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Superficialité ou approfondissement

Dans cet article à partir d’un hexagramme du Yi Jing (Tsing : Le puits), Régis Soavi nous parle des pratiques de l’Aïkido et du Mouvement régénérateur comme des instruments de recherche et d’approfondissement de sois-même.

Le dojo est, par essence, le puits où viennent se nourrir les pratiquants d’arts martiaux à la recherche de la Voie, du Tao. À l’opposé du ring ou du gymnase, il offre un lieu de paix nécessaire, voire indispensable, pour l’approfondissement des valeurs humaines.dojo le puits Nous vivons aujourd’hui à la vitesse de la lumière. La communication n’a jamais été aussi rapide. Les ondes chargées de bits et micro-bits circulent en boucle autour de notre planète, porteuses de plus d’informations que notre cerveau n’en peut stocker. Les réseaux sociaux ont remplacé la connaissance par un vernis superficiel qui peut sembler suffisamment apte à satisfaire notre apparence sociétale. Si dans les années soixante les membres de l’Internationale situationniste fustigeaient les pseudo-intellectuels qui se nourrissaient auprès des revues comme Le Nouvel Observateur ou l’Express pour alimenter leurs conversations mondaines ou leurs écrits, que diraient-ils de la démocratisation proposée à tout un chacun pour devenir le nouveau Monsieur Jourdain du Bourgeois Gentilhomme de Molière ?
Mieux vaut connaître un peu de tout plutôt que d’approfondir quoi que ce soit, telle semble bien être la devise de notre époque.
Dans les arts martiaux la tendance semble aller dans la même direction. Nombreuses sont les personnes qui sont intéressées par les images spectaculaires retransmises par les médias où l’on présente les capacités fictives d’acteurs martiaux, au demeurant fort habiles dans leur métier, mais où la recherche est principalement le rendu superficiel ainsi que commercial.
L’image du puits dans l’ancienne Chine devrait nous faire nous interroger sur les tendances qui gouvernent notre vie de tous les jours. Si l’on tirait l’eau du puits à l’aide d’un seau et d’une perche, c’est bien la répétition d’un tel acte qui permettait la vie du village, et la nourriture prodiguée était considérée comme inépuisable. Et si nous prenions exemple sur cette image ancienne ?
Quand on pratique un Art comme l’Aïkido il ne s’agit pas d’accumuler des techniques sans cesse plus nombreuses, ni de répéter béatement l’enseignement prodigué, mais plutôt de commencer une recherche, de se réorienter vers quelque chose de plus profond afin d’abandonner le superficiel, le superflu, qui nous a tant déçus et que l’on ne supporte plus.

Régis Soavi Aikido

Bon nombre de personnes qui au départ sont extrêmement enthousiastes de commencer un vrai travail avec leur corps, se lassent de la répétition, bien trop souvent scolaire, ou encore se laissent fourvoyer par la dernière mode. On voit ainsi des gens qui collectionnent les méthodes et passent d’un art à l’autre, du Yoga au Taï-chi, du Karaté à la Capoeira, pensant parfois que l’un d’eux est supérieur à l’autre comme l’explique si bien un youtuber à la mode qui fait l’actualité comme ça lui chante.
Face à tous ces personnages qui ne vivent que pour influencer leurs followers et gagnent leur vie sur leurs dos grâce au nombre de « like » et à la publicité qu’ils engendrent, ne serait-il pas temps de chercher au fond de soi-même ? De prendre le temps de réfléchir plutôt que de consommer passivement la réflexion d’un autre ? De bouger son propre corps pour retrouver une harmonie perdue plutôt que de chercher dans le virtuel un complément à la routine issue de la pauvreté du quotidien ?
Le dojo en tant que lieu de recherche possède toutes les caractéristiques du puits : c’est à la fois un lieu pour l’entraînement, car on y puise chaque jour, et en même temps (et peut-être plus) c’est un lieu de convivialité où le social se débarrasse de ce qui l’empêche d’être vrai c’est-à-dire d’être le plus proche possible de la nature profonde des individus. Un lieu où la sociabilité échappe aux conventions, un lieu où l’on peut se parler, entrer physiquement en contact avec l’autre de façon simple, avec toutes les difficultés que cela peut représenter pour celui ou celle qui n’est pas prêt ou prête.
Toute l’arduité réside dans le fait de ne pas rester en superficie de la pratique, de ne pas se contenter de surfer sur un océan d’images devenues virtuelles ou de barboter sur le rivage et cela si possible sans se mouiller trop, mais de s’imprégner de ce que l’on y trouve, de lâcher ce qui nous encombre de manière à en explorer les profondeurs.
Mon Maître Itsuo Tsuda dans son livre Le Non-faire* nous donne avec simplicité, un aperçu de sa propre recherche et du travail qu’il avait engagé en Europe.

Itsuo Tsuda aikido

« Que suis-je à côté de la grandeur de l’Amour cosmique de Me Ueshiba, de la technique du Non-Faire de Me Noguchi, ou du raffinement insondable de Me Kanzé Kasetsu, acteur du théâtre Noh ? Je les ai connus tous les trois ; deux sont morts, seul Me Noguchi est en vie [Haruchika Noguchi meurt en 1976]. Leur influence continue de travailler en moi. Ce sont là des maîtres par nature. Moi, je suis simplement un être qui commence à se réveiller, qui cherche et évolue.
Une extraordinaire continuité d’efforts soutenus caractérise les œuvres de ces maîtres. J’ai l’impression de trouver dans un terrain aride, des puits d’une profondeur exceptionnelle. Là où s’arrête le travail de catégorisation n’est que leur point de départ. Ils y ont percé bien au-delà. Ils ont atteint les veines d’eau, la source de la vie.
Cependant, ces puits ne communiquent pas entre eux, bien que ce soit la même eau qu’on y trouve. La tâche qui m’incombe, est d’y dresser une carte géographique, d’y trouver un langage commun. »
Ce langage, Itsuo Tsuda le trouvera dans l’art de l’écriture (il se définissait lui-même comme écrivain-philosophe, comme en témoigne sa stèle funéraire au Père Lachaise), dans l’enseignement d’une certaine forme de l’Aïkido fondée sur la respiration et l’approfondissement de la sensation du Ki, enfin en faisant connaître le Katsugen undo (mouvement régénérateur). À travers son travail, son œuvre écrite, son enseignement, il réussira à créer un pont entre l’Orient et l’Occident.

Ce qui guette le pratiquant d’arts martiaux et ce plus particulièrement en Aïkido est l’ennui dû à la répétition, à la recherche de l’efficacité, au fait de peaufiner la technique, et tout cela au détriment de la profondeur de l’art, ainsi que de la culture qui le sous-tend. De fait, notre époque n’est plus soumise aux mêmes impératifs que les siècles derniers, s’il est toujours utile de pouvoir réagir en cas d’agression ou de difficultés, ce qui sera déterminant est plus la force intérieure et le réveil de l’instinct, que la capacité de combat. L’Aïkido demeure une pratique du corps, où la rigueur, la dynamique, le savoir-faire, ont une importance capitale, mais son aspect philosophique est loin d’être négligeable. Cet aspect n’est en rien contradictoire, bien au contraire, un de mes anciens maîtres Masamichi Noro l’avait bien compris lui-même lorsqu’il créa cet art nouveau qu’est le Ki no Michi (la voie du Ki) à la fin des années soixante-dix. La recherche dans l’Aïkido est quelque chose de difficile et peut même être pernicieuse parfois, car s’il ne s’agit pas de s’affronter avec d’autres combattants, ce n’est pas non plus de la méditation ni de la danse, et je peux dire cela car j’ai un immense respect pour ces arts, là encore les puits sont différents, mais la recherche va dans la même direction. Aller chercher du côté du développement des capacités humaines, de la culture au-delà du connu, se remettre en question et questionner les idées du monde, avancer pour faire avancer notre société. Sortir peut-être enfin un jour de la barbarie et de l’obscurantisme. Il nous suffit de relire la conférence de Umberto Eco** sur comment l’être humain se construit des ennemis pour comprendre que nous avons plus que jamais besoin de connaître l’autre pour mieux le comprendre.
L’Aïkido en tant qu’Art du Non-faire est une porte vers ce que nombre de personnes recherchent : la réalisation de soi-même, sans un ego démesuré, mais dans la simplicité, et avec le plaisir d’un vécu authentique.

Régis Soavi

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Notes :
* Itsuo Tsuda Le Non-faire, Édition Le Courrier du Livre Paris 1973 p. 12
**Umberto Eco Costruire il nemico e altri scritti occasionali Bompiani Milano 2011

Dojo, un autre espace-temps

Par Manon Soavi

« […] Le chemin pour la découverte de soi en profondeur […] » disait Tsuda Senseï « n’est pas en ligne droite vers le paradis, il est tortueux. »(1) À l’instar des musiciens classiques qui passent leur vie dans une recherche infinie d’évolution, les pratiquants d’arts martiaux sont sur des chemins sans fins. Pour autant ces voies ne sont pas dépourvues de sens, de panneaux indicateurs et de vérifications. Un des panneaux indicateurs qu’a laissés Tsuda Senseï à ses élèves est « Dojo ».

Il écrivit lui-même sur le sujet : « Comme je l’ai déjà dit, le Dojo n’est pas un simple espace découpé et réservé à certains exercices. C’est un lieu où l’espace-temps est différent de celui d’un lieu profane. L’ambiance y est particulièrement intense. On y entre en saluant pour se sacraliser et on sort en saluant pour se désacraliser. […] On me dit qu’en France, on rencontre des Dojo qui sont simplement des gymnases ou des clubs sportifs. Soit. Mais quant à moi, je veux que mon Dojo soit un Dojo, et non un club avec un patron et ses habitués, afin de ne pas déranger la sincérité des pratiquants. Cela ne veut pas dire que ceux-ci doivent garder un visage renfrogné et constipé. Au contraire, il faut y maintenir l’esprit de paix, de communion et de joie. »(2)

Mais pourquoi créer des Dojos ? C’est bien compliqué et demande beaucoup de travail !

dojo yuki ho toulouse
Construire un dojo, une aventure incertaine !

Pour répondre à cette question, il faut peut-être revenir au pourquoi nous pratiquons. Si chaque réponse est individuelle et complexe, personnellement je rejoins l’avis de ceux qui pensent que nous pratiquons avant tout pour « être ». Pour « être » véritablement, ne serait-ce que le temps d’une séance.

L’Aïkido est alors un outil pour nous retrouver nous-mêmes. Commencer à « être » sur des tatamis est un premier pas qui commence par un lâcher-prise : accepter de monter sur un tatami et d’entrer en contact avec les autres ! Mais un contact différent de celui régi par les conventions sociales. Je constate d’ailleurs parfois la réticence de certains débutants à passer un Keikogi, comme si garder leur jogging de sport leur permettait de garder une identité sociale. Le Keikogi nous met tous sur un plan d’égalité, hors des marqueurs sociaux, il gomme les formes de corps, les sexes, les âges, les salaires… Bien sûr quand on ne fait pas étalage de son grade, de son dan, pour en « remontrer » aux débutants. Si notre état d’esprit est de vivre avec l’autre une pratique, et non pas de montrer que nous sommes les plus forts, alors la peur de la rencontre avec l’autre peut diminuer. Dans l’École Itsuo Tsuda, il n’y a carrément pas de grade, cela règle la question une fois pour toutes.

L’aventure commence à l’aurore (3)

Le Dojo lui-même est un lieu hors du temps social, hors de l’époque, indifférent à la localisation géographique, et tout cela nous dépayse aussi complètement. De plus nous pratiquons tôt le matin (comme le faisait Ueshiba O Senseï). Les séances ont lieu tous les matins, toute l’année, à 6h45 en semaine et 8h le week-end. Qu’il neige, qu’il fasse soleil, que ce soit les vacances ou un jour férié, le Dojo est ouvert et les séances ont lieu. Au-delà du découpage arbitraire du temps de notre monde.

Le levé du jour est aussi un temps particulier. Entre le réveil et la pratique, il n’y a presque rien. L’auteur Yann Allegret l’avait exprimé ainsi, dans un article paru dans KarateBushido :« Cela se passe aux alentours de six heures du matin. Des gens sortent de chez eux et se dirigent vers un lieu. À pied. En voiture. En métro. Dehors, les rues de Paris sont encore ensommeillées, quasi-désertes. L’aube est proche. La séance d’Aïkido commence à 6H45. Le rythme de la ville est encore celui de la nuit. Ceux qui sont dehors n’ont pas revêtu les armures nécessaires à la journée de travail qui s’annonce. Quelque chose demeure en suspens. Avec la naissance du jour, on a l’impression de marcher dans un interstice. »(4)
Un interstice de temps et d’espace où peut commencer le travail sur nous-mêmes. Car il nous faut perdre, au moins un peu, nos repères habituels pour retrouver la sensation intérieure de nos propres repères. La sensation de notre vitesse biologique plutôt que le temps qui s’écoule au cadrant d’une montre. Pour s’écouter soi-même, il faut du silence autour. Et dans notre monde le silence n’est pas chose facile à trouver !

Un écrin

dojo tenshin paris
Mettre l’homme en harmonie avec lui-même

C’est pourquoi dans l’École Itsuo Tsuda nous attachons tant d’importance à créer des Dojo. Bien sûr il est possible de pratiquer n’importe où, de s’adapter en toutes circonstances. Mais, est-ce toujours souhaitable ? Pour reprendre le parallèle avec la musique (sujet que je connais bien, ayant exercé une quinzaine d’années le métier de pianiste et concertiste) on peut jouer en plein air, dans un gymnase, dans une école, une église, un hôpital, etc. Et d’ailleurs je n’ai rien contre la démocratisation de la musique classique, bien au contraire. Mais une bonne salle de concert, c’est autre chose. C’est un écrin où le musicien, au lieu de passer son temps à s’adapter à la situation, à compenser la mauvaise acoustique ou autre, peut s’immerger dans l’écoute, chercher dans la finesse et faire surgir la musique. Vivre les deux expériences est sûrement nécessaire pour un professionnel. Pour un débutant, trouver la concentration et le calme au milieu de l’agitation ou des courants d’air me semble franchement très difficile.
Dans le cas de l’Aïkido, le Dojo est l’écrin de cette recherche. Si on saisit cette chance d’avoir un Dojo c’est une autre perspective qui s’ouvre. Car si notre mental peut comprendre les concepts philosophiques qui sous-tendent les discours sur la Voie, l’état d’âme, etc, pour que le corps les vive réellement, c’est une autre affaire. Nous sommes souvent trop occupés, perturbés, et nous avons bien besoin d’un cadre qui favorise certaines dispositions d’esprit.

On peut constater au fur et à mesure de notre expérience qu’à la fois l’esprit de Dojo se cultive de façon assez précise et en même temps dans quelque chose de fluide et d’insaisissable. Il en va de même pour les lieux de cultes religieux. Parfois une petite église de campagne, une chapelle cachée au détour d’une ruelle respire plus le silence et le sacré qu’une immense cathédrale visitée par des millions de touristes. Il en est de même avec les Dojo. Ce n’est ni la taille, ni le respect absolu des règles qui rendent un lieu différent. Dojo « le lieu où l’on pratique la voie », c’est une alchimie entre le lieu, l’aménagement, l’ambiance qui y règne. Il ne suffit pas que le Dojo soit beau, bien qu’un tokonoma avec une calligraphie montée en kakejiku, un ikebana, créent une ambiance, mais il faut aussi qu’il soit plein et vivant de ses pratiquants !
L’architecte Charlotte Perriand a fait cette remarque à propos de la maison japonaise qui « n’essaie pas de paraître, mais de mettre l’homme en harmonie avec lui-même »(5). C’est une belle définition que l’on peut tout à fait appliquer à la notion de Dojo. Mettre l’être humain en harmonie avec lui-même et donc avec la nature dont nous faisons partie. Dès qu’on pénètre dans le Dojo on doit sentir cela. Les personnes, souvent, marquent un temps d’arrêt, même les simples visiteurs. C’est instinctif.

