To help us find out what the Nô represented for Master Itsuo Tsuda, and also for his students, these moments of recitation that took place certain nights during workshops, we asked Régis Soavi (student of Master Tsuda and aikido teacher for over thirty years) to tell us about it…
« Master Tsuda used to recite the Nô during workshops and if I remember correctly, he did it twice during the workshop – sometimes une time, sometimes two – after the evening session of the regenerating movement . There were people who were leaving, and then as we knew there was a Nô, because someone had said that, we would start to organize: We would place the rope – a white braided rope – that would define the scene. Meanwhile, Tsuda was in his room, and we would settled on the tatami a meter far from the rope more or less, and we waited for those last to leave- all those people who were not interested to the Nô or those who found it too long; at the end there was a small group staying. In general there were a lot of people leaving. Because it was in Japanese; Tsuda was not always telling stories properly, sometimes he would just say a few words:
« It’s Yoshitsune crossing the river, he is with the monks. » That was it, it was not obvious. On top of that, we had to stay still … Tsuda asked one thing only, that was to stay still and do not change posture during the time of his recitation. So we were crossed legged, or in seiza. We had to choose one of these two postures, and no other; He preferred we stayed in seiza, but he agreed that we were crossed legged, provided that we did not change posture: feet should have not moved at all, we had to be absolutely still .
So we would set in, and he would come out of his room and then advancing with the Nô steps, dragging his feet without rubbing the tatami: he lifted his foot, put the foot parallel to the tatami, then placing his foot, then he raised the foot, parallel and placed his foot once again … it’s really the Nô approach. And then he would sit in seiza; he would arrive with his book, and then he would open it.
And, with his book, he would began to recite the Nô, that lasted a quarter of an hour or so on. When he had finished, he would close the book, he would get up and set off again with the Nô steps back to his room, only then, we would moved. That’s how it was.
What else? Indeed it was always very particular. I did not understand the story. It’s true that we were always immersed in a certain mood, and we sometimes happened to smile, or feel like laughing, while he was still unmoved. That is to say that his face was impassive and we could not understand the modulations of his voice, . Sometimes we laughed – we did not laugh out loud, we smiled, we had a little smile, and sometimes we were invaded by a great sadness.
And sometimes he would explained before beginning directly the Nô. It was pretty funny because He would say: « This Nô made us sad. » by saying, » Oh, that’s because … – telling the story – it’s the sadness of Yoshitsune who is betrayed by his brother, and so, in this passage, he expresses how someone as noble and as powerful might have been betrayed by his brother. » And it was really hard. We really had a curious sensation by listening, just by listening to the sounds.
To be continued…