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  • Skill, Understanding and Juggling

    At the bottom of this post is a link for a juggling video sent me by our friend Sebastian in Toronto. I have been sent this several times this week from others who are aware of my interest in juggling as a hobby and I hear from my friends in the juggling community that Chris Bliss’ performance has spread massively across the Internet during the past month. Before you view it I’d like to make a point about this activity and connect to something else done manually that we all share.

    I say to my classes, “Your patient will never be helped by your skills nearly so much as they will be by the depth of your understanding.” For some this is welcome news. They have many doubts about their coordinative ability and are convinced that the sensitivities displayed by veteran therapists are beyond their reach. But they really want to know what is necessary to understand and interpret their patient’s response to handling and movement and if study will be enough then they’re glad to do it.

    For others what I say is bad news. They tell me quite flatly that they don’t like to read and that even if they did their life would never allow them the time to do what I and several others here obviously have done for years. All they want is to be shown what to do. When I show them how to “do nothing” while understanding the deep model the neurobiologic revolution has created and continues to create, well, sometimes they’re not very happy. Not uncommonly they direct their frustration and disappointment at the messenger – that would be me.

    The video shows us a juggler who has created a remarkably entertaining routine that takes just over 4 minutes to complete. Believe it or not, what Chris Bliss actually does here takes only a moderate amount of skill. Among jugglers this is understood though there’s no way for the general public to know that. Even I can do most of this easily and would estimate I could get the rest of it down with a couple of week’s practice. In fact, there is a backlash of criticism in the community led by a particularly skillful and technically brilliant juggler who seems rather upset at Bliss’ recent celebrity. I suppose you can figure out where that comes from.

    I’ve more to say about the distinctions between skill and understanding, about the difference between ease and simplicity and about where truly skillful genius lies in the clinic but that can wait. In the meantime, enjoy the video.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=z965UUEmdB8
    Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 06-04-2006, 01:29 PM.
    Barrett L. Dorko

  • #2
    A good video for activating mirror neurons and perhaps, to rehabilitate neurological patients.


    Flávio.

    Comment


    • #3
      Being a 100% non-juggler, I was very impressed with Chriss Bliss performance - hence my sending it to Barrett. In the mean time, I have found that other jugglers have made similar videos of their performances that make Chris efforts pale in comparison, as well as those who use electronic tricks to make them look better than they are (juggler dropping balls on a floor keyboard, supposedly making the music one hears...). Furthermore, I am very impressed that Barrett can do stuff like this...

      One of the issues with learning a different approach to handling patients is that there is NO specificity to the hands-on technique. NO sidebend, left-rotation 'lock" before the short thrust - no one-hand-holding-the-distal-radio-ulnar-joint-while-the-other-thumb-and-index-finger-mobilises-the-scaphoid-at-grade 4 stuff, NO 10 reps in 3 sets 3 times a week.... There are simply NOT enough instructions to follow minutely. When learning something, many seem to need the play-by-play of all kinds of precise parameter applications - which are lacking in any gentle handling technique.

      Juggling obviously takes time to learn, but cannot be transferred by show-and-tell type of indstruction - I doubt that someone stands over Barrett and says, "throw the blue ball 6 inches higher and flex your left wrist 20 degrees more". It seem a skill that can only be gained by dogged practise within loose parameters: catch the things in good patterns. Period.

      This leads me to believe that many PTs would not make good jugglers, even if they tried...
      We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are - Anais Nin

      I suppose it's easier to believe something than it is to understand it.
      Cmdr. Chris Hadfield on rise of poor / pseudo science

      Pain is a conscious correlate of the implicit perception of threat to body tissue - Lorimer Moseley

      We don't need a body to feel a body. Ronald Melzack

      Comment


      • #4
        Flavio,

        I agree. According to the NOI group, Bliss himself shouldn't be having any pain either because, as they say, he has "juggled it away." It helps that he never seems to drop anything. Just like me.

        At every course I speak of the distinction between "easy" and "simple" and tell the story of how I came to understand this while listening to NPR one day. Here I'll just say that when you're talking about "easy" you're referring to the task itself. When you use the word "simple" you're referring to the thought processes behind the task.

        What Bliss does here is easy for anyone who has devoted a certain amount of time to the craft. But how he has combined these movements with the music is by no means simple. You could spend a great deal of time analyzing the connections he's formed with the rhythm and the lyrics, but even more important is his knowledge of what will impress and entertain. This is genius.

        In my younger days I performed with a troupe occasionally and did a solo act with three bowling balls. Though this bit only contained 25 throws with a few tricks in the midst of them I was actually capable of doing 90 consecutive catches. I kept this a secret from the audience and feigned near complete exhaustion after about 18 catches, finding that this pumped up the applause.

        Show biz.

