勵去相信自己,主動投入動與感覺的對話中。在每個階段的探索, 學生也會隨著提示,檢視身體內各種變化。在課堂終結時, 學生都會為他們的發現而感到興奮,就好像那是他們首次發現有關自身的東西。一方面,我為學生們的啟悟而高興;另一方面 ,我懷疑在他們過往所受的教育中,有多少時間把重點放在有關自我的學習上。

Human movement is not a tangible thing. It is a psychophysical process, which can be a means for self-knowledge. By attending to the process of the moving, we come to experience the self-better. To arrive at self-knowledge, our focus is not so much on the goal of an action but the process, which is the movement. We need to be open to go through the process rather than straining for immediate results. Perhaps our schooling today is of end-gaining nature. We are conditioned to see knowledge mainly as something out there in the world to possess, and often neglect the significance of the subjective self. I still remember an experience of conducting a workshop on the art of movement to a group of college students who were about to graduate. Throughout the class, students were guided to move and explore. They were encouraged to trust themselves and actively engaged in dialogue between sensing and moving. For each stage of exploration, they followed the guided checklists to take note of all internal process of changes. At the end of the class, the students got really excited with their discovery. It was almost like this was the first time they discovered something about their bodies. On one hand I felt happy for them with their self-discovery; and on the other hand I wondered when and where their education focussed on learning about the self.



學習認識客觀世界,與學習認識主觀自身,或許是同等重要,但我們的教育,卻看來較著重透過文字與圖像來傳遞概念與資訊性的學問。如果教學內容可以融入主觀性的體驗,整個學習是否更具意義?例如理解一條脊椎的性質,除了學習圖文外,可否直接以「動」的探索來親身體驗?體驗性的學習美妙之處,是可以把整個課室量化成一個實驗場所,客觀性的資訊被轉化成主動的動態體驗。透過對動作內在過程的小心指引,我們不但可以透過體驗把客觀概念轉變為主觀認知,同時亦認識自身*。總結來說, 我們可以歸納出以下重點:

(1) 動作的模式告知我們是如何運用身體。慣性的運作亦反映著慣性的思維、情感和信念。動作的研究是我們達至自身學問的工具。


(3) 透過「動」的體驗來學習,結合了客觀學問和主觀認知。假如一個老師能對「動」的基本有相當程度的理解,他便有更大更多的空間、手法和選擇,來提升學生的學習。


Learning about the world perhaps is as important as learning about the self. It seems that our schooling might have over emphasized imparting conceptual and factual knowledge through language and picture. Wouldn't it be more meaningful if what is taught can be embodied subjectively. For instance, can the understanding of the nature of the spine come directly from movement exploration rather than just reading pictures and factual data? The beauty of experiential learning is that the classroom can become a laboratory where information is transformed into an active moving experience. With careful guidance of the inside process of moving, one comes to learn about the self as well as embody objective concepts into subjective knowledge*. In summary, the major themes that I would like to point out are as follows:

(1) Our movement patterns tell us the way we use the self. Our habitual use/response also reflects our habitual thinking, feeling, and belief attitudes. Movement is a useful means to arrive at self-knowledge.

(2) Whether a physical engagement will lead to self-knowledge depends on how the activity is conducted. For example, the learning of physical skills like dance technique, for which we are instructed to busily imitate the instructor's demonstration, will unlikely attain self-knowledge. Students often strain themselves at all costs just to possess the end product. To arrive at self-knowledge through movement demands us to reconsider our teaching methods and perhaps to focus more on the process of the activity than the goal.

(3) Learning through physical engagement integrates objective knowledge with subjective experience. Perhaps with better understanding of the basic nature of human movement, a teacher can be more equipped and open to facilitate learning in students with more options.

I would like those who once took human movement for granted to look again at what the study of human movement can offer and not to under-estimate its potentials.

* 這教學概念正是 Somatic 研究的基本主旨。

This is the basic theme of Somatic study.



Text: Aaron Wan


Aaron Wan received his university education in the United States of America. Wan earned several Master degrees, including Engineering. Business Administration, and finally Dance from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). It is in dance where Wan became fascinated with the phenomenon of human movement. He sees dance not only as a performing art but also a powerful means to provide direct kinesthetic understanding of the self. A senior lecturer teaching for both the BFA and MFA programs. Wan has been on the School of Dance at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts for twenty-two years. It was in late 1994 when he founded Manna Dance. His ambition is to create works to reveal the significance of dance and its value as an inherent means of human expression within a culture and society. His full-length works include Songs of the Autumn, Labyrinth, The Half and Half Songs, Fleeting Shadows and Undo etc.


編輯手記 Editor's Note

舞蹈是一門講求身體運用的藝術。曾任教於香港演藝學院有二十二年之久的溫玉均撰寫,專長於動作分析和身意內導研究。他在2008年發表的文章「從人體動作到自身學問」 並不專為舞者而寫,一般讀者也適合一讀。文中提出一個問題:我們時時刻刻都在運用身體來做不同的事,但我們對自己的身體運用有何認識?而其中的一些慣性,可能會影響了身體及運動的效能,甚至形成障礙或導致傷害。他指出動作 是一個身心的過程,並鼓勵我們由此動作研究建立自身學問去運用身體。

最近幾個月疫情期間,網上流傳著「無法外出,就往內觀」(If you can’t go outside, go inside)。這篇文章也許能為不同層面的讀者帶來一點啟示,並借全球停擺的時機,檢視及探索身體的運用和各種變化,改變固有模式,讓身心好好相處。

Specializing in Motion Analysis and Somatic, Aaron Wan taught at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts for 22 years. His article "From Human Movement to Self-Knowledge" published in 2008 was not specifically written for dancers, and is suitable for the general reader. In the article, he questions: We use our bodies for various tasks every single moment of our lives, but what do we know about how our bodies work? He points out that the habits we form in using our bodies may affect the effectiveness of our bodies and movements, and even create obstacles or cause injury. Emphasizing that movement is both a physical and mental process, Wan encourages us to build self-awareness in body usage through studying movement.

During the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, the idea “If you can’t go outside, go inside” has been much advocated on the internet. We hope that this article may bring some inspiration to readers from all dance and non-dance backgrounds, and help them to take the opportunity provided by the global shutdown to examine and explore the use of their bodies and the variations in them, to change long-held habits and methods of moving, and to better connect their bodies with their minds.


客席編輯Guest Editor: 劉秀群Cathy Lau Sau Kwan


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