Communication is Knowledge – “We are going to a dance, can you lend us three and four-pence?”

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Quote from WWI

One of the methods of communicating from one officer to another in the trenches of the (present) great war is to give the message to one of the privates and tell him to pass the word along the line until it reached its destination, viz., the officer at the other end.

The following story will show how a serious message can be distorted on its journey from mouth to mouth:— Lieutenant A., in charge of one end of the British line told the private in front to pass the word along to Lieutenant B.: “We are going to advance, can you send us reinforcements?” When Lieutenant B. received the message it was like this: “We are going to a dance, can you lend us three and fourpence?”  from


Have you every been practising in a Moving or Martial Arts session and thought about such miscommunication?

I certainly have! Many times. The message I was getting just seemed so implausible, not only in a modern day context, but even in a historical one.

In the eastern Martial Arts, message passing mechanisms were developed to teach, and hand down the tools and techniques (e.g. Karate Kata and Tai Chi Forms). However, even with the historical scripts to go with these, teaching has invariably suffered from a number of message altering factors:

  • the techniques, patterns, katas or forms get changed according to a new master’s view
  • the techniques, patterns, katas or forms were originally codified and the keys to the codes no longer exist or are not available
  • translation and interpretation errors
  • deliberate obfuscation – don’t let you enemy know your secrets

Closer to “the Source of the Well”

In the absence of accurate information, people have made up reasons as to why certain approaches were adopted. In other words, miscommunication has given false knowledge. The best way to get better knowledge that is nearer to the truth, has been to get as close to the ‘source of the well’ as possible. In practice this means getting access to people with credible lineage. But even though they will be very good, those lineage holders will still suffer from the communication errors highlighted above, albeit less than most others.

Is there any way around this communication issue?

I  believe there definitely is.

Anatomy Trains

With the advent of a modern take on anatomy, the way in which the human body operates at a functional level has become far easier to describe. Anatomy Trains work in specific ways that map very nicely onto the old ways of describing what happens in the Moving and Martial Arts.

What this enables us to do, is work out the base component of any move at a fundamental, functional level. The real power of this is not what a movement necessarily looks like, but how it feels – to the practitioner.

Once you have learned the basic components of how your body moves and operates, you can string those components together in any combination you like. Moreover – since all Anatomy Trains are essentially interconnected you can uncover the subtleties, amongst other things, of whole body power.

So why has this approach not been adopted with open arms? For much the same reason that most things take time to change – entrenched views and momentum.

I have taught, and trained, some outstanding Moving and Martial Artists – not just outstanding in that they are good at their particular game, but outstanding in that they carry little baggage, are open minded and thirsty for new knowledge.

I have written my book, The Power of Threnergy – Mindful Connectivity to describe the basic, underlying components of all Moving and Martial Arts. It uses the concept of mind-models (based on simplifications of Anatomy Trains) to allow you to visualise how your body operates as an effective, integrated whole.

Another book is in the offing – Waves, Whips and Spirals, and I am currently conducting workshops around these powerful techniques. If you are interested please do drop me a line:

If you want to find out what others are saying have a look at my reviews here.





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