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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Proprioception: how and why?

There are five common senses that are discussed and learned from an early age: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. The I-function, the conscious part of the brain, is very aware of these senses. It voluntarily checks information obtained by these senses in order to experience the environment, and also when a strong enough stimuli has signaled attention to these specific receptors. There are other equally important sensory systems set up that are essential for normal body functioning, but these are not so easily recognized by the I-function because the nervous system keeps the input unconscious. One overlooked sense, known as proprioception, is as important, if not more important as the other senses, for normal functioning. Proprioception is "the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces," by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body.

Proprioception and kinesthesia, the sensation of joint motion and acceleration, are the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. Theses mechanisms along with the vestibular system, a fluid filled network within the inner ear that can feel the pull of gravity and helps the body keep oriented and balanced, are unconsciously utilized by the brain to provide a constant influx of sensory information. The brain can then send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. Why has the nervous system developed the sense of proprioception, and why is it an unconscious aspect of the sensory system? Proprioception, also often referred to as the sixth sense, was developed by the nervous system as a means to keep track of and control the different parts of the body. An example that enables one to best understand this sensory system is one showing what happens if this sensory system is no longer there.

Ian Waterman lost his sixth sense along with the ability to feel light touch when a virus killed the necessary nerves. The man still had all the nerves to control muscle movement but had no feedback from the outside world about where his limbs were except that obtained by sight. A normal person is able to move a finger, knowing where and what the finger is doing, with little effort. The normal person could just volunteer the finger to move back and forth and proprioception would make this an easy task. Without proprioception, the brain cannot feel what the finger is doing, and the process must be carried out in more conscious and calculated steps. The person must use vision to compensate for the lost feedback on the progress of the finger. Then the I-function must voluntarily and consciously tell the finger what to do while watching the feedback.

The eyes have to also be trained to judge weights and lengths of objects. As Waterman attempts to lift objects there is no feedback on how hard to flex the muscles except from what clues vision gives. Studies of Waterman support that through feedback from proprioception the brain is able to calculate angles of movement and command the limb to move exact distances. If vision is taken away, the lights are cut out, then Waterman will fall in a heap on the floor, with no ability to make successful voluntary movements. The examples of Waterman illustrate the type of information obtained because of proprioception and the great importance of this information. Without this sense humans would be forced to spend a great amount of their conscious energy moving around or would not be mobile at all.

The proprioception sensory system is carried out utilizing proprioceptors in the muscles that monitor length, tension, pressure, and noxious stimuli. The muscle spindles, the most complex and studied of the proprioceptors, informs other neurons of the length of the muscle and the velocity of the stretch. The density of muscle spindles within a muscle increases for muscles involved in fine movements, as opposed to those involved in larger course movements. The brain needs input from many of these spindles in order to register changes in angle and position that the muscle has accomplished. There is also more spindles found in the arms and legs, muscles that must maintain posture against gravity.

Another proprioceptor, the golgi tendon organ, is found where the tendons meet the muscle. They send detailed information about the tension occurring in specific parts of the muscle. There are also proprioceptors sending information to the nervous system from joints and ligaments. Depending on the amount, where in the body, and from what proprioceptors the different input is coming from, determines if the information will be made conscious or processed unconsciously. All the input coming into the nervous system is processed, and then depending on the state of the muscle, there are commands sent back to the muscle.

After thinking of Waterman's plight to accomplish many basic movements without the help of proprioception, the realization of the importance of this sense becomes apparent. I can possibly imagine the species successfully evolving without eyesight, especially if the sense of hearing evolved more keenly. However, it is much harder to imagine the human species evolving without the ability to easily move. Waterman's situation also makes the reasoning become clearer as to why the nervous system evolved keeping the I-function separate from most proprioceptor feedback.

