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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 –>

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

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 )

Noguchi-Chuang-Tzu #3

Concerning Chuang-Tzu’s chapter « The spirit of cultivating life » (II) by Haruchika Noguchi. To read the beginning

Living is a more important matter than thinking. Being alive is not a means, but an end. So life should be carried on naturally only with the aim of maintaining life : a breathing in, a breathing out, a raising of the hand, a movement of the leg – all these should be for the cultivation of life.

Therefore, simply dwelling in health is a very precious thing. Zensei, which is to say, « A fulfilled life », is nothing but the road men follow, and it is the road ,of nature. Fulfilling the life that is given in peace of spirit is not for the sake of spiritual content, but is what should already have been undertaken before all else. We have to live in a vital way human life, which is health. Living always cheerfully and happily—this has always been what is of true value to human beings.

Human beings live because they are born, and because they are living, they eat and they sleep. They are born as a result of a natural demand, and they live as a result of the same demand. To live is natural. And so to die is also natural. Human beings’ accomplishing the life that is given them comes before all else. But this does not mean being attached to life at all. Chuang-tzu disliked any craving for particular things. For him, the arising of any attachment is at once a departure from the way. So he speaks about cultivating life and maintaining the body in order that the present moment that is given, precisely because it is the present moment, may be used fully, and certainly not because the thing given is life.

Chuang-tzu saw as a single whole the contraries of good and evil, of beauty and ugliness, and of the useful and the useless, and for him life and death were also a single whole, what comes into existence passing out of it and what passes out of existence coming into it. « Life arises from death and death arises from life » he wrote.

When Tsu-yu contracted a crippling illness, Tsu-szu visited him and asked, « Do you think your fate is unpleasant? » Tsu-yu’s answer was astounding : « Why should I find it unpleasant? If changes are brought about and my left arm turns into a rooster, I’ll use it to herald the dawn. If my right shoulder is transformed into a bullet, I’ll use it to bring down a pigeon for roasting. If my buttocks become carriage-wheels and my spirit a horse, I’ll ride along on them. Then I would need no other vehicle but myself—that would be wonderful! »

« Time does not cease even for an instant, and if it is destiny for a human being to be born, then it is natural that living form should be lost. If you are content with time’s flow and in accord with the order of things, then there is not especially any joy or sorrow. This is what the ancients called « deliverance from bondage ». You put a noose round your neck and you can’t get it off ; this is because it is tied by the mind that thinks in terms of right and wrong and good and bad. Nothing can overcome heaven. Nothing comes of hating heaven. »

Chuang-tzu’s point about cultivating life is clear in the words that come in the passage where Kung Wen Hsien speaks to the Commander of the Army : « The work of man is still the work of nature. » This is the road he walks. Within his attitude — that whatever happens, it is proper, and that when something happens, you go forward and affirm reality – there is not a trace of the resignation that lies in submitting tu destiny. His affirmation of reality is nothing but the affirmation of reality. The dignity of the man is conveyed only by Lin Chi’s words : « Wherever you are, be master. »

From Chuang-tzu’s point of view, the security of the bird-cage is no better than being obliviously asleep. He feels the vitality of life only so long as existence is unconstrained.

(to be continued)

Picture : Chuang Tzu. Lu Chih (1496–1576)

Le ki, une dimension à part entière

Par Régis Soavi

« Le Ki appartient au domaine du sentir et non à celui du savoir ». Itsuo Tsuda

Dès qu’on parle du ki on passe pour un mystique, une espèce d’hurluberlu : « Ce n’est pas scientifique, aucun instrument, aucune machine n’est capable de prouver, de démontrer que le ki existe ». Je suis parfaitement d’accord. Effectivement si on considère le ki comme une énergie surpuissante, une sorte de magie capable de projeter des personnes à distance ou de tuer seulement grâce à un cri, comme on le croyait avec le kiai, on risque de s’attendre à des miracles et d’être très vite déçu.Ki une dimension a part entiere

Le ki une philosophie orientale ?

Quelle est cette philosophie « orientale » à laquelle nous n’aurions pas accès ? Existe-t-il un domaine spécifique réservé à quelques adeptes, à quelques disciples triés sur le volet, ou bien cette connaissance est-elle à la portée de tous, et qui plus est, sans se compliquer la vie. Je veux dire en menant une vie normale, sans faire partie d’une élite ayant eu accès à des connaissances secrètes, sans avoir des pratiques spéciales, cachées et distribuées au compte gouttes, mais plus simplement en ayant un travail, des enfants etc. Quand on pratique l’Aïkido, évidemment on est dans une recherche tant philosophique que pratique, mais c’est une recherche « exotérique » et non « ésotérique ».
Itsuo Tsuda a écrit neuf livres, créant ainsi un pont entre l’Orient et l’Occident pour nous permettre de mieux comprendre l’enseignement des maîtres japonais et chinois, pour le rendre plus concret, plus simple et accessible à tous. Il n’est pas nécessaire d’être oriental pour comprendre, sentir de quoi il s’agit. Mais il est vrai que dans le monde où nous vivons il va falloir faire un petit effort. Sortir de nos habitudes de comportement, de nos références. Avoir un autre type d’attention, un autre type de concentration. Il ne s’agit pas de repartir de zéro mais de s’orienter différemment, de conduire notre attention (notre ki) d’une autre manière.
Déjà nous devons nous débarrasser de l’idée, très cartésienne, selon laquelle le ki serait une seule et même chose, alors qu’il est multiple. Admettre aussi que notre corps est capable de sentir des choses que l’on aurait du mal à expliquer rationnellement, mais qui font partie de notre vie quotidienne, comme la sympathie, l’antipathie, l’empathie. Les sciences cognitives tentent à coup de neurones miroirs et autres procédés de décortiquer tout ça, mais cela n’explique pas tout, et même parfois ça complique les choses.
De toute façon à chaque situation il y a une réponse, mais on ne peux pas analyser tout ce que l’on fait à chaque instant en fonction du passé, du présent, du futur, de la politique ou de la météo. Les réponses surgissent indépendamment de la réflexion, elles surgissent spontanément de notre involontaire, que ces réponses soient bonnes ou mauvaises, l’analyse nous le dira après coup.

Le ki en Occident

L’Occident connaissait le ki par le passé, on l’appelait pneuma, spiritus, prana, ou tout simplement souffle vital. Aujourd’hui cela semble bien désuet. Le Japon a gardé un usage très simple de ce mot que l’on peut retrouver dans une multitude d’expressions, que je cite plus loin, en reprenant un passage d’un livre de mon Maître.
Mais dans l’Aïkido qu’est-ce que le ki ?
Si une École peut et doit parler du ki, c’est bien l’École Itsuo Tsuda, et cela évidemment sans prétendre à l’exclusivité, mais simplement peut-être parce que mon Maître avait basé tout son enseignement sur le ki, qu’il avait traduit par respiration. C’est pourquoi il parlait d’une « École de la respiration » : « Par le mot respiration, je ne parle pas d’une simple opération bio-chimique de combinaison oxygène-hémoglobine. La respiration, c’est à la fois vitalité, action, amour, esprit de communion, intuition, prémonition, mouvement. »*
L’Aïkido n’est pas un art de combat, ni même de self défense. Ce que j’ai découvert avec mon Maître, c’est l’importance de la coordination de la respiration avec mon partenaire, comme moyen de réaliser la fusion de sensibilité quelle que soit la situation. Itsuo Tsuda nous expliquait à travers ses textes ce que lui avait transmis son Maître Morihei Ueshiba. Pour nous le transmettre de manière plus concrète, pendant ce qu’il appelait « la première partie » – la pratique solitaire, qu’on appellerait aujourd’hui Taizo – au moment de l’inspiration, il prononçait KA, et à l’expiration MI. Certaines fois il nous expliquait : « KA est le radical de Feu Kasai en japonais, et MI le radical de l’Eau Mizu ». L’alternance de l’inspire et de l’expire, leur union, crée Kami que l’on peut traduire par le divin.  « Mais attention, nous disait-il, il ne s’agit pas du dieu des chrétiens ni même de celui d’une quelconque religion mais, si vous avez besoin de références, on peut dire que c’est dieu l’univers, dieu la nature, ou tout simplement la vie ».
Il y avait au dojo un dessin exécuté à l’encre de chine et tracé par Maître Ueshiba comportant quatorze formes très simples que nous appelions Futomani car O Senseï avait dit qu’il lui avait été dicté par Ame-no-Minaka-nushi : le Centre céleste. Itsuo Tsuda en donne l’explication dans son livre Le dialogue du silence*. Grâce à cela j’ai mieux compris les directions que prenait le ki lorsqu’il avait une forme.

Dessin exécuté par Maître Ueshiba
Dessin exécuté par Maître Ueshiba

Renouer, retrouver les liens avec ce qui préexiste au plus profond de nous

Le fondateur parlait de Haku no budo et de Kon no budo : kon étant l’âme essentielle qui ne doit pas être étouffée, mais disait-il, on ne doit pas négliger l’âme haku qui assure l’unité de l’être physique.
Une fois encore on parle de l’unité.
Si notre pratique s’intitule Aï ki do : « voie d’unification du ki », c’est bien que ce mot ki a un sens.
La pratique concrète nous permettra de le comprendre, mieux que les longs discours. Et pourtant il faut tenter d’expliquer, tenter de faire passer ce message si important, car sans cela notre art risque fort de devenir un combat « Que le plus fort, le plus habile ou encore le plus malin gagne », ou bien une danse ésotérique, mystique, élitiste, voire sectaire.
Et pourtant nous connaissons bien le ki, nous le sentons à distance. Par exemple quand on se promène dans une petite rue la nuit, et que tout à coup on sent une présence, on sent un regard dans notre dos et pourtant il n’y a personne ! Quant soudain on remarque, sur un toit avoisinant, un chat qui nous regarde. Un chat tout simplement, ou un rideau qui se rabat subrepticement. Le regard est porteur d’un ki très fort que tout le monde peut sentir, même de dos.

Une des pratiques de Seitai do appelée Yuki consiste à poser les mains sur le dos d’un partenaire et à faire circuler le ki. Il ne s’agit aucunement de faire l’imposition des mains pour guérir quelqu’un qui à priori n’est pas malade, mais d’accepter de visualiser la circulation du ki, cette fois comme un fluide, comme de l’eau qui coule. Au début on ne sent rien ou peu de chose de la part de l’un comme de l’autre. Mais là encore, petit à petit on découvre le monde de la sensation. On peut dire que c’est une dimension à part entière dans la plus grande simplicité. C’est simple, c’est gratuit, ce n’est lié à aucune religion, on peut le faire à tout âge et quant on commence à sentir cette circulation du ki, la pratique de l’Aïkido devient tellement plus facile. L’exercice de kokyu ho par exemple, ne peux pas se faire sans le kokyu, donc sans le ki, à moins de devenir un exercice de force musculaire, une façon de vaincre un adversaire.
Je n’aurais jamais pu découvrir l’Aïkido que mon Maître enseignait si je n’avais pas volontairement et avec opiniâtreté cherché dans cette direction. Dans la recherche sensitive, à travers tous les aspects de la vie quotidienne pour comprendre, sentir, et étendre cette compréhension sans jamais abandonner.


Le ki est aussi ambiance, par conséquent, pour pratiquer il y a besoin d’un lieu qui permette la circulation du ki entre les personnes. Ce lieu, le dojo, doit à mon avis, chaque fois que cela est possible, être « dédié » à une pratique, une École. Itsuo Tsuda considérait que en entrant dans le dojo on se sacralisait, et c’est pourquoi on saluait en montant sur les tatamis. Ce n’est pas un lieu triste où les gens « doivent garder un visage renfrogné et constipé. Au contraire, il faut y maintenir l’esprit de paix, de communion et de joie. »* L’ambiance du dojo n’a rien à voir avec celle d’un club ou avec celle d’une salle multi-sports qu’on loue quelques heures par semaine et qui est utilisée, pour cause de rentabilité, par différents groupes n’ayant rien à voir entre eux. Le genre de local, de gymnase où l’on passe, on s’entraîne, puis une douche et ciao ; au mieux une bière au bistrot du coin histoire d’échanger un peu les uns avec les autres. Quand on connaît le ki, quand on commence à le sentir et surtout quand on veut découvrir ce qui se cache derrière ce mot, un lieu comme le dojo c’est vraiment tout autre chose. Imaginez un endroit calme dans un petit passage parisien au fond du vingtième arrondissement. Vous traversez un petit jardin et au premier étage d’un bâtiment très simple s’ouvre « Le Dojo ».


Vous y venez tous les jours si vous voulez, car chaque matin il y a une séance à sept heure moins le quart : vous êtes chez vous. Vous avez votre kimono sur un cintre dans les vestiaires, la séance dure à peu près une heure, puis vous prenez un petit déjeuner avec vos partenaires dans l’espace attenant, ou vous partez précipitamment au travail. Le samedi et le dimanche grasse matinée, séances à huit heure.
Expliquer le ki est une chose difficile c’est pourquoi seule l’expérience nous le fait découvrir. Et pour cela il faut y mettre les conditions qui permettent cette découverte. Le dojo fait partie des éléments qui facilitent grandement la recherche dans cette direction. Renouer des circuits, mais aussi dénouer ces liens qui nous enserrent et obscurcissent notre vision du monde

Petit à petit le travail va se faire, les nœuds vont se dénouer, et si nous acceptons qu’ils se dénouent on peut dire que le ki recommence à circuler plus librement. Il circule à ce moment là en tant qu’énergie vitale, il est possible de le sentir, de le visualiser, de le rendre en quelque sorte conscient. Car des tensions inutiles, qui n’arrivent pas à se libérer, rigidifient notre corps. Pour rendre la chose la plus claire possible, on pourrait dire que c’est à peu près comme si un tuyau d’arrosage était bouché. Il risque d’éclater en amont. La rigidification du corps oblige celui-ci à réagir pour sa propre survie. Il se produit alors des réactions inconscientes qui agissent au niveau du système involontaire. Pour éviter ces blocages, surviennent de micro fuites de cette énergie vitale et même parfois des fuites plus importantes, par exemple dans les bras, au niveau du koshi et principalement aux articulations. La conséquence immédiate est que les personnes n’arrivent plus à pratiquer avec fluidité et c’est la force qui compense le manque, on raidit des parties du corps qui se mettent à réagir comme autant de pansements ou de plâtres pour empêcher ces déperditions de la force vitale. C’est pourquoi il est si important de travailler sur le fait de sentir le ki, de le faire circuler. Au début c’est la visualisation qui nous le permet, mais au fur et à mesure qu’on approfondit la respiration (la sensation, la sensibilité au ki), si on reste concentré sur une pratique souple, si on se vide l’esprit, on peut découvrir, voir, sentir la direction du ki, sa circulation. Cette connaissance nous permet de l’utiliser et la pratique de l’Aïkido devient facile. On peut commencer à pratiquer la non résistance : Le non faire.

