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We have had calls from people involved in our work about what the next stage of development might look like; many ideas are being floated—all this is good. So, in a brief post today, I wanted to air an idea or two, to spark reactions and to foment discussion.

While I am alive, there will be no active brand protection for Stretch Therapy and no franchise models for using our work, beyond attending workshops. The short story is that if my attention, or Olivia’s, is directed to “protecting our borders”, then creativity switches off. I have more ideas per day than I can possibly implement. ST will stay ahead of the curve (and hence be pre-eminent in the field) by being the best, and being recognised and spoken about as the best. Whether this is a slow, or fast, process is out of our control, it seems to me. For this reason, we will be devoting our energy to improving ourselves, our offerings, and the way we teach them.

Regarding the franchising model, I have never heard a franchisee speak a pleasant word about it: too many strictures from ‘head office’; too onerous accounting to calculate the fees and too much talk about what counts as a ‘legitimate’ expense—overall, too much energy in a small business needing to go to accountability overheads. No to franchising. Other models need to be developed if, indeed, they need to be developed at all. In our present thinking, we say we need to see a practising teacher show up at one of the cognate workshops within any three-year period to stay on the current teacher listings on our main site. This is how students find a teacher. As well, we make Vimeo on Demand inexpensive download products, and we sell books (print and PDF); teachers recommend these to their students, and the enterprise ticks along. I should say that making money is not my objective, nor Olivia’s; but living in a capitalist culture, we need to pay bills. A holiday would be nice.

A philosopher whose work I admire, Imre Lakatos, wrote of “degenerating paradigms”: these are knowledge gathering systems who spend their energy protecting their boundaries in preference to creating new aspects to their work; many schools of body work who claim to teach an “original system” fall into this category—failing to realise THE most important aspect of learning, which is embodiment. All originators of all systems departed from what they were taught in order to set up their ‘new’ systems; without fail, they changed the original teaching in the process. This will happen to our work, and should happen. (An aside: I once said to one of the senior teachers that, in the future when I am no longer around, if I hear anyone saying “do it like this because Kit said this is how it must be done” I will strike him down with a bolt of lightning!). I want experimentation and practical empirical research—which anyone can do—to happen, with all present being clear about why this technique is held on to, or why this new thing is better. What I am trying to develop is the most efficient method of tinkering—the fact that we use stretching techniques as the method of exploring this field is due to my own personal history—equally we could be discussing ping pong. All teachers of this system need to see themselves as inveterate tinkerers. Only a fool thinks he knows all that is needed.

Many practitioners fall into a similar category: the worst massages I have received have been from massage therapists with postgraduate training; in the limit case, they end up knowing all about their subject from an academic perspective, but being distanced from the in-the-present activity itself in the process, and not being able to do it well. Where your attention goes, you become.

Anyone can take our work and incorporate it into what they do; this is what’s been happening over the last ten years, and we have noticed that very few teachers of our work position themselves as “Stretch Therapy teachers”. There are many reasons for this, no doubt, but we feel (when I say “we” I mean Olivia and I, as the two core people in this system), that we want to get better, not bigger. This is already happening as more people like all the excellent people on the Forums take up, and contribute to, what we do. What we want to do now, with the ten or so years’ of experience of teaching Stretch Teacher workshops behind us, is concentrate more on how to get better. We have some clear ideas about what that will entail, and some not-so-clear ones, and this is what we need the Forums and the workshops for: to clarify and select the best directions for everyone involved in what we do. When I make any decision, the heuristic I use is simple: ‘What is the decision that will bring about the greatest good for the largest number of people involved?”

Getting back to Lakatos for a moment (and I wrote extensively about this in my Master’s thesis, and it was a central idea in my PhD research in talking about lean learning systems), if you are not creating, growing internally and externally, and if you are not constantly re-specifying your objectives and trying news ways of reaching those objectives, then you are dying. Of course, we all share that fate, but many are dead before this event occurs. We don’t want that.

This is why I am suffering through the 45 day ‘ballistic stretching protocol’ (many hundreds of dynamic repetitions of both loaded and unloaded stretching: how else can I know what effect this approach will have on me? This is “conscious suffering”. Something will have been learned, and embodied, by the end of this period. There is no other way of getting this knowledge.

It might be worth reading these posts before engaging with what I write above:

http://wp.me/p1QR8D-kI (Where are the wise?)

and

http://wp.me/p1QR8D-jb (The genie is out of the bottle, and she ain’t going back any time soon)

and

https://kitlaughlin.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/the-90-day-blog-challenge-and-the-50-year-test/ (short one that ends with the “50-year test”)

There is so much more to say on this, but short story is no border protection, and no franchises.

Thanks to dog for the correction to the last link.