Perceptual-Motor Development Theory of Newell Kephart
Newell Kephart (1911-1973) was a neuropsychologist who was a major contributor to the theory and applications of special education. He is also known for developing what is considered to be “perceptual motor” programs. Kephart explained that though all activities have the potential to be perceptual motor programs; most programs are not. Perceptual motor programs must not only provide planned motor activities, they should also incorporate perceptual awareness. This is how NEURON-DO® has raised the bar on all other martial arts and programs. Kephart termed the phrase “perceptual-motor match.” Concretely, the student will hopefully match the movement that is seen (visual) with what is felt (kinesthetic), to what is heard (auditory). He also proposes that there is a hierarchy of motor development that is necessary to support higher cognitive function. Kephart outlines that there are four basic areas of motor development that need to be successful in order to achieve the next level in cognitive function. All of these four basic components are taught within the NEURON-DO® program and they are further developed through more complex combinations of movements throughout the program.
The four areas of motor development according to Kephart are:
1. Posture (static and dynamic posture)
Certified NEURON-DO® Instructors are experts in understanding the student’s individual neuro-biomechanics* to help develop and maintain proper posture through blocking, punching, and kicking.
2. Laterality (understanding left and right; more than naming them)
By utilizing the neuroplasticity** of the brain, the laterality of our movements can be expressed with greater awareness. The process in which the forms are taught by Certified NEURON-DO® Instructors provides the greatest opportunity for this laterality to be comprehended.
3. Directionality (understanding relative position to an another object)
The first form in NEURON-DO® develops the foundation to the understanding of directionality. Certified NEURON-DO® Instructors guide the student to develop a “center point” within themselves as they perform the movements in six directions (left, right, front, back, down, up)
4. Body Image (understanding position of body in relation to movement)
NEURON-DO® Sparring Skills are a key component to the development and understanding Body Image. Development of awareness of position of the student’s partner to the student’s position with regards to temporal aspects of targeting, distancing, speed, strength, practicality, and impact of the movement.
*Neuro-Biomechanics relates to the relationship between the nervous system and musculoskeletal system; in which change in the nervous system can generate a change in the tension of the muscles which in turn cause a change in the skeletal system and alter body posture and movement. This also can occur in the reverse direction, in which posture and movements stemming from changes in the skeletal system or muscular system can impact change in the nervous system.
**Neuroplasticity is a term that represents the brains capacity to respond, change, and/or adapt to internal and external stimuli.