La sensibilité naturelle des femmes au ki

Les femmes ont généralement plus de sensibilité par rapport au ki ou, plus exactement, elles la conservent plus, si elles ne se déforment pas trop pour se défendre dans ce monde d’hommes où tout est régi suivant les critères et les besoins de la masculinité, de l’image de la femme qui est transmise et de l’économie. Leur sensibilité vient du besoin de conserver à leur corps la souplesse pour pouvoir accoucher de façon naturelle et s’occuper des nouveaux-nés. C’est une souplesse qui ne s’acquière pas dans les salles de sport, de musculation ou de fitness, c’est plutôt une tendresse, une douceur qui saura au besoin être ferme et sans aucune mollesse quand ce sera nécessaire. Le nouveau-né a besoin de toute notre attention mais il ne parle pas encore. Il ne peut pas dire : « j’ai faim, j’ai soif ou je suis fatigué », ou encore « maman tu est trop nerveuse, calme toi, et dis à papa de parler moins fort, cela me fait peur ».2011-07-20 at 08-21-28

Grâce à leur sensibilité naturelle, elles sentent les besoins de l’enfant, elles ont l’intuition de ce qu’il faut faire et le ki passe entre la mère et l’enfant. Quant le père, toujours très rationnel, ne comprend pas, la mère sent et du coup elle sait. Même si elle n’est pas mère, même si elle est une jeune femme sans aucune expérience, c’est le corps qui réagit, c’est lui qui a cette sensibilité naturelle au ki et c’est pourquoi, je pense, il y a tant de femmes dans notre École. C’est parce que le ki est au centre de notre pratique, que rien ne saurait se faire sans lui. Nous mettons notre sensibilité dans cette direction et ainsi on peut voir le monde et les personnes non plus seulement au niveau des apparences mais bien plus loin, dans leur profondeur, ce qu’il y a derrière la forme, ce qui la structure, ou ce qui la conduit.

Voici quelques exemples que donnait Itsuo Tsuda, extraits du livre Le Non-faire :

« La chose la plus difficile à comprendre dans la langue japonaise, c’est le mot « ki ».  En effet, si les Japonais l’utilisent des centaines et des centaines de fois par jour, sans y réfléchir, il est pratiquement, et je dirais aussi théoriquement, impossible d’en trouver un équivalent dans les langues européennes.
Si le mot, pris isolément, reste intraduisible en français, il n’est toutefois pas impossible de traduire les expressions courantes dans lesquelles il se trouve incorporé. Je vais citer quelques exemples :
ki ga chiisai : mot à mot, son ki est petit. Il se fait trop de souci pour rien.
ki ga ôkii : son ki est grand. Il ne se fait pas de souci pour des petites choses.
… ki ga shinai : je n’ai pas de ki pour… Je n’en ai pas envie. Ou, cela me dépasse.
… ki ga suru : il fait du ki pour… J’ai le flair, le pressentiment, je sens intuitivement…
waru-gi wa nai : il n’a pas de mauvais ki, il n’est pas méchant, n’a pas de mauvaises intentions.
ki-mochi ga ii : l’état du ki est bon ; je me sens bien.
ki ni naru : cela attire mon ki, je n’arrive pas à dégager mon esprit de cette idée. Quelque chose de bizarre, d’anormal arrête mon attention, malgré moi.
ki ga au : notre ki coïncide, nous sommes sur la même longueur d’ondes.
ki o komeru : concentrer le ki. Pour la question de concentration, je n’ai vu nulle part ailleurs d’exemple aussi hautement porté qu’au Japon.
ki-mochi no mondai : c’est conditionné par l’état du ki. Ce n’est pas l’objet, le résultat tangible, mais c’est le geste, c’est l’intention qui compte.
On pourrait encore citer plusieurs centaines d’expressions avec le mot ki.
Si les Japonais sont pour la plupart incapables de dire ce qu’est le ki, il n’empêche qu’ils savent instinctivement à quel moment il faut le dire ou ne pas le dire. ».

Itsuo Tsuda avait commencé l’Aïkido à l’âge de quarante cinq ans, il n’avait rien d’un sportif mais sa seule présence transformait toute l’ambiance du dojo. J’aimerais vous raconter une anecdote concernant un des exercices que je faisais dans les années soixante-dix, alors que mon Maître avait déjà plus de soixante ans. Lorsque je passais le portail de la cour au fond de laquelle se trouvait le dojo, je m’arrêtais un instant, je fermais les yeux et cherchais à sentir si « il » était là. Les premiers temps cela ne marchait pas trop, c’était des coups au hasard, des coups de chance. Petit à petit j’ai compris : je ne devais pas chercher à savoir. Alors j’ai commencé à me « vider », à cesser de penser et c’est venu. Je savais chaque matin si il était arrivé ou non. Je sentais sa présence dès que je m’approchais du dojo.
A partir de ce moment quelque chose s’est transformé en moi. J’avais enfin compris un petit bout de son enseignement, et surtout, j’avais vérifié que le ki ne faisait pas partie de l’irrationnel, que c’était concret, et que sa perception était accessible à tous puisqu’elle m’avait été accessible.

Article de Régis Soavi sur le thème du ki ( ) publié dans Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°15)  janvier 2017.

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Notes :
* Itsuo Tsuda, Le Non-faire – Ed. Le Courrier du livre, 1973, p. 25.
* Itsuo Tsuda, Le Non-faire – Ed. Le Courrier du livre, 1973, p. 14.
* Itsuo Tsuda, Le dialogue du silence – Ed. Le Courrier du livre, 1979, p. 89 et 90.
* Itsuo Tsuda, Cœur de ciel pur – Ed. Le Courrier du livre, 2014, p. 117.
* Itsuo Tsuda, Le Non-faire – Ed. Le Courrier du livre, 1973, p. 23 et 24.

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Présentation générale

Monographie consacrée à l´œuvre calligraphique du philosophe-écrivain Itsuo Tsuda (1914-1984). Édition « de luxe », réservée aux souscripteurs, volume relié au fil, couverture toile avec marquage à chaud, et jaquette. Format 30x24cm. Environ 380 pages dont 100 reproductions couleurs pleine page.Lire la suite

Noguchi-Chuang-Tzu #2

Concerning Chuang-Tzu’s chapter « The spirit of cultivating life » (II) by Haruchika Noguchi. To read the beginning

« In doing what is considered good, avoid fame ; in doing what is considered wrong, avoid penalties ; make it a principle to keep a middle course, and you will preserve your body, fulfill your life, support your parents and live out your natural span of days. » Read and accepted as they are, these words are the principles of health. I feel in them, close to me, the force of the man’s spirit.

When the king of So heard of Chuang-tzu’s cleverness, he sent, with a great show of courtesy, officials to Chuang-tzu, asking him to become prime minister ; but Chuang-tzu laughed and remarked that ten thousand pieces of gold was a large amount and a prime minister’s position was very superior. But he asked the officials whether they had ever seen a sacrificial bull decked for a festival. Such a bull, he said, is fattened with various nourishing foods for the occasion, decked with beautiful cloth, and driven into the chamber of the gods. However much the bull wants to be merely a bull at this time, it cannot. He told the officials to leave without making a fuss and not to sully his life, and he said that he simply wanted to enjoy himself in his own squalid situation. Words like these are extremely characteristic of Chuang-tzu, and they still raise a smile after two thousand years. In the end right and wrong and praise and blame are one, Chuang-tzu said.

The distinguishing of things involves definition. Definition involves disruption. With things, there is neither definition nor disruption, only one-ness. Only the true sage knows that everything is one. In this way, Chuang-tzu stamped on the world of oppositions and shattered it. That is why he said unworriedly, « In doing what is considered good, avoid fame; in doing what is considered wrong, avoid penalties »

When someone sleeps on the damp ground, strength drains from him and he develops rheumatism. Put an eel on a treetop, and it trembles with fear ; do the same to a monkey, and this doesn’t happen. ‘Within these three, is there any one that doesn’t know the place that is proper for its life?’

Noguchi Tchouang tseu

The human being eats pork, the deer likes grass, the centipede finds worms delicious, the crow delights in rats. ‘Within these four, is there any one that doesn’t know what it likes to eat ?’ The male monkey takes the female monkey in its arms, the stag copulates with the doe, the eel plays with fish. Mao Chiang and Li Chi were reputed to be the most beautiful women under the heavens, but at the sight of them, fish dived into the depths, birds flew up into the sky, and deer ran away. Which of these does not know the proper object of its affections ? Standing beyond good and evil and merging with the nature of all things : this is the secret of Chuang-tzu’s cultivation of life. Chasing after a healthy life and running to avoid an unhealthy one only makes you hot and bothered. Being proud of your talents and wanting to become first in the world in something is to have forgotten the most important principle of cultivating life.

A great tree is toppled by the wind ; the high status of a minister attracts the envy of the masses, but for the person who has cast off every fetter and enjoys a life of freedom, a minister, though he has a high status and receives a high salary, is no more than a broken sandal. ‘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.’ Chuang-tzu teaches that there is no need to be over-pernickety about a ‘healthy’ or an ‘unhealthy’ life and to make yourself hot and bothered. He teaches that one breathes quietly and follows disinterestedly and calmly the body’s demands, and that this is the essence of preserving life and living fully.

How can we live up to this ? Do we adopt the attitude of someone who sees a fire on the other side of the river and folds his arms ? Or is there something more to be done, something positive ? Prince Wen Hui’s cook said, ‘I handle things with the spirit, and not with the eye. When the senses cease functioning, the spirit leads.’ This is to close yourself off from appearances and at once to forget them ; essentially it is the same as the Zen priest Lin Chi’s saying, ‘Mind does not differ from mind. ‘ Thus, in all this there is nothing but the unfolding of a pure act, and this, fundamentally, is what is asserted in the master swordsman’s adage : ‘Forget your skills and forget your opponent ; let him cut skin-deep, while you carve his flesh ; only if you abandon yourself to the flood may you reach the shallows.

Can we not say that within the way the art of killing leads to the road of being in true earnest, the road of cultivating life is concealed ? Conquering attachment to things, the adherence to rule and the fear of death, and making the spirit free allows you to use the sword freely in the swordsman’s world without damaging anything, and in the ordinary. world it allows you to enter on the road of cultivating life and to foster the essence of life. I suspect that Wen Hui learned from his cook’s words that it is by following the nature of things that one cultivates life ; the important thing was his recognising that the cook’s knife moved without the intervention of the self and without the knife’s being damaged. One Zen priest was asked, ‘You come and go, come and go. What do you mean by it ? »I wear out shoe-leather to no purpose,’ he replied.

(to be continued)

Noguchi-Chuang-Tzu #1

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

Chuang-tzu’s chapter « The Spirit of Cultivating Life »  is an exposition of the way to cultivate the spirit of life, that is to say, one’s whole being. Nevertheless, if—still reading the first two Chinese characters in the usual way—one takes the title as meaning something like « The Rules for Maintaining Health », the result is very intersting. Hitherto, where rules for maintaining health or rules of hygiene are concerned, the only things that have been preached are « Treat life as precious » and « Be careful » ; and one hasn’t been able to feel, even a little, the vital activity of life in such preachings. It may be because of a lack of any Chuang-tzu-like element in them.

I shall look at « The Spirit of Cultivating Life » not as a means to spiritual develOpment, but as one of the sciences of health, and I hope to be able to discern what is concealed within it : the true lineaments of life, which is exuberant and positive.
Chuang-tzu begins his chapter with the words : « Our lives are limited, knowledge is unlimited. It is perilous for what is limited to follow what is unlimited. It is still more perilous to apply knowledge. » Rather than using knowledge to bore seven holes in the Formless ( as in the parable he concludes his seventh chapter with ), Chuang-tzu wanted to remain within undifferentiated nothingness, and he taught that human beings should remain within this.

Our lives are limited, there is no limit to shoulds and shouldn’ts, and if, possessing limits, one tries to abide by limitless shoulds and shouldn’ts, one is left only with the anxiety that one is unable to abide by them. Nevertheless, people still chase after shoulds and shouldn’ts. And their anxiety grows.

The way of hygiene is pursued with the sole result that shoulds and shouldn’ts are multiplied ; the shoulds and shouldn’ts that people must heed multiply more and more ; and then the anxiety to heed these rules coupled with the ‘ fear that they are not able to do so makes people ever more timid and weak-spirited, and the other side of the coin is that this anxiety and fear increase the powers of disease-causing agents and of unhealth.

Noguchi Haruchika. Photo issu de
Noguchi Haruchika. Photo de


Separated from the fundamental matter of enhancing life, hygiene strives only to avoid unhealth, to keep away from harmful things, to escape from things that are feared ; and so it becomes difficult for people to live in a vital way. Eating all one can, sleeping as much as one wants, sparing oneself trouble as much as possible, resting as much as possible, taking lots of medicine, avoiding heat and disliking cold, wearing more clothes than is necessary, and living in a safe way by these means—should we call this health ? Should we call these methods, for which human beings have used every bit of knowledge they have, hygiene ?

What force is there in an enumeration of forms ? It only vitiates the human spirit. Does it not only make life wither ?

Living in a healthy and vital way means not being daunted by cold, heat, wind or humidity, working without being fatigued, sleeping without dreaming, finding whatever you eat delicious, and always enjoying life ; it does not mean not falling ill. Not falling ill should not be a purpose, but a result. Healthy people are not daunted by illness, and they pass through an illness when they have one in a splendid manner, becoming all the more energetic and full of fife ; and you don’t need to read about Nietzsche’s experience in order to understand this. When shoulds and musts control human activity, then human beings have already forged fetters for themselves. Knowledge is a weapon for human beings, and a power for accomplishing their intentions. But when knowledge is piled up and the freedom of human beings is restricted, people become unable to live in a lively way because of shoulds and shouldn’ts, rather as a deer’s antlers become a hindrance to it. And then there’s nothing better than to become free by cutting that knowledge off and throwing it away.

