Stephen Opper

B.A., NCLMBT #2955

Stephen Opper practices Structural Bodywork, and teaches Therapeutic, and Natural Movement Systems in Asheville, North Carolina

       Natural Movement Training    

Self-Healing, Relaxed Power, Increased Vitality

Stephen Opper drop stance


        Become the student of your own body. Reclaim freedom and confidence in your movement, and gain a deep understanding of your own design. This study is for those dedicated to the depth of continued practice.   Whatever your background, or limitations, this course will ground you into a life long journey of personal healing and body awareness to enjoy optimal performance and life-long health and happiness.             


Based in principles from traditional and internal martial arts, experienced through a detailed understanding of anatomy and bio-mechanics, and understood through the context of biological design. Whether you are new to body-mind arts, or you are a seasoned practitioner or teacher, this progressive and multi-faceted study will bring you new insights and capabilities.


Private and semi-private classes available

“Stephen Opper's Natural Movement System is both methodical and intuitive;  like the gears of a clock, range of motion is explored throughout the body joint by joint. In one hour I came away with stretches, stances, and especially theory that targeted some of the stickiest parts of my body.” Daniel J. Asheville

The Natural Movement system I teach is based on 8 interconnected areas of focus

·       Kinetic Shapes

·       Postures

·       Ancestral Movement Patterns

·       Walking

·       Joint Mobility

·       Qi Gong (bodymapping)

·       Breathwork

·       Chaos/contact (Gong Fu)

 1. Kinetic Shapes

        The pathways of natural expression. This is the study of the interaction of momentum, gravity, and bio-mechanics, and the resulting shapes of expression: pendulums, circles, ellipses, waves, spirals, figure 8s, and tangent lines. This practice cultivates fluidity and efficiency of motion.


 2. Postures

        Viewing the body As a tensegrity structure, postures explore the elements of  tension and compression members, of finding bone alignment and of expanding the end range of control.  This practice develops both strength and flexibility through whole body connectivity, and is an excellent form of pre-habilitation/rehabilitation.



3.  Ancestral Movement Patterns

 "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny".  The bodies of both ourselves and our ancestors developed in response to natural forces and pressures, leading to incremental changes of each previous existing design.  This story is written in our bones, soft tissues, joint mechanics, gait patterning, and our neural programming.  By re-tracing the steps of our ancestors, we gain a deeper appreciation of our own design.

4. Walking

                          “Walking is the master of hundreds of exercises.” Li Zhi Ming

Upright walking is perhaps the most archetypal human movement.  It is so energy efficient, that it has been suggested that humans were designed to walk, and it is so simple that it is often overlooked.   Beneath its mundane exterior, walking is a symphony of independent forces acting in concert, and provides an excellent framework for exploring these forces.

 From the Toltecs to taijutsu to Daoist meditation…  from Monty Python’s silly walks, to biomechanical gait assessment, to neurological linking; Humans From every continent have had specialized walking practices. And for good reason: It lubricates every joint in the body, wrings out the spine and the internal organs, links the breath in rhythm with the body, trains the body to follow momentum, silences the mind and brings clarity of thought.

Whether the intent is for locomotion, meditation, exercise, or martial expression, the practice of walking covers a lot of ground.


5. Joint Mobility

          Isolation and Integration. This is the study of soft body mechanics: of finding, following, and assessing each joint complex in the body and the shape of its path of mobility. The neural mapping created by this practice provides the framework for self-diagnostics and self-healing. Through the practice of coupling and de-coupling various joints in the body, one develops fluidity, control, and adaptability.  This is a large field, with several variables and flavors, and has wide application martially, therapeutically, and neurologically.

6. Natural Qi Gong

Greatly informed by over two decades of study in the Chinese internal arts, this aspect of practice provides a framework for navigating the subtler layers of the body, and its language of sensations.  This is where we take the time to delve into: Intent, sensitivity, awareness, bio-electromagnetics, states of consciousness, micro-movements, neuro-muscular re-programming, and generally flood the body with consciousness.  This approach benefits any practice, at any stage, and is of vital importance for longevity and self-healing. Making a video to represent this section is slightly misleading as there is nothing to see, it is subtle and internal, but the results can be witnessed in qualities of movement, and of perception.

7.   Chaos/contact (Gong Fu)

Dancing, playing, sparring, wrestling, push hands, fighting, hitting and getting hit,  combat.

This is a tremendous field of study, worth many lifetimes of dedication, and it can be subdivided endlessly. Not everyone wants to learn how to fight, but our nervous system desires both contact, and chaos (unpredictability). Adaptability is both prized and elusive, and is achieved when we learn to abandon ourselves and follow the other.  This can only be cultivated through chaos, unpredictability, and the imperative to remain present. It is the art of both warriors and lovers.

It can be fun or serious, but it tests us, and shows us how well our being is integrated with our body.

There is a satisfying confidence that comes with learning to trust one’s ability to respond to the unpredictable, of maintaining a sense of ease amidst chaos,  and to recognize patterns of predictability that emerge.

 8.  Breathwork

        As a biological imperative, every practice involves breathwork, sometimes implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, but it is inescapable. The cultivation of Breathwork has many benefits, including:  increased energy, vitality and mood, increased self-healing, as a means for accessing the subconscious mind, and learning to control internal pressures.

view more videos on my youtube channel


          While much of my background is in martial arts, I have always approached martial arts as a particular subset of movement and an application of greater understanding of the body.

            It was martial arts that lead me to healing arts, and healing arts led me to a deeper understanding and exploration of the body, for use in self-healing as well as martial application.

            I spent years intentionally not researching what others were doing, for the sake of pure and independent exploration of my art.  When I opened my eyes and looked around, I found that most of the things I had “discovered”, through connecting dots of what I had been taught, exploring principles to their logical progressions, and experimenting to reconcile many contradictory teachings from many different traditions, I found that someone, somewhere, was already doing it, often better than I, and sometimes with a well developed historical tradition behind them.  I found this to be frustrating, validating, and curious at the same time.   100 monkeys? Perhaps,  but when studying any natural phenomenon, you are simply looking closely at what has always existed, right under your nose, and possibly intuitively grasped on some level.   “Natural” principles of the body, bio-mechanics, rules of transference of kinetic energy and their pathways, gravity and our relationship to it, etc. these things simply exist. Understanding our relationship to them is the variable.  The body is the body.  It hasn’t changed much in a very long time, and so I am convinced there is nothing new under the sun..  but that doesn’t lessen the joy of discovery, diminish the value of turning effort into effortlessness, or lessen the importance of learning to navigate our own body.  


                                           Enjoy the journey

Group and private classes available