L’activité qui règne dans le Dojo en est aussi un aspect essentiel. On a la possibilité de prendre en charge la totalité des aspects de la vie. Les membres font la comptabilité, les travaux, le ménage… D’ailleurs Tamura Senseï disait du ménage du Dojo « Ce nettoyage ne concerne pas seulement le Dojo lui-même, mais aussi le pratiquant qui, par ce geste, procède à un nettoyage en profondeur de son être. Ce qui signifie que, même si le Dojo paraît propre, il faut pourtant le nettoyer encore et encore. »(6). Le sinologue J.-F. Billeter parle de « l’activité propre » quand l’activité humaine devient l’art de nourrir en soi la vie. Cela faisait partie des recherches des anciens Taoïstes chinois. Pour nous au 21e siècle il est encore question de se réapproprier un rapport à l’activité humaine, non comme chose séparée de notre vie, nous permettant de gagner de l’argent et d’attendre les vacances, mais comme activité totale. Une participation de tout l’être à une activité. Le travail des membres à une œuvre commune dans leur Dojo nous permet aussi de nous approprier ce Dojo, non pas comme une propriété, mais comme le vrai sens de bien commun : ce qui est à tout le monde est à moi, et non pas « c’est à tout le monde donc à personne et je m’en moque ». Cette inversion de perspective prend parfois du temps. On ne peut l’apprendre avec des mots ou avec des règles rigides. Cela se découvre et il faut le sentir par soi-même.
On me dit parfois « au Dojo c’est possible, mais au travail, à la maison, c’est impossible ». Je n’en suis pas si sûre. Si ce qu’on a approfondi au Dojo est suffisant alors on sera capable de le porter ailleurs. Ueshiba O Senseï disait « Dojo, c’est là où je suis ».
On ne va peut-être pas révolutionner le monde d’un seul coup, bien sûr, mais chaque fois que nous réagirons différemment le monde autour de nous changera. Chaque fois que nous serons capables de retrouver notre centre et de respirer profondément, les choses changeront. Tous nos problèmes ne seront pas résolus, mais nous les vivrons différemment, alors notre réalité sera aussi différente.dojo scuola della respirazione milano

Ne pas avoir d’argent est un avantage

Pour Musashi Miyamoto tout peut être un avantage. Lors d’un combat si vous avez le soleil dans votre dos c’est un avantage, si votre ennemi a le soleil dans le dos et pense avoir l’avantage, c’est un avantage. Car tout dépend de l’individu, de comment il s’oriente lui-même. Ainsi parfois ne pas avoir d’argent est un avantage, car nous n’avons alors pas d’autre solution que de créer, d’inventer des solutions. C’est ainsi qu’on peut créer des Dojo sans subventions, entièrement consacrés à une ou deux pratiques, ce qui était à priori impossible devient réalité.

Parfois la difficulté nous stimule pour créer ce qui nous est indispensable. En étant locataire, en étant bénévole, en faisant soi-même, en ne cherchant pas la perfection mais la satisfaction intérieure. En écoutant son exigence intérieure et non pas les oiseaux de mauvais augure qui vous disent que ça ne marchera pas, avant même d’avoir commencé.

Temporaire ? Comme tout ce qui vit sur terre, oui, mais du temporaire vécu pleinement dans l’instant. Vivre intensément, suivre son chemin, n’est pas chose « facile ». Mais les poètes nous ont déjà donné des conseils, comme R. M. Rilke : « Nous savons peu de choses, mais qu’il faille nous tenir au difficile, c’est là une certitude qui ne doit pas nous quitter »(7)

Construire tout en acceptant l’instabilité, travailler pour être satisfait et non pour un salaire ou une renommée, voilà des valeurs qui vont assez à l’encontre de notre société du plaisir immédiat, de la consommation comme compensation à l’ennui. Si aujourd’hui il n’y a plus forcément dans nos sociétés de lutte pour la survie, il y a toujours une lutte pour avoir toujours plus. Un bonheur de façade, une vie mise en scène, qui s’affiche sur nos réseaux sociaux. Comme l’ont théorisé les situationnistes dès la fin des années soixante, ce qui est directement vécu s’éloigne dans une représentation, la vie devient alors une accumulation de spectacles, jusqu’à son paroxysme ou la réalité s’inverse : la représentation de notre vie devient plus importante que notre vécu réel. Comme le disait Guy Debord « Dans le monde réellement renversé, le vrai est un moment du faux. »(8)
Dans un Dojo on travaille à renouer avec le vrai qui persévère en nous.dojo yuki ho toulouse

C’est exactement dans le même sens que va la pratique du Katsugen Undo qui permet le réveil des capacités du corps. Le réveil du vivant, de notre nature profonde. Alors la réalité n’est plus une oppression qui nous empêche de faire ce que nous voulons de notre vie mais tout au contraire, c’est la perception fine de la réalité qui nous montre que tout dépend de nous, de notre orientation. Le fondateur du Katsugen Undo, Noguchi Haruchika Senseï, écrivit quelques réflexions à propos de l’œuvre de Tchouang tseu. Ces réflexions sont d’un grand intérêt et je ne résiste pas à terminer cet article par les voix entremêlées de ces deux penseurs :

« Tchouang-tseu voyait comme une totalité unique les contraires du bien et du mal, de la beauté et de la laideur, de l’utilité et de l’inutilité, et pour lui la vie et la mort étaient aussi un tout unique, où ce qui vient à l’existence est en train de la quitter et ce qui quitte l’existence est en train d’y entrer. « La vie naît de la mort et la mort de la vie » a-t-il écrit.

« Quand Tsu-yu contracta une maladie qui le rendait infirme, Tsu-szu alla le voir et lui demanda, « Trouves-tu ton sort déplaisant ? » La réponse de Tsu-yu fut stupéfiante : « Pourquoi devrais-je le trouver déplaisant ? Si des changements se produisent et que mon bras gauche se change en coq, je l’utiliserai pour annoncer l’aube. Si mon épaule droite se transforme en balle de fusil, je m’en servirai pour tirer un pigeon à faire rôtir. Si mes fesses deviennent des roues de voiture et mon esprit un cheval, je voyagerai grâce à eux. Dans ce cas je n’aurais plus besoin d’un autre véhicule que moi-même – ça serait merveilleux ! […]
Telle est la voie que prend Tchouang-tseu. Dans son attitude – à savoir que quoi qu’il arrive, c’est approprié, et que, quand il se passe quelque chose, on va de l’avant et on affirme la réalité – il n’y a pas la moindre trace de la résignation inhérente à la soumission au destin. Son affirmation de la réalité n’est rien d’autre que l’affirmation de la réalité. La dignité de cet homme, seuls l’expriment ces mots de Lin Tsi : « Où que vous soyez, soyez maître. »(9)

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« Dojo, un autre espace-temps  » un article de Manon Soavi publié dans Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°24) en avril 2019

Notes :

1) et 2) Itsuo Tsuda Cœur de Ciel Pur Éditions Le Courrier du Livre, 2014, p.86 et p.113
3) Jacques Brel, 1958
4) Yann Allegret À l’affût du moment juste KarateBushido 1402, février 2014, p.
5) Mona Chollet Chez soi. Une odyssée de l’espace domestique Edition La découverte 2015 p.311
6) Noboyoshi Tamura Aikido Les presses de l’AGEP, 1986, p.19
7) Rainer-Maria Rilke Lettres à un jeune poète Éditions Grasset 1989 p.73
8) Guy Debord, La Société du Spectacle Éditions Gallimard 1992 p.12
9) Haruchika Noguchi sur Tchouang-Tseu edition Zensei, traduction École Itsuo Tsuda

Crédit photo

Jérémie Logeay, Paul Bernas, Anna Frigo

Seizing, an art of detachment

By Régis Soavi

Seizing in itself is not the difficulty, it’s the coagulation of ki in the wrist, the arms or around the body that causes a problem and blocks us, and it’s through detachment that we can get free of it. The way to achieve this is visualization. Tsuda Senseï provides us with an example in his second book The Path of Less:

Aide-mémoire Itsuo Tsuda saisie
Drawing by Master Tsuda showing different types of seizures.

« Aïkido for me is an art of becoming a child again. […] It takes art to become a child without being childish.
[…] John, for example, tackles me from behind. I want to crouch down to sit, but he prevents me from doing so. He has biceps twice as big as mine and weighs almost 200 pounds (90 kilos). I cannot move, he is holding me so tightly. What should I do? Throw him before I sit down? I try but I cannot do it because he is too heavy and too strong.
So I become a child. I see a wondrous seashell on the beach and bend down to pick it up. I forget John, who is still grasping me from behind. (There is an important technical detail here: I move one foot forward to make two sides of a triangle with the other foot, because it is more concentrated that way.) There is flow of ki, starting with me and moving towards the seashell, whereas before, the ki was frozen at the thought of John. John’s 200 pounds become very light, and he falls forward over my shoulders.
How is it that with different ideas, we obtain opposite results, while the situation remains the same?
The idea of throwing provokes resistance. In the child’s gesture, there is the joy of picking up the shell that makes one forget the enemy’s presence. » (1)

Grabbing, appropriating

There are many ways of seizing and it is the intention put into it that is often determinant. Some of them can be considered as superficial or even unharmful, others more dangerous, like for instance those which carry a mark of appropriation or others which can sometimes be insidious and insistent.

The scenography which allows training in Aikido considers seizing as the result of an act manifesting itself with some kind of aggressivity. This act in itself is already an attempt to appropriate the other person, so as to use him in some way, rob him, destroy him, destroy his person or personality, setting apart the well-founded cases which are not of our concern in this example. What I am talking about is the abuse of a power, whether it be real or unreal, known or desired, over the other, this other person being presumed unable to react when faced to such a display of strength.

Assuming power

In the animal world, the power of an individual or clan in the bosom of a larger group of the same kind matches quite definite criteria, generally in relation to reproduction, preservation or to the defense of a species. As a consequence, it is borne and finally accepted by the whole group; in case of any attempt to contest, genetic or merely ancestral rituals are meant to clarify the situation.

In human societies, particularly in ours which would like itself to be more modern in some respect, the need for assuming power over the other person seems to me more like a dysfunction, or even a disease, which are fully created by the behaviours induced by civilization. Uncertainty about one’s own power, as well as the conditionings exerted by all those already installed in the bosom of society bring about frustration and lead human beings to try to reconquer their power through words or even acts, trying where this power doesn’t lie, where they won’t find it, that is in the other person who anyway does not detain it. But on the other hand, it forces them mentally to take all the risks implied by this vain hope. The arising of such aggressivity is often due to a lack or deficit of one’s own power, whether admitted or not, that one tries to make up. Pressure undergone and felt, hence experienced as such, sometimes since early childhood brings in people the will to reappropriate what they feel intimately robbed of, deprived of, or even what they just lost. It makes them dangerous persons, merely due to their frustration. We can all understand and feel that kind of thing when helplessly faced to an administration, or when put under power by somebody against whom there’s apparently no possible opposition. From that point, there’s just one step to becoming aggressive, which some people take, while others manage to be reasonable, resign themselves because they have already accepted this state of domination out of habit and they daily undergo it. If a few people are only hardly moved, it’s because they have already overcome these difficulties and are not damaged in their own power, never having lost it or having already recovered it.

Prisoner

« It’s a case of the biter bit » says the proverb and this reversal of perspective is indeed what happens when seizing. We forget too easily that the one who is seizing becomes prisoner of what he has seized. He can’t get rid of it without risking to lose something in the process he has initiated. His freedom, if he has any at all, is now transferred to the one he thought he could detain or retain. He becomes a jailer to the other person, who will only think of getting free, who will put all his strength, intelligence, sometimes all his craftiness or even perfidiousness into it, because he is totally within his right and nobody can blame him for it. Our society generates this type of alienating behaviour in which both persons try to free themselves, one against the other, instead of moving to another dimension which would be more human, intelligent, and respectful of the this other person. Wanting to change these behaviours might seem utopic, yet if Aïkido exists and continues to be an art at the service of mankind, it is maybe to assert and demonstrate that, like others have already stated, other relations are possible between people and we aïkidokas are not the only ones who wish to continue in this direction.

Respiration, an answer to a specific situation

It is through ventral respiration and the calmness it brings about that one can find the immediate solution to some difficult situations. To prepare for that, it is not absolutely necessary to be an outstanding technician, or someone brave as a blizzard, or a very competent analyst but on the other hand there is need to recover this force which has taken refuge at the very bottom of our body, of our kokoro, or which even sometimes has been scattered in multiple defense systems. Trying to find a defensive solution in violent martial arts when faced with the awareness of our weakness, real or assumed, is just dodging the issue, seeking an alternative, or worse, forging ahead regardless. Aïkido, by its philosophy, suggests another direction but if this fails to be heard and above all understood, it may well cause Aikido to lose its justification, its singularity.

Attacks in Aïkido are just a way of setting a situation in order to enable practitioners to solve a problem, or even a conflict, which by the way puts them in opposition more with themselves than to with their partners. Seizings, for instance, often represent attempts to immobilize the body, therefore to block the other’s movement, through imprisonment of the wrists, arms, trunk, keïkogi or any other part which can be grabbed for this purpose. Sometimes, however, seizings may follow on from an attempt to strike that has failed. They are seldom solely a matter of blocking; considered in the perspective of a fight, they should almost always be followed by an Atemi or a final immobilization. They are only the first act, the first scene of a play which is much longer, if one may say so. It might seem paradoxical but it is through working on seizings that one will discover detachment.

Sensibility, instinct

Quite before seizing or hitting materializes, our sensibility is touched by something invisible even though very physical. This may be inexplicable as scientific knowledge currently stands, but this is something we know well, and even sometimes very well. That’s what makes us move, dodge, although we have seen nothing but simply felt it in an indefinable way. In order to give a clearer example, one which everybody has been able to verify in one way or another, in different circumstances, I would like to write about gazing. Gazing carries an energy, an extremely concrete Ki that our instinct can perceive. Haven’t you ever experienced, while taking a walk one evening or one night, feeling something indescribable behind you as if someone was gazing at you, watching you; you turn around, nobody there, and still the sensation lingers? The sensation, if you are not at peace, can turn into anxiety or perhaps trigger an « irrational-since-there’s-nobody » fear, when at the angle of the street behind a half-opened curtain you suddenly discover somebody observing you – or on an overhanging roof a cat watching you. The gaze of cats, and of animals in general, as well as the gaze of humans when intently observing something or somebody, carries an extremely powerful Ki. Our instinct can feel it, but it all depends on our state of mind at that moment. If we are talking with a friend, if we are lost in our thoughts after a love encounter for instance, our instinct, if not well-prepared, will have difficulty feeling this kind of things. The same obviously applies when we are worried, frightened or anguished, in this case all our being is somehow weakened, it loses its instinctive abilities.

Discovering the direction taken by Ki

Aïkido enables us to re-discover and conduct our instinctive abilities. It is thanks to a slow work on ourselves and our sensations that will appear again what we have often let go to sleep, rocked as we were by the comfort due to modern society which may seem so reassuring to us.

The work based on seizing corresponds, like everything we do in Aïkido, to a process of renewed learning and to a training of the body as a whole so that there will no longer be any separation between body and spirit. First of all, when our partner gets closer, there is no question of waiting kindly for him to seize us as requested, our whole body must feel the directions followed by the different parts of his body: arms, legs, his bearing points, all of this without looking, without observing, because it would already be too late. With unexperienced beginners, if the exercise is done slowly enough, they will be able to discover the routes taken by their partner’s Ki, the force lines. Since they work without any risk, they start again trusting the reactions and sensations of their bodies. During sessions, I don’t only show the techniques, I am constantly on the move, serving as Uke to one person, as Tori to another; without blocking them, I make them feel the direction their body must take by putting myself in the situation, making ki more material, by materializing the force lines, visualizing the openings they can use, while allowing them to act and respond as they will.

Discovering the Non-doing

Seizing can be a first step on the path that leads to what Lao Tseu and Tchouang Tseu would name Wu wei, the Non-acting, and it was the basis of my master Itsuo Tsuda’s teaching. How to teach what can’t be taught, how to show the invisible, how to guide a beginner or even an experienced practitioner towards what is the essence of the practice in our School? What is difficult to explain with words is easily understood when we let sensation guide us. To do so we have to take a few steps backward. To let go of our acquiring and piling up habits, those consumer reflexes of people always ready to fill up their trolleys with various products, techniques which are more or less modern, fashionable or old style, miraculous, easy and effortless, or even tough but efficient. Advertising is today the source of many illusions, luring its clients with colorful wonders of a world that has become so virtual. When will the new Wii console enable us to practice Aïkido with enhanced reality glasses and a partner whose potentiometer can be adjusted depending on our level, our shape, or our mood? But maybe I am behind and it already exists.