When you want to eat, eat ; when you want to sleep, sleep ; when you want to work, work. It is not a matter of having to eat, it is not a matter of having to sleep, it is not a matter of working because you should. Much less is it a matter of eating, sleeping or working because of what the clock says. It is not a matter of living tomorrow’s life in accordance with yesterday’s knowledge. Tomorrow is for opening up the new on the basis of tomorrow’s experience. Past knowledge, customary fetters—separate yourself from such things and live in a vital way. The vital activity of life that is always renewed belongs to the person who lives always in an unfettered way.
( to be continued )

La peur

Par Régis Soavi

Tout a commencé un après-midi ordinaire dans ma cité du Blanc-Mesnil dans le 93.
Une altercation comme il y en avait souvent, mais ce jour là, je me suis retrouvé sous un garçon qui, me tapant la tête contre le trottoir me disait « Je vais te tuer, je vais te tuer ». Je ne sais même plus comment cela a fini. Mais la semaine suivante j’étais inscrit au cour de Judo Jiu-jitsu Self-défense de la ville voisine du Bourget.
J’avais douze ans et dans ma tête il y avait ce leitmotiv : « Plus jamais ça, plus jamais ça ».

Deux ans plus tard lors de la fête de fin d’année du collège, la section de Judo devait faire une démonstration. Tout s’était très bien passé, quand tout à coup, surgit des premiers rangs un adolescent portant un blouson de cuir noir qui invective notre groupe : « C’est bidon votre truc, vous êtes des nuls… » Avant que quiconque ne réagisse, il saute sur l’estrade, sort un couteau à cran d’arrêt et dans un magnifique tsuki tente de me « planter » : j’esquive et exécute une technique (je crois que c’était une sorte de o soto gary). Émotion de l’assistance, cris ! Puis salut entre mon agresseur et moi. Conséquence : sermon du directeur de l’établissement qui nous fit jurer, à mon ami Jean Michel (l’agresseur) et à moi, de ne jamais recommencer ce genre de chose, car il avait faillit avoir une crise cardiaque.
En plus des cours de Karaté pour lui et de Judo pour moi, nous nous entraînions le plus souvent possible et pendant des heures dans mon « Dojo personnel ».
Depuis que nous avions emménagé dans un pavillon à l’entrée d’une petite cité où ma mère avait trouvé un emploi de concierge, j’avais aménagé le sous-sol en Dojo, avec en guise de tatami des palettes recouvertes de mousse récupérée, et c’était là que nous avions préparé notre coup d’éclat, lui le karatéka et moi le judoka.
À l’époque, je parle du début des années soixante, nous n’avions aucune connaissance des armes telles que katana, bokken, jo ou autres. Mis à part le Fleuret, qui était un sport, et le bâton de Robin des Bois, grâce à Errol Flynn, nous ne connaissions dans le quotidien que le couteau.

Quand on pratique l’Aïkido il y a toujours la possibilité de se rêver quelqu’un d’autre, le cinéma et les effets spéciaux se prêtent bien à faire rêver les adolescents comme les jeunes adultes des nouvelles générations. Dans nos pays industrialisés la mort est devenue virtuelle et souvent aseptisée, le mode spectaculaire l’a mise à distance. Les écrans que chacun possède aujourd’hui ont permis cette distanciation tant psychologique que physique.
Le travail que l’on peut faire avec un bokken, un jo ou même un iaï a une énorme importance du point de vue physique et psychologique. Mais je n’ai jamais vu chez mes élèves de réaction telle qu’on peut en voir avec un tanto.
Tant qu’il s’agit du tanto en bois cela va encore, mais dès que l’on propose le tanto en métal, même si la lame n’est pas aiguisée, il y a dans les yeux des pratiquants une lueur que l’on peut reconnaître. Avec toutes sortes de nuances, de l’effroi à la panique en passant par la stupéfaction, en tout cas la peur, car il faut bien l’appeler par son nom, est là. Quelles que soient les dénégations, les justifications.
Nous sommes tellement loin souvent de ce genre de réalité.

Regardez sous vos pieds

La calligraphie de notre stage d’été 2016 était Regardez sous vos pieds, calligraphie réalisée par mon maître Itsuo Tsuda. Cette phrase, qui était à l’entrée des monastères Zen, résonne de manière évidente comme un Koan. C’est une de ces nombreuses calligraphies qu’il a laissées et qui nous intriguent. Message subliminal ? Message pour la postérité.
Pendant notre stage, Regardez sous vos pieds c’était : « Vois et sens la réalité. Sors du rêve, de l’illusion, deviens un être humain véritable ».
Le tanto participe d’un principe de réalité. Au delà de la dextérité que les entraînements peuvent apporter, ce qui est déterminant et que l’on doit considérer c’est justement la peur : la peur de la blessure, ce qui est déjà un moindre mal, et la peur de la mort.
Dans un premier temps, il y a besoin que les personnes qui, tour à tour, seront uke apprennent à utiliser le tanto : bien que les techniques de frappe ou de coupe soient plutôt simples, voire rudimentaires, elles demandent un apprentissage que je qualifierais de rigoureux. La manière de tenir l’arme au creux de la main et les appuis que l’on va découvrir pour une bonne tenue doivent être enseignés avec attention et doivent permettre la compréhension, car si la tenue du tanto est mauvaise, elle peut se révéler plus dangereuse pour uke lui-même que pour tori. Pour ce qui est de notre École, rares sont ceux qui, quand ils arrivent, ont déjà tenu une arme de ce type entre leurs mains.
Le simple fait du sens de la lame, sa tenue dans la main, les angles de coupe. C’est tout cela qui conditionne une bonne attaque.
Bien souvent les personnes répugnent à utiliser le tanto en métal, trop proche de la réalité. Ils se visualisent déjà en barbares, les mains dégoulinant du sang du partenaire !
J’ai beau expliquer et prendre les précautions nécessaires, ces visions les empêchent d’avoir une vraie attaque et les bloquent. Ils restent là, attendant je ne sais quoi, ou ils attaquent mollement et, bien que les attaques soient conventionnelles, ils préviennent, « téléphonent », le moment de leur attaque. Mais si tout, absolument tout est prévu, il ne reste plus rien de vivant. Si on protège et surprotège, la vie disparaît. La respiration se raccourcit, devient haletante, inconsistante.

tanto regis soavi
L’instinct ne peut pas se développer. Il ne reste qu’un entraînement répétitif et ennuyeux.
Et là je doit le dire : il ne s’agit pas seulement de parler des arts martiaux, car toutes les attaques sont prévues et c’est normal, c’est nécessaire pour acquérir la bonne posture. Il est même important de travailler lentement pendant un certain temps pour bien sentir les mouvements, comme lorsqu’on travaille un kata de Jiu jitsu par exemple. Mais à partir d’un certain niveau le moment et l’intensité, eux, doivent rester dans l’aléatoire et on doit donner le maximum. Le mouvement libre – sorte de randori à la fin de chaque séance – est le moment où l’on peut justement, dans le respect du niveau de chacun, travailler sur ses réactions.

Ce qui fait la différence avec les grands Maîtres du passé n’est pas leur technique exceptionnelle mais leur présence, la qualité de leur présence. Ce qui fait la différence encore aujourd’hui c’est la qualité de l’être et non la quantité de technique.
Quand on pratique avec un sabre ou un bâton, on peut se réfugier dans l’art, le style, la beauté du geste, les règles, l’étiquette. Avec le tanto c’est plus difficile car c’est plus proche de notre réalité. Le couteau, le poignard, sont malheureusement des armes trop souvent utilisées encore aujourd’hui. L’agression fait peur, se transformer en agresseur pour quelques minutes nous impressionne. Cette contrainte est extrêmement désagréable et même parfois presque impossible à surmonter pour certaines personnes. Mon travail consiste à les aider, pour sortir de cet immobilisme, de ce blocage dans leur corps, à aller jusqu’au bout de cette peur, à la révéler, à montrer que c’est elle qui nous empêche de vivre pleinement. Le tanto est un révélateur de ce qui se passe à l’intérieur de nous. Et là, deux grandes orientations sont possibles : la voie du renforcement ou la voie du dépouillement.
Dans le premier cas, le combat contre la peur avec son corollaire, le combat contre soi-même qui est une illusion, car au bout du compte qui est le perdant ? C’est une voie d’insensibilisation, de raidissement du corps, de durcissement musculaire et sa conséquence : le risque d’une atrophie de notre humanité.
Ou bien le dépassement par l’acceptation de cette peur pour ce qu’elle est et par le fait de favoriser l’écoulement du ki qui la rendait incapacitante. La peur, qui au départ est une sensation naturelle, découle de notre instinct. Elle n’est que le blocage de notre énergie vitale lorsque celle-ci ne trouve pas d’issue. Elle se transforme en stimulation, en attention, en réalisation et même en création lorsqu’elle trouve le chemin juste.
C’est pour cela que notre École propose le Mouvement régénérateur (une des pratiques du Seïtaï enseigné par Haruchika Noguchi senseï) comme possibilité de normaliser le terrain par une activation du système moteur extra-pyramidal. Cette normalisation du corps passe par le développement de notre système involontaire qui, au lieu d’un fonctionnement réflexe obtenu par des heures et des heures d’entraînement, retrouve ses capacités originelles, sa vivacité et son intuition. Alors petit à petit on découvrira que bon nombre de nos peurs, de nos incapacités à vivre pleinement, à réagir avec souplesse et rapidité face aux difficultés, et plus encore face à l’agression physique ou verbale, que nos lenteurs, sont dues au manque de réaction de notre corps. Aux blocages de notre énergie dans un physique trop lourd ou à une « mentalisation » trop rapide et inopérante. L’imaginaire, lorsqu’il est tourné vers le négatif et qu’il se développe de façon excessive, est souvent à l’origine de bon nombre de difficultés dans la vie quotidienne et se révèle dramatiquement bloquant dans des circonstances exceptionnelles.

Flexibilité extérieure et fermeté intérieure

Itsuo Tsuda donne un exemple frappant, extrait de la vie du samouraï Kôzumi Isenokami tel que rapporté dans le célèbre film Les sept samouraïs d’Akira Kurosawa : « Un assassin s’est réfugié dans le grenier d’une maison privée, en prenant un enfant en otage avec lui. Alerté par les habitants, Kôzumi, alors de passage dans le village, demande à un moine bouddhiste de lui prêter sa robe noire et se déguise lui-même en moine, en se rasant la tête. Il apporte deux boulettes de riz, en donne une à l’enfant et l’autre à l’assassin pour le calmer. A l’instant ou ce dernier tend la main vers la boulette, il l’attrape et le fait prisonnier.
S’il avait agi en guerrier, le bandit aurait tué l’enfant. S’il avait été simplement un moine, il n’aurait eu d’autre moyen que de supplier le bandit qui aurait refusé de l’écouter.
Kôzumi était réputé être un homme très réservé et humble et n’avait point l’arrogance fréquente chez les guerriers. On a conservé de lui une calligraphie datée de 1565, probablement à l’âge de 58 ans, qui, dit-on, dénote une maturité, une souplesse et une sérénité extraordinaires. C’est cette flexibilité qui lui a permis d’accomplir cette transformation instantanée guerrier-bonze-guerrier.
Quand je pense à cette personnalité à la flexibilité extérieure et à la fermeté intérieure, comparé à ce que nous sommes, nous les civilisés d’aujourd’hui, avec la raideur extérieure et la fragilité intérieure, je crois rêver »*
tanto regis soavi

La voie du Seitai

Si j’insiste sur la voie du Seïtaï, qui est malheureusement si méconnue en Europe, ou parfois si dévoyée, c’est qu’elle me semble être réellement le chemin d’accompagnement que recherchent un très grand nombre de pratiquants d’arts martiaux.
C’est une voie individuelle que l’on peut suivre sans jamais pratiquer rien d’autre, car c’est une voie à part entière. Mais quand on pratique l’Aïkido je pense qu’il serait sain de pratiquer le Mouvement régénérateur quelque soit le niveau que l’on a atteint et même, ou surtout, dès le début. Car par exemple, cela pourrait éviter nombres de désagréments, de petits accidents, préparer le moment où étant moins jeune, pour continuer à pratiquer, il faudra compter sur d’autres ressources que la force, la vitesse d’exécution ou la renommée, etc.

Le Mouvement régénérateur est justement ce que Germain Chamot appelle « une pratique de santé personnelle et régulière », dans son dernier article**.  C’est une voie qui ne nécessite ni financement ni qualité physique, mais simplement de la continuité et une ouverture d’esprit. Je ne peux qu’être d’accord avec ses réflexions sur les difficultés dans notre société de proposer une pratique régulière, sur le long terme, comme sur le coût que représenterait une pratique hebdomadaire avec un Shiatsuki, etc. Le thérapeute prenant en charge le patient de manière individuelle, il a aussi une obligation de résultat, et le fait d’être consulté ponctuellement pour des problèmes qu’il est sensé régler le plus vite possible lui rend la chose difficile.

Le Seïtaï n’est pas une thérapie mais une orientation philosophique, reconnue par le Ministère de l’Éducation japonais.
Noguchi senseï désirait que se développe la pratique du Mouvement régénérateur (Katsugen undo en japonais). Son action visait à « seïtaïser » (normaliser) cent millions de Japonnais et c’est pour cette raison qu’il a soutenu Itsuo Tsuda senseï dans son désir de créer des groupes de Mouvement régénérateur (Katsugen kaï) au Japon d’abord, puis en Europe. C’est cela et l’immense travail de ce dernier, multipliant les stages et les conférences en France, en Suisse, en Espagne, etc., qui a fait connaître le Mouvement régénérateur et permis le développement de cette approche si précieuse de la santé.
Son travail se continue aujourd’hui.

Article de Régis Soavi sur le thème du tanto (couteau) en aïkido, publié dans Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°14)  octobre 2016.

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* Itsuo TSUDA « La Voie des Dieux » page 66. Le Courrier du Livre 1982.
** « Aïkijo : une histoire de contexte » (dernier paragraphe, sur le Shiatsu), Dragon Magazine Spécial Aïkido n°13, p.12-14.

