Be Silent to Be Efficient
One of the best lessons I learned from the MovNat courses I've been to is an emphasis on silent movement. Silent, smooth, and graceful are all components floating around in the same pool of efficient movement. If you can adopt these qualities in most skills, you will see your levels of precision, body control, and energy conservation improve quickly.
Where does noise come from in movement and why is it problematic? Noise mostly comes from your points of contact with whatever surface you put your body weight on or whatever object you move. Slapping, stomping, prematurely shifting weight, regripping, or adjusting your point of contact all are "noisy" movements which usually benefit from "quieting."
The most obvious benefit of silence is it is, well, silence! There are a lot of activities where you don’t want to be noticed. Games and hunting immediately come to mind. There are also skills where noise draws attention to or “telegraphs” movement, which can cause problems. There is an old saying that the most dangerous punch is the one you didn’t see coming. This holds true for kicks, trips, throws, and sweeps in martial arts. Unnecessary noise or movement can draw attention to your attacks when you want them to go unnoticed.
Aim to move with precision and awareness. [Photo courtesy of MovNat]
Quiet Movement Is Safe
From a safety perspective, rule number one of doing anything potentially dangerous is to check your equipment and environment first. If you are climbing a tree, gently test the branches and trunk first to make sure it can support your weight. If you are lifting a heavy air conditioning unit or a rock, gently test your grip on it to make sure parts don't break, dislodge, or slip when you lift it. When you are grappling and the mat is wet, gently place your foot where you want it to go before shifting your weight so you don't slip and tear useful stuff in your knee.
Quiet placement is less jarring for the surface you are putting your weight on. Jumping onto a surface, even a stable one, can jar it loose and make it unstable. Cracking a tree branch, knocking the screws loose on Stahl bars, or even carelessly handling training equipment over time are all things to consider. Plus, there is the wear and tear on your body as well. In a lot of circumstances, you are adding extra and sometimes harmful trauma to your body by slamming heels into the ground, plopping onto pull up bars, and otherwise noisily placing yourself on objects.
Quiet Movement Is Precise
Precision is another element of silent movement. Being able to place your body on a surface with precision eliminates the fumbling and adjusting that goes on when you carelessly plop a hand wherever on a rock. Gripping with precision can be decisive in a grappling match, and it can be the difference between staying on a rock wall or falling off. It can mean landing a punch squarely on the chin instead of glancing off of the forehead in a fight, or stepping on a nail on a construction site versus stepping safely on a clean surface. Walking across a creek on moss-covered stones will quickly show you why careful stepping is crucial. Placing your body with focus, awareness, and precision saves you the time and energy of readjusting.
Silence also provides more control over the movement you are performing. If you carefully place a hand or a foot on the ground, you have to control the motion from beginning to end, and placing it with accuracy requires a degree of focus and control you won't develop by mindlessly flinging your limb somewhere. If you use momentum to swing a limb to jump up onto a high pull up bar or tree branch, you still have to control the movement to generate appropriate force. Imagine a leg swing from MovNat to get on top of a tree branch. If the movement is uncontrolled and noisy, you can fall off, slide your limbs out of position, or simply not generate enough momentum to get on top of the branch. By pairing silence and control, you can focus your momentum into that sweet spot.
Quiet Movement Is Not Always a Reality
Lastly, I understand that it is not always possible to be silent. The goal is to aim for silence but in reality, when you speed your movement up you will likely make some noise and there will be jarring, slips, and bumps. When I use "silent" in this context, I mean it more in the sense of energy conservation. A well placed kick can be loud, but also efficient and not energetically wasteful.
If your goal is perfect silence, even when there is “noise” it will be less than if you were to ignore this idea.
A mental trick I use is to imagine that I am touching thin glass or something expensive. This guarantees I will approach the surface with awareness, precise placement, and care before shifting my weight onto it, catching it, or manipulating it. I am treating the object, surface, or person with respect. Being careless and overly rough with a person, place or thing can often make it hard to come back and play again.
Move With Awareness
Silence is about efficiency. If you apply this concept to the skills of MovNat such as climbing, carrying, throwing and catching, or crawling, or in other activities such as grappling, weightlifting, or running, you will find yourself wasting less movement, moving with more precision, and most importantly, being much safer.
Now Get Up and Start Moving:
Coaches: Prioritize Movement Quality: