Interview mit Movement Spezialistin Benita Kopacka

Benita, you are a personal trainer and group trainer for TRUE BLUE PRACTICE in Zakopane. We met last year at a workshop of fighting monkey. I remember that I was impressed by the quality of your questions and a little bit disappointed of the answers of Jozef who led the seminar. I asked myself, what kind of practice do you follow to come to that point of clear mind/body understanding. As I am coming from the martial arts background with a classic student/teacher relationship, (almost like in the common film genres), I’m quite curious to other ways of teaching the people in a holistic way. Can you tell us a little about where you come from and how you developed your understanding until now?

Oh, that’s really interesting, that you recognized my questions. One of my most important principle is actually to ask good questions. If you ask better questions, the chance is higher that you will get the essence, may be even the truth. Truth as a fundamental, undisputed movement principle. Which is an aim in True Blue Practice.

My background is arts. I was studying sculpture (but also loved to paint and draw) in few places in Poland. I constantly felt a lack of something, so I was moving from school to school and searching… One day I decided to quit art school, and the let’s say, “bohemian” lifestyle that was included, to start my adventure with movement for good…

After 7 years with art, my interest shifted into human physiology and everything that is somehow organically related to human. I also had to work very hard including mentally on my own transformation from a “party hard person” to a balanced one, by practicing yoga and running. I also started physiotherapy studies and I got to witness a close, almost intimate presence of the other human being. A human who is suffering, who is sick, whose body is in a terrible state, the missing element I was looking for. Finally I found the mystery of human bodies with it’s full complexity in front of me, instead of a piece of „dead“ clay.

Meanwhile I became a fitness Instructor and trainer. But all this practice taught me nothing new about how the fitness world prospers. I was sure it’s not my place, so I started to ask again.
And that is when I’ve found MovNat. It was a big paradigm shift and relief. I started again to research, as I still do now, into nature, like the times when I was a kid living in countryside and spending lots of time in forests. I was trying to figure out nature and its meaning, how our surroundings is an evolving factor not only for our physical capabilities but also for our spirit. I become MovNat Certified Trainer Level2 which means for me being in a bunch of a bit crazy but sensible people, and to learn a ton of knowledge, a knowledge I really appreciate and still research about, from them. But the MovNat system, as every “system”, didn’t fit me.

I’ve created my outdoor movement school in Zakopane 2 years ago. I have classes together with my fiancée/partner Kamil (who is also a movement freak). Over this time, I have developed my understanding of biomechanics, movement science and my teaching/ coaching skills. I know for sure it’s a lifetime process. Every person is like another book, a piece of art, that I interact with and there’s no one scheme to follow. Fortunately, that is

why I stopped looking for perfect scheme. Instead, I commit myself to search into universal movement principles.

Could you tell us a bit more about this approach?

You know, when I try to visualize movement, I see a horizon far, far away, and a vastness of sky. I believe that this horizon is a basic layer of movement and health. And that layer is filled with principles. These principles are really nothing new or esoteric. They are for example gravitation field rules, center of mass, friction, tension/relaxation, bodyweight transfer, and so on. There were many and there are many teachers that already compiled it, like Moshe Feldenkrais for example. I’m not the first one. There is so much knowledge about this in ancient martial arts systems.

There is also a lot of similar but a bit poorer principles concerning sculpture. There might be some yet uncovered principles as well All of these principles are common for all movement activities whether it is martial arts, sports, dance or playing with your kids. And that is the exciting beauty of it. The clue is to find a way to get the perception of these principles, which will help people to create a unique movement quality. Unique for everyones needs and goals. It is not an easy task, but I’m dedicated to this. It is a True Blue Practice. It is a never ending practice, like the sky…

That’s very interesting. When you train with people, what do you want them to „take home“?

The idea to be yourself. Don’t be like me or whoever else. Think for yourself and ask questions.
Be a supportive person, be empathic, see your surroundings, immerse yourself in nature as often as possible. Be thankful. At the same time, practice with commitment and try to find the deeper sense in it. I am not a fan of training for pleasure. That is only one aspect of movement, a big one actually, but there is also pain, discipline, fight with your ego and many more unpleased elements and they are good to be accepted. You can really grow and get happy/healthy by accepting them. A lot of my students have difficulties with this topic. They want only fun. And “the beach body” of course! But most mobility drills I present to them are not fun and do nothing to the shape of their buttocks. There are also some people who I teach who has that ability to take my perspective to another level, and that is what it is all about.

I see. You told me once that you have some experience with massage treatments, but are tired with the passiveness of the people. That is an interesting point for me as I also can relate to with my new CROSSPHYSIO massage therapy. Passive treatment can be helpful, but nothing is more worth than coming back to action and feel resilience in your own. But this also needs education and will power. These are two things that I often miss in the mindset of patients. Does TRUE BLUE PRACTICE have some therapeutical aspects? And can you tell us something about that way of teaching you do?

Oh yes, it has multidimensional therapeutical aspects. When it comes to, for example, body structure functioning, TBP improves joints mobility, which is one of my main focus. If all joints of the body function optimally, with controlled ranges of motion, then every movement that the body performs will be safer and better. I don’t use movement patterns anymore (I used to heat this trend, but started to question it since it turned out useless in my work), because every, e v e r y movement is different. Nowadays, we still know too little about the nerve system. We know enough about tissues that create joints to make them function better. TBP improves dynamic posture, release unnecessary tension, create space in the joints, so it might be related with less pain in the body. It’s good for people with chronic pains or disorders like scoliosis (which I live happily with the idiopathic one) and for those with will power, like you said.

I teach always in relation to our surroundings, using SAID principle. According to
which, the human body adapts specifically to imposed demands. The best surrounding is nature in my eyes, but it could be also in an urban surrounding or in a mixed surrounding. It’s all good as long as the surrounding is not specifically adapted to us, like ergonomically designed. In natural/urban environments, we strengthen our skin, improve vision and concentration. We do a lot of mental games, just to name a few elements. Then my teaching is all about forming optimal joint mobility, followed by refining basic movements like pushing, hip hinging, squatting, pulling and so on. These movements that are incorporated in more complex movements, skills, and activities are at the more advanced stage. And simultaneously, there is constant work on movement principles mentioned before. But TBP is not only about specific training progressions, it is also about spontaneous movement. There is a whole space for human and object interactions – roughhousing, wooden logs manipulating, trees explorations, playing and unpredictable situations that are created during this practice, integrity, absorbing and taking over forces, building “kinetic continuum“. This is what really fascinates me and leave a lot of space for creative movement and research.

And what about your own practice?

Well, it’s a lifetime project. Kamil and I have similar approach to movement and life. We decided to live in the mountains, we don’t have a car, we walk, run or bike everywhere, we have a dog, we spend a lot of time on the floor. You know these small decisions can make a huge difference. I move every day and I really understand the value of firsthand experience, as opposed to getting certified and being informed in every possible techniques and methods. That is why I sometimes purposely do not use or buy previously tested methods, just to be lost and get that feeling I love when I find my own solution.

Thanks for those insights!

We are planning a seminar together next year, where TRUE BLUE PRACTICE meets with CROSSPYSHIO. This will be an interesting workshop for all therapists and movers interested in holistic therapy and training. Do you plan having seminars in your region so far and anything you would like to tell us?
We run workshops called Kopalnia Ruchu (Movement Mine) in a few places around Poland. You can find me on my polish facebook profile:www.facebook.com/trenujnaturalnie or on my fresh new english version blog: http://www.treningnaturalny.com.

Thank you Didier for your invitation and this nice chat.

Thanks a lot for the interview!