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Linda presents at RISI Membership Conference part deux: musings on “taxa”

The field of biological nomenclature has never been so challenged as when in the late 1980’s an intellectual Rolfer™ (oxymoron alert!) got hold of the word “taxons” to describe the different ways that Rolfers can approach their work and managed to sell “taxons” to the 8 remaining Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration teachers trained by Ida Rolf.  These  teachers leaped on “taxons” with glad cries.

Worry over words happened plenty before 1989, when a couple of RISI faculty members who were greatly offended by the other RISI faculty members (in all fairness, the others were greatly offended by them, too) started a big brouhaha which resulted in the RISI “split”.  They who didn’t want to use only Rolfin® jargon and metaphysical terms to talk about the work took off and made their own place.

Distinctions were made between the two schools. We’re talking use of anatomical terms at RISI, and more of a technical and functional/movement aspect to the work.  Of necessity, those words were drawn from the world of science, and some of the jargon of early day Rolfing® structural integration took more of a back seat at RISI.

After the split, best I can tell, both sides are still teaching the goals of the standard basic 10 series of Rolfing Structural Integration therapy. On one side anatomical terms are spoken, different techniques may be useful no matter where they came from, and functional movement is available to be learned in a profound way. On the other side: still pretty much put them on the table and slap a form on them. You can pretty much tell the “slap a form on them” side of the RISI split by this statement: We have the real thing.

Anyway, back to taxons. First off, let’s get the plural right, folks. (haha). The plural of taxon is taxa. Not taxons.

One of the promises I have made about my presentation at the RISI membership conference is that of the taxa as they have been laid down (energetics, function/movement, geometrics, structure, psychobiology/worldview)—-among these taxa, the function/movement work that I will present and that we will all have fun with (I hope) will each have at least 4 of the 5 taxa components identified.

Just nevermind that it would might be better to call this grouping of 5 systems which interact with each other a part of an integrated system than taxa.

On first thought of this idea, I was in a little panic and thought I would check this “4-5 components identified” claim out with Rebecca Carli or Ellen Freed, two teachers of the basic work who deal with these taxa all the time.

Then I thought, what fun would that be?  Feel the fear and do it anyway, haha.

Let’s take the taxon of energetics.  I wrote about the chakra system version of energetics in March in terms of using it to provide a core experience.

(Faintly off in the background pixels I can hear someone saying, “What? Is that like Reiki? Acupuncture? Touch for Health? Orgone?) There are lots of versions of energetics as used in this sense, of bioelectric energy.

Energetics, in particular the chakra system, can also be used to help people experience personal boundaries.

Function/movement can also be used to help people experience personal boundaries.

If another taxon is added to an energetic experience, there may be more powerful learning.

And so on, with the other of the taxa.  Truth is, they are all together in the body.  Sometimes it is more advantageous to plump one taxon for someone over another taxon, but I think it never hurts to pair a plumper one with a skinny one, and maybe even a couple of others.

You will never hear talk of the heady/brainy/thoughty taxon, even though that was the origin of the great taxon invasion.



This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. 1. At least we didn’t go with “prions”. Still not quite sure what those were..err..are..never were…whatever. ( Remember “Mad Cow”?)

    2. Does the “structural” taxon include all the “heady” info, fascial layers, including all of the embryological stuff? Some of it belongs, probably, in the “functional” one-as in all of the basic PT type stuff. I guess many Rolfers just encounter that kinesthetically, finding a way to release the knee from the lumbars or hip. Some get there intellectually.

    3. I have always been confused by the nerve work being put into the energetic taxon. Why isn’t that functional?

  2. Prions, haha, that is funny.
    I notice that Kevin McCoy is presenting at the conference like so: “The lecture will weave embryology and fascial layers into our RISI core curriculum concepts of “The Five Structural Elements” and the “Principles of Rolfing(R) SI”

    Does that sound like the Taxon word is being given up? I kind of like Five Structural Elements in that they are all part of us, but it does lump the whole thing into the Structural taxon, IMHO.

    I have no clue why the nerve work is in the energetic taxon. I shared being a student in several classes with lifetime learner Don Hazen of blessed memory before he became known for his original teaching of nerve work, and in those there was a lot of energetic work as codified by Tom Shaver, D.O. At that time, Tom was still associated with the Esoteric Healing (Great Britain) faculty. Maybe Don put it there because of the nature of that release work, in other words not the polar opposite old timey pokey fingers.

    Nerves themselves, being hardwired tissue, seem to me like they should be in the structural taxon. Of course, their function depends on their hardwiring. I don’t get it either.

    I believe we are using the word “functional” (as in taxon) to mean the way something works or moves intrinsically extrinsically and etc., not in that Physical Therapy mechanical sense, but more on the Alexander Bernstein model. (Are you listening, Russia?)

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