        The connection to manual technique is this: Much of what is taught within the coercive community by therapists like Kaltenborn and Paris (and I taught with these men) is presented as if it required the kind of skill needed for technically brilliant juggling though the effect of the handling and the thought behind it was relatively simple. Long ago I switched to a manual method that is very easy to do while contending that its effect is complex, to say nothing of how much thought must precede it. In other words, I'm the Chris Bliss of manual care.

        One more thing. Watch the video again and notice the space he allows for the audience. When done at the right moment and for enough time, the audience's reaction becomes the main part of the show - even when they sit in rapt silence while witnessing the beauty of these "easy" movements and listening to these common words sung in just the right way.

        Sounds like what I seek to achieve each day.
        Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 07-04-2006, 01:31 PM.
        Barrett L. Dorko

        Comment


        • #5
          Barret,

          the impressiveness of the combination between music and juggling really is fantastic. That man does know how to make money. And it is this way the world is and always has been since long time ago. It is a good thing, because while some entertain themselves, the entertainer gets a job.

          Well, some questions have been done by neuroscientists:
          • Where is located the intelligence in the brain?
          • Why do we like music?


          But, a question which regards directly me, you, Diane, Bernard, Shacklock, Moseley, Richardson, Nari, Newman and many other PTs, and perhaps, mainly those which work in neurological situations and some kinds of pain, the question can be that:
          • Why do we like so much to see a sport performance or a dance?


          The answer can be several, but, can be also, MIRROR NEURONS. And all I know is that, we have a possibility of, in a near future, to have some new kinds of therapy, based on or stimulating these Mirror Neurons seeing a show like that or a dance / sport performance coined byt this purpose. Who knows? That is not a bad idea. It is just one more technique for us... how good it is.


          Flávio.

          Comment


          • #6
            Flavio,

            I agree entirely.

            Here's a link sent me recently by our friend Ian Stevens.

            http://www.interdisciplines.org/mirror/papers/1

            Here's a great line: "The same functional logic that presides over self-modeling is employed also to model the behavior of others: to perceive an action is equivalent to internally simulating it. This enables the observer to use her/his own resources to experientially penetrate the world of the other by means of a direct, automatic, and unconscious process of simulation."

            Two things here: Handling another with acceptance (Simple Contact) is much more likely to reveal how your patients actually exist than any typical examination or coercion ever would and it is essential for the therapist to display healthful, authentic behaviors so that the patient has the right thing to model.
            Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 07-04-2006, 03:23 PM.
            Barrett L. Dorko

            Comment


            • #7
              Skill vs. Understanding

              Barrett,

              This thread really struck a chord with me, as lately I've been feeling that I have a very solid understanding of chronic painful problems, but very little skill in treating them. SC has worked for me with a moderate degree of success in the short term, but I've no idea what my patients go through once they leave me. I also have yet to abandon all of the leeches stuck to me during my education.

              I'm currently away from practice, caring for my 8 month old daughter which allows for alot of time for thought, but no physical practice. The longer I'm away from the clinic, the more I can't stomach the idea of returning to an environment plagued with memes in which I've lost faith. The option that I continually toy with is doing some solo private practice, but fear my lack of skill and experience despite some solid evidence that new and experienced practicioners have little difference in outcomes.

              I guess the question I keep coming back to is: Is knowledge enough when for many patients you intend to "do nothing".

              P.S. - It has been awhile since I've been on the PT sites. It is good to see your all still out there thinking out loud for my benefit

              Comment


              • #8
                Flavio

                My mirror neurons must be deficient, as I neither watch sport (except maybe the Olympics for a couple of hours) nor do I like watching dancing. Performing these activities is OK up to a point, but watching...is just plain boring.
                I guess the aficionados of both could give a dozen reasons why this is so.
                I await diagnoses of my terminal condition.

                PTPete

                I think Bas said it all neatly:
                There is no specificity with the hands-on technique.
                and because PTs like to be specific in technique (learning and application)....I agree also that they would probably make bad jugglers.
                They more specific one is, the more mechanically-minded is the brain that seeks specificity.
                The environment which is plagued with memes of all sorts is the environment that I had difficulty with over the last 5-6 years. The complicated, tail-chasing details of approaching some poor patient with a crook back was disheartening as well as unnecessary. And after attending Barrett's class, that environment became worse. Thanks Barrett!

                Nonetheless, Pete I am sure you can handle those memes. Though in our free-to-choose environment here in Oz, it is easy for me to say that.

                Nari

                Comment


                • #9
                  "The option that I continually toy with is doing some solo private practice, but fear my lack of skill and experience despite some solid evidence that new and experienced practicioners have little difference in outcomes."

                  In the end, that is the only solution. It will be easier if you openly embrace the idea that it is pain you are really treating, the usual sort that people get, people who are buried under the same faulty memes: e.g. patients who say, "it feels like my back is out; my rib gets stuck, this one right here; I get really tight calves, I need to stretch more; My shoulder feels weak, what can I do to strengthen it? I get this pain in my hip, right here, when I run.. why just this one side?" Those are their own kinesthetic perceptual fantasies (and that as practitioners we have subscribed to! Have designed complete mythical treatment systems to "detect" and "treat"). Solution; educate, help them unload the nervous system, teach them how to keep from loading it again.

                  Don't worry, you'll probably never get rich but you'll always have lots of patients.
                  Last edited by Diane; 08-04-2006, 04:29 PM.
                  Diane
                  www.dermoneuromodulation.com
                  SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
                  HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
                  Neurotonics PT Teamblog
                  Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
                  Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
                  @PainPhysiosCan
                  WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
                  @WCPTPTPN
                  Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

                  @dfjpt
                  SomaSimple on Facebook
                  @somasimple

                  "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                  “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                  “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                  "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                  "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi PTPete,

                    I hope you find the courage to pursue what you think is right. I don't believe the true barriers are your skills and experience as you intellectually already know.
                    "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Jon,

                      Perfectly true. I wrote something for Juggler's World magazine years ago titled Juggling Courageously that I think addressed this issue. It isn't what you're able to do that requires your courage but rather what you have come to understand and are willing to express.

                      I express at every course my frustration with our community's ignorance of the most basic aspects of modern neuroscience. Actually, many therapists are ignorant of many things that are no longer even modern. This is the "interrogation of reality" that any fierce (read productive) conversation must begin with and, as has been discussed here in the past, that interrogation requires courage to pursue. As I've said to others when teaching them how to juggle: "I know you're going to leap about in an effort to catch the ball. What we'll find out about is whether or not you have the courage necessary to throw it."

                      Recently a student demanded a refund for my course. She made it clear that the information was valuable and that the objectives had all been met. She wanted her money back for only one reason - she disliked me so intensely. She said she felt that in the first few minutes of my first lecture.

                      What I have to ask myself before I head out there again to give the same lecture in the same way I have so many times before is this: Do I possess the courage necessary to throw that ball up again?

                      PTPete,

                      Perhaps you're asking yourself the same question about what you might be willing to say at your next job. Good luck with that.
                      Barrett L. Dorko

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "She wanted her money back for only one reason - she disliked me so intensely. She said she felt that in the first few minutes of my first lecture."

                        Hmmnn.. so she thinks the world should revolve around her "subjective well being", her SWB as in Jon's article on hedonics and eudaimonics? She hasn't made it into PWB yet, apparently.

                        Barrett, our little dream facility/faculty (Querencia or SIMPLER or whatever we toyed with calling it) will definitely have to teach reams and reams of neurology. "I express at every course my frustration with our community's ignorance of the most basic aspects of modern neuroscience." This just won't do; the issue of ignorance and the subsequent fact that your frustration with the issue would appear to create/broadcast a more static-y rather than a more clear signal, must be addressed.
                        Last edited by Diane; 08-04-2006, 04:44 PM.
                        Diane
                        www.dermoneuromodulation.com
                        SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
                        HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
                        Neurotonics PT Teamblog
                        Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
                        Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
                        @PainPhysiosCan
                        WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
                        @WCPTPTPN
                        Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

                        @dfjpt
                        SomaSimple on Facebook
                        @somasimple

                        "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                        “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                        “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                        "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                        "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I had a patient that was telling me about changing methodology of teaching in the school systems (he is a semi-retired principal). He reference some research (couldn't exactly remember.. I asked) and talked about his personal experience of trying to implement new methods of teaching based on new research and understanding. His conclusion was that the vast majority of people are horribly afraid of change. The findings of the research indicated that the new methodology had to be taught and modeled 4 times (imagine attending Barrett's course and working with him in the clinic on 4 separate occasions) in order for 10% of the people to start using the new method. In order to get the majority of people to change (not sure about the actual percentage), the method had to be taught and modeled 28 times. He has a few MD friends in the medical community he talked to about this and they all reported about the same experience.

                          Chris
                          Christopher Bryhan MPT

                          "You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior then by hearing surprising facts about people in general"
                          Daniel Kahneman - Thinking Fast and Slow

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Chis, what depressing news.
                            We'll have to make at least four readings of Butler's SNS book mandatory, in that case, as a prerequisite.
                            Diane
                            www.dermoneuromodulation.com
                            SensibleSolutionsPhysiotherapy
                            HumanAntiGravitySuit blog
                            Neurotonics PT Teamblog
                            Canadian Physiotherapy Pain Science Division (Archived newsletters, paincasts)
                            Canadian Physiotherapy Association Pain Science Division Facebook page
                            @PainPhysiosCan
                            WCPT PhysiotherapyPainNetwork on Facebook
                            @WCPTPTPN
                            Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual PTs Facebook page

                            @dfjpt
                            SomaSimple on Facebook
                            @somasimple

                            "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                            “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                            “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                            "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                            "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Depressing? I find it consoling... now I know it's not me that's an idiot
                              Christopher Bryhan MPT

                              "You are more likely to learn something by finding surprises in your own behavior then by hearing surprising facts about people in general"
                              Daniel Kahneman - Thinking Fast and Slow

                              Comment

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