Seizing with Ki

Young children know and naturally use a certain way of seizing which is extremely efficient. It is a seizure devoid of any useless contraction. When they seize a toy they put all their ki into the act and when they let go of this toy they do it with complete indifference, there is no more Ki in it. On the other hand they have an incredible capacity when they don’t want to let go of what they have seized and are holding tight in their small hand. If this is something dangerous, their parents must sometimes unfold their fingers one by one, though their hand is so small and devoid of any true muscular strength as adults mean it. They know in a manner completely unconscious how to use Ki, they don’t need to learn, unfortunately they often lose this ability for the benefit of what is reasonable and most of the time education and schooling are responsible for this.

To learn again how to seize like a small child, without tension, and thus discover natural prehension. I often give as an example the way birds alight on a branch: they have skin micro-sensors in the middle of their paws which inform receptors which, thanks to these indications, stimulate reflex functions at the level of the involuntary, and give the order to their fingers to close as soon as they touch the branch. This manner of seizing avoids contortions, failures, and enables a very subtle adequacy of the members to the place caught (they catch). A quality seizure is a seizure which uses the palm of the hand as first contact, then the fingers close up on the object, the limb, the Keïkogi. If we act in this way, seizing is faster, without any excessive tensions, and it has remarkable efficiency, allowing therefore a good quality work with a partner.

The only seizures which respect the other one’s freedom are light but powerful, like for instance that of a small child who wants to take along one of his parents to look at a small frog he’s just seen in the tall grass and is curious about, or like that of two beings, friends or lovers, bound by tenderness and respectful of each other.

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(1) Itsuo Tsuda, The Path of Less, p. 175, Yume Editions, Paris, 2015 (trans. from La Voie du dépouillement, Le Courrier du Livre, 1975)

Article by Régis Soavi published in Dragon Magazine (speciale Aikido n° 25) april 2019.

 

 

 

Misogi

Misogi 禊 is widely practised among shintoists.
It consists of an ablution, sometimes under a waterfall, in a stream, or in the sea and allows a purification of the body at both physical and psychical levels. In a broader sense, Misogi encompasses a whole process of spiritual awakening. Misogi is also a way to relieve the being of what overwhelms him, so to allow him to wake up to life. Water has always been considered one of its essential elements.

Like water, Aîkido is a way to achieve Misogi

Founder of Aïkido O Senseï Morihei Ueshiba kept on telling his students that the practice of this Art is above all a Misogi.

Aïkido is one of the Japanese martial arts for which the main character, the very nature, is, like water, fluidity. The teaching brought by Itsuo Tsuda Senseï who was during ten years a direct student of the Founder Moriheï Ueshiba has definitely confirmed it. Although his words seem to have largely been forgotten, he kept on repeating that « in Aïkido there is no fighting, it’s just the art of uniting and separating ». However, when you watch an Aïkido session, it seems that two people are fighting each other. In fact one of them plays the role of the assaillant, but in real he is a partner, facing him there is no aggressivity, you won’t see any malicious gesture, no violence, even if the response to the attack may be impressive because of its efficiency.

Overall, the Aïkido practised in the Itsuo Tsuda School is an Art of great fluidity, an art in which sensitivity and caring for the partner have the main part, and it is always through the smoothness of a first part practised individually that an Aïkido session begins.

Far from starting with warm-up exercices, an Aïkido session begins with smooth, slow but still invigorating exercises. Breathing coordination is essential, as it allows us to harmonize with Ki, and thereby to take a step forward to discover a world with an additionnal dimension, the « World of Ki »

This world is not a revelation, it’s more what comes to light, what appears clearly when one recovers one’s sensitivity, when rigidity vanishes into thin air and that the living appears through. It is often women who first understand the importance of such a way of practising. That is why so many women practise in our school because they have experienced the bitter taste of sexist oppression in our society and they find in this art a way, a path, far beyong the simple martial art.

Ki, a driving force

Ai 合 Union, Harmony
Ki 気 Vital energy, Life
Do道 Path, Way, Tao

Ki is not a concept, a mystical energy nor a sort of mental illusion. We can feel Ki. In fact everybody knows what it is, even if, in Western countries nowadays, we don’t give it a name. Learning to feel it, to recognize it, to make the most of it, is necessary for who wants to practise a martial art, and even more if you practise Aïkido. In Aikido, if you don’t focus on Ki, only the empty form of its contents remains, this form becomes quickly a fight, a struggle in which the strongest, or the most cunning will manage to defeat his partner. We are really far away from the founder’s teaching for whom it was an art of peace, an art in which there is neither winner, nor defeated. Each movement of the partner is accompanied by a complementary movement from the other partner, like the water that marries each roughness, every nook, leaving nothing behind or separate.

misogi
Calligraphie de Itsuo Tsuda

If the beginnings are usually tough, it’s because people have lost part of their mobility
and mostly because they have become hard so to be protected from the world around. They’ve built a carapace, an armor, certainly protective, but which has become a second nature and an invisible prison. To have Ki flow in our body again, so to recover fluidity, and follow a teaching based on sensitivity enables us to understand physically the Yin and the Yang.

Bathing in a sea of Ki

Exercices and basic or advanced techniques have not only in common the breath which is nothing but the materialization or even better the visualisation of Ki, but they also allow to become aware of our body, physically and of our sphere of ki, which the Indians call the AURA, and that we have today practically forgotten almost everywhere.

What modern science and in particular neuroscience has been discovering for a few years is only a small part of what everyone can discover on his own and put into practice in his daily life simply through the practice of Aïkido as Itsuo Tsuda Senseï taught it.

He would repeat over and over again that Aïkido as presented by his Master Morihei Ueshiba is the union of Ka the inspiration, the ascending force, the square, the weft and Mi, the exhalation, the downward force, the cercle, the chain.
Ka being in Japanese a pronounciation for 火 fire (which appears for example as a radical in the word Kasaï 火災, wild fire) and Mi the first syllable of Mizu 水 water, the whole forming the word KAMI 神 which means divine in the sense of the divine nature of all things. Itsuo Tsuda would add that « In this gloss one mustn’t see a similar value to that of a scientific etymology. It comes from punning, the use of which is common among mystics ». [1]

I have never seen such fluid movements as when he wanted us to feel a technique he showed to us. Moreover, in his dojo there used to be no accidents, nobody injured, everything would be in a flow of Ki both respectfull and generous but at the same time firm and rigorous, that I can hardly find today in the sports halls where aïkidokas have their trainings.

The dojo, an essential place

Do we really need a special place to practise Aïkido? If we talk about the surface we need for falls, we could lay tatamis anywhere, from the moment we are sheltered from bad weather.
In his book Cœur de ciel pur Itsuo Tsuda gives us his extremely clear view of what should be a dojo, he who was Japanese was in the best posititon to give us a glimpse.

« The School of Respiration is materially a “dojo”, this particular space in the East, which refers less to the material place itself, than to the energy space. As I said before, a dojo is not a space divided into parts and provided for certain exercices. It’s a place where spacetime is not the same as in a secular place. The atmosphere is particularly intense. One enters and leaves the space bowing so to get sacralized and desacralized.
Spectators are admitted, provided they respect this atmosphere […]. They are not to parody the practice for free, with word or gesture. I am told that in France [or in Italy] one can come across dojos that are simply gyms or sports centers. Anyhow, as far as I am concerned, I want my dojo to be a dojo and not a sports club with a boss and its regulars, so as not to disturb the sincerity of the practitionners. This does not mean that they must keep a sullen and constipated face. On the contrary, we must maintain the spirit of peace, communion and joy. » [2]

A sacred space therefore and yet fundamentally non religious, a secular space, a space of great simplicity where the freedom to be as we are exists, beyond the social. And not what we have become with all the compromises we had to accept in order to survive in society. This freedom remains inside us, deep within us in our intimate heart, our Kokoro 心 as Japanese language talks so well about it, and is only asking for a chance to be revealed.

Notes :
1 Itsuo Tsuda The Science of the Particular, Yume Editions 2015 p. 137
2 Itsuo Tsuda (posth.) Cœur de ciel pur, ed. Le Courrier du Livre 2014 p. 113 [trans. Itsuo Tsuda School]

Taiheki, le révélateur

par Régis Soavi.

Noro Senseï, dans les années soixante-dix, nous racontait que O Senseï Morihei Ueshiba reprochait parfois à ses élèves leur manque d’attention lorsqu’ils téléphonaient d’une cabine publique, concentrés qu’ils étaient sur leur conversation : « Vous devez être prêts en toute circonstance, quoi que vous fassiez ! » disait-il. L’Aïkido opte pour une position naturelle, sans garde, dite Shizen Tai. Mais une posture naturelle n’est pas une posture relax comme on l’entend aujourd’hui, la concentration et l’attention ne doivent être relâchées en aucun cas. Si la garde la plus répandue en Aïkido reste Hammi no Kamae, comme toutes les autres elle dépend plus qu’on ne le croit de la polarisation de l’énergie dans le corps.

Kamae, l’instinct du corps

Je me souviens de ce que nous avait dit Maroteaux Senseï lors d’une de mes premières séances d’Aïkido au dojo de la montagne Sainte-Geneviève : « Vous ouvrez la porte, un chien vous saute à la gorge, que faites-vous ? » J’étais évidemment resté sans voix, mais cette question qu’il nous avait posée, alors que j’étais un jeune pratiquant d’arts martiaux assez sûr de lui à l’époque, m’avait ébranlé, elle fut à l’origine de mes recherches sur les Kamae.
Se mettre en garde est la réponse à un acte agressif ou à une sensation de danger. Pour qui ne connaît pas les arts martiaux cette réponse sera instinctive alors que, pour un pratiquant, elle sera le résultat de son apprentissage. Ses recherches personnelles peuvent l’amener à utiliser son corps d’une façon différente de ce qu’il avait appris et pour cela il trouvera un positionnement ou une garde qui lui convient, parfois plus pertinente, parfois de manière à tendre un piège en laissant croire à une ouverture ou à une faiblesse de sa part. Même s’il y a de nombreuses façons de se mettre en garde, donc de se protéger, on doit tenir compte de son propre corps, malgré tout ce que l’on a appris, malgré les années d’entraînement, en dernier recours c’est l’instinct qui nous guidera. Le travail dans les arts martiaux, loin d’être inutile, sera plutôt dans dans ce cas un support, un appui. Le risque de l’apprentissage est parfois de donner une assurance, une croyance dans des techniques, des postures qui, si elles sont magnifiques en photo ou sur les tatamis, ne correspondent à aucune réalité dans la vie courante. Trouver la posture juste dépend du corps de chacun. Beaucoup trop de pratiquants cherchent en travaillant d’arrache-pied à modeler leur corps pour le mettre en conformité avec l’idée qu’ils se font de leur art, ou plus simplement de l’efficacité qu’ils espèrent. On regarde l’esthétique de l’art mais du coup on en rate la profondeur. On voit le travail effectué mais on ne se rend pas compte des déformations acquises à cause de ce travail. Il y a tant d’élèves qui répètent des quantités incroyables de fois le même exercice, la même technique espérant ainsi, en imitant le maître ou simplement le professeur, arriver à la maîtrise de leur art, alors qu’ils suivent la voie de la déformation sans s’en rendre compte. Il ne faut pas s’étonner du nombre d’accidents ou des incapacités qui en découlent. Combien ne peuvent plus pratiquer à cause d’un genou, d’un coude, d’un poignet, ou de leur dos alors qu’ils sont encore jeunes et pleins d’énergie ?

Noguchi haruchika. Taiheki
Noguchi Haruchika Sensei, fondateur du Seitai

Les Kamae dépendent du Taiheki

Le Seitai nous a apporté un instrument remarquable, l’étude des tendances corporelles que Noguchi Haruchika Senseï appelait Taiheki (体癖). C’est Tsuda Senseï qui en donne une première description, bien que sommaire, mais déjà c’était une révélation, lors de la parution de son livre Le Non-faire* au début des années soixante-dix. Il compléta ensuite cet enseignement dans les livres qui suivirent au cours des années, ne cessant de donner des exemples qui nous permettaient de mieux comprendre les Taiheki. La lecture des textes de Noguchi Senseï nous a permis elle aussi d’approfondir la connaissance des comportements humains et surtout de leurs relations au corps. La compréhension des mouvements du corps des individus permet de guider les débutants vers une meilleure posture, sans qu’ils se déforment. Comme il faudrait un livre entier pour expliquer cet enseignement pour qui n’est pas informé, je suis obligé de ne donner que quelques indications, sans entrer dans le détail.
La classification des Taiheki mise au point par Noguchi Senseï s’appuie sur le mouvement involontaire humain. Il ne s’agit pas d’une typologie qui permet de faire entrer les individus dans des petites cases, mais de dégager les tendances comportementales habituelles tout en tenant compte des interpénétrations qui peuvent exister entre celles-ci.
Ce classement comporte six groupes : chacun des cinq premiers est en relation avec une vertèbre lombaire, le dernier groupe étant plus en relation non avec la colonne vertébrale, mais avec un état général du corps. Chaque groupe est divisé selon l’aspect Yang ou Yin en deux sous-groupes ou types, dits « actif » et « passif ». Pour bien comprendre l’intérêt d’une telle étude, j’ai choisi quelques exemples qui à la lueur des Taiheki me semblent plus parlants que d’autres.

La posture taiheki
Régis Soavi. Trouver la posture juste dépend du corps de chacun.

Taiheki, le révélateur

Dans la classification, le premier groupe est aussi appelé « groupe vertical » et il est en relation avec la première lombaire. Son énergie a tendance à se polariser au cerveau.
Le type 1, par exemple, est extrêmement sûr de lui par rapport aux Kamae, il a une position très définitive, il est capable de l’expliquer à tout le monde, avec beaucoup de logique. Même si son expérience est mineure il a tout de suite une idée sur la chose et n’en démord pas. Ses talons ayant tendance à se décoller du sol du fait de la tension qu’il a aux cervicales, il développera par exemple une théorie comme quoi cela permet de sauter plus vite et plus loin en cas d’attaque et réfutera toute contradiction, jusqu’au moment où une autre idée surgira qui lui semblera plus brillante et plus judicieuse.
Le type 2 sait tout sur les Kamae de presque tous les arts martiaux, les origines historiques, la valeur de chacune et ses défauts majeurs, l’apport de chaque maître. Il connaît même des historiettes illustrant ses dires, c’est un puits de connaissance qui n’hésite pas à les compléter dès qu’il sent un manque quelque part dans son argumentation ou ses références.

Le deuxième groupe est appelé « groupe latéral » et il est en relation avec la deuxième lombaire. Son énergie a tendance à se polariser sur le système digestif.
Le type 3 est un bon vivant, lorsqu’il pratique les arts martiaux il choisit son club plus en fonction de l’ambiance que de l’efficacité de l’art enseigné, ou de la renommée du maître. Toutes ces histoires de postures, de gardes, ne l’intéressent que très peu, il a sa petite opinion là-dessus comme d’habitude, et il aime ou il n’aime pas, c’est-à-dire c’est commode ou non.
Le type 4 lui par contre est toujours très réservé, il est difficile de savoir ce qu’il pense. Affable, il donne rarement son opinion, même si un débat s’installe sur la valeur de différentes Kamae, il n’a pas d’opinion véritable, tout lui semble possible en fonction des circonstances. Il est plutôt dans le genre diplomate sans excès.

Le troisième groupe est appelé « groupe pulmonaire » ou « groupe avant-arrière » et il est en relation avec la cinquième lombaire. Son énergie a tendance à se polariser sur le système respiratoire.
Le type 5 n’aime pas discuter pour rien, une garde cela doit avoir un sens pratique, ou c’est efficace, ou ça ne l’est pas. Il faut vérifier, et si ça marche, aller de l’avant… L’esquive n’est pas vraiment son fort, il préfère les techniques en Omote plutôt que en Ura. De par sa tendance à s’appuyer sur la cinquième lombaire ses épaules se portent en avant et l’incitent à agir. Il est facilement combatif mais sait se préserver des issues de secours en cas de besoin.
Le type 6 a trop de tension aux épaules pour pouvoir agir de manière simple. Quand cette tension se relâche elle libère une énorme quantité d’énergie qui part dans tous les sens et que lui-même n’arrive pas à gérer. Face à lui aucune garde n’est possible, il est complètement ingérable et imprévisible au risque de se mettre lui-même en danger.

Le quatrième groupe est appelé « groupe torsion » et il est en relation avec la troisième lombaire. Son énergie a tendance à se polariser sur le système urinaire.
Certains Taiheki peuvent a priori sembler favorables à une bonne garde, comme c’est le cas du « groupe torsion » (type 7 ou 8) car pour se défendre ils adoptent instinctivement un genre de posture, plutôt de profil, les lombaires cambrées, un pied en avant etc. La posture peut sembler idéale, pour la pose ou sur une photo. Mais mis à part la précision du positionnement et les points d’appui, la capacité à se déplacer dépend évidemment et peut-être principalement du mental. Il y a une énorme différence, qui va changer toute la donne, entre une torsion de type 7 et celle de type 8. Pour simplifier je dirai que le type 7 veut gagner alors que le type 8 ne veut pas perdre. Toute la posture change, l’un s’apprête à bondir, l’autre à tenter d’esquiver. Qui plus est, les personnes du groupe torsion ont une agitation permanente qui dans ce cas se révèle néfaste. Agités, ils n’attendent qu’une seule chose : passer à l’action. L’attente leur est insupportable, n’y tenant plus, tout à coup ils se lancent, tant pis si ce n’est pas le bon moment.

Le cinquième groupe est appelé « groupe pelvien » ou « groupe bassin » et il est en relation avec la quatrième lombaire. Son énergie n’est pas polarisée vers une région du corps, c’est tout le corps qui à partir des hanches se tend et se relâche d’un seul coup.
Le type 9 est un exemple de la continuité, lorsqu’il pratique les arts martiaux, il tend à en faire son unique raison de vivre, la tendance de son bassin à la fermeture donne une grande force à son koshi qui lui facilite la tâche dans l’apprentissage, mais il a une prédisposition au perfectionnement qui peut parfois aller jusqu’à l’absurde. Il a un soucis du détail, et perfectionnera les Kamae jusqu’au plus petit élément, tant que la posture n’est pas parfaite de son point de vue, il est insatisfait, mais c’est justement cette insatisfaction qui, loin de le décourager, le pousse en avant. Rien ne lui est opposable, seule la satisfaction intérieure est sa référence. Il peut, comme O Senseï Morihei Ueshiba, ainsi que d’autres très grands maîtres, arriver à la conclusion que la position naturelle est la Kamae idéale car elle représente le dépassement de toutes les autres. Mais cette position naturelle est le fruit de ses nombreuses années de travail et d’entraînement et non une facilité théorique ou un relâchement.
Le type 10 quant à lui considère qu’une bonne garde est indispensable, que c’est une garantie de stabilité et que si on respectait les autres il n’y aurait pas de conflits. Son bassin ouvert en fait généralement quelqu’un de très accueillant, il possède une grande sensibilité et son intuition est redoutable. Sa posture ouverte l’empêche d’être agressif, il aura tendance à faire des techniques Ura qu’il réussit mieux et sa garde ira beaucoup plus dans le sens d’absorber l’attaque plutôt que de la repousser.

Les deux derniers types formant le dernier groupe sont en fait des états du corps, appelés « hypersensible et apathique ».
Le type 11 n’arrive pas à avoir une garde précise et définie, son hypersensibilité en fait un être perturbé qui ne parvient pas à avoir des points de repère. Sa garde est imprécise, voire brouillée ou brouillonne et presque toujours totalement inefficace. La peur a tendance à lui liquéfier les jambes. L’Aïkido peut être une excellente activité dans son cas, à condition que l’enseignant comprenne bien ses difficultés, et ne le brusque pas, afin de l’amener à une sensibilité normale.
Le type 12 lui, par contre, est un exemple de rigidité, il a une garde très physique souvent peu souple, il est capable d’encaisser tous les coups sans broncher. Son corps peut parfois présenter une laxité musculaire au niveau des articulations sans que sa rigidité n’en soit diminuée.

C’est en fonction des Taiheki que l’on peut comprendre l’inutilité de telle ou telle posture et donc de telle ou telle Kamae. Les points d’appui étant différents d’un individu à l’autre, les ressorts pour se déplacer ou simplement se mouvoir sont fondamentalement différents eux aussi. Il est donc inutile de proposer un exercice qui, s’il améliore la posture apparente, détruit la personne dans ses fondements, ou a minima risque de provoquer des déformations tant physiques que mentales.

Kamae et rigidification

Tsuda Senseï considérait que la rigidification et le relâchement des individus faisaient partie des grands travers induits par nos sociétés modernes, mais il n’ignorait pas que ces problèmes existaient bien avant, qu’ils sont inhérents à la société humaine. Dans son livre La Voie des dieux** il relate une anecdote sur les Kamae que j’ai trouvée une fois de plus très parlante. Elle est significative des risques que l’imagination peut faire encourir, même à des personnes dont c’était le métier comme les Samouraï  :

« La contraction involontaire se renforce à mesure que l’imagination se remplit de peur. La peur ne reste pas seulement dans la tête. Elle paralyse tout le corps. Surtout les poignets perdent de la souplesse, et les bras se désensibilisent. C’est ce qui est arrivé à deux samouraïs qui se battaient en duel, dont j’ai lu le récit quelque part. Ils tenaient le sabre à deux mains et se faisaient face, à plusieurs mètres de distance l’un de l’autre. À cette distance, ils étaient encore hors de danger, quoi qu’ils fassent, mais déjà leur visage était pâle. Probablement ils étaient trempés d’une sueur froide. Ils sont restés là, à la même distance, pour un certain temps. Finalement ils se sont rapprochés, il y en avait un qui gisait par terre et l’autre était debout. Le combat avait pris fin. Mais le vainqueur restait là, incapable de lâcher son sabre, car les doigts étaient crispés à la poignée. La contraction était telle qu’il lui était difficile de les assouplir. »

La concentration et l’attention ne doivent être relâchées en aucun cas.

Si l’on veut échapper à la rigidification que peuvent provoquer les gardes lorsqu’elles ne nous correspondent pas, ou que les contraintes qu’elles exigent nous déforment, il n’y a que le bon sens, et la recherche personnelle vers l’équilibre qui peuvent nous le permettre. Il n’y a pas de solution définitive pour tous les problèmes et pour toujours.

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« Taïheki, le révélateur  » un article de Régis Soavi publié dans Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°23) en janvier 2019

Notes :

* Itsuo Tsuda Le Non-faire, Le Courrier du Livre, 1973.
** Itsuo Tsuda La Voie des dieux, Le Courrier du Livre, 1982, p. 60.

Crédit photos
Régis Sirvent
Sara Rossetti

Seitai

Les principes Seitai, qu’on peut même qualifier de « philosophie Seitai » ‒ manière de voir, de penser le monde ‒ furent élaborés par Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) dans la première moitié du vingtième siècle. Pour résumer brièvement (!) le Seitai est une « méthode » ou une « philosophie » qui englobe le Seitai soho, les Taiso, le Katsugen undo, le Katsugen soho, et le Yukiho. Des pratiques qui se complètent, s’interpénètrent, et constituent l’ampleur de la pensée Seitai de Haruchika Noguchi. On peut aussi citer l’étude des Taiheki (tendances posturales), l’utilisation du bain chaud, l’éducation du subconscient, l’importance de la naissance, de la maladie et de la mort…
Un art de vivre du début à la fin.

Aujourd’hui malheureusement le terme « Seitai » est galvaudé et désigne tout et n’importe quoi. Certains praticiens de thérapies manuelles se réclament trop facilement du Seitai (Itsuo Tsuda disait qu’il fallait vingt ans pour former un technicien au Seitai soho !). Quand aux charlatans qui proposent de vous transformer en quelques séances…, n’en parlons pas ! L’amplitude de l’art de vivre, la compréhension globale de l’Homme dans le Seitai semblent bien loin. Si il ne reste qu’une technique à appliquer sur des patients, l’essentiel est perdu. Si il ne reste du Katsugen undo qu’un moment pour se « ressourcer », l’essentiel est perdu.

Haruchika Noguchi et Itsuo Tsuda allèrent tout deux beaucoup plus loin que cela dans leur compréhension de l’Homme. Et les graines qu’ils ont semées, les indices qu’ils ont laissés pour que les êtres humains puissent évoluer sont importants. Peut-on alors parler d’une voie, du Seitai-dō (道 dō/tao) ? Car il s’agit d’un changement de point de vue radical, d’un bouleversement, d’un horizon totalement différent qui s’ouvre.

Reprenons le fil de l’histoire…

La rencontre avec Haruchika Noguchi : l’individu dans sa totalité

Itsuo Tsuda rencontra Haruchika Noguchi aux alentours de 1950. C’est l’approche de l’être humain telle que proposée dans le Seitai qui l’intéressa de suite. L’acuité de l’observation des individus pris dans leur globalité/complexité indivisible que Itsuo Tsuda découvrit chez Noguchi s’inscrivait dans le prolongement de ce qui avait retenu son intérêt lors de ses études en France auprès de Marcel Mauss (anthropologue) et Marcel Granet (sinologue). Itsuo Tsuda commença alors à suivre l’enseignement de Noguchi et ce pendant plus de vingt ans. Il eut le sixième dan de Seitai.

« Maître Noguchi, m’a permis de voir les choses d’une façon très concrète. À travers ces manifestations de chaque individu, il est possible de voir ce qui agit à l’intérieur. C’est une approche tout à fait différente de l’approche analytique : la tête, le cœur, les organes digestifs, chacun prend dans sa spécialité et puis, le corps d’un côté, le psychique de l’autre, n’est-ce pas. Eh bien, il a permis de voir l’homme, c’est-à-dire l’individu concret, dans sa totalité. »1

La maladie conçue comme un facteur d’équilibre

D’autant que c’est précisément dans les années cinquante que Haruchika Noguchi, qui avait découvert très tôt ses capacités de guérisseur, décidait de renoncer à la thérapeutique. Il créa alors la notion de Seitai, c’est-à-dire de « terrain normalisé ».

« Le mot « terrain » étant entendu comme l’ensemble qui constitue l’individu, le psychique et le physique, tandis qu’en Occident on divise toujours en psychique, et puis physique. »2

Le changement d’optique vis-à-vis de la maladie fût décisif dans cette réorientation de Noguchi.

« La maladie est une chose naturelle, c’est un effort de l’organisme qui tente de récupérer l’équilibre perdu. […] Il est bon que la maladie existe, mais il faut que les hommes se libèrent de son assujettissement, de son esclavage. C’est ainsi que Noguchi est arrivé à concevoir la notion de Seitai, la normalisation du terrain, si on veut. On ne s’occupe pas des maladies, il est inutile de guérir. Si on normalise le terrain, les maladies disparaissent d’elles-mêmes. Et de plus, on devient plus vigoureux qu’avant. Adieu la thérapeutique. Finie la lutte contre les maladies. »3

Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©
Yuki. Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©
Un chemin vers l’autonomie

L’abandon de la thérapeutique va aussi de pair avec le désir de sortir des rapports de dépendance qui lient le patient au thérapeute. Noguchi souhaitait permettre aux individus la prise de conscience de leurs capacités ignorées, les réveiller au plein épanouissement de leur être. Durant les vingt années où ils se côtoyèrent les deux hommes passèrent de longs moments à parler philosophie, art etc., et Noguchi trouva dans la vaste culture de l’intellectuel qu’était Tsuda de quoi nourrir et élargir ses observations et réflexions personnelles. Un rapport d’enrichissement mutuel se construisit ainsi entre eux.

Itsuo Tsuda fût rédacteur à la revue Zensei, publiée par l’Institut Seitai et il participa activement aux études menées par Noguchi sur les Taiheki « tendances posturales ». Comme le rapporte un texte de Haruchika Noguchi publié dans la revue Zensei de janvier 1978, c’est Itsuo Tsuda qui avança l’hypothèse ‒validée par Noguchi ‒ que le type neuf « bassin fermé », soit l’archétype de l’être primitif.4

La mise au point du Katsugen undo par Noguchi intéressa particulièrement Itsuo Tsuda, qui saisit d’emblée l’importance de cet outil, notamment en ce qui concerne la possibilité de permettre aux individus de retrouver leur autonomie, de ne plus avoir besoin de dépendre d’aucun spécialiste. Bien que conscient et admiratif de la précision et de la portée profonde de la technique du Seitai soho, Tsuda considéra que la diffusion du Katsugen undo était plus importante que l’enseignement de la technique. Aussi fut-il à l’initiative des groupes de Mouvement régénérateur (Katsugen kai) qui se constituaient un peu partout au Japon.

Conférence d'Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©
Conférence d’Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©

Itsuo Tsuda a privilégié la diffusion du Katsugen undo en Europe comme porte d’entrée vers le Seitai.

Aujourd’hui, même au Japon, le Seitai soho a pris une orientation qui le rapproche d’une thérapie. Un problème : une technique à appliquer. Le Katsugen undo devient une sorte de gymnastique « light » de bien-être, de détente. On est loin du réveil du vivant, de la capacité autonome du corps à réagir dont il est question dans le Seitai de Haruchika Noguchi.

L’exercice de yuki, qui est l’alpha et l’oméga du Seitai, se pratique à chaque séance de Katsugen undo. Ainsi, bien que Tsuda n’ait pas enseigné la technique du Seitai soho, il en a transmis l’essence, l’acte le plus simple, cette « non technique » qu’est yuki. Celle qui nous sert tous les jours, celle qui sensibilise progressivement les mains, le corps. Cette sensation physique, réelle, expérimentable par tous, est aujourd’hui trop souvent considérée comme une technique spéciale, réservée à une élite. On oublie que c’est un acte humain et instinctif. La pratique du Katsugen undo mutuel (avec un partenaire) se perd aussi, même dans les groupes ayant suivit l’enseignement de Tsuda. Quel dommage ! Car à travers le yuki et le Katsugen undo mutuel, le corps redécouvre les sensations, celles qui ne passent pas par l’analyse mentale. Ce dialogue dans le silence, qui nous fait découvrir l’autre de l’intérieur et qui nous ramène donc à nous même, à notre être intérieur. Yuki et le Katsugen undo sont pour nous des outils indispensables, préconisés par Haruchika Noguchi, pour cheminer vers un « terrain normal ».

Mais le temps passe et les choses se déforment, comme les paroles de sagesse de certains deviennent des oppressions religieuses… Petit à petit le Katsugen undo n’est plus qu’un moment pour se « ressourcer », se détendre et surtout ne rien changer à sa vie, à sa stabilité. Le Seitai, une méthode pour maigrir après l’accouchement… Alors qu’il s’agit d’une orientation de la vie, d’une pensée globale. Le pas immense que fit Haruchika Noguchi en sortant de l’idée de thérapeutique est une avancée majeure dans l’histoire de l’humanité. Sa compréhension globale de l’individu, la sensibilité au ki, retrouver suffisamment de sensibilité, de centre en soi-même pour écouter son propre corps et agir librement.

Il ne s’agit même pas d’opposition entre des méthodes, des théories, des civilisations. Il s’agit purement et simplement d’évolution de l’humanité.

Manon Soavi

Notes :

  1. Itsuo Tsuda, Interview sur France Culture, Maître Tsuda s’explique sur le Mouvement régénérateur, émission N° 3, début des années 1980.
  2. Itsuo Tsuda, Interview sur France Culture, op. cité, émission N° 4, début des années 1980.
  3. Itsuo Tsuda, Le Dialogue du Silence, Paris, Le Courrier du Livre, 2006 (1979), p.64-65
  4. Sur le sujet des Taiheki, consulter Itsuo Tsuda Le Non-Faire Le Courrier du Livre, (1973)

Ukemi : the flow of Ki

by Régis Soavi

The fall in our art is more than a liberation, mere consequence of an action. It is the Yin or Yang of a whole, the Tao. In practice, at the end of the technique, Tori emanates a yang energy : if he wants to avoid injuring his partner, Tori lets him absorb this yang energy and transfer it to the fall.

Aïkido is an art where there is no loser, an art dedicated to human beings, to the intuition of humans, to their adaptability, and going beyond the contradiction brought by a technique by means of the fall is nothing else than adaptability to it. Not to teach a beginner how to fall would amount to putting him in a situation of handicap from the start and risking discouragement, or to shaping a spirit of resentment, or even of revenge.