Proprioception is extremely important and encompasses so many areas of the body. The sensory information being processed is a constant and a monumental amount. If the I-function, which can only focus on a few aspects at once, had to be responsible for all of the input coming in from all the different muscles there would be difficulties. The confusion would be overwhelming and the I-function would be useless in making decisions at the speed necessary, because it would need to think first. Thinking takes time, where the unconscious nervous system responds immediately through processes wired to specifically deal with the type and amount of input coming in. Systems like proprioception and other unconscious, yet crucially essential, systems allow the I-function to develop without having to be bothered with all functioning of the body. These unconscious systems allow a lot to get done at once. The I-function may spend time learning new skills and developing ideas without being inhibited by the large amount of stimulus needed for a successfully functioning of the body.

The I-function is most likely very aware of senses such as sight, hearing, and smell, because it can focus on the details that it wishes to consciously concentrate on. A lot of stimulus can be discounted by the I-function very quickly, if not ignored before it reaches that far, so that the I-function can concentrate. This is a necessary property of the I-function because we are multi-task beings that are constantly surrounded by stimuli. The I-function must have the ability to make decisions and be able to identify the stimuli in the environment relevant to our well being. The information coming in from the proprioceptors cannot be ignored, just as the neurons that are signaled to pump the heart cannot ignore the stimulus, because the majority of the information coming in is necessary for normal movement.

While proprioception is necessary for learning a type of movement or skill involving muscle, concentration from the I-function is essential as well. Once the skill, such as the appropriate movements of driving or the movements a baby must accomplish to walk, have been conquered and learned the I-function is not as functional during these tasks. The proprioception and motor systems can take over, utilizing a feedback system to accomplish a job that the unconscious brain already has learned. The I-function can go on to do other things, because it would mainly just hinder smooth muscle processes with to much thought and analysis. That is why humans do so many learned things best if not thought about. For example, the harder a driver focuses on what her muscles are doing as she drives, the choppier her movements will be, and the worse the driving will be.

The phantom limb also indirectly supports reasoning for the evolution of proprioception. A person with a phantom limb still feels pain or some sort of sensation even though they were born without the limb or it was amputated. The evidence that people having no limb at birth still can experience a phantom limb supports Ronald Melzack's idea of there existing a "neuromatrix". The brain has a particular matrix, or map of the body, genetically installed in the brain that both responds to stimuli from proprioception and continuously sends impulses to different parts of the body to check on the condition and location of the body parts. The matrix can be altered due to experience such as storing memory or changing synaptic connections, but the overall organization is set from birth. Studies show that the matrix can record the experience of pain and generate experiences of sensation on its own.
When the matrix sends out signals to the missing limb and receives no response from proprioception the matrix registers a problem in the limb instead of no limb. When the brain recognizes something wrong it reports a painful sensation to clarify that there is a problem in the area of the limb to the rest of the brain, and the person experiences a painful limb even though they know it is not there.

Brownie
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Proprioception--part 2

There is a matrix in the brain monitoring all of the sensory information and constantly checking to see where the limbs are. This matrix is able to adjust; recording data and generating certain sensation long after the stimulus has stopped. Therefore, it may also have the ability to record patterns of action by the muscles, while the I-function consciously works the muscles through new unfamiliar patterns of movement. The patterns recorded or learned, like those of pain, could be triggered by the I-function to signal for a pattern of movement. Then a learned pattern of movement could be set forth, initiating smooth muscle movements, such as a free throw during a basket ball game, without the I-function monitoring or interfering.

If this is a way that the brain records and utilizes sensory input to conquer and utilize movement pattern, then proprioception is a primary building block in the human's ability to learn, repeat, and become comfortable with so many movements throughout life. Therefore, it is essential that the I-function not be bothered by the sense of proprioception, unless learning a new movement, because these movement patterns would be useless if the I-function had to deal with the incoming proprioception anyway. With proprioception as an unconscious sense and the matrix giving unconscious feedback to muscles, utilizing my already learned movement patterns, I can concentrate on what I am saying in my paper without having to also consciously tell my fingers to hit certain keys at certain times.