Presentation of The Path of Less

Conferenza 2

The magnificent Grechetto Hall of Palazzo Sormani, in Milan, which has hosted, on Friday, Feb. 12 at 18hrs, the presentation of the book The Path of Less by Itsuo Tsuda, published by Yume Editions.

Cover_ItsuoTsuda_LaViaDellaSpoliazione_WEBThe event, organized by the Scuola della Respirazione in collaboration with the Central Municipal Library of Milan, took place in front of a large and attentive audience. After a short video presentation on the philosophy and thought of Master Tsuda, some practitioners of the Scuola della Respirazione read a selection of excerpts from The Path of Less.

Later, Régis Soavi, host of the evening, by answering to the questions of the interested public, talked about his experience on the importance of the practice philosophy and Itsuo Tsuda books may have in everyday life.

The organization of the evening has involved a lot of us and it was an interesting exchange with the library staff, who contributed to the unfolding of the evening with care and sensitivity.

Click on photos to enlarge


Does Aikijo exist?

By Régis Soavi

Certainly the Jo, the stick, has always been used in Aïkido. But does it really belong to our Art? Its teaching has always been particular and often even separated from the regular courses. Many of us have tried, through other schools of Jujitsu, to find some forms, some kata, some “secret thrusts”. Some have taken an interest in Kobudo. Yet the art of the Jo in Aïkido has its own specificities, its rules.
Personally, what has always fascinated me, is more the extreme accuracy that can be obtained by following a certain type of training. Instead of working on power, I found it more profitable to concentrate on motion, movements and above all precision.

Training to precision

regis-soaviI was a young instructor when I started to train more regularly with the stick. Back then, I tied a soda cap at the extremity of a rope that I hung from the ceiling. My training consisted in making tsuki on the soda cap and each time that it moved to immobilize it again. Then I changed heights. Later I worked on the yokomen and the hits from below, always trying to be precise and without increasing the speed. I worked slowly looking for the right angle, using the displacements and little by little I increased the speed of the execution. Finally I started to hit by using the movement of the cap that flied around to the left, the right, with sudden leaps that were sometimes odd, or even scary if it had been the Jo or the Bokken of an adversary. I could go around that axle that I hung from the centre of the small dojo that used to be in the backyard of number 34 in rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève in Paris. I still remember it with emotion because it was thanks to Master Henry Plée that I could do this type of work. Indeed, he had allowed and even supported me in this direction (an accomplished Budoka, he loved that we trained to the very best of our ability). After several months of this type of training, I moved on to the work on makiwara, but I have to admit, without insisting too much because I found it tedious. Instead I loved the hits in all directions, in the “shadow boxing” style.

In this exercise I found the difficulties of the work with the soda cap, plus the power that I had to control, the circular movements, the speed and above all the visualization. That work of visualization that I already glimpsed in the teaching of my master Itsuo Tsuda. It is also thanks to this that I’ve discovered the importance of having your own stick, I mean a personal working instrument. I am one of those teachers who believe that the Jo must not be a manufactured product of a predetermined length, thickness, or weight. The Jo has to be in proportion, with no exaggeration, otherwise we’ll be dealing with a Bo, to the person who uses it, his or her height and musculature: as there are enormous differences, it seems to me a mistake not to take this into account, but in any case it is the way the Jo is used that remains the most important point.

The pedagogy

As far as I’m concerned, I now use the stick more as a pedagogical tool. As always it is about retrieving and understanding the ancient forms, of course, but above all about channelling the released energy, feeling it circulate and flow along this piece of wood.

Master Tsuda used to tell us: “The Jo has three parts, the two ends and a centre, unlike the Bo that numbers four parts due to the way one seizes it, with both hands at an equal distance from the extremities”. Doing tsuki the technical aspects of the strokes vary, whether one uses it in the ancient form suited to the spear, or as a Jo, that is something much shorter, holding it with both hands in the same direction or one opposite to the other. All this didn’t matter to him: what was important was the transmission of ki and the act of non resistance.

The Jo was only there to enable us to discover the Non-doing, to deepen our breathing.

Then the stick (I suggest to call it that way) is used as if it was an empty tube that gets filled with ki, that has a certain autonomy, that becomes alive again.

The stick exacerbates distances. It forces us to have another relationship with the distance, to feel the axes as well as the changes of direction, of orientation.

Some people have a particular affinity with the Jo, others prefer the Bokken. Even if it is part of my teaching, I give them the time to find out whether it makes sense to them, whether it helps them go deeper in their practice.

It is one of the means I sometimes use to make people understand how the strengths involved in our practice circulate: it is precisely with the stick that I can show this.

I ask uke to grab the stick very strongly and tori has to find the axis, the direction by the mere movement of his body, of his koshi, not of his muscles or arms, to slide the force applied, so that when tori moves, it creates such an imbalance for uke, that he accepts to fall and drops like a ripe fruit falling from the tree.exterieur

Practicing outdoors

There is a moment in which it is particularly pleasant to practice the stick, and this is when you are outside, in the open air.

And the time for this is the summer workshops, which we have organized for almost thirty years at Mas d’Azil, in Ariège. There we are lucky enough to be able to change an old gym, practically unused, into a wonderful dojo, in the course of several pleasant working days. Since it’s next to a soccer field, we can go outside to practice weapons.

I know that practitioners are then very happy to practice outside the tatami mats.The space is so much bigger that we can rediscover the dimensions that the old arts required.

After having been confined to an enclosed space, the whole point of these open air sessions is to expand physically: no more ceiling, no more walls, no more limits. It is the moment when everyone can experience different dimensions, the ideal moment to try, in this space, to feel further.

Practicing outside, whilst we are used to the uniformity of the tatami mats, is a constraint for the entire body: the ground is no longer that flat, there are some holes, some bumps, all movements, taisabaki, and obviously the falls or the immobilizations become more difficult.The speed of the attacks is often reduced due to the unusual conditions. But in turn, when we practice on the tatami mats again, everything becomes easier: one has gained skill, speed, strength in the legs, and balance that one didn’t have before.

We then take the opportunity to practice with many people, three, four, six, or even up to eight attackers (one tori and seven ukes) who, in the respect of our Art and with no competitive spirit, try to reach out and put the one in the center in danger. No need to pretend it’s a movie: we are neither samurai nor secret agents whom nothing can stop. It’s about moving more and better than we usually do, feeling the movement of our sphere, the gaps in it and the risks there are of having an impact in those places.

The importance is not given to a perfect technical skill, whether in defense or in attack, but much more to the sensation of the other people’s movement, to distance, to the energy that one can throw.

Such a wide space allows circumferences of about eight or ten meters, sometimes. In circular movements Tori’s gaze, with its intensity and precise direction, relays the power and speed of the stick. This alone is sometimes enough to create the right conditions for a reply, a correct move.

I don’t know if I am well understood: it is a game in which all participants, from the very beginner to the most experienced, have their own role depending on their level. The six or eight attackers will moderate the power and speed of the attacks (tsuki, shomen, yokomen) according to this.

Each of them seeks the right position so as to find the weak point, the speed of approach, the right angle.plusieurs-attaquants

The attacks are as much as possible genuine attacks, but they are always done without violence and even if possible not too fast, in any case not hastily.

It is important in this type of work to be careful not to block or corner the one in the center, so as not to drive him into a spiral of fear that would lead to aggressiveness, but on the contrary to help him come out of his imprisonment, both physical and mental, and to allow him to develop his potential.The summer workshop lasts for two weeks and is very concentrated: two Aikido sessions, two Katsugen undo sessions and one weapon session every day. It means seven or eight working hours per day, about fifty hours a week. That’s why we need this kind of work with the Jo, enabling bodies to unwind, to open out and find another dimension.

Sticks spin, spaces move about, bodies which are at times weary stretch. The atmosphere remains peaceful, sometimes even cheerful, but accuracy is there.

Men, women, children of all ages, in the respect of the specificities of each of them.

The sensitivity of the foetus

However, a clarification: pregnant women sometimes practice until the very last moment in our School. But since the beginning of their pregnancy we pay particular attention to the fact that being in such a special state, even if of course we never touch the body with the stick, it’s forbidden to do tsuki in the direction of the womb. Regardless of the risk of accident, to which we always pay a lot of attention. The point is not to direct the ki in that way, in other words with “the intention to hit”. Such a directed and guided ki would be instinctively recorded as dangerous and felt by the mother, and most of all by the baby, who is nothing but sensitivity, as an aggression, to the point of risking to cause at least a fear, or a contraction that would harm his good development. When we work on tsuki strokes, pregnant women step aside and watch, but do not participate.

A centripetal force can become a centrifugal force

Sometimes we work with Jo against Bokken. The point then is, precisely because the weapons are different, to understand on the one hand the way to use them and on the other hand their limits and capabilities, without forgetting that behind all this there is a human being. At other times, it is only uke who has a weapon. A stick, a Bokken, can be frightening if you have no weapon.You don’t know in which direction it will start, men, yokomen, tsuki, you cannot stop the stroke with a simple wave of your hand. Only by dodging, doing taisabaki, can you avoid the shock. Taking hold of the stick or of the Bokken, is then one of the chances to stop the attack, to transform it and make it harmless, so that we can use its energy in the opposite direction or divert it towards another direction. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see, to feel how for example a centripetal force, when it gets in contact with a centre, can turn into a centrifugal force so that it is driven towards the outside. What do we mean by “stopping the spear”1 ? The real point is not a question of winning or losing but rather of changing the system, of allowing something else to arise, and for this, the knowledge of the partner, the understanding between both partners is essential.

In every person there are some good and some bad sides, some good and some bad habits: all of this has to be guided towards harmony. Harmony is at the origin of our life, the thing is to get back to what is natural and always there deep inside every individual. That is, for me, the way of Aikido.

Our horizon can light up if we understand better the words of O Sensei Ueshiba, transmitted by my Master Itsuo Tsuda in his teaching and through his nine books. These words didn’t remain a dead letter; on the contrary they have come to life, once more, and continue through those who are willing to follow this path.

Article by Régis Soavi on the subject of the Aîkido stick (Aïkijo), published in Dragon Magazine (special Aikido n° 13) in July 2016.

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1Budō may be originally understood as «the way to stop the spear».

Ame no Ukihashi Ken, le sabre qui relie le ciel et la terre

Par Régis Soavi

pousse_bokken_tsudaDans la pratique de l’Aïkido j’ai toujours aimé le ken. Le sabre, comme le Kyudo tel qu’en parle Herrigel dans son livre sur l’art du tir à l’arc, est une extension du corps humain, une voie pour la réalisation de l’être. Dans notre École le premier acte au tout début de la séance est un salut avec le bokken devant la calligraphie. Chaque matin, après avoir revêtu mon kimono et pris quelques minutes de méditation à l’angle du dojo, je commence la pratique respiratoire par ce salut vers la calligraphie. C’est pour moi indispensable de m’harmoniser avec ce qui m’entoure, avec l’univers.
Le simple fait de respirer profondément en levant le bokken devant le tokonoma, avec une calligraphie, un ikebana, change la nature de la séance.
Il s’agit, pour moi, de réaliser Ame no Ukihashi1, le pont flottant céleste, ce qui relie l’humain et ce qui l’entoure, le conscient et l’inconscient, le visible et l’invisible.
Pendant toute la pratique respiratoire, la première partie de la séance, mon bokken est à mon coté, le même bokken depuis quarante ans. Il est comme un ami, une vieille connaissance. Offert par une femme simple et généreuse qui s’occupait des ventes à la boutique quand j’étais un jeune enseignant d’Aïkido au dojo de Maître Plée rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève.

Mon étude du sabre

Itsuo Tsuda n’a jamais enseigné le ken. Évidemment il l’utilisait lui aussi pour le salut devant le tokonoma en début de séance et ensuite lorsque nous faisions la course en cercle autour de lui sur les tatamis avant de nous mettre en rang pour regarder la démonstration. Sinon il l’utilisait surtout pour les démonstrations de la poussée du bokken avec deux partenaires, comme il l’avait vu faire par O Senseï Morihei Ueshiba.
De fait, je ne fais pas de séparation entre Aïkido à mains nues, avec bokken ou avec jo. Ce qui compte le plus c’est à mon avis la fusion avec la respiration du partenaire. Cet autre si différent et pourtant si proche, et même, parfois, si dangereux.
Mes racines principales concernant les armes viennent de ce que j’ai appris avec Tatsuzawa Senseï. C’est ce qui m’a le plus influencé. Dans les années soixante-dix j’avais commencé à pratiquer le Hakko Ryu jujutsu avec Maître Maroteaux. Puis j’ai travaillé les armes à l’Institut Noro où il y avait des cours spécifiques et lors des stages avec Tamura Senseï et Sugano Senseï, ce travail faisait partie de l’Aïkido. Ce que Tatsuzawa Senseï m’a montré c’est une koryu (école ancienne), c’est autre chose. À Paris pour ses études, ce jeune japonais (nous avions tous deux une vingtaine d’années) s’est présenté un soir à l’improviste dans le dojo où j’enseignais l’Aïkido. Alors on a commencé à échanger : il pratiquait l’Aïkido avec moi et me montrait des techniques de l’École de sa famille que l’on travaillait un certain nombre d’heures par semaine, peut-être quatre ou cinq heures, pendant environ deux ans.