There are different attitudes among beginners, those who hurl themselves at the risk of getting hurt, and those who, because of fear, contract when about to fall and who of course take a bad fall and suffer painful consequences if you force them. My answer to this problem is softness and time…

When surprised by a noise, an act, the first reaction is to breathe in and block the breath, this is a reflex and vital functioning that prepares the answer and therefore the action. Surprise starts a series of biomechanical processes which are totally involuntary, it is already too late for reasoning. It is by breathing out that the solution to the problem will come. If there is no risk after all, or if the reaction is exaggerated and the risk minor, one drops the blocking and the breath is released in a natural way (ha, the usual sigh of relief). If there is danger, whether great or small, we are ready for action, ready to act thanks to the breath, thanks to breathing out. Problems occur when, for instance, we don’t know what to do, when the solution doesn’t arise immediately, we remain blocked in inspiration, with our lungs full of air, unable to move. It’s a disaster ! It’s approximately the same pattern that occurs when we are a beginner, our partner is performing a technique and the logical answer that will enable us to get free, and thus to fix up this conflictual problem is the Ukemi. But if one is afraid to fall, if one has not had the technical training of many forward and backward rollings done in a slow, nice and easy way, one remains with lungs blown up like a soccer ball, and if the technique is completed, one ends up on the floor, with more or less damage done.
Bouncing painfully on the tatamis like the aforesaid ball would then be the least harm. Learning to let go as soon as absolutely necessary, not falling before by caution, as this impairs Tori’s sensation and gives him a false idea of the value of his technique and often of himself. Grasping the right moment to breathe out and land softly on the tatamis without any air left in the lungs. Then as for the clapped falls, which one does when more advanced, it will be enough to breathe out faster and let oneself go so that the body finds the right receiving position by itself.

Training in the ancient way !

My own training through Judo in the early sixties, in Parisian suburbs, was very different. To us school youngsters, Judo was a way to expend our energy and canalize what otherwise ended badly, that is turned into struggles and other kinds of street fights. The training, twice a week, required two essential things : absolute respect to our teacher and learning how to fall. It was still a time when our teacher transmitted the « Japanese » Judo without weight categories. In spite of Anton Geesink’s recent victory at the Olympic Games, he would define himself as a traditionalist. Falls were one of the lessons’ foundations : rolling forward, backward, sideways, we used to spend about twenty minutes practicing that before performing the techniques, and sometimes, when he would not find us focused enough, too much scattered, he would say : « Turn your kimonos inside out so you won’t dirty them » and we would go out for a series of forward falls, in the small paved blind alley in front of the dojo. Afterwards, we were not afraid to fall anymore, well, that is, those who still wanted to continue !

The world has changed, society has evolved, would today’s parents agree to trust such a « barbarian » with their progenies, besides there are rules, protective laws, insurances.

Bob- that was his name- felt a responsibility for our training, and teaching us how to fall whatever the circumstances and on any sort of ground was part of his values and his duty was to retransmit them to us.

Bodies have changed, through food, lack of exercise, overintellectualization ; how can we pass on the message that learning physically how to fall is a necessity, provided that the results of it will be ascertained only several years later. What benefit is to be expected of it, what profitability, nowadays everything is accounted for, there’s no time to lose. It is the philosophy of Aïkido which attracts new practitioners, so that’s where our chance lies to pass on the message of this necessity.

Dualism

Aïkido, by nature and above all because of the orientation O Senseï Moriheï Ueshiba gave to it, carries a vision of the fall completely different from that of Boxing or Judo for instance, where falling is losing. To an external viewer, and that’s what falsely gives a certain character to our art, it seems that Tori is the winner when Uke falls on the tatamis. It is psychologically difficult to admit that this is not at all so. Society gives us but rarely any examples of behavior other than this Manichean dualism « Either you win or you lose ». And it is logical, at first sight, not to understand and to see only that. In order to understand the matter differently, one must practice, and practice with another conception in mind, which can only be given by the teacher. Itsuo Tsuda senseï provides an example of this pedagogy in his book The Path of Less :

« In Aïkido, when there is a flow of Ki from A, who is performing the technique, towards object B, opponent C, who is grasping A by the wrist, is thrown in the same direction. C is pulled in and joins the main current that goes from A to B.

I have often used this psychological mise-en-scene, for example, with the phrase « I’m already there ». When the opponent grabs your wrists and blocks your movement, as in the exercise of sitting Kokyu, one is inclined to think that this is a pushing exercise. If you push the opponent, it immediately produces resistance in that person. Push against push, they struggle. It becomes a sort of sitting sumo.

In the phrase « I’m already there », there is no struggle. One simply moves, pivots on one knee to make an about turn, the opponent is driven by the flow of Ki and flipped into his side. It takes very little for this exercise to become a struggle. As soon as the idea of winner and loser gets mixed up in it, exaggerated efforts are made to obtain a result, all to the detriment of overall harmony. One pushes, the other resists, bending excessively low and squeezing the wrists to prevent being pushed. Such a practice will not benefit either one. The idea is too mechanical. […] The idea of throwing provokes resistance. […] Nonetheless, to forget the opponent while knowing he’s there is not easy. The more we try to forget, the more we think about it. It’s the joy in the flow of Ki that makes me forget everything. »

Imbalance serving the purpose of balance

Balance is definitely not rigidity, that’s why falling as the consequence of a technique may perfectly enable us to rebalance ourselves. It is necessary to learn how to fall correctly, not only in order to enable Tori to be free of any fear for his partner, because Tori knows him and anticipates that his capacities will enable him to come out of this situation as well as a cat does in difficult conditions. But also and simply because thanks to the fall, we get rid of fears our own parents or grandparents have sometimes instilled in us with their ‘precautionism’ of the kind « Be careful, you’ll fall down. » invariably followed by « You’ll hurt yourself. ». This Pavlovian impregnation has often led us to rigidity and in any case to a certain apprehension as regards falling, dropping down.
The French word « chuter » (to fall) has obviously a negative connotation, while in Japanese the most commonly accepted translation of the term Ukemi is « to receive with the body », and we understand here that there is a world of difference. Once more the language shows us that the concepts, the reactions, differ profoundly, and it underlines the importance of the message we have to convey to people beginning Aïkido. Without being especially a linguist, nor even a translator of Japanese, the understanding of our art also involves the study of Eastern civilisations, their philosophies, their artistic tastes, their codes. In my opinion, extracting Aïkido from its context is not possible, despite its value of universality, we have to go and look in the direction of its roots, and therefore in that of the ancient texts. One of the basis of Aïkido can be found in ancient China, more precisely in Taoism. In an interview with G. Erard, Kono senseï reveals one of the secrets of Aïkido that seems to me essential although quite forgotten today : he had asked Morihei Ueshiba :  “O senseï, how come we don’t do what you do ?” O senseï had answered smiling : ’’I understand Yin and Yang. You don’t !’’.

To project in order to harmonize

Tori, and this is something peculiar to our art, can guide the partner’s fall so that the latter may benefit from the action. Itsuo Tsuda tells us about what he used to feel when he was projected by O Senseï : « What I can say from my own experience, is that with Mr Ueshiba, my pleasure was so great that I always wanted to ask for more. I never felt any effort on his part. It was so natural that not only did I feel no constraint, but I fell without knowing it. I have experienced the surge of great waves on the beach that topple a,d sweep one away. There is, of course, pleasure, but with Mr Ueshiba it was something else. There was serenity, greatness, Love ». There is a will, conscious or not, to harmonize the partner’s body. In this case it may be called projection. It is thus relevant to say that Aïkido is not anymore in martiality but rather in the harmonization of mankind. In order to realize this we need to leave behind us any idea of superiority, of power over another, or even any vindictive attitude, and to have the desire to give the partner a hand in order to allow him self-realization, without him needing to thank anybody. The fusion of sensibility with the partner is indispensable to achieve this, it is this same fusion which guides us, enables us to know our partner’s level and to release at the right moment if he’s a beginner, or to support his body if the moment is adequate for going beyond, to allow him to fall further, faster, or higher. In any case pleasure is present.

The involuntary

We can’t calculate the direction of the fall, its speed, its power, nor even its angle of landing. Everything happens at the level of the involuntary or the unconscious if we prefer, but which unconscious are we referring to ? It is an unconscious devoid of what cluttered it up, of what prevented it from being free, that’s why O Senseï would so often recall that Aïkido is a Misogi, practicing Aïkido is to realize this cleaning of body and spirit. When we practice this way, there is no accident in the dojo, this is the path Itsuo Tsuda senseï had adopted and the indications he was giving were leading us in this direction. This makes his School a particular School. Other paths are not only possible, but certainly match even more, or better, the expectations of many practitioners. I read many articles in magazines or blogs which take pride of violence or the ability to solve conflicts through violence and toughening up. To me, it doesn’t seem to be the way indicated by O Senseï Morihei Ueshiba, nor by the Masters I was fortunate to meet, and particularly Tsuda senseï, Noro senseï, Tamura senseï, Nocquet senseï, or others through their interviews, such as Kono senseï. The Ukemi enables us to understand better physically the principles which rule our art, which guide us beyond our small self, our small mind, to glimpse something greater than us, to be one with nature which we are part of.

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Article by Régis Soavi published in Dragon Magazine (speciale Aikido n° 22) October 2018.

Notes :

* Itsuo Tsuda The Path of less, édition Yume Edition p.180

** Guillaume Erard, Entretien avec Henry Kono : Yin et Yang, moteur de l’Aikido du fondateur, 22 avril 2008, www.guillaumeerard.fr

*** Itsuo Tsuda La Voie du dépouillement, Ed. Le Courrier du Livre p. 172

 

Seitai and daily life #4

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Coming out of the shadows

By Manon Soavi

I discovered late in life that I was a girl. Of course I knew it, but it did not matter, it had no impact on my life, the way I would get in touch with other people and practice Aikido. I was not aware, unlike most of my fellow women citizens, that I was a “girl”, before being an “individual”. Part of the explanation for why I grew up outside of these ubiquitous schemes is that I’ve never been to school. My parents had chosen a different path, it was a revolutionary decision, it was disobedience to “compulsory” schooling as Catherine Baker recounts in her book [1]… Of course this conditioning of women does not only take place within the school environment, but also within families, social circles, the media and culture in general. In families , it’s always the little girls who are told that they are “so pretty, so cute”. Whether with a judo Keikogi or a pink tutu, they are being dressed like dollies. This is so present, as plain as the nose on your face, that we no longer consider it a problem. What’s wrong with complimenting a little girl, a baby, on their clothes, their curls or smile? Well, precisely because the current importance of beauty and appearance is learnt during early childhood, and because this will brand them for life. It’s with all those remarks and comments, these pink toys and these smiles that future women are being taught their traditional role: to please, and to enjoy pleasing. As writer Mona Chollet puts it: “ the consequences of this alienation [for women] are far from being limited to a loss of time, money and energy. The fear of not pleasing, not meeting expectations, the subjugation to others’ judgments, the conviction of not being good enough to deserve love and attention from others both reflect and amplify a psychic insecurity and a self-depreciation whose effects reach every area of women’s life.” [2].

In my case, I was preserved from this situation in my early childhood, I only discovered it during adolescence, I got shocked when I became aware that I was regarded and talked to, first and foremost as “a girl”! Of course I could not bear it and rebelled, as many other women did, against this treatment. But unfortunately no one ever fully escapes a culture, a society, I am part of it and I was affected by it too. The situation of Western women is obviously not to be compared with that of other countries where women have no right. Yet can that be a reason why we should not get things to progress? Because, even though women suffer from this situation, which they themselves perpetuate by raising over and over their daughters and sons to reproduce the same schemes, it is actually humankind as a whole which loses out from this imbalance. If men can be perceived as “oppressors”, I think women have the keys to get our society out of this impasse. Kobayashi Sensei’s saying “Freedom is expressed by moving where it is possible” (3) supports my thought that it is for women to exert their freedom. It is our responsibility not to reproduce over and over this story. And this is where, precisely where, that for me, this issue connects with Aïkido.

Aikido, a third path

Aikido can be an answer to this “fight or submit” impasse which women have to face. Because Aikido is a martial art which has nothing to do with fighting. May one dare use the word “non martial art”? Many Masters and great experts repeat it (again recently Steve Magson, student of Chiba Kazuo Sensei, in Aikido journal): it is ridiculous to raise the question of Aikido’s “efficiency” in a “real fight situation”. It is meaningless (which of course does not mean that one should do anything). But while a high level martial expert can write this without the value of his Aikido practice being questioned, a woman saying the same thing would immediately be suspected of not being up to it, not being capable enough. This issue however precisely concerns women, because we face very acutely the question of fighting as a dualistic situation. Even if it is not about fistfighting but rather cultural and social fighting. In addition, we are as soon as we are born potential victims of violence. Maybe we will escape it, but it will then be an exception. All women live knowing they will be a victim one day or another. And when we wish to express ourselves, get a job, again we are obliged to demonstrate our value, our right to stand where we are, all along our life. And, precisely, Aikido falls completely outside this framework! There will be no winner, nor loser. Aikido is like another dimension where our values no longer hold. If practiced in a certain way, it can be a tool to practice, human being to human being, without any distinction. Régis Soavi Sensei writes about Aikido that it is “a school for life, a school that arouses the life of those who practice it. Far from being just another string to our bow, it questions the fallacies and subterfuges which our society offers” (4). I’m also inclined to think that Cognard Sensei follows the same line when writing about an Aiki ritual that could change us so much as to overcome history that has been legitimating violence for centuries (3). It is a pity that women do not take hold of this tool, this art, in order to escape submission, without imitating men in position of power, but rather by entering a third path. Where no one expects them.


Following this third path has always been my direction since my childhood, by walking, of course, outside of the school system, but also by practicing Aikido since I was 6. I am not saying that I always manage to find the right way, but I’m working on it. Daily reviving the practice of going down another path, of getting out of situations differently. I consequently practice with my own father being my Master. At the same time, it’s a chance and it’s not easy. I have always seen him ahead of me, on this path. He has been walking for a long time, before I was born, and I sometimes had the impression he was an unreachable horizon in Aikido. Benevolently, but with extraordinary firmness, he guided me, held my hand, without overlooking anything but letting time work. Now I walk by his side, I also teach Aikido myself… and I can better see how fortunate I am. I wish I could prompt other women (without excluding men of course) to practice this art with the state of mind I have experienced, the one of the Itsuo Tsuda School. And to practice it long enough, because it takes time, one cannot change one’s culture in a few years. One can acquire a few techniques, some self-confidence maybe. But really deciding for a different life course will require more time. The first step is daily practice, at least regular practice, which brings us back to ourselves. Writing on a seemingly completely different topic (calligraphy), sinologist J.-F. Billeter gives us a remarkably vivid account which strikingly resonates with Aikido practice:

“In the current world, practice also brings us back to ourselves by reintroducing us to the pleasure of gratuitous gesture. Dictated by machines, our daily activity more and more shrinks to moves that are programmed, domesticated, produced with indifference, without any imagination nor sensitivity taking part. Practice remedies this gesture atrophy by arousing our stiffened abilities. It restores the pleasure of playing, it brings back to life capacities which, even though not immediately “useful”, are nonetheless essential. As the most evolved among animals, human beings need more playing than any other species to maintain their balance. Practice also affects our perception of time. In our daily life, we keep going back in time and projecting ourselves into the future, leaping from one to the other without being able to stop at the present time. Because of this, we are haunted by the feeling that time is slipping away. By lining up with ourselves, practice on the contrary suspends the flight of time. When we handle the paintbrush, the present time seems to detach from the string that tied it to the past and the future. It absorbs in itself all duration. It amplifies itself and transforms into a vast space of tranquility. It is no longer governed by the flow of time, but it resonates with moments of the same nature which we experienced yesterday, the day before yesterday and the days before. These moments get threaded to each other, they create another continuity, a kind of majestic avenue that travels across the disorganized time of our daily activities. Our life tends to reorganize around this new axis and the inconsistency of our external activities stops impeding us. Daily practice performs the function of a ritual.” (5)Manon Soavi Jo stage été femmes aikido

Restoring sensation

But how did we get there? According to Tsuda Sensei, today’s world tends to favor cerebral hypertrophy and voluntarism at the expense of the living. He said about it: “I don’t refuse to understand the essential character of Western civilisation: it is a challenge of the human brain to the order of the world, an effort of the will to extend the boundaries of the possible. Whether it is about industrial development, medicine or Olympic games, this character predominates. It is an aggression against nature. Superb human acts, yet without knowing it, against nature. Life suffers, despite our increased knowledge and possession.”