With the sense of proprioception our lives are made less complicated, and we are given the ability to learn and utilize many movement patterns freeing the I-function to focus awareness on new tasks and thoughts. The I-function seems to be one of the most complicated aspects of the brain. Was the I-function one of the last aspects to evolve in the human brain thus far? If so was it because the necessities for survival were accomplished by the species, proprioception allows movement and eating is instinctual to the brain? Why did evolution cause the human to develop the I-function?

This information was taken from a paper written by Shannon Lee. The information above directly relates to threat focused skills and medically explains, in part, how the "body index" skills can be trained in all of us to be used to great effect in SD situations.

Brownie
 

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I'll take a stab at this.

Why did evolution cause the human to develop the I-function
To quickly adapt to a changing environment and immediate danger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
NkmG19,

The brains I function would certainly allow concentrated focus and memory of what it had experienced on the changing environs and dangers associated within new environs [ unknowns ] as humans moved across the continent as you suggest.

In a nutshell, the I function is conscious thought which would include calling on memory, and propriception [ the bodies reaction to conscious thoughts ] is allowing the subconscious to perform tasks associated with some learned physical response.

I know this subject is foreign to many people, but it is the clinical explanation of how we learn and then perform.

Brownie
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Viewed by 76 people so far, only NkmG19 responded. Not something I didn't expect to happen [ not much participation by members on the subject ].

Proprioception is as important to the shooter as eyesight is. Without it, you have no chance of retrieving your firearm from it's holster, bringing the gun up to your line of sight [ or in some cases to a position well rehearsed below line of sight ], bringing your non shooting hand to acquire a supporting grip for a two handed hold, moving your feet to keep your balance while performing the above, or moving off line at the same time as the above is happening [ coordinated instinctive effort between the lower body and upper torso ] and placing your finger in the trigger guard, acquiring the proper "set" on the trigger and actually pulling the trigger with enough effort to make the gun fire but no with so much effort as to pull the firearm off target while doing so.

All the above is proprioception, the well practiced proprioceptors within your body acting in concert with each other to multi-task and make the movements effortless and subconscious, which allows you to just react and perform at your bodies top efficiency based on how well the propriocptors have been trained.

The more you train, the more your proprioceptors develop the unconscious movements to perform some task. The more your propprioception is developed in some task, the faster you become at that task without thought.

Draw stroke speed--------how important is it to you? We would all agree one can't fire the weapon without first accessing it from it's resting place. How well practiced are you at delivering the firearm to a position that allows you to fire the weapon in some certain direction so that you can do it without conscious thought and while threat focused?

Threat focused skills are subconscious skills, proprioception is the reason why you can perform without conscious thought. If you take to the time to consciously think about aligning the sights [ using the I function or conscious thought ], you'll never be fast enough to react to stimuli when behind the reactionary curve and surprised one day when you look up and you are in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.

This is how important proprioception is to you. This is why us humans stand a chance against adversaries and predators. Our history of and development of proprioceptors within our body and the I function of the brain giving up control to the well rehearsed movements in some subconscious reaction plays a major role in our survival over the history of our existance.

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Viewed by 76 people so far, only NkmG19 responded. Not something I didn't expect to happen [ not much participation by members on the subject ].
Brownie
Brownie,

Please take this only as constructive criticism but you were writing like you were a giving a college lecture. It made for very dry reading. That is fine if you're talking to a bunch of professionals in the field.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
No offense taken at all. I understand it's technical and medical information. It may be dry and not the most exciting subject due to the nature of the materials, but it is one of the most important aspects of our lives, especially one who wants to learn how to become as proficient as possible with a firearm.

Brownie
 

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Draw stroke speed--------how important is it to you? We would all agree one can't fire the weapon without first accessing it from it's resting place. How well practiced are you at delivering the firearm to a position that allows you to fire the weapon in some certain direction so that you can do it without conscious thought and while threat focused?

Threat focused skills are subconscious skills, proprioception is the reason why you can perform without conscious thought. If you take to the time to consciously think about aligning the sights [ using the I function or conscious thought ], you'll never be fast enough to react to stimuli when behind the reactionary curve and surprised one day when you look up and you are in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.
I guess I relate to this by saying that when I was working in a particular field that I was trained for there was an incident that I handled all the while concentrating on the person but never on my equipment. I got the job done by the book but I never remember remember doing it but it got done right. I guess Proprioception kicked in.