On pratiquait beaucoup le Iaïjutsu, et le Bojutsu2 aussi. Les techniques qu’il m’avait montrées m’ont marqué par leur extrême précision. Il était le jeune maître de l’École de sa famille, Jigo Ryu. À l’époque je ne connaissait même pas le nom de cette école. Aujourd’hui, il est devenu un senseï important, il est également le 19ème maître de Bushuden Kiraku Ryu, une école qui a plus de quatre siècles d’existence.
Il y a une réalité dans les armes qui peut manquer à la pratique de l’Aïkido tel qu’il est parfois enseigné aujourd’hui et risque de devenir alors une espèce de danse. Ou alors on essaye de tester celui qui est en face en y mettant trop de résistance et ça tourne à la bagarre.
Avec Tatsuzawa Senseï, il y avait une respiration. Une respiration qui n’était pas la même que celle que je trouvais chez Tsuda Senseï, mais il y avait quelque chose et j’aimais ce qu’il enseignait. C’était quelque chose de tellement fin, de tellement précis, de tellement beau que j’ai eu le désir d’en faire profiter mes élèves. Et pendant des années, lorsque je faisais des stages, je disais : « Ce que je viens de montrer est une technique de l’École de Tatsuzawa Senseï ». Progressivement ces deux ciels, l’enseignement de Tatsuzawa Senseï, et le travail sur la respiration avec Tsuda Senseï, m’ont amené à donner ce nom à ce que je découvrais moi-même, Ame no Ukihashi Ken, le sabre qui relie le ciel et la terre, le conscient et l’inconscient, le volontaire et l’involontaire.
Avec Tatsuzawa Senseï nous ne nous sommes plus vus pendant trente ans, et c’est lors d’un voyage au Japon, que nous nous sommes retrouvés ! C’est ainsi que depuis dix ans mes élèves travaillent l’art du Bushuden Kiraku Ryu avec lui et un de ses élèves, Saï Senseï. C’est pour nous une façon de mieux comprendre les origines des techniques que nous utilisons, c’est une recherche historique qui nous permet de découvrir le chemin parcouru par O Senseï Ueshiba.regis_soavi_baton

Un principe de réalité

Pour Tatsusawa Senseï l’entraînement devait être réel, pendant nos entraînements dans les années soixante-dix, il utilisait un iaïto et il frappait comme un damné ! « Men, men, kote, tsuki, men, tsuki. » Évidemment a un moment donné, la fatigue aidant, j’ai pris le sabre dans l’épaule, je m’en souviens encore. Comme c’était un sabre en métal, il a pénétré de quelques centimètres dans l’épaule, trois, peut-être quatre. Ça m’a réveillé. Je n’ai plus jamais été endormi sur les esquives. Fini. C’était un réveil, parce qu’évidement il n’était pas là pour me faire du mal. Son état d’esprit, était de me réveiller, de me pousser dans une direction, afin que je ne sois pas un espèce de pataud endormi. Eh bien, ça m’a servi. En ce sens, le sabre peut nous réveiller. Un bon coup de pied au cul, vaut mieux parfois que mille caresses. Je suis encore très reconnaissant à mon maître d’avoir fait entrer la réalité dans mon corps.
Aujourd’hui où l’Aïkido semble devenir un passe-temps pour certains, je les rappelle à la réalité avec douceur mais fermeté.
J’ai trop souvent vu des parodies de sorties de katana avec un bokken, où l’on se contente d’ouvrir la main en guise de sortie du sabre (ceux qui pratiquent le iaï me comprendront).
Nous ne devons pas confondre le Noble Art du Sabre avec l’utilisation que nous en faisons dans l’Aïkido.
À ma fille qui pratique depuis toute petite l’Aïkido et adore le sabre, j’ai toujours conseillé d’aller voir une vraie école de sabre. Elle a choisi d’étudier, en plus de l’Aïkido, elle aussi le Bushuden Kiraku Ryu avec Tatsuzawa Senseï et le Iaïjutsu avec Matsuura Senseï, qui lui enseignent ce que je n’aurais jamais pu lui enseigner.
L’Aïkiken n’est pas le Kendo, ni le Iaïdo. La poésie n’est pas le roman et vice et versa, chaque art a ses spécificités, mais quand nous utilisons un bokken nous ne devons pas oublier que c’est un katana qui a aussi une tsuba et un fourreau, même s’ils sont invisibles. Nous devons l’utiliser avec le même respect, la même rigueur, la même attention.
Chaque bokken est unique, malgré leur fabrication souvent plutôt industrielle, c’est à nous d’en faire un objet respectable, unique, grâce à notre attention, à la façon dont on le manipule, dont on le bouge. Par exemple si on visualise la sortie du sabre en travaillant avec un bokken, on doit aussi visualiser sa rentrée. Petit à petit il se charge, on peut avoir l’impression qu’il devient plus lourd. D’ailleurs les élèves qui ont l’occasion de toucher mon bokken, de le prendre, ou parfois de travailler avec lui, le trouvent toujours très spécial, à la fois plus facile à manier et en même temps plus exigent disent-ils. Ce n’est plus tout à fait le même, ce n’est plus un bokken ordinaire. C’est pour cela aussi que je conseille à mes élèves d’avoir leur propre bokken, leur propre bâton. Les armes se chargent. Si vous avez un bokken ou un bâton que vous avez bien choisi, que vous chargez de ki, et que vous utilisez pendant des années, il aura une nature différente, il va vous ressembler quelque part. Déjà vous pourrez connaître exactement sa dimension, la dimension du bâton, la dimension du bokken, au millimètre près. Ce qui vous évitera les accidents.
Il aura une consistance différente si on agit de cette façon il sera alors le reflet de ce que nous sommes. La circulation du ki change le bokken et l’on peut commencer à comprendre pourquoi le sabre était l’âme du samouraï.
On se souvient de ces sabres légendaires qui reflétaient tellement l’âme du samouraï qu’ils ne pouvaient être touchés que par leur propriétaire. J’ai eu l’occasion de découvrir cela à une époque où, pour continuer à pratiquer et subvenir à mes besoins, je travaillais dans la brocante, l’antiquité. Je m’étais fait une spécialité de revente de sabre japonais, katana, wakizashi, tanto. Le fait de les côtoyer, car je n’avais en aucun cas les moyens de les acheter, m’a permis, plus encore que de les admirer, de découvrir quelque chose d’indicible.
Certains avaient une telle charge de ki, c’était extrêmement impressionnant ! On pouvait sentir rien qu’en sortant dix à quinze centimètres de lame si le sabre avait une âme agressive ou généreuse, ou bien s’il dégageait une grande noblesse, etc. Au début cela me semblait absurde, mais les marchands avec qui je travaillais m’ont confirmé la réalité de ces sensations et par la suite les discussions avec Tsuda Senseï leur ont donné la réalité dont elles avaient besoin.regis_soavi_bokken
Une arme sans respiration, sans fusion, qu’est-ce que c’est ? Rien du tout, un morceau de bois, un morceau de métal.
Tchouang-tseu, nous parle bien de fusion, d’extension de l’être avec l’outil, l’arme, quand il parle du boucher :

La fusion avec le partenaire

« Quand j’ai commencé à pratiquer mon métier, je voyais tout le bœuf devant moi. Trois ans plus tard, je n’en voyais plus que des parties. Aujourd’hui, je le trouve par l’esprit sans plus le voir de mes yeux. Mes sens n’interviennent plus, mon esprit agit comme il l’entend et suit de lui-même les linéaments du bœuf. Lorsque ma lame tranche et disjoint, elle suit les failles et les fentes qui s’offrent à elle. Elle ne touche ni aux veines, ni aux tendons, ni à l’enveloppe des os, ni bien sûr à l’os même. […] Quand je rencontre une articulation, je repère le point difficile, je le fixe du regard et, agissant avec une prudence extrême, lentement je découpe. Sous l’action délicate de la lame, les parties se séparent avec un houo léger comme celui d’un peu de terre que l’on pose sur le sol. Mon couteau à la main, je me redresse, je regarde autour de moi, amusé et satisfait et après avoir nettoyé la lame, je le remets dans le fourreau. […] »3

S’il n’y a pas fusion avec le partenaire, on ne peut pas travailler avec une arme, ou sinon ce n’est qu’une brutalité, de la bagarre. C’est justement parce qu’on l’utilise en fusionnant la respiration avec le partenaire qu’on peut découvrir ce qu’avant nous ont découvert de grands maîtres. Tous leurs efforts pour nous indiquer la voie, le chemin à parcourir seront perdus si nous ne faisons pas nous, l’effort de travailler comme ils nous l’ont suggéré. Une arme dans la main on peut découvrir notre sphère, la rendre visible. Et grâce à cela que on peux étendre notre respiration à quelque chose de plus grand qui ne va pas se limiter à notre petite sphère personnelle, mais qui va passer au-delà. Si on utilise les armes comme cela je trouve que cela a un sens, mais si on les utilise en essayant de couper la tête des autres, de les blesser ou de montrer que l’on est le plus fort on doit aller voir ailleurs que dans notre notre École.
Les armes sont le prolongement de nos bras, qui sont le prolongement de notre centre. Il y a des lignes de ki qui partent de notre centre, du hara. Elles agissent à travers les mains. Si on met une arme au bout, un bokken, un wakizashi, un bâton, ces lignes de ki peuvent converger. Elles ont un prolongement. C’est peut être plus facile quand on travaille à mains nues, ça commence à être plus difficile avec une arme. Mais cela devient aussi très intéressant : on n’est plus limité, on devient « illimité ». C’est justement cela qui est important, c’est une suite logique dans mon enseignement. Au départ, on travaille un peu petit, à l’étroit en quelque sorte, puis on essaye d’aller plus grand, d’aller au-delà tout en partant de notre centre. Parfois, il y a des coupures, le ki ne passe pas à l’épaule, au coude, au poignet, aux doigts. Parfois le bokken devient comme le bâton d’une marionnette guignol frappant le gendarme, alors ça n’a plus de sens. C’est pour ça que je montre ces lignes que tous peuvent voir. C’est quelque chose que l’on connaît dans l’acupuncture. On peut les voir aussi dans le shiatsu et dans bien des arts différents. Et là, on va au-delà. Si on pouvait les matérialiser par des lignes lumineuses ce serait étonnant à voir. C’est ce qui nous lie aussi aux autres. Ce qui nous permet de comprendre l’autre. Ce sont des lignes liées au corps, pas uniquement au corps matériel, mais au corps dans son ensemble tant physique que kokoro. C’est ce qu’il y a de subtil, d’immatériel, qui est lié, il n’y a pas de différence.


Dans notre École nous pratiquons cet art qu’est le Seitai-do, la voie du Seitai. Cet art qui comprend entre autre le Katsugen undo (Mouvement régénérateur suivant la terminologie d’Itsuo Tsuda) nous permet de retrouver tant au niveau de l’involontaire que de l’intuition une qualité de réponse peu habituelle.
Il réveille l’instinct « animal » dans le bon sens du terme un peu comme lorsque nous étions des enfants, joueurs ou même parfois turbulents mais sans réelle agressivité, et qui prennent la vie comme un jeu avec tout le sérieux que cela impose.
C’est grâce à cet art que j’ai découvert l’intermission respiratoire, cet espace temps entre inspire et expire, et entre expire et inspire. Ce moment infinitésimal presque indécelable pendant lequel le corps ne peux pas réagir. C’est dans un de ces moments que l’on applique la technique seitai. Au début il est difficile de le percevoir et encore plus d’agir exactement à ce moment là, très précisément. Pourtant petit à petit on ressent cet espace de façon très claire on a l’impression qu’il s’élargit, et de fait on a l’impression que le temps s’écoule de manière différente comme parfois lors d’une chute ou d’un accident. On peut se demander quel rapport il y a avec le travail des armes dans l’Aïkido. C’est que justement notre recherche est dans cette direction et l’anecdote suivante racontée par Tsuda Senseï est révélatrice.

Un niveau trop élevé

Haruchika Noguchi Senseï le créateur du Seitai lorsqu’il était encore jeune voulut pratiquer le Kendo, il s’inscrivit dans un dojo pour apprendre cet art. Après les préparatifs d’usage il a devant lui un kendoka. À peine l’autre leva son shinaï au dessus de sa tète, que Noguchi Senseï le toucha à la gorge, bien que ne connaissant aucune technique. L’enseignant lui envoya un pratiquant plus avancé, même résultat, on lui mit un sixième dan en face : pas mieux. Le maître lui demanda s’il avait déjà fait du Kendo : « Pas du tout » répond-il « je pique au moment de l’intermission respiratoire, c’est tout. » « Vous avez déjà atteint un niveau trop élevé Senseï. » dit-il. C’est ainsi que Noguchi Senseï ne put jamais apprendre le Kendo.
Pratiquer l’Aïkido à mains nues, pratiquer l’Aïkiken, utiliser le jo, le bo, pratiquer les koryu ou tout autre art comme Itsuo Tsuda lui-même qui faisait la récitation de Nô, l’essentiel n’est pas dans la technique, mais dans l’art lui-même et son enseignement qui doit permettre la réalisation de l’individu. Tsuda Senseï citant les différent arts qu’il avait pratiqués nous disait : « Maître Ueshiba, Maître Noguchi, Maître Hosada4 ont creusé des puits d’une profondeur exceptionnelle. […] 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. »5

Article de Régis Soavi sur le thème du sabre de l’aïkido, publié dans Dragon Magazine (Spécial Aïkido n°12)  avril 2016.

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Notes :

1 Voir le Kojiki ( 古事記) recueil de mythes concernant l’origine des îles formant le Japon et les kami.
2 Le bō est un long bâton de 180 cm manié avec les deux mains.
3 J.F. Billeter, Leçons sur Tchouang-Tseu, p. 16, Éditions Allia, Paris, 2002.
4 Théâtre Nô : École Kanze Kasetsu.
5 Itsuo Tsuda, le Non-faire, Avant-propos p. 10, Éditions Le courrier du Livre, 1973.

#4 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement

End of #1,2 and 3 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement  by Hiroyuki Noguchi  published in 20041.

The Philosophy of Kata

It is the way we view our own bodies – whether consciously or unconsciously – that decides which perceptual experiences we choose to value. In trying to achieve those experiences, we then establish the ways in which we use and move our bodies. In short, each and every motion made by a human being is a reflection of his or her own idea of the body. This is not limited to visible physical movement. For example, while it is true that our breathing is restricted by the structure of our respiratory organs, exactly what we consider a “deep breath” is determined by each individual’s view of the body. Similarly, while the act of eating cannot deviate from the structure of the human digestive system, it is our idea of the body that dictates exactly what feeling we consider “satisfying”, and when we feel we have had enough. And whereas our physical balance is affected by the force of gravity on the structure of our bodies, exactly what bodily sensation we choose to call “stable” depends on each person’s concept of the body.
Therefore, if a group of people possesses a distinct way of moving or using the body, it follows that they must share a common view of the body. The formal way of sitting in Japan, called Seiza, may generate nothing but a sense of restriction to most Westerners. For the Japanese however, sitting in Seiza traditionally brought a sense of peace to the mind. This way of sitting with both knees bent results in a sense of complete immobility. It halts the mind from intending any following motion, and in fact, executing sudden movements from this position is quite difficult. Sitting in Seiza forces one to enter into a state of complete receptivity, and it is in this position that the Japanese wrote, played music, and ate. In times of sadness, of prayer, and even of resolve, Lire la suite

#3 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement

continuation of #1 and #2. The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement  by Hiroyuki Noguchi  published in 20041.