There also precisely lies the matter. We disconnect from our sensations, from the sensation of living inside us. It is also because women no longer feel their needs, their profound natures, that they let themselves carried away into situations that do not suit them. Too busy with acquiring and fighting, their instinct which should safeguards their life no longer reacts. It got atrophied. Even with their babies today’s women struggle to feel, to know what to do and turn to science and books to dictate them how to behave. Listening to their baby and listening to their intuition is outdated, it’s archaic! And after centuries when being a mother was the only horizon for respectable women, we have nowadays achieved the feat of strength of reversing the imperative. Now, being “only” a stay-at-home mother is shabby! What a breakthrough!

Here also Aikido brings us back to our sensations. One cannot mentally compute a move. Upon an oncoming attack one has to move, it’s too late to think. One has to sense one’s partner in order to move in a right, appropriate way. We (men or women) are often like the famous overfull cup in the Zen philosophy, which spills out when more tea is added. We are too agitated and too full of ourselves to be able to perceive the other. Let’s not even talk about understanding them! This is also the meaning of the Non-Doing Tsuda Sensei was talking about. We need to be empty, we need to start by listening. Women first should start by listening to themselves. Listening to their own body in Aikido everyday is rewriting their own experience. Relearning to trust themselves, restore the confidence in what their body says. Hino Sensei makes the same observation, he writes about humans who have become “insensitive and incapable” (6). He deplores the blatant lack of perception of what happens in the other person. Whether we grab his/her wrist or discuss with him/her, sensation is broken off. Intuition no longer works. We content ourselves with “Hi, how are you? – Fine, how are you?”, how superficial! If one is sensitive, it just takes a simple look to feel the other, to know whether they are happy or sad, whether they are half-asleep or on top form. But because of repeated stereotyped relationships we lose sight of authentic human relationships. Here again some masters have left us guideposts to reconnect with ourselves.

Tsuda Sensei used to talk about intuition and authenticity of the relation we have with our child. Because, if when searching for intense sensations and experience some martial arts practitioners fantasize about past masters’ uchideshis, about experiences one can live under an icy waterfall, about the total availability for the Master, etc., there is one extreme experience which a woman can go through, a life experience rather similar to what Noro Senseï recounts, he who once was Ueshiba Moriheï’s Otomo. I can attest to it, it really feels like this: “If s/he sleeps, you have to watch over her/his sleep. If s/he wakes up at night, you have to be ready to satisfy her/his needs. If s/he gets bored, you have to entertain her/him. If s/he gets ill, you have to take care of her/him. You have to prepare her/his bath, her/his meals, and clean everything up as soon as s/he changes activity. […] It is obviously about adapting and even about becoming capable of anticipating the very precise desires in order to remain, day and night, awake or not, in total harmony.” (7).

In total harmony with whom? With one’s newborn of course for a mother or a father! But why should one choose such a treatment? While there are so many solutions to relieve us from the burden of having a child. It is like slavery! Yet, for those who live this experience of a unique, wordless communication with a human being, it is an inestimable teaching. It is most likely when this state of fusion with the other person was reached that the genuine transmission from the Master, the transmission of the spirit of an art, could be achieved. Martial arts practitioners are looking for this life intensity! Unfortunately, when a woman experiences it with her child, this is relegated to a mere domestic task, which could be done by any underpaid nurse. Tsuda Sensei used to talk about childhood as the only area where one could still live such an impossible experience. He was even saying that “knowing how to take care of a baby was the acme of martial arts”! Here again, if women became aware of this, would they realize the potential of hidden power they have? Would we then stop aiming at equaling men as the only path towards self-realisation?Manon Soavi Iai - femmes aikido

Living in this world, while still being in another


If the purpose of our practice is human evolution, I believe the Dojo to be its casket. A Dojo can be a microcosm where we let go our social conventions, even temporarily. Through his books and calligraphies, Tsuda Sensei prompts us to question the established order, to look further beyond the social organisation. If we practice in a certain direction, we can forget with whom we practice. If, and only if, we leave behind our social reflexes. It is obviously very difficult at the beginning not to bring in with us our baggage. It is as difficult for men as for women to forget who they have become in this world so to focus on what they are inside. Before any distinction, of sex, color, age, fortune, culture, etc. Looking into ourselves for this shared humanity requires from us a voluntary act of breaking away from codes. The Dojo, its atmosphere of serenity and concentration (which cannot be found in a sports hall), the feeling of an intangible dojo, all this brings us into a certain state. The sequence of a session, with its first part of individual movements which brings breathing back to the center, followed by the practice with a partner, the harmonization of breaths, the attention to sensation. A combination that allows the Dojo to be a little bit “outside” the world, which prompts us to let go so to get into a different state during practice. Ivan Illich mentions such a state of consciousness when saying: “I don’t wan’t anything between you and me. [I am] afraid of the things that could prevent me from being in contact with you” (8). In a dojo, we sweep these things away, conventions, fears, which stand between one another. It is not about abandoning our culture, no, it’s simply about abandoning the manifestations of the social being in order to find each other so to walk along together.

For this to happen, we need women to wake up and come out of the shadows.

Article by  Manon Soavi published in Dragon Magazine (speciale Aikido n° 22) october 2018.

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Notes :
1) C.Baker Les cahiers au feu Éd.Barrault, 1988
2) M.Chollet Beauté fatale, Les nouveaux visages d’une aliénation féminine Éd. La Découverte, p.8
3) A.Cognard Rituel et Symbole Dragon Magazine Spécial Aïkido n°19, janv. 2018, p. 22
4) R.Soavi Mémoire d’un Aïkidoka Dragon Magazine Spécial Aïkido n°19, janv. 2018, p. 60
5) J.F.Billeter Essai sur l’art chinois de l’écriture et ses fondements Éd.Allia, 2010, p. 164
6) H.Akira Don’t think, listen to the body! 2017, p. 226
7) P.Fissier Chroniques de Noro Masamichi Dragon Magazine Spécial Aïkido n°12 p.77
8) I.Illich Mythologie occidentale et critique du « capitalisme des biens non tangibles » Entretien avec Jean-Marie Domenach dans la série « Un certain regard » – 19/03/1972.

Yuki #3

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Is Aikido a martial art?

by Régis Soavi

This seems to be a recurring question in the dojos and one which divides practitioners, teachers, as well as commentators in more or less all schools. Since no definitive answer can be given, one turns to the story of martial arts, to social requirements, to the history of the origin of human beings, to the cognitive sciences, etc. entrusting them to provide an answer which, even if it does not solve the problem, will at least have the merit of justifying what is claimed.

Aikijutsu has become a dō

From the moment it has dropped the suffix jutsu to become a dō, Aikijutsu has acknowledged itself as an art of peace, a way of harmony on the same basis as Shodō (the way of calligraphy) or also Kadō (the way of flowers). By adopting the word that means the path, the way, has it become for this an easier path? Or in the contrary does it compel us to ask ourselves questions, to look again at our own course, to make an effort of introspection? Does an art of peace necessarily have a compliant side, is it a weak art, an art of acceptance, in which cheaters may gain a reputation at little expense?
It is certainly an art that has managed to adapt to the new realities of our time. But do we have to foster the illusion of an easy self-defence, within everyone’s reach, suiting any budget, with no need to get involved in the least bit? Can you really believe or make people believe that with one or two hours of practice a week, furthermore excluding holidays (clubs are often closed), one can become a great warrior or acquire wisdom and be able to solve any problem thanks to one’s calm, peace of mind or charisma?
Does the solution then lie in strength, muscular work and the violent arts? If a direction exists at all, it can be found in my opinion, and despite what I have just said, in Aikido.

A School without grades

Itsuo Tsuda never gave grades to any of his students and, when somebody had a question about that, he used to answer: “There is no such thing as a black belt in mental emptiness”. One might say that these words had ended all discussion. Having served as an interpreter between O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei and André Nocquet when the latter had come to Japan as a learner, Itsuo Tsuda later acted as an intermediary when French or American foreigners showed up at the Hombu Dojo to start learning Aikido. This allowed him, since he translated the students’ questions and the master’s answers, to have access to what was underlying the practice, to what made it something universal, to what made it an art beyond pure martiality. He talked to us about O Sensei’s posture, about his amazing spontaneity, about his deep gaze which seemed to pierce him to the very depths of his being. Itsuo Tsuda never tried to imitate his master whom considered inimitable. He was immediately interested in what inspired this incredible man capable of the greatest gentleness as well as of the greatest power. That is why, when he arrived in France, he tried to pass on to us what for him was the essential, the secret of Aikido, the concrete perception of ki. What he had discovered, and later summarized in the initial sentence of his first book: “Since the very day when I had the revelation of ‘ki’, of breath (I was over forty years old at the time), the desire to express the inexpressible, to communicate what cannot be communicated had kept growing in me.”*
For ten years he travelled Europe to make us Westerners, who very often had a Cartesian, dualistic frame of mind, discover that there is another dimension in life. That this dimension is not esoteric but exoteric as he liked to say.

A School with its own specificity

There is obviously a variety of motivatons leading people to start this practice. If I think of the people who practice in our School (the Itsuo Tsuda School), apart from a few of them, there are not many who came for the martial aspect. On the other hand, many of them didn’t see anything martial about it at first sight, even though at each session I show how the techniques could be effective if performed with precision, and dangerous if used in a violent way. The martial aspect arises from the posture, the breathing, the ability to concentrate, the truthfulness of the act of attacking. Dealing with a learner, it is essential to respect the partner’s level, and to practice known forms.
But the discovery one can make by practicing known forms goes far beyond that. It is about making something else grow, revealing what lies deep within individuals, freeing oneself from the underpinning influence exerted by the past and sometimes even by the future, on our gestures, on the whole of our movements, physical as well as mental. Indeed in our dojo everybody realizes that.
The session starts at 6:45am. The fact of coming to practice so early in the morning (O Sensei and Tsuda Sensei always started their own sessions at 6.30) has neither to do with an ascesis nor with a discipline. Some practicioners arrive around 6 every morning, to share some coffee or tea, and to enjoy this moment before the session (a pre-session so to speak), sometimes so rich thanks to the exchanges that we can have between us. It’s a moment of pleasure, of conversation about the practice, as well as about everyday life sometimes, and we share it with the others in an extremely concrete way and not in the virtual way that society tends to suggest us.
Of course all this may appear regressive or useless, but it avoids the aspect of easy entertainment and does not encourage clientelism, which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, but in that way there is less of it and with time it evolves.This is because people change, they are transformed, or more precisely they find themselves again, they retrieve unused capacities that they sometimes thought they had lost or often, more simply, had forgotten.

Yin the feminine: understanding

There are so many women in our School that equality is not respected, men are outnumbered, by a narrow margin of course, but that has always been the case. I wouldn’t want to speak on behalf of women but what can one do? As far as I know they do not form a separate world, unknown to men.
As a matter of fact, for many men, maybe it is so!…Nevertheless I think all a man has do is to take into account his yin side, without being afraid of it, to find and understand what brings men and women closer and what separates them. Is it a matter of personal affinity, is it a research due to my experience during the events of May ’68 and to this blossoming of feminism which revealed itself once again in those days, or maybe more simply is it the fact that I have three daughters, who, by the way, practice Aikido all three of them: the result, whatever the reasons, is that I have always encouraged women to take their legitimate place in the dojos of our School. They take the same responsibilities as men and there is of course no disparity in level, neither in studying nor in teaching. It is really a pity to have to clarify things like that, but unfortunately they cannot be taken for granted in this world.
Despite everything, women scarcely take the floor, or I should even say take up the pen in martial arts magazines. It would be interesting to read articles written by women, or to devote space in “Dragon magazine special Aikido” to the female perspective on martial arts and on our art in particular. Do they have nothing to say or does the male world take up all the space? Or else maybe these sectarian disputes on the efficiency of Aikido bore them, for women seek and often find, so it seems to me, another dimension, or in any case something else, thanks to this art? Itsuo Tsuda Sensei gives us an idea of this “something else”, which is perhaps closer to O Sensei’s search, in this passage of his book The Path of less: “Do people see Mr Ueshiba as a man completely made of steel? I had quite the opposite impression. He was a serene man, capable of extraordinary concentration, but very permeable in other ways, inclined to outbursts of ringing laughter, with an inimitable sense of humour. I had the opportunity of touching his biceps. I was amazed. The tenderness of a newborn. The opposite of hardness in every way one could imagine.
This may seem odd, but his ideal Aikido was that of girls. Due to the nature of their physique, girls are unable to contract their shoulders as hard as boys can. Therefore their Aikido is more flowing and natural.”**

Yang the masculine: fighting

art martial

We are educated to competition from early childhood ; under the pretext of emulation, school tends to go in the same direction, all this to prepare us for the world of work. They teach us that the world is tough, that we absolutely need to gain our place in the sun, to learn to defend ourselves against other people, but are we so sure about that? Wouldn’t our desire in fact tend to guide us in a different direction? And what do we do to achieve this goal? Could Aikido be one of the instruments for this revolution in social values, habits, should it and above all should we do the necessary effort so that the roots of this evil corroding our modern societies may regenerate and become healthy again? In the past there have been examples of societies in which competition didn’t exist, or hardly existed in the way it does today, societies in which sexism was absent too, even though you can’t present them as ideal societies. Reading the writings on matriarchy in the Trobriand islands by the great anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowsky, discovering his analysis, may help find new leads, and perhaps even remedies to these problems of civilization which have so often been denounced.

Tao, the union: a path for the fulfillment of the human being

The path, in essence, not that I am an idealist, justifies itself and takes all its value by the fact that it normalizes the terrain of individuals. For those who follow it, it adjusts their tensions, restores balance, and it is appeasing for it allows a different relationship to life. Isn’t that what so many “civilized” people are desperately seeking and what in the end is to be found deep inside the human being?
The path is not a religion, furthermore it is what separates it from religion that makes it a space of freedom, within the dominant ideologies. According to me the way of thinking that seems closest to this is agnosticism, a philosophical current which is little known, or rather known in a superficial way, but which allows to integrate all the different schools. In Aikido there is quite a number of rituals that are kept up even though their real origin (the source O Sensei drew from) is not understood or there are sometimes other rituals that other masters found through ancient practices as Tamura Sensei himself did. Those rituals have often been associated to religion whereas the fact could be checked that it is the religions which have taken over all these ancient rituals to use them as instruments serving their own power, and way too often they are used for the domination and the enslavement of people.

A means: the respiratory practice

The first part of the session in O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei’s Aikido, far from being a warming up, consisted of movements the depth of which it is primordial to retrieve. It is neither to get an intellectual satisfaction, nor out of some fundamentalist concern and even less to gain “higher powers” that we continue them, but in order to return to the path that O Sensei had taken. Some exercises, like Funakogi undo (the so-called rower’s movement) or Tama-no-hirebori (vibration of the soul), have a very great value, and if they are practiced with the necessary attention, they can allow us to feel beyond the physical body, beyond our sensation, limited as it is, to discover something greater, much greater than ourselves. It is an unlimited nature which we take part in, in which we are immersed, which is fundamentally and inextricably linked to us, and yet which we find it so hard to reach or even sometimes to feel. This notion that I made mine is not the result of a mystical relationship with the universe, but rather of a mental and physical opening which many modern physicists have reached through a theoretical approach and are trying to verify. It is something that you can neither learn by watching Youtube videos, nor by consulting books of ancient wisdom, despite their undeniable importance. It is something you discover in a purely corporal way, in an absolutely and fully physical way, even though this dimension is expanded to an unusual extent. Little by little all the practitioners who agree to look in this direction find it. It is not related to a physical condition, nor to age and obviously not to sex or nationality.