This is where I hope drawing and presenting my firearm smoothly and fast while keeping my focus on the threat or threats will become second nature (proprioception). Constant practice and eventually a class like yours is the ultimate goal to achieving this.
 

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No offense taken at all. I understans it's technical and medical information. It may be dry and not the most exciting subject due to the nature of the materials, but it is one of the most important aspects of our lives, especially one who wants to learn how to become as porficient as possible with a firearm.

Brownie
It certainly is important. Much of this is learned unconsciously with martial arts training but we seldom get into the science behind it.

How would you explain this to the average guy talking over a couple of beers?

You said "the vestibular system, a fluid filled network within the inner ear that can feel the pull of gravity and helps the body keep oriented and balanced" when you could have said sense of balance. Which would you use when talking to somebody over a beer?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Much of this is learned unconsciously with martial arts training but we seldom get into the science behind it.

However, as you are probably aware, the true masters do "get into the science behind it", thats what sets them apart from the grasshoppers:thumsup

Their understanding of how the body functions, how the brain is used to support the body functions is invaluable to them. Their studies are lifelong in the pursuit of the knowledge many will ignore. As with anything in life, to master any discipline, one needs knowledge, and more knowledge than the average lay person will ever need or use.

I offered the knowledge in this area in the hopes others might be further enlightened. Members are free to use this to their advantage and perhaps follow through and research this field to better understand how they can improve their own performance.

As a perfect example of this idea, how many people understand the difference between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. More importantly, how many people understand how to develop the twitch muscles to gain significant amounts of speed which benefit them in their practice regimen?

Improving oneself is the goal when we practice. Many will not attain the level of proficiency we are all capable of and naturally possess for lack of interest in attaining such a level of proficiency. Thats fine, but those who take that easier road and don't make every effort to advance themselves to levels they are capable of should not complain when they don't perform as well as they could have either.

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However, as you are probably aware, the true masters do "get into the science behind it", thats what sets them apart from the grasshoppers:thumsup

Brownie
I've debated, internally, the question of science in the mastery of martial arts for over 2 decades. I still don't know if it is science or not. Is chi a scientific force? I've felt it, mostly applied against me (ouch), so I know it is there but what is it? Can science describe it? Measure it? Acknowledge it? I'm still a grasshopper. I don't know.

One of the ones I would consider a master seems more like the intuitive shooter you previously posted about than a scientific shooter. He was a Taoist. Maybe that makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Is chi a scientific force?

It's force applied, and can be explained scientifically, not a scientific force. Understanding the difference can be applied accordingly.

One of the ones I would consider a master seems more like the intuitive shooter you previously posted about than a scientific shooter.

Again, there's no scientific shooter, there's shooters who study the science behind the actions one may take in that discipline. Understanding the differrences in distinctions is invaluable.

Brownie
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
How many members got in their car today, put the key in the ignition, turned it, started the car, put it in gear and drove away without consciously thinking about the separate physical actions?

How many members brought a cup of coffee or a glass of orange juice to the mouth, having reached for the glass sitting on the counter, and raised it to the proper level of the mouth, tipped the glass/mug and drank while they were reading the paper or performing some other physical action without consciously thinking about where to place that cup to their mouth or truing to see how far they needed to tip the glass or cup to get a drink?

How many people had to look at their shoe/boot while they tied their laces this morning and had to consciously watch the fingers tying? I doubt many at all if any have to give conscious thought to tying a shoe lace or tipping a glass to get a drink.

Your bodies proprioceptors have been honed to perform a great number of individual tasks you never give conscious thought to while you go about your daily business of living life. Imagine what life would be if you had to stop and give conscious thought to perform these actions. Had to watch where the cup was in relation to your mouth, had to observe how far to tip the cup, how much pressure had to be applied to hold the cup so you didn't drop it, yet not so tight as to make the cup shake. How about thinking about how much force needed to be applied to bring it to your mouth based on it's weight while filled, then the reduced weight when you were down to the end of the drink and it had become lighter?