The Idea of the Body in Asceticism

Hiroshige,_The_moon_over_a_waterfall_512With the arrival of Buddhism fifteen hundred years ago, the era of kings, symbolized by the great tombs, came to an end, and Japan was ushered into a new era, ruled by religion. As with the Meiji Restoration, the lifestyles of the Japanese people were dramatically transformed. Curiously enough though, in contrast with the Meiji Restoration, the changes that occurred with Buddhism’s arrival actually seemed to clarify the distinct nature of Japan’s culture.
Fortunately for Japan, Buddhism was not transmitted directly from India, coming through China instead. During its travels in China, Buddhism had no choice but to merge with the antecedents of China’s indigenous Taoism, such as the va-rious practices of mysticism including fangshu, and the philosophies of Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu. These practices, which were later integrated into Taoism, all involved ascetic practices for the purpose of cultivating longevity. Therefore the Buddhism that arrived to Japan was one already baptized by the Chinese, meaning that it was characterized by a strong emphasis on Taoist-like ascetic practices [Sekiguchi, (1967)].Lire la suite

#2 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement

continuation of #1 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement  by Hiroyuki Noguchi  published in 20041.

Perceiving Life in All Things

HiroshigeAmong the policies of Westernization that drove the disassembly of traditional Japanese culture was the calendar change, issued in 1873. With this, the Meiji government decided to abo-lish the lunar-solar calendar that had been used for twelve hundred years and replace it with the Gregorian, or solar calendar. Actual use of the new calendar was implemented only twenty-three days after issuing the order, and as such, caused great confusion amongst the general population. But more importantly, it had an enormous impact on the Japanese people’s fundamental sense of the seasons and cycles of life. The old calendar was commonly called the “farmer’s calendar” because of its close ties to the cycles of agricultural activities [Fujii, (1997)]. It was calculated not only through astronomy, but was based on a deep understanding of the life cycles of plants and creatures of the land, with further adjustments made according to observations of the heavenly planets. It can be said that the switch from the old to the new calendar was in essence a switch from a life-cycle-centered time order to an objective time order based on the Western science of astronomy.
The old calendar marked New Year’s Day at the first signs of spring, symbolized by the blooming of plum blossoms and the bush warbler’s song; the second month with the cherry blossoms; the third month with the peach. Time was kept according to the cycles of nature-life activities, which basically do not act in regular time intervals, as do the planets and stars. For this reason, a gap will inevitably occur over time between a life-cycle-based calendar and an objective planetary time order.Lire la suite

Calligraphy’s Exhibition in Rome

P1060390Tuesday, May 31st during the afternoon, we set up an exhibition of Master Tsuda’s calligraphy in the Rispoli library which is located a stone’s throw from the central Piazza Venezia in Rome! For the exhibition, the director of the library was a bit worried and she did not know what to expect. It is necessary to maintain current standards …

When calligraphies where placed, she was astonished and she said: « What finesse, what elegance. » And I would add what a breathing! It ‘s nice to see the calligraphy of Master Tsuda creating an environment in such of a place and where it is so unlikely to get in.
Lire la suite

#1 The Idea of the Body in Japanese Culture and its Dismantlement

by Hiroyuki Noguchi  published in 20041.

In four sections1 The scenario of death in modern society. 2 Perceiving life in all things. 3 The idea of the body in asceticism. 4 The philosophy of Kata

At the heart of a culture lies a certain view of the body, and this view decides which perceptual experiences the culture chooses to value. In trying to achieve those expe-riences, certain principles for moving and handling the body are established, and these principles then set the standards for the mastery of essential skills that penetrate through all fields of art, creating a rich foundation from which the culture can flourish. The culture of traditional Japan, which disintegrated at the hands of the Meiji Restoration, indeed possessed such a structure. The idea of the body, the shared perceptual experiences, and the principles of movement that existed in traditional Japanese culture were radically different from those that arrived from the West and have been blindly disseminated by the Japanese government ever since the Meiji Restoration. This paper discusses the feeble underpinnings of modern Japan as a culture built upon the destruction of its own traditions, and explores the possibility of giving birth to a new culture by looking into the structure of its lost traditional culture.

The Scenery of Death in Modern Society

There is a national policy in Japan that has continued without pause to this day, for nearly one hundred and forty years since the Meiji Restoration in l868. This is the policy of Westernization, which has led to the continuing disintegration of the traditional Japanese view of life and body, as a whole. By accepting this policy, the Japanese people did gain the practical lifestyles of a modernized society filled to the brim with Western scientific technology. At the same time, however, they have, by their own hands, effectively dismantled and oblite-rated a culture with a 2000-year tradition. It is still not known who actually instigated the most drastic social reform that ever occurred in Japan’s history; of which class they belonged to, or what their objectives were [Oishi, (1977)]. In any case, the Meiji Restoration was triggered by the opening of Japan’s ports to foreign trade in 1854, when the Tokugawa Shogunate, succumbing to military pressure by the United States and European countries, made the decision to end its 200-year policy of isolation. This decision by the Shogunate caused chaos throughout the nation. Samurai, angered by the cowardly stance of the Shogunate, rose in rebellion, while the exportation of raw silk led to economic turmoil caused by drastic rises in prices. As a result of internal and external pressure, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, then Shogun, had no choice but to surrender his power in 1867.
The new Meiji administration established an Emperor system based on the constitutional monarchy of Prussia, deploying State Shinto, a nationalistic form of Shintoism, in place of Christianity – the core of Western culture – and quickly proceeded to recreate the nation. While politics, economics, and industry went through reforms based on Western models, the policy of modernization. Westernization, and scientific progress would also extend to the lifestyles of the general population.
On the surface, this policy of Westernization seemed to be a measure for guiding the people of Japan to adjust to their new government, constructed in the short span of just two years after the collapse of the Shogunate. In reality, however, it aimed to reject and dismantle every aspect of traditional Japanese
culture through the unyielding glorification of Western civilization. The policy consisted of three main factors – agitation, go-vernmental orders and regulations, and information control – none of which permitted room for traditional culture to coexist with the new order.
It was the imperial and royal families who first adopted Western lifestyles, as though setting an example for the rest of the nation, inciting a sense of yearning amongst the people for all things Western. Thus the emperor – the symbol of Japan – came to serve also as the symbol of Westernization. The media followed, spreading shallow words glorifying Western civilization and boycotting tradition. Their slogan, “Bunmei Kaika” (the blooming of civilization), resounded throughout the nation.
Even the historically adored wild cherry trees were cut down and used as firewood all over the country, because they stood as a reminder of the former feudal system.

Hasegawa Kyūzō - Shimizu, Christine: L'art japonais, Flammarion, Public Domain,
1592 Hasegawa Kyūzō – Shimizu, Christine: L’art japonais, Flammarion, Public Domain,

And instead, Someiyoshino, an artificially created hybrid cherry tree, was prized because it was a product of “science”: it flourishes in most any type of soil condition, blooms gloriously and almost simultaneously, and possesses a sense of uniform beauty, where its flowers bloom before any leaves appear on its branches. But like all other artificially bred plants, the Someiyoshino has no scent; it did not inherit the intense scent of the wild cherry. And while the life span of wild cherries is said to be three hundred, sometimes five hundred years, Someiyoshino lasts for only seventy or eighty [Horibe, (2003)]. This uniformly beautiful, artificial cherry, deprived of scent and longevity by human hands, was planted all across the nation, and would eventually be designated as the national flower of Japan. If the birth of modern Western civilization could be compared to the blooming of a flower rooted in the soil of the traditional cultures of the West, then modernity in Japan is an artificial flower that did not come from any real soil. The fate of the cherry trees suggests the true nature of the emergence of an artificial and deformed modernity in this country.
Naturally, the destruction of wild cherries was only a small part of the monumental changes taking place. Perhaps the most significant of the Restoration’s destructive activities was the government order to separate Shinto and Buddhism. This act, which was carried out in order to establish State Shinto, triggered the anti-Buddhist movement, leading to the destruction of historically valuable Buddhist temples, statues, and tea huts throughout the nation.
Even staging of the traditional theater art, Noh, was prohibited after the Restoration, forcing almost all Noh actors to switch occupations or terminate their careers.
Amidst such an atmosphere of total rejection of anything traditional, the Westernization of clothing was popularized, first through military and government uniforms. At the same time, Western food culture was introduced through hospital meals, and Western architecture through public facilities. Wearing neckties and clothes with buttons, eating beef, drin-king cow’s milk, entering buildings with one’s shoes on such things never done by the people of Japan in its two thousand years of history became the first tests of loyalty imposed by the Meiji government.
The government proceeded to issue increasing numbers of prohibitions and orders to switch trade or leave public service. For example, with the decision to introduce Western medicine as the official medicinal practice of Japan, the government devoted enormous effort into eradicating the long-standing practice of Chinese medicine. Resistance by doctors of Chinese medicine was strong, and in the end, it took more than forty years until this effort was finally realized. During this time, in order to decide which of the two was superior, a hospital was established in order to gather data on the effectiveness of both medicines on the disease, beriberi. The result of the so-called East-West beriberi competition however, was an equal match, and conflicts between the two schools intensified – even lea-ding to the attempted assassination of Sohaku Asada, famous doctor of Chinese medicine and leader of the resistance [Fukagawa, (1956)]. Here is where we see the shameless sche-ming nature of the Meiji government’s policy of Westernization. A look at the newspaper articles in those days reveal series of irrational writings such as, “Compared to the ugly black liquids prepared by doctors of Chinese medicine, look how beautiful the snow-white powders of Western medicine are!” Practitioners of Chinese medicine were forced to fight such unfair accusations spread by the media.
The introduction of Western medicine sought to accomplish more than the Westernization of medicinal practices. It was by nature, an anti-Shogunate policy. For example, the preserving of acupuncture practices, which did not exist in Western medicine, seemed from the outside to be a salvation measure for the blind, who were traditionally relegated to this line of work. However, the practice of acupuncture recognized by the Shogunate was Japanese acupuncture, the system of which was created after a thorough scrutiny and revamping of Chinese acupuncture. So it was Japanese acupuncture that was prohi-bited, and those who practiced it were ordered to switch to Chinese acupuncture instead [Machida, (1985)]. In other words, the policy of Westernization was characterized by the complete rejection of Japanese tradition, and anything of foreign origin was valued and welcomed.
Students of various fields such as architecture, cooking, and medicine, were all forced to learn Western theories if they desired to acquire official trade licenses, newly required by the government. It was through the establishment of such systems that the government attempted to cut off the transmission of experiential knowledge and thereby end the tradition of the apprenticeship system. For example, by imposing the study of Western architectural theory – based on the metric system – on Japanese architects, the government effectively obstructed the passing of knowledge from master carpenters, who based their building art on the traditional Japanese scale system, to their apprentices.


The traditional architectural methods of Japan, which enabled construction of the world’s largest wooden structure with no less than a thousand years’ lifespan, were based on an entirely different theoretical system from Western architectural methods. Riding the wave of Western theory worship, the Japanese government, however, has continued to force the Westernization of architecture to this day, without due investigation or recognition of the value of its country’s traditional methods. In 1959, the government officially adopted a resolution proposed by the Architectural Institute of Japan, to prohibit the construction of wooden architecture. Six years later it issued an order that forbid use of the traditional Japanese scale system [Matsuura, (2002)]. Japan’s building codes promote the construction of concrete structures that are advantageous in making fortresses out of cities, and this is leading to the disappearance of wooden structures, born from this land and climate, which have upheld the lifestyle of the Japanese for two thousand years. As a result, the magnificent forests of Japan are now in deterioration.
Governmental control of information also occurred within the new educational system, established in 1872. With its curriculum constructed entirely on Western theories, the educational system became a stronghold for the process of Westernization. The biased education system, which again glorified Western studies, would lead the intellect and sensitivities of the Japanese people towards ignorance of, and disdain for, their own traditional culture.
Even such subjects as art, music, and physical education, designed to cultivate students’ aesthetic sensibilities – not to mention more general subjects – played a major role in dismantling traditional culture and spurring the process of Westernization.
The curriculum of art introduced the brilliant colors of the West, while traditional Japanese colors were thoroughly forgotten; their principles of harmony left untaught. The traditional Japanese rich sensitivity for colors is obvious when we look at kimonos or the traditional mountings used for calligraphy and painting. A book of sample dye colors from kimono makers in the Edo period reveals one hundred shades of grey and forty eight shades of brown, each with a name of its own [Nagasaki, (2001)]. The dye-makers’ ability to create such an enormous variety of colors through the use of plant materials is a testament to their superb skills. But more astonishing is the fact that clothes-makers and even consumers were able to distinguish all of these shades. To the Japanese, colors were something that seeped into the materials; they worked to enhance the inherent quality of the raw material. The new colors that arrived from the West, on the other hand, coated over raw materials. This encounter shocked and confused the subtle sensitivity toward colors that the Japanese had held until then. One hundred and forty years later, the result of such education is demonstrated in the vulgar sense of colors seen in the cities of modern Japan. On the streets, store signs and handout pamphlets show no sign of subtlety. It is as if the use of loud and flashy colors alone could suffice in imitating the Western sense of colors. Such education has surely squandered more than a few fine talents out of which excellent Japanese paintings could have been born [Nakamura, (2000)].


Meanwhile, music education disarranged the traditional concept of sound. The Japanese sense of sound was developed through religion. Sound created through deep and focused intensity was considered to have the power to cleanse impurities. The Ki-ai techniques handed down by Shinto priests and mountain ascetics, the chanting of Buddhist monks, and even the act of cleaning were all religious practices, or music, based on the mystery of sound. The use of the hataki – a duster made of paper and stick – broom originates from Shinto rituals, which invited the Divine by purifying the surrounding environment through the use of sound. They were not used for the purpose of achieving sanitary cleanliness. The sound of the Noh-kan (bamboo flute used in Noh drama) was for resting the dead, the Shino-bue (reed flute) for inviting the dead to visit this world. The sense of depth held by sound in traditional Japanese culture was based on a sensitivity towards sound that was entirely different from that found in Western music. Yet music education in schools taught only Western music, with its theory based on an equally tempered scale that is essentially an exception among all other music born on this planet, and students who sang according to the traditional Japanese scales were looked down upon as being tone-deaf.
Physical education likewise dismantled traditional ways of moving the body (explained later in this article), teaching only exercises and movements based on the mechanics of movement transmitted from the West. This resulted in the creation of great disparity between perceptions of the body held by old and new generations, making transmission of the body-culture from pa-rent to child unduly difficult. As a consequence, today there are countless adults who cannot even use chopsticks properly, let alone sit in the traditional form of Seiza.