Education

Almost all psychologists consider that the essential part of what will guide us in our adult life takes place during our childhood and more precisely in our early childhood. The good as well as the bad experiences. Therefore particular care should be taken in education to preserve the innate nature of the child as much as possible. In no way does this mean letting the child do whatever he wants, making him a king or becoming his slave; the world is there and surrounds him, so he needs reference points. But very quickly, often shortly after birth, sometimes after a few months, the baby is put in the care of persons outside the family. What happened to his parents? He no longer recognizes his mother’s voice, her smell, her movement. It is the first trauma and we are told : “He will get over it”. Sure, unfortunately it is not the last trauma, far from it. Then comes the day care center, followed by kindergarten, primary school, junior high, and finally the baccalaureate before perhaps university for at least three, four, five, six years or even more.
But what can you do ? “That’s life.” I am told. Each of these places in which the child will be spending his time in the name of education and learning is a mental prison. From basic knowledge to mass culture, when will he be respected as an individual full of the imagination that characterizes childhood? He will be taught to obey, he will learn to cheat. He will be taught to be with the others, he will learn competition. He will receive grades, this will be called emulation, and this psychological disaster will be experienced by top as well as by bottom of the class students.
In the name of what totalitarian ideology are all children and young people given an education that breeds fear of repression, submission, decommitment and disillusionment? Today’s society in wealthy countries does not propose anything really new: work and free time are only synonyms of the roman ideal of bread and circus games, the slavery of the ancient times is only turned into our modern wage employment. A somewhat improved state of slavery ? Perhaps… with spectacular brain washing, guaranteed without invoice, thanks to the advertising for products that is pushed on us, with its corollary: the hyper-consumption of goods both useless and detrimental.
The practice of Aikido for children and teenagers is the opportunity to go off the grids proposed by the world around them. It is thanks to the concentration required by the technique, a calm and quiet breathing, the non-competitive aspect, the respect for differences, that they can keep or, if necessary, retrieve their inner strength. A peaceful strength, not aggressive, but full and rich of the imagination and the desire to make the world better.

A practical philosophy, or rather, a philosophical practice

The particular character of the Itsuo Tsuda School derives from the fact that we are more interested in individuality than in the dissemination of an art or a series of techniques. It is neither about creating an ideal person, nor about guiding anyone towards something, towards a lifestyle, with a certain amount of gentleness, a certain amount of kindness or wisdom, of balancing ability or exaltation, etc. It is about awakening the human being and allowing him to live fully in the acceptance of what he is in the world surrounding him, without destroying him. This spirit of openness can do nothing other than waking up the strength pre-existing in each of us. This philosophy leads us to independence, to autonomy, but not to isolation, on the contrary: through the discovery of the Other, it brings us to the understanding of what this person is, also perhaps beyond what the person has become. This whole process of learning, or rather this reappropriation of oneself, takes time, continuity, sincerity, in order to realize more clearly the direction in which one wishes to go.

What lies beyond, what lies behind

What I am interested in today is what lies behind or more precisely what lies deep inside Aikido. When you take a train you have an objective, a destination, with Aikido it is a little bit as if the train changed objective as you moved further, as if the direction became at the same time different, and more precise. As for the objective, it pulls away despite the fact that you think you have come closer. And this is where you have to recognize that the object of our journey is the journey itself, the landscapes we discover, which become more refined and reveal themselves to us.

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Notes
* Itsuo Tsuda, The Non-doing, Yume Editions, 2013, p.9
** Itsuo Tsuda, The Path of less, Yume Editions, 2014, p.157

Evento calligrafie a Roma

Il 12 e il 13 ottobre 2018, il dojo Bodai di Roma recentemente rinnovato, funge da cornice per l’evento “Un libro – un’esposizione” con una buona affluenza di pubblico, interesse e apprezzamenti favorevoli.
La sera del 12 ottobre, di fronte a un nutrito gruppo di visitatori, nell’atmosfera avvolgente dell’esposizione di 87 calligrafie in riproduzione fotografica, ha avuto luogo la presentazione del libro “Itsuo Tsuda, Calligrafie di Primavera” (ed. Yume 2017). Per l’occasione é stata esposta anche la calligrafia originale  » La Tigre « .

Durante la giornata di sabato abbiamo ricevuto diverse visite: fra gli amici, conoscitori ed esperti di cultura giapponese, ci è gradito segnalare la visita di Paolo Bottoni, aikidoka, giornalista e blogger, che ha scritto un articolo sul suo blog www.musubi.it a proposito delle calligrafie del Maestro Tsuda.
L’evento ha registrato complessivamente il passaggio al Dojo Bodai di un’ottantina di persone.
Per tutti, compresi noi organizzatori, è stata l’occasione di entrare in contatto in modo diretto e contemporaneamente con la quasi totalità delle calligrafie del Maestro Tsuda : un momento indimenticabile e ricco di sensazioni !
Per chi non ha avuto la possibilità di scoprire questo libro e tutta l’opera del Maestro Tsuda, potete trovarli a Roma al dojo Bodai, e anche sul sito di Yume Editions

Au cœur du déplacement, l’involontaire

Par Régis Soavi 

« Si je dois donner un but à mon Aïkido, ce sera d’apprendre à nous asseoir,  à nous lever, à avancer et à reculer. » I.Tsuda

Déplacements : la coordination, la posture

Pour se déplacer correctement il est nécessaire d’être stable, et on ne résout pas des problèmes de stabilité par l’apprentissage. La stabilité doit naître de l’équilibre, qui lui-même naît du système involontaire. L’être humain a cette particularité de se tenir debout avec comme seuls points d’appui cette toute petite surface que sont ses deux pieds. Et s’il s’agissait seulement de se tenir immobile, encore passe, mais nous nous déplaçons, et qui plus est, nous sommes capables en même temps de parler, de réfléchir, de bouger les bras dans tous les sens ainsi que la tête ou les doigts, tout cela en étant parfaitement stables. La coordination musculaire involontaire s’occupe de tout. Si nous perdons l’équilibre sans pouvoir nous rattraper à quoi que ce soit, notre corps cherche par tous les moyens à récupérer l’équilibre perdu, et souvent il y parvient grâce au mouvement de la répartition du poids d’une jambe sur l’autre, en trouvant des points d’appui extrêmement précis, que nous aurions eu du mal à trouver à l’aide de notre seul système volontaire. Tsuda Itsuo raconte une anecdote personnelle sur son apprentissage de l’Aïkido qui me semble édifiante, dans son livre La Science du particulier.*Lire la suite

Health condition according to Seitai #2

Sequel of interviews where Régis Soavi, who has been teaching and introducing people to Katsugen Undo for forty years now, gets back to basics about Seitai and Katsugen Undo. This second video tackles the notion of health according to Seitai.

Subtitles available in French, English, Italian and Spanish. To activate the subtitles, click on this icon. Then click on the icon to select the subtitle language.

Some additional information:

Seitai was developed by Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) in Japan. Katsugen Undo (or Regenerating Movement) is an exercise of the extrapyramidal motor system that is part of Seitai. Itsuo Tsuda (1914-1984), who introduced Katsugen Undo in Europe in the 70s, would write about it: “The human body is endowed with a natural ability to readjust its condition […]. This ability […] is the responsibility of the extrapyramidal motor system”*.

Régis Soavi starts practising martials arts with Judo when he is twelve. He then studies Aikido, especially alongside Masters Tamura, Nocquet and Noro. He meets Tsuda Itsuo Sensei in 1973 and will follow him until his death in 1984. With the permission of the latter, Régis Soavi becomes a professional teacher and disseminates his Aïkido and Katsugen Undo throughout Europe.

*Itsuo Tsuda, One, Yume Editions (trans. Itsuo Tsuda School, 2016), p. 46

Stage l’Art des Deux Sabres

Tatsushi Saï sera de retour à Paris les 5 et 6 janvier 2019

Depuis 2005 nous travaillons avec Tatsushi Saï le Bushuden Kiraku Ryu et le Niten ichi ryu.  Cette année il a accepté de venir du Japon pour enseigner l’art des deux sabres à Paris pour un stage. Lors de ce week-end exceptionnel nous travaillerons le Sakon Den Niten Ichi Ryu, l’art des deux sabres du célèbre escrimeur Miyamoto Musashi. Ne manquez pas cette occasion unique de pratiquer avec ce maître et découvrir cet art.

Tatsushi Saï est Menkyo Kaiden de Bushuden Kiraku Ryu, il enseigne à Tokyo cette école traditionnelle qui comporte du Tai-jutsu et de nombreuses armes (Bo, Naginata, Chigiriki, Kusarigama, Kusarifundo, Tessen, Iaï, etc). Il enseigne également plusieurs branches de Niten ichi ryu.

Infos pratiques

Lieu :

Dojo Tenshin, 120 rue des Grands-Champs, 75020 Paris. Métro ligne 9, station Maraîchers.

Dates et Horaires :

5 et 6 janvier 2019

Samedi 10h-12h et 14h-16h | Dimanche 10h-12h et 14h-16h

Tarifs :

100€ pour le stage complet | 80€ pour les membres de l’association École Itsuo Tsuda.

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Calligrafie di Primavera a Roma

L’esposizione “Calligrafie di Primavera” approda a Roma in ottobre !
In programma presso il Dojo Bodai di Roma, nelle giornate di venerdì 12 e sabato 13 ottobre 2018, l’evento Un libro – Un’esposizione.
Sulla scia delle precedenti anteprime di Parigi e Milano, l’evento ripropone, per il pubblico romano, la presentazione del libro “Calligrafie di Primavera” (ed. Yume 2018) e la ricca mostra fotografica dedicata alle calligrafie di Itsuo Tsuda, che al libro hanno dato origine.

Lire la suite

Seitai and Katsugen Undo #1

Many thing are being said and circulated on the internet about Seitai and Katsugen Undo (Regenerating Movement). In this round of interviews, Régis Soavi, who has been teaching and introducing people to Katsugen Undo for forty years now, gets back to basics to address the question “What are Seitai and Katsugen Undo?”.

Subtitles available in French, English, Italian and Spanish. To activate the subtitles, click on this icon. Then click on the icon to select the subtitle language.

Some additional information:

Seitai was developed by Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) in Japan. Katsugen Undo (or Regenerating Movement) is an exercise of the extrapyramidal motor system that is part of Seitai. Itsuo Tsuda (1914-1984), who introduced Katsugen Undo in Europe in the 70s, would write about it: “The human body is endowed with a natural ability to readjust its condition […]. This ability […] is the responsibility of the extrapyramidal motor system”*.

Régis Soavi starts practising martials arts with Judo when he is twelve. He then studies Aikido, especially alongside Masters Tamura, Nocquet and Noro. He meets Tsuda Itsuo Sensei in 1973 and will follow him until his death in 1984. With the permission of the latter, Régis Soavi becomes a professional teacher and disseminates his Aïkido and Katsugen Undo throughout Europe.

*Itsuo Tsuda, One, Yume Editions (trans. Itsuo Tsuda School, 2016), p. 46

Mémoires d’un aïkidoka

Par Régis Soavi.

Parler à mes élèves des maîtres que j’ai connus fait évidemment partie de mon enseignement. Certains eurent une telle importance que je ne peux pas m’en débarrasser d’un coup du revers de la main et prétendre que je me suis fait tout seul. Les maîtres que j’ai connus ont laissé des traces qui m’ont formé et surtout ouvert à des domaines que j’ignorais, ou que parfois je soupçonnais sans pouvoir les atteindre.

Les Maîtres du passé : des maîtres de vie ?

Il m’a toujours semblé important de ne pas faire de ces maîtres des surhommes, des génies,  des dieux. J’ai toujours considéré que ces maîtres valaient beaucoup mieux que cela. Les idoles créent une illusion, nous endorment et appauvrissent les idolâtres, elles les empêchent de progresser, de prendre leur envol de leurs propres ailes. À cet égard Tsuda Senseï, lui qui est maintenant un maître du passé, écrivait dans son huitième livre La Voie des dieux :

« Maître Ueshiba a planté des poteaux indicateurs  »c’est par là », et je lui en suis très reconnaissant. Il a laissé d’excellentes carottes à manger que j’essaye d’assimiler, de digérer. Une fois digérées, ces carottes deviennent Tsuda qui est loin d’être excellent. Cela est inévitable. Mais il est nécessaire que les carottes ne restent pas carottes, sinon elles pourrissent toutes seules, sans utilité.
Il ne s’agit pas, pour moi, d’adorer, de déifier ou d’idolâtrer Maître Ueshiba. Comme tout le monde, il avait des qualités et des défauts. Il avait des capacités extraordinaires mais il avait des faiblesses, notamment vis-à-vis de ses élèves. Il se faisait avoir par eux à cause de considérations un peu trop humaines. »Lire la suite

Un désir devenu réalité : Calligraphies de printemps.

Les 18 et 19 mai 2018 nous avons présenté dans notre dojo à Milan le livre intitulé Itsuo Tsuda, Calligrafie di primavera. Nous avons exposé plus de 80 reproductions photographiques d’excellente qualité des calligraphies de Maître Itsuo Tsuda (choisies parmi les 116 présentées dans le livre) ainsi que trois calligraphies originales.

Un article, des photos et deux vidéos pour revivre l’événement !

L’événement au Dojo Scuola della Respirazione Présentation du livre à la RAI

Lire la suite

La Trace Vide

Par Manon Soavi

« Tchouang-Tseu, grand philosophe chinois, a dit, il y a deux mille cinq cents ans : le Vrai homme respire de ses talons alors que les gens du commun respirent de leur gorge.
Qui respire aujourd’hui de ses talons ? On respire de la poitrine, de ses épaules ou de sa gorge. Le monde est rempli de ces invalides qui s’ignorent. »*  Ainsi commence Tsuda senseï dans son premier livre, publié en 1973, donnant le ton en citant le philosophe qui l’a le plus accompagné dans son parcours.
Tsuda senseï était un chercheur acharné et un homme d’une grande culture. Toute sa vie il ne cessa de travailler pour permettre à l’être humain de se dégager de ce qui l’encombre et l’entrave. Parti de sa recherche personnelle de la liberté de pensée, c’est finalement une compréhension philosophique de l’être humain qui se révéla au fur et à mesure de ses pratiques : Aïkido, Seitai, Nô… Et cette philosophie de l’être humain, cette voie, Tsuda senseï va la diffuser avant tout par ses livres* et son enseignement dans les dojos durant une dizaine d’années. Mais il est un média plus secret qu’il emprunta les dernières années de sa vie : la calligraphie.

L'ermite véritable, calligraphie de Itsuo Tsuda
L’ermite véritable, calligraphie de Itsuo Tsuda

Lire la suite

Zensei

Corso Turati, 10 bis – 10128, Torino
tel  +39 328 7089439 – Email

torinoVisita il blog http://www.zenseitorino.org/  del dojo Zensei Torino

La pratica regolare a Torino

Orari

 AïkidoKatsugen Undo
Movimento rigeneratore
Lunedi20:00
Martedi6:45
Mercoledi18:3020:15
Sabato 8:0010:00

Per iscriversi alla pratica regolare di Katsugen Undo occorre aver partecipato a uno stage.

Tariffe

Aikido, seduta di prova gratuita (Si consiglia di contattare preventivamente)

 AikidoKatsugen UndoAmbedue le pratiche
Quote mensili50€50€70€
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aikido bambini/studenti30€

La quota è annuale e pagabile mensilmente.

Adesione annuale alla Scuola Itsuo Tsuda: 15€. Quota associativa annuale 5€

Come raggiungere il dojo

Come raggiungere il dojo:
Metro: fermata Marconi o Nizza poi procedere a piedi per 10 min;
Autobus/Tram 4, 16, 14, 63

Hello Illness #2

Continuation of Régis Soavi Interview’s  about Katsugen Undo (or Regenerating Movement), a practice made by Haruchika Noguchi and spread in Europe by Itsuo Tsuda: article by  Monica Rossi  « Arti d’Oriente » (#4 / may 2000).

To read part 1 –> http://www.ecole-itsuo-tsuda.org/en/bonjour-maladie/

Part #2

– How can one define Yuki ?

-Let the Ki circulate.

– How can Yuki help to activate the Movement?

– It helps, in the case where one has done the three exercises, or the exercises for Mutual Movement (activation through stimulation of the second pair of points on the head ; that is another way to activate the Movement). Yuki helps because it activates ; It’s very important for me to say that Yuki is fundamentally different from what we often hear spoken of, because when we do Yuki, we void our heads, we don’t cure anyone, we don’t look for anything. We are simply concentrated in the act. There is no intention, and that is primordial. In the statutes of the dojo, in fact, it is underlined that we practice “without a goal” ».