That's all proprioception at work.

I wonder if the members fully understand how they can develop the correct proprioceptors to be able to subconsciously draw and fire using various skills based on time and distance requirements without conscious thought [ the physical requirements to address the issue ] while their visual and hearing senses are sending input to the muscles to coordinate the correct physical response[ where the arm need to be, the elbow, the wrist, the strength required to draw the weight of the weapon from the holster, the placement of the barrel to put bullets where you want them to go, all without conscious thought ]?

Until you can react subconsciously with the physical skills, you are likely going to be slower than you could be, which could be detrimental to your health. How many members have thought about the subconscious reactions and training the subconscious actions accordingly so they don't have to look at the gun, the holster [ even reholstering ].

If it's not second nature and you have to think about your actions, you are not as prepared as you can be nor as fast as you can be in a response while under stress of SD. Practice accordingly.

Brownie
 

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The best example I have of this is me and a necktie. I wear a tie nearly every day. I have for the past ten years. When I was a child, I needed help tying my tie. Then I learned to do it watching in the mirror.

In college, I mastered tying while driving. (Not that I recommend this technique.) I could even do it with a beer buzz. (Again, not recommended.)

I can now tie my neckties fully blind-folded, and get a better knot than I ever tied behind the wheel of my car or during my high school days.

Practice. "Muscle memory" or Proprioception. Call it what you will.

One day I hope I'm as neat and proficient with my firearm as I am with my necktie.

I just need to do it every day for ten more years. :)

- Str8Shooter
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Str8Shooter,

One day I hope I'm as neat and proficient with my firearm as I am with my necktie.

March 16th of this year sir :D

Brownie
 

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Str8Shooter,

One day I hope I'm as neat and proficient with my firearm as I am with my necktie.

March 16th of this year sir :D

Brownie
I'm looking forward to it. I suppose I could get that proficient in a day. After all, I never tied my necktie 1,400 times in a weekend before.

- Str8Shooter
 

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I love this forum, I spend a lot of time reading posts daily both from the members who have just purchased their first weapon, or just taken their basic class, to the to the very experienced. You may call me a lurker :D , but I have spent most of my life in the shadows, and the habit is hard to break.

"Proprioception" I have not heard or thought of the term in many years, and it's use and explanation on this thread is excellent.

This forum is lucky to have a member like Brownie who is willing to share his knowledge with others. Thank You Sir.

I will now return to the shadows :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
MSGT,

It's a real pleasure to extend knowledge to others who will never have the benefit of my own mentors who have all passed now sir. Thank you for your thoughts.

Str8Shooter,

You will find at the end of the two days, you will be one with your gun like you are with the tie. The mind and body working in concert with each other is capable of quickly developing the skills sets:thumsup

Brownie
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Reviving this thread from the dead zone now that we've had several members post their after action reviews on the March ITFTS course and the instinctual skills training they received.

The students all managed to develop the physical skills very quickly, through proper instruction during the training. Through their bodies proprioceptors, they quickly developed the physical actions which allowed them to perform beyond their expectations in very short periods of time.

Without the bodies development of subconscious proprioception over the ages, they would not have been able to step up to the plate and perform at the levels they did in such a short time frame with just a handful of repetitions per skill.

Perhaps some of the students would like to address how fast their bodies learned to perform the physical skills which allowed them to put rds on threat instinctively and subconsciously. From the draw speed they were capable of using almost instantly, to the placement of their shoulders, arms and hands to make the hits instantly without hesitation in the various threat focused skills covered, none of that would have been possible without their bodies proprioceptors learning on the fly easily and subconsciously.

They learned how to run the gun instinctively not just use their firearm. Proprioception is responsible for their considerable successes in making the hits with nothing but subconscious thought instantly upon demand.

Brownie
 
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