In this position paper, we lay out our theoretical perspective about the emergence of creative motor actions in general, and on actions in combat sports in particular. Following an ecological dynamics approach, we hold that athletes do not intentionally search for a creative action, but discover them in the act, while trying to satisfy the dynamic interacting constraints.
In cognitive science, creative ideas are defined as original and feasible solutions in response to problems, and are generated across dedicated cognitive pathways. Only after creative ideas have emerged, they can be enacted to solve the problem. We present an alternative viewpoint, based upon the ecological dynamics approach, that creative solutions emerge in the act rather than before. Creative actions, thus, are as much a product of individual constraints as they are of the task and environment constraints. Accordingly, we understand creative motor actions as functional movement patterns that are new to the individual and/or group and adapted to satisfy the constraints on the motor problem at hand. We argue that creative motor actions are promoted by practice interventions that promote exploration by manipulating constraints. Exploration enhances variability of functional movement patterns in terms of either coordination or control solutions. At both levels, creative motor actions can emerge from finding new and degenerate adaptive motor solutions. Generally speaking, we anticipate that in most cases, when exposed to variation in constraints, people are not looking for creative motor actions, but discover them while doing an effort to satisfy constraints.
Orth, D., van der Kamp, J., Memmert, D. & Savelsbergh, G.J.P. (2017). Creative motor actions as emerging from movement variability. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1903. [full text]