Lire la suite

Hello Illness #1

Interview of Régis Soavi about Katsugen Undo (or Regenerating Movement), a practice made by Haruchika Noguchi and spread in Europe by Itsuo Tsuda: article by  Monica Rossi  « Arti d’Oriente » (#4 / may 2000).

« After reading the books of Itsuo Tsuda ( 1914-1984 ), I was fascinated by his arguments, which range freely from the subject of Aïkido to that of children and the way they are born, illness, or his memories of Ueshiba Morihei and Noguchi Haruchika, and I wanted to know more. I continued to have a sensation of something beyond my understanding.

So I began to ask, what exactly is this Regenerating Movement (Katsugen Undo ) that Tsuda spoke of, a spontaneous movement of the body that seemed able to rebalance it without needing to intoxicate it with medication ; an ancient concept but still revolutionary, above all in our society. I was unable to get any satisfactory answers to my questions : those who have practiced the Regenerating Movement couldn’t describe it or explain ; the answer was always : « You should try it yourself in order to understand ; the first time, it will probably unsettle you a bit. »
So I decided to try it. In Milan, the school that refers to the teachings of Itsuo Tsuda is the « Scuola della Respirazione ». There, one can practice Aïkido and the Regenerating Movement ( in separate sessions ). But, in order to go to the sessions of Movement, one must first participate in a week-end course conducted by Régis Soavi, who has continued the work of Tsuda in Europe.

Regis Soavi en conférence

Lire la suite

The spirit of Aïkido lies in the practice

by Régis Soavi

« One often tends to consider the spirit of an art as a mental process, a path that should be consciously taken, or rules to observe. All this because in the West we live in a world of separation, division. On one side there is spirit, on the other side body, on one side the conscious, on the other the uncouscious, this is what is supposed to make us civilized beings while this separation actually generates inner conflicts. Conflicts which are strengthened by the systems of prohibition set up in order to protect society, to protect ourselves against ourselves.

regis soavi meditation
The practice of Aïkido leads us to the reunification of the human being.

Towards the reunification of human being, this is the Path we head for through practicing Aïkido. This reunification is necessary in a world where the human being is objectified, where the human being becomes both a consumer and a commodity. Without realizing the way taken, the civilized person executes life instead of living it. This society that leads us to consumption leaves little room for inner work, it leads us to search outside for what lies inside. To buy what we already have, to search for solutions to all our problems outside ourselves, as if other people had better solutions. This leads to the individual being cared for and supported by the different protection systems, which are at the same time social, ideological or health care, thus increasing supply and creating an ideal market for dream-sellers of any kind, charlatans, gurus and co.
Today I’ve heard that a new practice has just been created : « Respirology », and as usual, customers abused by the power of words will certainly flock. Should we, in the name of body and mind normalization, of people getting back into shape, change the name of our art into : « Aïkido therapy » ? The spirit of Aïkido can’t be taught.

I don’t believe it can be told that there is a specific spirit of Aïkido but rather that Aïkido must be the reflection of something much greater that we, little human beings, have difficulties to realize during our life.
The spirit of an art can’t be taught, it’s rather a transmission, but an Aïkido without a spirit, what would it be : a struggle, a fight, a kind of brawl without head nor tail. Teaching the technique without transmitting anything of the spirit is quite possible, but then, it happens to be a totally different thing. It may be self-defence or a wellness technique.
Like in any martial art, we have the Rei, the salute, which is obviously the most immediately visible expression of it, but what’s most important will be transmitted through the teacher’s posture. By posture I mean an extremely complex set of signs that students will find recognizable : of course the physical aspect, dynamics, precision, etc., but also the way of conveying a message, the attention given to each practitioner according to thousands of factors that the teacher must perceive. It is through developing intuition that one can get the greatest and finest pedagogy, and so provide the elements needed by practitioners to deepen their art, to better understand its roots.

The spirit of Aïkido can’t be learnt

The spirit of Aïkido can’t be learnt, it is discovered, it doesn’t change us, it enables us to recover our human roots, to join what’s best in human being.
« Aïkido is the art of learning in depth, the art of knowing oneself ».


The Aïkido founder’s desire was to bring human beings closer, to him the world was like a big family : « In Aïkido, training is not meant to become stronger or beat the opponent. No. It helps to get the spirit of placing oneself at the centre of the Universe and contribute to world peace, bring all human beings to form a big family. »

A hymn to joy

Osenseï used to say :  « Always practice Aïkido in a vibrant and joyful manner ». We don’t talk about joy often enough, our world incites us to sadness, to react violently to events, to criticize the systems’ failures, to see other people’s flaws, to be competitive. But all this eventually makes us grumpy, harsh and spoils our pleasure of living, quite simply.
Joy is a sensation that I consider sacred. The joy of living, of feeling fully alive in everything we do, or don’t do. Joy enables us to experience in a totally different way what many people consider as constraints, to consider them as opportunities allowing us to go further, to deepen what my master used to call respiration.

Aïkido is the art of learning in depth, the art of knowing oneself

Joy leads us little by little to inner freedom, which is the only freedom that is worth discovering, as so well told by the Taji Quan master Gu Meisheng (1926-2003) who discovered it in Chinese prisons during Mao’s era.

It enables us to get out of the conventions that different systems impose on us.
The spirit of Aïkido is to be found in nature, not in a nature external to the human being but rather in the human being as a part of nature, as nature.
« The practice of Aïkido is an act of faith, a belief in the power of non-violence. It is not a type of rigid discipline or empty asceticism. It is a path that follows the principles of nature, principles which must be applied to daily life. Aïkido must be practiced from the moment you get up to welcome the day until the moment you withdraw for the night. »
To start every morning in the dojo’s quiet with a two or three minute meditation in order to refocus, to concentrate. Then switch to the Respiratory Practice, as Tsuda senseï named it, and which Osenseï Ueshiba Moriheï used to do at every session. It is then possible to turn to the second part, the practice with a partner, the pleasure of communication through technique, the Ka Mi respiration and all of this very early in the morning while many people outside have just emerged from sleep.
When nothing is planned, when we are devoid of any thought, in these sublime moments when fusion with the partner takes place, then we are in the spirit of Aïki.
Like in Zen, it is suggested to us to live here and now, to be no different from what we are, but to look with lucidity at what we have become.

The transmission of the spirit.

In order to understand the spirit of Aïkido, one must, in my opinion, dive into the past, not only that of Japan but also, and maybe even mostly, that of ancient China. Go and search for the thinkers, philosophers, poets who enriched reflexion and gave weight to the Oriental way of thinking.
It is thanks to my master Tsuda Itsuo that I digged in this direction : not that he gave lectures on philosophy or held seminars on the matter, he who only spoke with parsimony, but on the other hand he bequeathed to us through his books a reflexion on the East and the West, bridging the gap between these two worlds which seemed antinomic.
The immense culture of this master whom I was fortunate enough to know had flabbergasted me at the time but little by little I was able to enter the understanding of his message and philosophical work which had nourished me. But this man I had admired had also left traces I could see without understanding them, other signs in the way Zen masters did : he left calligraphies. As in this art nowadays called Zenga he transmitted a teaching to us through ideograms, maxims by Zhuangzi, Laozi, Bai Juyi, or folk proverbs. Each of these calligraphies introduces us to a story, a text, an art which actually enables us to go further in the understanding of this spirit which underlies our practice.

Awakening the inner force.

« There are forces in us but they remain latent, dormant. They must be awakened, activated », wrote Nocquet senseï in an article published in 1987. To me this sentence echoes Tsuda senseï’s calligraphy « the dragon gets out of the pond where it remained asleep, talent shows through ». In both cases, these masters were refering to ki and they incite us to search in this direction.
Without the concrete sensation of ki we miss the point. How can we talk about the spirit of Aïkido without making it a sequence of rules to observe, other than by following, rediscovering the foundations of the human being. Our modern, industrial society makes life so easy for us that we move no more, we get around too easily, in the cities we just have to cover a few meters to find food instead of running, hunting or cultivating. Aïkido enables us to spend this excessive energy which otherwise would make us sick. But this is not only about the physical, motor aspect, it’s our whole body which needs to recover, normalize itself. Our mind, overloaded with useless information, also needs to rest, to find peace in the middle of the surrounding agitation.

The spirit of Aïkido is Aïkido.

The spirit of Aïkido just lies in practice and little by little it comes to be discovered. And this discovery is real enjoyment. Beginners, when becoming aware of its importance, get fully involved in this art of ours. That is often the moment when difficulties to explain what we do begin. We feel like talking about it, inviting friends to participate at least to a session. We try to make what we feel understood. Other people witness our enthusiasm but don’t come to understand what it is about. And the answers we get to our explanations, to what we try to hand down are often rather disappointing. They may vary from : « Ah yes, me too, I practiced Yoga last year during my holiday at Club Med. But I don’t have time to do a stuff like this, you see, I really don’t have time. » to « Yes, your stuff is nice but it racks brains, I practice Californo-Australian self-defence, you know, and it’s really efficient ». To move from a world to another requires to be ready, ready to just discover what you don’t know yet but have sensed. We start practicing because we have read a book, an article, and we have been shocked, we said to ourselves : « Strange guy but I like what he tells, I like this spirit, it’s close to me, to what I think ».

An art to normalize the individual.

It is the spirit of the practice, quite often, that makes us go on for many years, and seldom physical or technical achievements which anyway will be limited by aging. The only ageless thing is ki, attention, respiration as Tsuda senseï used to call it. This can be deepened without any limit and that’s why there have been great masters. If you awaken your sensibility, if you have persistence, and if you are well guided ; if the teaching is not limited to surface but enables us to dig deeper, to open by ourselves doors that we didn’t suspect, then everything is possible. When I say everything is possible I mean that everyone becomes responsible for oneself, for one’s life, for the quality of one’s life.
As Yamaoka Tesshu says : « Unity of body and mind can do everything. If a snail wants to ascend mount Fuji then it will succeed ».
No seeking for reputation, no attempting to become something but rather seeking to be, thanks to self fulfillment. Pacifying internal tensions, unifying body and mind which quite often work in the wrong way if not one against the other. Here’s the deep meaning of the research we can do in the practice of martial arts. »

Régis Soavi Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°18)  octobre 2017

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Quotations from Osenseï Moriheï Ueshiba’s collected talks, some through the book : «The Art of Peace, teachings of the Founder of Aïkido, compiled and translated by John Stevens », Shambhala.

Aikido: an evolution of the inner being

By Régis Soavi

Itsuo Tsuda in front of the tokonoma
Itsuo Tsuda in front of the tokonoma

Aikido is an instrument of my evolution, it made me evolve, I just had to follow with perseverance and obstinacy the road that was opening in front of me, that was opening inside me.  Like many other people, I came to this practice for its martial aspect. However, its beauty, as well as the aesthetic of its movements, quickly fascinated me, and this with my first teacher Maroteaux Sensei already. Then, when I saw Noro Masamichi Sensei, and Tamura Nobuyoshi Sensei, I had confirmation of what I had sensed: Aikido was a wholly different thing from what I knew.

I came from the world of Judo, with the images transmitted to us, for example, that of the cherry tree branch covered with snow which all of a sudden lets the snow slide down and the branch straightens up. I had already gone beyond the ideas that had been conveyed by the beginning of the century and the fifties, of a « Japanese Jiu Jitsu which turns a small thin man into a monster of efficacy ».Lire la suite

Calligraphies de Printemps, trente ans d’histoire

Calligraphies de Printemps est la première monographie consacrée à l’œuvre calligraphique du philosophe-écrivain Itsuo Tsuda qui regroupe cent treize calligraphies et les recherches que nous avons pu mener jusqu’à aujourd’hui.

À l’occasion de sa publication, les 18 et 19 novembre 2017 aura lieu au Dojo Tenshin à Paris une exposition conçue à partir des photos du livre. Un vernissage inaugural se tiendra le 18 novembre à 18h30. Toute personne souhaitant découvrir l’œuvre d’Itsuo Tsuda y est cordialement invitée.

Le dojo est ouvert et l’entrée est libre. Welcome !

En attendant nous avions envie de partager avec vous quelques lignes sur la genèse et les coulisses de cette aventure qui a commencé il y a plus de trente-trois ans.Lire la suite

Noguchi-Chuang-Tzu #5

Concerning Chuang-Tzu’s chapter « The spirit of cultivating life » (V) by Haruchika Noguchi. to read the beginning http://www.ecole-itsuo-tsuda.org/en/noguchi-tchouang-tseu-1/

For as long as human beings live, they will at some point die. This statement has been tested for thousands of years, and so it is not a misapprehension. People generally do not accept the irrefutable fact that men die, and as they draw closer to death and feel death in their hearts, they worry and act impatiently, since they don’t want to die. But human beings are creatures that die. Bach composed the Goldberg variations for the sake of someone’s sound sleep, and this piece says again and again that men are mortal. Lire la suite

Transcender l’espace et le temps

Par Régis Soavi.

Tous les aïkidoka ont déjà entendu parler de Ma aï car c’est une des bases de notre pratique. Mais en parler et la vivre sont malheureusement des choses très différentes. Comme elle est connue dans tous les arts martiaux, il est facile d’en trouver quantités de références.
On peut concevoir intellectuellement cette notion, on peut écrire sur elle et développer tout un discours, mais « Rien ne vaut le vécu » comme nous le répétait si souvent mon maître Tsuda Itsuo.
Je vais donc essayer d’expliquer l’inexplicable à travers des exemples ou des situations concrètes.Lire la suite

Noguchi-Chuang-Tzu #4

Concerning Chuang-Tzu’s chapter « The spirit of cultivating life » (IV) by Haruchika Noguchi.

 

When Kung Wen Hsien saw the Commander of the Army, he said in surprise, « I wondered who it was, and it’s you. That one foot — is it the work of man or of Heaven? » The Commander replied, « It was Heaven’s, and not man’s work. Essentially, a man’s form is determined. From this, I know that being one-footed, too, is the work of heaven, and not of man. «

The Commander’s words are followed with : « A pheasant that lives in a marsh walks ten paces for one beakful of food and a hundred paces for one sip of water, but it doesn’t want to be kept in a cage. Though a bird may be filled with vitality there, it cannot enjoy its life. »

Chuang-tzu broke the various cages that environ people’s lives : the attachment that comes from being ruled by the things around you, the sense of values that goes against life, partial philosophies that hinder the development of life. He demands that we should step out from these prisons and conveys the Buddhist priest’s spirit of renouncing the world by casting off all attachments.

Again, Yun-men wondered why a priest should robe himself at the sound of the bell, when the world, so full of splendours, is very wide ; and there was the European thinker who threw away all his books and possessions.

« Common people breathe from their throats. Those who are slaves to the world choke out their words as though they were vomiting… Human life —is it in its essence as murky as this ? Is it I alone who see it as murky ? And is there someone who does not see it as murky ? »

Is it not because people don’t comprehend the pleasure a pheasant has from walking ten paces for a beakful of food and a hundred paces for a drink of water ? Is it because the children of men do not enjoy the fate of having no place to rest their heads ?

Because past knowledge is attached even to a single action like raising a hand or kicking out with a foot, human activity lacks buoyancy. Because with every breath drawn in and breathed out people vomit for joy or anger, or love or hate, human life lacks transparency.

When, as soon as someone spreads his wings, he injures them, it is because he is in a cage. To spread your wings is life’s demand. So long as they remain shrunken, without spreading their wings, human beings do not become strong. Breathe expansively and get out of the cage that hinders you from doing so. Throw off the weight of duty and act buoyantly. This is what cultivating life is. Chuang-tzu never stopped hoping that human beings would live actively without being hindered by anything.

« Life arises from death and death from life. What comes into existence passes out of it, what passes out of existence comes into it. » As for Chuang-tzu’s thoughts on the problem of what happens after death, he believed neither in the immortality of the soul, not in eternal life. « At one time, I may become a rooster… or a bullet.., or an insect. » In the one real world, there is nothing but the continuation of ceaseless change as various forms of life disperse and come together.

The last sentence of the chapter entitled « The Spirit of Cultivating Life » goes : « Although there is an end to the fingers putting fuel on the fire, the fire endures and we don’t know the end of it ». These words should be understood in the light of what has just been said. Chuang-tzu points to the continuity and flow of life, conceived of as fire, not for a moment entertaining the idea of any opposition between mind and body.

It is an especially interesting point that this chapter ends by broaching the question of death.

( to be continued )