The Manifestation of Movement Archetypes in Animals:
There are five fundamental archetypes of movement shared by all living beings which move – animals. These fundamental functional frameworks are not arbitrary – they are constrained by qualities of the Space/Time envelope within which animals evolved, and for us, the specific path our ancestors took to cumulatively embody movement inside this framework, as we evolved our present form and function. These archetypes are universal attributes of animals, in the category of other physical laws. If we encountered an advanced race from another planet it would be expected that their motor function evolution would have followed, within the constraints of their environment, the same archetypal patterns that animals followed on Earth (if the physics of their local space time varied from ours, it is unlikely that they could persist in our version). Additionally, as their technology evolved, these animals would likely have also struggled with reflex integration issues, which we might even seem familiar to us.
The Five Movement Archetypes:
Each of these archetypes is the foundation, and starting point for the emergence of the next, more complex movement dynamic. The original archetype is Static Postural culminating in primates and many other animals, including birds, with Dynamic Postural.
Relationship Between Archetypes and Reflexes:
The names of reflexes can be quite confusing and misleading. Reflexes are specific functions in functional anatomy. In structural anatomy we do not call our thigh muscle the Bob Brown, but describe it as Rectus Femoris, labeling its position and role in relation to the Femur. Functional anatomy would be better served by a similar standard, which some reflexes have attained. For example the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex is very descriptive of its role of horizontal movement of the head with homolateral body activation (ATNR). However other reflexes like the Moro (MORO), a deep level homologous survival response, are poorly served, and pay undue homage to the person who first noted a response that had been widely observed and experienced since the dawn of man. The functional responses of reflexes can be quite complex, and are compilations of even more foundational reactions, so some simple label is convenient. However, they are somewhat arbitrary definitions in what is a dynamic process of integrating stimulus/response functions progressively over a period of several years into mechanisms for intentional movement. These mechanisms for intentional movement fall into the five categories listed above.
Reflexes integrate into the archetypes of movement. For most of us, exercises that activate these archetypes are adequate to derive benefit. However, if an archetype is inhibited, drilling down into the underlying functional anatomy, and working with a subset of function, can be very helpful. The descriptions of the reflex stimulus/response patterns listed here can guide training at this level. With these descriptions, we can grasp the context of a reflex function, and then if needed we can even drill deeper, working with individual facets of this “reflex”. We can then gradually blend the improved function into the whole reflex pattern, and then into the associated archetype(s).
The rule of thumb is that if you are working with archetypes, and you observe stress, you need to break the pattern into smaller components. You continue to drill down till you find that you can work with a facet of the pattern without triggering a stress response. You then work to blend the facets into the whole, by increasing the complexity of the pattern. More thorough guidlenes for working with reflexes are described here:
Archetypes and the Evolutionary Process:
If you would like to explore the archetypes of movement in greater depth, this book offers an overview of the subject: