Continuation and end of the article published in the journal « Question de » in 1975, written by Claudine Brelet (anthropologist, international expert and woman of French letters) and student of Itsuo Tsuda.
Can one ‘fusion’ respiration and visualization?
– “Indeed, visualization is one of the aspects of ki. Visualization plays an important and vital role in aikido. It is a mental act that produces physical effects. Visualization is part of the aspect of ‘attention’ of ki. When attention is localized, for example it stops at the wrist, breathing becomes shallow, disrupted… we forget the rest of the body.
Master Ueshiba always repeated: « Maru, Sankaku, Shikaku » or « Circles, triangles, squares.. » If the attention is blocked at the wrist, that has been grabbed by the opponent and unless he is not weak, it is necessary to mobilize all muscular power to break loose. If, on the contrary, you visualize a large circle, like a rainbow in the sky passing over your head and breath out through your fingertips to draw the visualized circle and when the hand then vertically moves to the highest point, moving the foot backwards on the same side while continuing to describe the circle, the opponent falls backwards releasing the wrist.”
« This visualization passes through abdominal breathing. When I started to learn the recitation of Noh, I simply practiced to vibrate my vocal cords. Master Hosoda made me feel a very thin board that was at the center of a wooden table, very robust also. When he began to recite a passage, I felt this board vibrating under my fingers. Then it was my turn. I could scream like I wanted, no vibration! The Master said to me: “It is not a question of vocal cords in Noh, but of the hara, the belly.” Abdominal breathing is what we call in Japanese kokyu. Learning Japanese arts is always about kokyu. Having kokyu also means ‘having learned the knack of doing’, the trick…
Ko is breathing out. Kyu is breathing in. The combination of the two makes the breathing. The concept of kokyu is particularly difficult to present in a simple didactic way. The two ways I use are, on the one hand, to publish texts giving access to this notion by intellectual means and on the other hand, to allow people through practice, to experience and feel directly… It took me probably more than ten years to recite Noh through the belly. Breathing, kokyu, is the ultimate secret of learning this. It requires many years of effort and persistence to ultimately achieve.
In Japan we say, when dogs bark at a martial art master he is not a good teacher. The trick, the wrinkle, is not a piece of sugar slipped into the dog’s mouth, it is kokyu, breathing.
In the regenerating movement, we reverse the tradition: we start with the ultimate secret, without an introduction. I only work with those who are willing to consider human being as a whole…
– Human being, both mental and physical, both thought and action, both individual and environment?
– “Exactly. Unlike Western philosophies whose domain is only verbal, completely separated from the action and practice, the regenerating movement includes both, the comprehension and practice. It is very difficult to describe the regenerating movement within Western comprehension such as gymnastics, relaxation, emotional release, group dynamics, etc. The movement must be practice and be practiced without any specific target, for its progress is not likely to be diverted intentionally. The movement contributes to a physical and mental evolution: our viewpoint widens.
For example, if there is a rejuvenating effect, it is simply because one had aged too quickly.
It’s all about normalization of the state we are in. Normalization of the terrain should not be sought as a fixed point, defined in advance. It is an act that should be practiced with a non-aim. This is the philosophy of non-doing… not to be confused with « doing nothing »! There is not a perfect model of the normalized terrain, because everyone is different. Moreover, any definition is contrary to life. The normalization must come by itself, without effort. It must be revealed within the ‘feeling’. One can give an idea of normalization that occurs: physical flexibility becomes larger, we reinvigorate quickly, we pass more easily from concentration to relaxation – and vice versa. The gap between thought and action decreases…”
– But what is terrain from the point of view of ki?
– “Ki, is love, it’s life. It belongs to the wisdom of the body. During its evolution, Europe has completely lost sight of this wisdom and this body. Ki is this invisible oneness that works in the life of the individual by absorbing what is necessary and conversely, as and when needed. But we must add that ki precedes all vital phenomenons and that ki is contagious. We do not know why, one is in the presence of some people and suddenly one feels dynamic , happy, ‘euphoric’. The sate of their ki is transmitted. Ki is very strong and intense when you’re young. Then weakens with age. It is no longer when you’re dead. We should remember that the word ‘spirit’ nowadays signifies some verbal virtuosities, but that word comes from the Latin spiritus, ‘souffle’ (breath), respiration… Certainly there was a time when European ancestors used the word as in the word soul, The Latin anima, ‘that what animates’, as something that goes without saying, without fuss … When ki disappears , one is lifeless, one is dead.”
– How and where does the ‘regenerating movement’ happen?
– “In the dojo. The dojo is a place where the atmosphere is particularly intense. There is an atmosphere of peace, communion and joy. Actually, the ki herei, is particularly intense. The ‘Seitai’ founded by Master Noguchi, literally means ‘physical coordination’. It is not really about being in good health, but about having a sensitivity that permits humans to respond to all abnormalities, thus to eliminate the possibility of malaise, illness. And that by breathing, respiration, ki. In short, the regenerating movement is the way to prepare a body well Seitainized.
Gymnastics uses the pyramidal motor system to control voluntary movements. The regenerating movement is a training method of the extrapyramidal motor system that controls involuntary actions: hiccups, shivering, yawning, etc. The regenerating movement requires no technical or academical knowledge. It’s very simple and that is why it is confusing! The regenerating movement is based on spontaneity. Spontaneity does not mean to do anything, to deliver a punch or a slap to the partner. No! If a movement is spontaneous, then bit by bit it is clearing, for life unnecessary elements. It has become so simple that it coexist with the movement that runs in daily life without tension, without fatigue. The regenerating movement is, in this sense, a kind of purification and not the acquisition of a new habit.
– What is a « good seitainized body”?
– “Energy – or ki – is polarized by acting on the individual according to its own characteristics. Those who practice the regenerating movement can move through different phases before finding the normalization of the terrain: slackening of the body, hyper-sensitivity and elimination, and finally in-depth work. Energy, ki, acts on each individual and polarizes accordingly to the characteristics of each, and that makes that each react differently. The movement is triggered spontaneously depending the specific characteristics of each, not of a generalized conception of all. According to Seitai hypothesis, the imbalance of the body prevents the normal circulation of ki and so a good discharging of abnormalities. To shiver, to yawn or to burp are functions and normal actions, the body instinctively seeks to restore its balance. A well seitainized, normalized, body will vomit as reflex to poisoned food the gastronome’s palate would have had accepted.
If one becomes again like little children, then one becomes Respiration. If you breathe with closed eyes, mentally by the hands, thoughts and various pondering diminishes, disappears gradually as the concentration increases. Hands can grow… until it reaches the size of the universe. And they can disappear leaving the space for breathing only. We practice aimlessly. The heart of the pure sky, that’s all we need…”
– What is the role of ltsuo Tsuda during a session of regenerating movement?
– “In terms of regenerating movement, there are no masters. I’m not a master. On the contrary, each is its own master. Everybody must discover their own movement. There is no discovery nor transmission as in the case of esoteric teaching. I am unable to apply a model, to imitate the movement another makes, for a very simple reason: because the desire of the body is different in each. I shape course of the organization because I have a longer and more intense breath than the others. I’m simply a catalyst. The quality required for a catalyst is that his silent presence is sought after. A catalyst is a bit like those tiny embers that eventually transmit their fire to the unlighted charcoal… My next goal is to train Western catalysts. If I do not succeed in the coming years, my work will fail.”
Coverage and interview by Claudine Brelet