The one hundred and forty years of biased education has forced the Japanese intellect to be utilized solely for translating, interpreting, and imitating Western civilization. Certainly, du-ring those years, Japan has produced high-quality electronic goods, and automobiles that were jokingly called “mobile li-ving rooms”, but those things have nothing to do with Japanese culture. They are rather simple expressions of the shock expe-rienced by the Japanese in encountering the modem civilization of the West. In other words, those things are copies of the image of modem civilization reflected in the Japanese eye. That strange and exaggeratedly soft car seat and suspension is a
simulation of the sweet soft feeling the Japanese people, who up to that point had never sat on anything but hard Tatami mats, felt when they sat in Western-style sofas for the very first time. The excessively pragmatic electronic products, filled with more conveniences than the average person can handle, is an expression of the impact felt by the Japanese as they were blinded by the brilliantly bright light of the electric bulb, after living so long under the wavering light of old Japanese candles.
The lengthy closed-door policy of Japan warped its encounter with Western civilization. Lacking any common denominators with modern societies of the West, the Japanese had turned their tremendous sense of disparity into glorification and worship, as a means of self-protection.
Since the Meiji Restoration, Japan has been quite successful in dismantling its own traditional culture. However, it has not been able to create any kind of new culture through the assimilation of Western civilization. This is of course only natural, for culture cannot be born from imitation and yearning alone. Blinded by that brilliant image of modern civilization, the Japanese were not able to meet with the actual culture, which gave birth to, supported, and managed that very civilization. In other words, they never truly understood the traditional sensitivities of the Western people, and therein lies the tragedy of today’s Japan. Of course, there is no way to transplant a culture. The culture of a country, nurtured through the accumulation of experiences over centuries of tradition, belongs to the land from which it was born, and to that land only. It does not permit absorption or imitation by another. Scientific thought, founded on pragmatism, objectivism, and positivism, which Japan so avidly attempted to emulate since the Restoration, must then also have been an inevitable product of the culture – the land and spirit – of Western countries. Japanese scientists who participate in international academic gatherings for the first time are always startled to find that Western scientists mention God without any hesitation during discussions. This is because in Japan, being a scientist necessarily means being a materialist and atheist at the same time. For post-Restoration Japan, science was virtue and also religion or faith.
Modern Japan has thus become an anomaly in world history – a pure product of “modernity”, established without ever possessing a foundation of true culture. It is a nation, in which experiments of the most extreme “modernity” occur.
After all, “culture” is nothing but the ability to make the world in which we live one of richness and beauty. It is the perceptual ability to convert and recompose objective time-space into human time-space. Through the discovering and sharing of this ability, “culture” enables the people belonging to its land to appear in all of their beauty. Yet, at the same time, it comes with the dangerous potential for self-destruction because, by nature, its existence and value cannot be perceived by those who live within it, those whose very lives are supported by it.
It is the scenery of birth and death that symbolizes, most directly, the culture of any country. The scenery of death in today’s Japan is a mechanical one. Its background is the hospital, where people are detained by life-support systems. Behind the closed doors of their waiting rooms, doctors call this the “spaghetti syndrome”. This is the scene we find in geriatric wards, where our elders are restrained with belts around their arms and legs so as to prevent them from their unconscious attempts to pull off the numerous catheters attached to their bodies. What we see here is not the sacred image of one gree-ting the final chapter of his or her life. It is not the image of transmission from parent to child of the final and most profound word, the drawing of one’s “final breath”, which throughout history was considered one of the most important activities in human life. In a mere thirty minutes after death, salesmen from funeral services appear in front of the surviving family. In recent years, merchants asking for organ transplants will arrive beforehand. It is this empty, “scientific” image of death that symbolizes our nation’s modernity, and this has come to be because modern society separates body from life, body from character, body from self. Our “freedom-loving” modern government may not govern its citizens’ lives, but it does govern its citizens’ bodies. While they do recognize freedom in most other aspects, not one “developed” country reco-gnizes freedom of choice when it comes to medical treatment. If our bodies were considered inseparable from the lives that we lead, then choosing methods of medical treatment, birthing, and dying, would naturally be an issue belonging to each individual’s ideology and thought. Modern nations, however, have implemented Western medicine, which considers body and life to be of separate spheres, as their official form of medicine. Thus, they try to control birth, medical treatment, and death, or in other words, our bodies. In Western medical science, the body is only a tool: a machine to be used by its owner’s will. Therefore receiving medical treatment is no different from repairing broken machinery, and death becomes merely the production of waste material. Hospitals have already turned into processing facilities for industrial waste, with organ transplants serving as part of their recycling business. Anybody who senses something strange about this mechanical image of death that is now the norm in the hospitals of Japan will realize immediately that science in itself can never become “culture”.
As we greet the 21st Century, perhaps the time has come to reconsider the disintegration of our traditional culture that began with the Meiji Restoration. Time passed can never be reclaimed, but at least we must come to understand our past to the point that we are able to genuinely mourn its loss. We should look back now at our lost culture so that we can move forward towards the shaping of the new culture that is to come.

Next chapter : #2 Perceiving Life in All Things

1Journal of Sport and Health Science, Vol. 2, 8-24, 2004. http : //wwwsoc.nii ac jp/jspe3/index.htm.

Images :

  • « Cherry Tree » from Cherry and Maple, Color Painting of Gold-Foil Paper Shimizu, Christine: L’art japonais, Flammarion
  • Stillfried & Andersen. Views and costumes of Japan d’après des négatifs de Raimund von Stillfried, Felice Beato et autres photographes. Vers 1877-1878.
  • Stillfried & Andersen. Views and costumes of Japan d’après des négatifs de Raimund von Stillfried, Felice Beato et autres photographes. Vers 1877-1878.
  • Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942, photographer. Arnold Genthe Collection (Library of Congress). Negatives and transparencies.

Out of dualism

By Régis Soavi

Soulevez le ciel puis repoussez la terre_TSUDA_WEBTalking about omote-ura as an Aikido subject immediately reminds me about yang-yin (in Japanese yo / in).

Nevertheless in the West the general trend is to perceive it as black and white; they are opposed to each other, divided between light and dark, categorised as positive and negative, like at school or even with sexist references. It’s very easy, we have habits and we do not even realise that.
The Tao is represented flat, to be more exact as a ball where yin and yang interpenetrate each other, but in fact each one keeps its own space: you, me, him, the other.
Philosophically we talk extensively on one or the other, but we forget the great Chinese thinkers: Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Li Tzu, or Sun Tzu, to name just the most famous.
Black or white, yin or yang. And what is grey? If we keep on thinking in a dualistic way, it’s a mixture of both.

My Master Itsuo Tsuda hardly ever quoted omote or ura, besides that, he rarely gave a Japanese name for what he did or showed. Fluently bilingual, he has always preferred French for his explanations, and particularly in his books he wrote in one go, almost without correction.
He could guide our sensitivity and make us feel thanks to the practice of Katsugen undo (Regenerating Movement), yuki, and particularly through his touch or even his silent presence, this non-dualistic world that he had come to help us discovering.

Discovering with the body

yin becomes yang
yin becomes yang

Aikido is a way of discovering your own body, I mean physically, concretely feel those fluids that run following networks with a  yin or yang tendency.
When during the practice omote or ura is mentioned, it usually refers to the whole movement, the tendency, possibly his ending.
The breathing can help us understand it better, feel, what it is all about. It is better to start working with a rather slow pace, if you go too fast at the beginning there is a big chance not to succeed.
The focus is on breathing, by following the inhale, then the exhale, you move focusing on the inner feeling, you can work on this kind of exercises with a partner, closing your eyes and remaining focused on the center. Arms for example open or close independently of our will, they obey to a necessity that comes from the yin or the yang.

Soulevez le ciel puis repoussez la terre_en action_ Regis Soavi_HORIZ-1_WEB

If you want to practice Aikido as the practice of the not-doing, all the work must be about feeling, you dig, deepening more and more and gradually something will move within us; and one day you will realize that you have overcome something. The wall that was blocking us, which resulted in a stiff or uncertain technique, and therefore artificial, completely unrealistic, it has dropped. At that point you feel free, extremely free.
The research takes then a different turn. The perception of the yin/yang becomes evidence. It is something that I find difficult to express in words, because everything becomes simple: gestures, movements, there is no mental action. It comes directly from the center, and then a great sweetness naturally arises, a sweetness that can be yin or yang, but very strong in any case, a powerful sweetness which has an effect on and knows how to act in harmony with the partner or the opponent, depending on the circumstances that led the one in front of us to act like this or that.
The tendency during the inspiration is rather towards an opening and thus is yin; expiration closes the body and its tendency is yang. Already just with the breathing you can hear, if you pay attention, the yin and yang, but they are only the expression and the direction of the energy that has materialised. The visible part, the one that the physical body can finally use, is ready.
When looking at the body, the front part is yin and the back is yang, although the front leg is yang and the back of the leg is yin: this is admitted in all schools, but the passage of ki from one to the other is rarely explained in martial arts, it often remains only looked at the surface.

Meeting Itsuo Tsuda, the practice of Katsugen undo and the discovery of the Seitai by Master Haruchika Noguchi were fundamental during my research and gave me an understanding of the body and its movement that was missing until then. Some areas that had remained vague in the teaching of Aikido, as the hara, have become extremely accurate with the Seitai. One can for example verify the state of  the « three points of the belly. » The first must be yin, the second one should be neutral, the third yang, positive and reactive. « The purpose of the Regenerating Movement is to regulate our body, normalize it. Regulate our body is not only necessary to make us healthy. Whatever kind of activity we practice, whether is calligraphy, or drawing or practicing martial arts, the first need is the one to start regulating our body, otherwise you miss an opportunity. »1

Non-Doing and non-dualism

In Aikido we let the ki arise from Seika Tanden, the hara (3rd point in the belly in Seitai), and its tendency is yang because it results from the strength that comes from the back, force that is not expressed in the shoulders, as we see too often, but naturally thanks to the koshi. The crossing point of this force, of ki that became yang, is the 3rd lumbar vertebra which is actually in a yin position in the spine. By visualizing the abdominal breathing one can tell that the yin inspiration inflates the abdomen and prepares the action which is going to be yang, and at the same time, ki goes down along the spine and permeate the entire body2. When the ki gets out directly from the center its tendency is yang, but depending on the circuit that it will take it will express as yin or yang. If it follows the internal circuits of the stomach and arms, the inside of the body, then it becomes yin, otherwise its expression will be yang. The resulting force will also be yang or yin depending on the moment when it is used. Of course, in a world that is not separated, time is also part of this unity. Although we can slow down or speed up the moment of an impact, for example to be precisely in the right place, at the right moment with the right breathing and the right ki, this cannot happen without the coordination happening in our « involuntary system”. This is precisely where the teaching by Itsuo Tsuda has brought decisive elements. To make us enter the world of sensation, insisting on the Non-Doing, allowing us to discover the non-dualism, he gave us the keys we can still use today, because they are within reach of all, as his books testify.

Yin et Yang

If we break down a movement like ryo te dori ten chi nage in the omote form, uke comes up with a yang force. He is in the middle of the exhalation, tori receives that at the end of his yang, yin has already expanded in him, it has become in-compressible, it will still expand and will ultimately overwhelm uke. Then it’s the time for yang to expand, you notice that because the arms turn, this time it is the dividing line between yin and yang that goes from bottom to top. For uke the movement started already at the beginning of the inspiration, unable to resist it breaks off and falls, like when a fruit is ripe and falls in the hand. In the ura form, tori must wait because yang is still too powerful, he turns to deviate the force but as soon as he gets his yin force back, it can use the yang force to start in omote or let the yin force continue its work until total envelopment of uke.


Similarly in kokyu ho, there are different ways to do it: either you project immediately the yang force or you allow the yin force to expand and at the end you use the yang. Again it all depends on the condition, the moment, the partner. The yang force is more direct, more interventionist than the yin force, but can easily harden people. The authoritarian fathers know this problem with their children and a fracture is often accomplished during the adolescence. The yin force is enveloping, sweet but sometimes misused, like some mothers do. They may risk to imprison their child and he will then struggle to get out of the footprint of the family cocoon.

Ideally when yin ends it allows the radiant take off, after the “ ark » inner work of preparation during childhood, a real detachment without fracture, like the ripe fruit falls off the tree at the right moment. The radiant take off is freedom without thoughts. The ability to be the own Tao. Simply the realization of being.

The body spheres

SPHERES_Irimi_WEBOur body is in between others with an external surface: the skin is somehow the material sphere. But we are not limited by the skin, it only defines the internal yin from the external yang, ura and omote. This surface is a sphere that has taken the form of a human being.

Beyond this there is another sphere that everyone can instinctively feel. It occurs rather in the form of a deform-able egg as needed. This sphere is often represented in religions, it is called Mandorle or Aura. It is the visual representation of a reality experienced by everyone, and kept alive in martial arts. It is also yin internally and yang outside with an extremely precise limit, it is possible to observe that what is yang compared to the skin it is yin compared to the energy sphere.

Irimi and tenkan

Irimi nage

When doing irimi for example, we allow uke to enter our yin sphere, he is relieved from his yang ki excess that had became hard and rigid, his terrain is normalised, we allow him to find an internal balance. Then with irimi nage we end up with a yang movement that will cause in him the desire to fall in order to avoid the worst. On the other hand with tenkan both spheres barely touch each other and only merge at the level of the hand. The Yang surfaces push, sustained by the internal yin, become strong, standing side by side, rejecting and sliding against each other.
If tori lets his elbow slide to enter the sphere of uke, then his yin movement will grow so to overwhelm uke that, once again, will fall to avoid the inconvenience of this turnaround.

In our school, the first part of the Aikido session is dedicated to a solitary practice. One of the exercise involves lifting the arms palm facing the sky to then lower them. Itsuo Tsuda told us: « Lift the sky then push the earth. « There are different ways to do this exercise. If we try to raise them using the yang the shoulders will contract, if we try to push the earth with the yin we will remain stuck in the middle of the movement. Raising the arms unifying with heaven (yin) and down in harmony with the earth (yang), it was this kind of work, the visualization that I started with my master and I still continue after forty years.

