The Axis Syllabus Classification/Notation System is the still evolving basis of training and diagnostic protocols for the Axis Syllabus Research Community (ASRC). The ASRC uses this database as a context for compiling the results of clinical and empirical research, as well as for discussing and designing physical education practices and strategies.
The philosophical motivation for the construction of the ASCNS is to provide a bio-mechanical basis for movement artists to assess the workability of their ideas, so that qualitative and aesthetic choices as outlined by other approaches (Benesh, Sutton, Morris, Laban, etc.) could be built on an understanding of scientifically defined risks and provide parameters for human movement that are structurally supported.
The ASCNS can be used to document time, support elements, postural location, orientation, movement type, vector (acceleration/deceleration and force), mass, kinetic energy and anatomical articulation. It can be used to describe minute details or integrated phenomena such as spinal mechanics, hip and shoulder flexion and extension axes, elastic recoil and kinetic energy transfer. The ASCNS can be used to document choreographic ideas with precision, provide detailed notation for scientific motion studies, conserve references for physiotherapeutic diagnostics, or serve to transmit empirical evidence and clinically suggested protocols for health and safety to the movement student and teacher.
Dynamic alignment is the context for the descriptions of structurally supported movement. The parameters for alignment are drawn from standard anatomy books, recent scientific studies in bio-mechanics, and empirical research. These parameters describe the approximate range of motion (ROM) that is permitted without compromise to a particular joint's support-value. All the suggestions for joint ROM are listed in Anatomy, the companion chapter to the notation system. The abbreviations for anatomical location and motion, energy, force, vector, and inertia are drawn as much as possible from existing terms in physics and anatomical science. Without going into too much detail, I will give you a brief orientation in the use of the system. For the moment, I will focus on the motions of the body and spatial orientation.
For example, flexion is the anatomical term for lifting the arm from neutral to directly in front of the body, represented by the symbol . Lifting your arm to the back is extension . Lifting the arm towards the opposite side of the body as the working shoulder is adduction , which can also be expressed as a medial motion. Lifting the arm directly away from the body to the side is abduction , which can also be expressed as lateral motion. Moving your arm around in a circle is circumduction. No external or internal rotation of the shoulder during circumduction means you are only using two axes i.e. the sagittal and horizontal axis, and is therefore a bi-axial circumduction . Add external and internal rotation during this motion makes it a tri-axial circumduction . These motions are actually made possible by rotations in the shoulder joint, or U4, as it is termed in the ASCNS. You can begin the circumduction by abducting, adducting, flexing or extending U4 to the back or front.
Or, for example, a laterally initiated, posteriorly oriented circumduction of the shoulder joint
Here is an example of the way the symbols can be combined to express a tri-axial circumduction that begins with an adduction to the anterior, or front of the body
U, short for "universal" is the AS term for the most mobile centers in the human body: the hips, shoulders, knees etc.
Here is a detailed use of the system to document the motions of the body in a movement phrase.
I will now translate the code literally and correlate the translation with each section of code.
Standing Sphere – From neutral, simultaneous, full body pivot and over-curve fall from the right to the left foot, as the atlanto-occipital and atlas/axis cervical motion center rotates proximally approx 60° on the external vertical axis from right to left. The 8th to 1 2th dorsal vertebral or mid-spine motion-center simultaneously twists approx 30° degrees on the external vertical axis, and the left knee flexes approx 20°. The distal, external vertical axis mid-spine rotation sends the right gleno-humeral joint into about 90° of flexion and 30° of abduction, and the left gleno-humeral joint into approx 90° of extension and 30° of abduction, while the proximal 30° to 40° rotation of the mid-spine motion center sends the lumbar, abdomen and pelvis into an external, vertical axis counter-twist with the upper body.
During the following spinal rotations and subsequent two weight shifts, the arms describe a bi-axial circumduction. Feathering into the rotation of the abdomen, lumbar and pelvic region, the right hip passes through approx 20° of flexion and 40° of abduction into full extension in a bi-axial, overcurve swing, as the weight pours into the distal aspect of the right foot. The weight shifts first to the distal aspect of the left foot and then returns to the right foot as the mid-spine motion center rotates approx 30° left to right proximally on the external vertical axis. Meanwhile the left pelvic-femoral joint rotates internally approx 30° on the external vertical axis and extends, accompanied by knee extension on the external horizontal axis. At the same time, the right hip rotates externally on the external vertical axis and flexes approx 90°. As the weight loads to the right foot, the mid-spine counter-rotates proximally from right to left on the external vertical axis, accompanied by internal rotation and extension of the right a right knee extension on the external horizontal axis.
The spinal twist and full body pivot bring the arms into an over-curve, right to left, bi-axial semi-circumduction, as the left hip flexes approx 50° proximally and the left knee flexes approx 95°, facilitating a 1 80° internal pivot on the right foot. During the pivot, the left knee and hip fully extend pulling the rest of the body forwards, creating a 95°, proximal, external horizontal axis rotation in the right hip joint. After full extension, the left knee flexes again, this time to about 1 30° and then extends fully while the rest of the body returns to neutral.
The left knee then flexes, extends, flexes and extends again within a 30° range, while the left hip simultaneously rotates externally about 60° and flexes about 1 30°. During approx 1 00° of the pivot, the mid-spine motion center will keep a front-to-back, proximal, 40° internal vertical axis rotation. After the left hip has completed the flexion and external vertical axis rotation, it adducts and fully extends, facilitated by a 90° to 1 40° external, proximal, horizontal axis rotation and a 50° external, proximal external vertical axis rotation in the right hip-joint, which brings the rest of the body forward.
The code describing the bio-mechanical events can be compressed into shorter references and then paired with a time signature and other pertinent information. Here is an example:
The ASCNS is a modular system that will change and improve with its implementation and updated information. You can find out more about the Axis Syllabus Community activities at our website. Please feel free to write to us with suggestions and queries.
From "The AXIS SYLLABUS READER" written by Frey Faust, edited by Sebastian Grubb