Allowing a conscious circulation of ki, improving our perception of this movement, of this sphere of energy that many speak about but only a few can perceive so clearly, this is how I intend my current work.

To allow the normalisation of  the terrain of those people who come to the dojo and give them visible or invisible instruments, conscious or unconscious to enable them to achieve independence, autonomy, inner freedom.

For this the awareness about omote-ura, as an expression of the yang-yin, is in my opinion essential.

Article by Régis Soavi about Omote-Ura, published in the Dragon Magazine (Special Aikido No.11) in January 2016

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Notes :

1. Abstract of the conference Regulate the body by Noguchi Haruchika sensei, translated by Tsuda Itsuo into French (trad. It. The unstable triangle, Chapter XIX).
2. Master Noguchi Haruchika, on the other hand, advocated the exercise Sekitsui Gyoki – 脊椎 行 気 法 or Breathing through the column that starts from the « second points of the head » and that allows the normalization of the terrain (the whole body, of course in a unified manner, physical, mental, etc.).

3. Photos by Régis Sirvent and Jérémie Logeay

spot workshop 2016

We are pleased to propose this short video showing the work of Régis Soavi . A work that he keep on doing for over thirty years , during workshops and in the daily practice . You can find all the dates of the next workshops on this page:

Subtitle available in French , click the first icon to the right of the video

©Ecole Itsuo Tsuda 2016
Prises de vues et réalisation Valentina Mele et Marta Andreose

Aikido demonstration

« Breathing, in my experience, is the very foundation of Aikido. »
Itsuo Tsuda The Path of less
12642888_741882999280519_8659533301302351964_nThe teaching that we have received and continue to receive allows us to experience that, when we are quite in our dojo, which is valuable because it helps, but even when we are away, as it is within us.
A demo session of Aikido was organized by Bodai Dojo, on the 30th of January 2016. And it was a real pleasure for all those who took part of it. Starting from from February there will be a session every Wednesday at 20 pm for those who want to discover the Aikido of the School of Itsuo Tsuda. The dojo that hosted us, and that will be our home for regular practice is a dojo where they practice Judo essentially. It is located in Francavilla, 250 km from Rome on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, and lies on the border with Pescara, where the dojo Bodai has already organized a reading with the presentation of the new Yume edition of « the Non Doing » and a workshop to introduce to Katsugen Undo.
Click on photos to enlarge:

Kokyu disclosure of the unity of being

By Régis Soavi

In one of his books Itsuo Tsuda gives us his views on kokyu:

CouvTsuda_PathOfLess_Mini“In learning a Japanese art, the question of “kokyu” always arises, strictly speaking, the equivalent of actual respiration. But the word also means to have a knack for doing something, to know the trick. When there is no “kokyu”, we cannot do a thing properly.  A cook needs “kokyu” to use his knife well, and a worker his tools. “Kokyu” cannot be explained; it is acquired.
When I was young, I saw a labourer working with his screwdriver on very rusty machinery.  I tried to unscrew a piece of the machine, but in vain; it was too rusty. For the labourer, it posed no problem; he unscrewed it with ease, not because he was stronger but because he had “kokyu”.
When we acquire “kokyu” it seems that tools, machines, materials, until then “indomitable”, suddenly become docile and obey our commands with no resistance.
Ki, kokyu, respiration, intuition are themes that are pivotal to the arts and crafts of Japan. It constitutes a professional secret, not because people want to keep it like a patent, or a recipe for earning their living, but because it cannot be passed on intellectually. Respiration is the final word, the ultimate secret of learning. Only the best disciples gain access to it, after years of sustained effort.
A martial arts master whom dogs bark at is not a good master, they say. The French know how to silence dogs by sliding a piece of sugar in their mouths. That’s the trick, that’s “the thing”, but it is not kokyu, respiration, which is something else entirely.”

Itsuo Tsuda, The Path of less, Yume Editions, Paris, 2014, p. 33-34.

I discovered kokyu with my master Itsuo Tsuda.aikido kokyu
Previously, it was to me just the name of a technique, with Itsuo Tsuda this notion became much more concrete, firstly by the orientation of his practice. He said: « To me technique is simply a test of knowing whether I’ve evolved in my breathing. » Thus our attention was brought directly to kokyu. There couldn’t be aikido and breathing. Aikido is breathing. And then, from his first books on, Itsuo Tsuda illuminates us in terms I didn’t knew; almost too simple and yet so difficult to achieve.

When I attacked him it was crystal clear, regardless the strength I put in he remained both, relaxed and powerful.
He made us use visualization to teach us kokyu. E.g. for kokyu ho he said: « It is the lotus flower opening. » Today few people have seen the lotus flower, so I speak of a daisy. Visualization should talk to us, directed to us. For it to act, it must be anchored in the concrete life of each person.

So sometimes to help someone to get beyond a partner that is holding the wrists to prevent him or her to move, I say, « You welcome a friend you haven’t seen for years, who steps out of the train, take him in your arms! » Then the person forgets the other and ki, instead of being coagulated, flows in the given direction, the person raises the arms without any effort. The power of visualization is colossal.

Sure, posture is essential, I would even say primordial. If the body stiffens to become an impeccable posture; it’s screwed. If it is too flabby; it’s screwed. If the third lumbar is wrongly positioned: it’s screwed. With the practice of aikido and katsugen undo I see that my students are gradually recovering. Ki begins to flow without blockage, without disruption, it is the discovery of unforced abdominal breathing, but clear and limpid, from the kokyu. In my view, without kokyu, all the work in aikido is only intended to strengthen the body, it is a work of hardening.kokyu ho régis soavi

With the deepening of breath little by little the needlessness disappears, we do not need to work on flexibility or strength, stiffness and our ideas of strength and weakness are leaving. So ki circulates better.
For this direction, the respiratory practice we do in the beginning of the sessions is important.
You can not teach kokyu, but you can guide individuals to discover it.
If we practice kokyu ho every morning at the end of each session, it is precisely to make people sensitive and also to improve our posture. As our posture and the way we behave refines and improves, we are able to help the normalization of the terrain of our partner. If you breathe deeply from the hara to the hara of the partner, you revitalize the channels through which ki flows, you enable these circuits to function better, and the other understands (feels) with his entire body what it is about.
It is not about looking at the demonstration and working harder and harder, but rather about being pervaded with this kokyu feeling of the other. I often say: to work on the kokyu we must start by listening. We listen to the other, not with the ears but with the whole of our body, we feel the breathing, the ki, of the other. It’s like a perfume. We listen to the inner movement, so the feeling becomes more accurate and we can guide him or her to a better posture, towards a release of tension.

It is also the work of senior practitioners to encourage this discovery. By bathing the other in breath, they help them to feel it, by dint of being soaked with « something ».

In the practice of katsugen undo Tsuda Sensei introduced in Europe, first comes the awareness  by the breathing, by the movement of ki. Tsuda wrote: « In the regenerating movement (katsugen undo), we do the opposite of the tradition: we begin with the supreme secret, straight off1. »

Kokyu is no more magical than ki is an energy. As soon as we launch ourselves into an explanation, even if  we let know that it will be approximately, big chance we blow it.
The ancient tales, such as those recorded by the Brothers Grimm, can show us an aspect of kokyu powers. As in fairy tales, it can transform toads into a prince or princess and grow people more beautiful by the simple fact of transforming their posture. This posture, the result of many years of contraction, weakness, or attempts of correction. When the posture finds back something natural, it is the return to the source, to the root of being.regis soavi aikido

The discovery of kokyu leads us to different behaviors in everyday life. This respiration, far from being seen as in “New Age”, awakens in the individuals’ daily life forgotten qualities, lost simplicity, and intuition finally found. It is what can be admirable in the work of a craftsman and an artist, but it is also what surprises those who do not know it. Because we did not understand nor felt what is behind this entirety in the performed act: kokyu is a revelation of the unity of being.

Itsuo Tsuda has guided us in that direction, leaving us free to go further or stay put. This freedom was fundamental in his teaching.

It is said that sometimes when the posture, the breathing, the coordination was perfect, Ueshiba O Sensei exclaimed “Kami Wasa”. God-technique? Supreme realization? Couldn’t we talk about kokyu or Non-Doing in the greatest simplicity? Like a child who drops a toy to take another, in the same way as he aspires us to take him in our arms for protection.
A small child has kokyu. “The baby is as big as the universe, but treated poorly fades quickly”2, Tsuda Sensei wrote in his last book. Isn’t it our duty to enable him to preserve it? And to us  adults, it to regain?

Aikido is not made for fighting, but to allow a better harmony between people.
I breathe deeply, I listen to the body of the other, in his or her body I visualize the flow of ki, I hear and clearly understand it, so I let ki passing into the body of the other. This circulation brings us fullness, the feeling of being fully alive, everything disappears, there is nothing but the present moment with its sensations, its colors, its music.

Article written by Régis Soavi on the subject of kokyu, published in Dragon Magazine(Special Aikido No. 10) in October 2015.

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1) Itsuo Tsuda, The Path of less, Yume Editions, Paris, 2014, p. 33
2) Itsuo Tsuda, Face à la science, Éditions Le Courrier du livre, Paris, 1983, p. 152.

Misogi du premier janvier

Les notes qui suivent ont pour fonction de retracer les origines et les moments importants de la préparation et du déroulement du Misogi du premier janvier tel qu’il se pratique dans les dojo de l’École Itsuo Tsuda. Elles ne peuvent remplacer la transmission orale et le vécu de la cérémonie, ce sont des indications, pas une marche à suivre imposée. Pour aider à pénétrer dans l’ambiance de ces moments, il a semblé utile de présenter ce texte en s’appuyant sur les trois rythmes de la tradition japonaise : jo – ha – kyu.
Voici sur ce sujet, quelques extraits du livre d’Itsuo Tsuda, La Science du particulier : « En étudiant le théâtre Noh, j’ai connu les trois rythmes : jo – lent, ha – normal, et kyu – rapide […] Jo signifie introduction, ha rupture, changement, et kyu rapide […] Les fruits poussent graduellement (jo), mûrissent à vue d’œil (ha), et tout à coup se détachent des branches (kyu). »

Origine et préparatifs (jo)

La vie des dojo de notre École est rythmée par plusieurs cycles temporels. Entre celui qui débute à la création du dojo et celui, quotidien, des séances d’Aïkido, on trouve le cycle pluri-hebdomadaire des séances de Katsugen Undo, le cycle saisonnier des stages et celui annuel du Misogi du premier janvier.

Lire la suite


A text by Haruchika Noguchi, founder of Seitai.

« The kokoro that resides deep within man, has invaluable faculties; its possibilities are so endless and inexhaustible that even if we put together all the ki and we make it concentrated we will never end being incapable or helpless. Everything begins to change, not just the body, when the ki focuses and concentrates in the kokoro. Those who practice it told me after the changes experienced.

kokoro haruchika noguchi
kokoro Haruchika Noguchi Haruchika Noguchi Photo: Seitai Kyokai

Many associate the word kokoro to willpower, but it in fact it does not have its own virtue;  on the other hand, instead of pretending to achieve something by willpower force if we simply visualize that we are going to get there, our wish comes true. Anyone knowing how to use his kokoro will see the realization of his wishes.

Since the dawn of time up to now, human being has invented countless things. Here is a table. It has not been around forever, it was created by the use of visualization. Visualization always precedes what will then exist; the word comes just after. If we proceed in this order, step by step, without deviation and with firmness, our wish will be fulfilled. Only then the various worlds in which humanity evolves will widen further. Mankind is like that.Lire la suite

Dojo Ryokan, Ancona

Ryokan, via Mamiani, 18/b, 60125, Ancona
tel. 333 44 999 42 – Email

dojo Ryokan Ancona

L’Associazione Ryokan, creata nel settembre del 2005 ad Ancona, è una Associazione culturale senza scopo di lucro. Questa è la forma che scelse anche il M° Tsuda per realizzare ciò che potesse avvicinarsi di più a un dojo tradizionale giapponese: un luogo riservato alla Pratica Respiratoria del M° Itsuo Tsuda, l’Aïkido e il Katsugen Undo (Movimento rigeneratore).

Il Dojo Ryokan si differenzia da una palestra in cui si susseguono corsi di discipline diverse. Questa particolarità permette di preservare l’ambiente necessario alla scoperta della pratica del “Non-fare”.

La pratica regolare

 AïkidoKatsugen Undo
Movimento rigeneratore

Il calendario delle sedute può subire variazioni.
La pratica del Movimento rigeneratore deve iniziare con uno stage.
Abbigliamento per l’Aikido : kimono
Abbigliamento per il Movimento rigeneratore : abiti comodi

 AikidoKatsugen Undole due attività
Tariffa per mese60€50€90€
Fino a 18 anni30€

Seduta di prova gratuita

Quota Socio aderente alla Associazione culturale Ryokan € 5 annuale, da versare al momento dell’iscrizione

Quota Socio aderente alla Scuola Itsuo Tsuda € 15 annuale, da versare al momento dell’ iscrizione

Dojo Bodai, Roma

Via R. R. Pereira, 169 – 00136 Roma.
Tel 334-8999061 – Email

Dojo Bodai Roma

Visita il blog del dojo Bodai Roma

La pratica regolare


 AikidoKatsugen Undo
Movimento rigeneratore

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

Pratica regolare
Aikido e Katsugen Undo 70€ al mese
Aikido 50€ al mese
Katsugen Undo 50€ al mese

per i minori di 18 anni 50% su tutte le quote

Stage Aikido e Movimento rigeneratore

22-24 febbraio, condotto da Manola Di Pasquale;

26-28 aprile, condotto da Nils Bronkhorst,

31 maggio-2 giugno, condotto da Manola Di Pasquale. 
Per iscriversi ad uno stage che si svolge presso il dojo Bodai,  scrivi a questo indirizzo Email.

Per conoscere lo svolgimento degli stage di Régis Soavi Sensei e consultare il calendario: vedere la pagina stage.


Come raggiungere il dojo

Da staz.Termini: metro linea A dir. Battistini fino a Cipro, poi autobus n. 990 o n. 999 fino a largo Maccagno.

Da staz. Ostiense o Trastevere: FM3 dir. Cesano- Viterbo fermata Appiano – Proba Petronia oppure Balduina.