Archives de catégorie : Katsugen undo

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

L’état de santé selon le Seitai #2

Suite des entretiens ou Régis Soavi, qui enseigne et initie les personnes au Katsugen Undo (Mouvement régénérateur) depuis quarante ans, revient  à l’essentiel des thématiques autour du Seitai et du Katsugen Undo. Pour cette deuxième vidéo, c’est la notion de santé selon le Seitai qui est abordée.

Quelques informations complémentaires :

Le Seitai a été mis au point par Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) au Japon. Le Katsugen Undo (ou Mouvement régénérateur) est un exercice du système moteur extrapyramidal faisant partie du SeitaiItsuo Tsuda (1914-1984) qui introduisit le Katsugen Undo en Europe dans les années 70 en disait «Le corps humain est doué d’une faculté naturelle qui réajuste sa condition. Cette faculté […] est du ressort du système moteur extra-pyramidal »

Régis Soavi débute la pratique martiale par le Judo à l’âge de douze ans. Il étudie ensuite l’Aïkido, notamment auprès des maîtres Tamura, Nocquet et Noro. Il rencontre Tsuda Itsuo senseï en 1973 et le suivra jusqu’à son décès en 1984. Régis Soavi devient enseignant professionnel avec l’accord de ce dernier, et diffuse son Aïkido et le Katsugen Undo à travers l’Europe.

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Seitai et Katsugen Undo #1

Beaucoup de choses sont dites et circulent sur le web à propos du Seitai et du Katsugen Undo (ou Mouvement régénérateur). Dans cette série d’entretiens, Régis Soavi, qui enseigne et initie les personnes au Katsugen Undo depuis quarante ans, revient  à l’essentiel pour répondre à cette question « Qu’est-ce que le Seitai et le Katsugen Undo ? ».

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

Quelques informations complémentaires :

Le Seitai a été mis au point par Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) au Japon. Le Katsugen Undo (ou Mouvement régénérateur) est un exercice du système moteur extrapyramidal faisant partie du Seitai.  Itsuo Tsuda (1914-1984) qui introduisit le Katsugen Undo en Europe dans les années 70 en disait «Le corps humain est doué d’une faculté naturelle qui réajuste sa condition. Cette faculté […] est du ressort du système moteur extra-pyramidal »

Régis Soavi débute la pratique martiale par le Judo à l’âge de douze ans. Il étudie ensuite l’Aïkido, notamment auprès des maîtres Tamura, Nocquet et Noro. Il rencontre Tsuda Itsuo senseï en 1973 et le suivra jusqu’à son décès en 1984. Régis Soavi devient enseignant professionnel avec l’accord de ce dernier, et diffuse son Aïkido et le Katsugen Undo à travers l’Europe.

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” ».

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#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

#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.

Seitai-do ?

Récemment nous avons été interpellés à propos de cette phrase : H.Noguchi, créateur du Seitai et du Katsugen undo. Le Katsugen undo serait-il séparé du Seitai ? Fait-on du Seitai quand on fait du Katsugen undo ?

Notre École, qui s’inscrit dans la lignée « Tsuda », propose la pratique du Katsugen undo ‒ traduit par Mouvement régénérateur ‒ telle qu’elle a été transmise par Itsuo Tsuda dans les années soixante-dix. Itsuo Tsuda a-t-il volontairement écarté le Seitai de son enseignement, ne souhaitant transmettre QUE le Katsugen undo ?

Si il est véridique qu’il n’a pas formellement enseigné le Seitai soho (technique Seitai), tous les livres qu’écrivit Itsuo Tsuda parlent de Seitai. Tous sans exception.

Alors, Seitai ? Katsugen undo ?

Nous tenterons ici d’affiner notre positionnement et d’apporter des éléments de réponse :Lire la suite

#1 La respiration, philosophie vivante

respiration philosophie vivanteSix Interviews de Itsuo Tsuda « La respiration philosophie vivante » par André Libioulle diffusées sur France Culture dans les années 1980.

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Pour une écologie du corps humain

Décembre 2013, paru dans le quotidien italien « Il Manifesto ». Entretien avec Régis Soavi.

regis soavi aikidoAujourd’hui de nombreuses personnes avec toutes sortes d’idées politiques et d’autres sans idées politiques précises, se préoccupent de la façon dont leurs comportements individuels peuvent influer sur l’environnement : acheter des produits biologiques, de la production locale, mieux recycler les déchets, choisir des prestataires de services plus respectueux de l’environnement, réduire la consommation énergétique etc.

Au niveau du débat politique, malgré tout, la rhétorique écologiste fonctionne toujours, même en temps de crise.
En tous cas, l’attention portée collectivement aux conditions et à la qualité de la terre, de l’air et de l’eau est grande, pour diverses raisons, que ce soit par sens des responsabilités ou simplement par sens des affaires.

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Discovering Aïkido and Katsugen Undo, the Art of the Non-doing

What are Aïkido and the Regenerating Movement? How can we use them to live in daily life? Those are the sujects dealt with by Régis Soavi who was a direct disciple of Master Itsuo Tsuda,himself a student of Master Ueshiba and Master Noguchi. Article of Francesca Giomo.

About the Aïkido the only thing I knew was the name, before I was invited to take part in four sessions of practise of this « non-martial » art at the Scuola della Respirazione, Fioravanti Street in Milano.

The sessions for beginners were on mondays evenings at seven, with no theory at all, only practise. First one watched the technique being demonstrated by the more experienced students, then one « performed » it directly.

The Aïkido we’re going to talk about, the Aïkido I was introduced to, is that of Master Itsuo Tsuda, a student of the founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Régis Soavi is presently continuing the research started by Master Tsuda, teaching in several dojos in Europe, for example at the Scuola della Respirazione in Milano.Tsuda’s work, during his life-time, also included the Regenerating Movement ( Katsugen undo ), devised by Haruchika Noguchi, which is also practised, besides Aïkido, at the dojo in Milano.Those are the two practises Régis Soavi tells us about in the interview that follows.

– What is Aïkido? Can it be defined as a martial art?

L’Aïkido is a non-martial art. The origin of Aïkido is in fact a martial art called Ju Jitsu. Master Ueshiba’s vision transformed this martial art into an art of harmony and fusion between persons. That is why we no longer have a martial art as was originally the case, but a non-martial art.

– So, it was Master Ueshiba who created Aïkido?

Yes, it was Ueshiba, who died in 1969. But an important fact to be aware of is that at the basis of Aïkido there was Ju Jitsu, because then you understand how Ueshiba changed the spirit of it, with Aïkido. Aï-ki-do means way (do) of the harmony (aï) of Ki, way of the fusion of Ki. The direction he took in fact transformed a martial art into something else. In Aïkido, one cannot, for example, talk about defending oneself, but rather about fusing.

– Ueshiba is the founder of Aïkido, but the teaching at the Scuola della Respirazione refers to Master Tsuda.

Yes, Tsuda died in 1984. Through his books, he passed on Ueshiba’s message: Ueshiba was Tsuda’s master for ten years, just as Tsuda was mine later.After Ueshiba’s death, different Aïkido schools developed. Some of them chose to go back to a Ju Jitsu type of martial art, others have turned Aïkido into a sport. We are seeking to understand what Ueshiba actually said.

– Master Tsuda met Master Ueshiba rather late in life. Did he practise any martial arts before that?

Tsuda was an intellectual. He had never practised any martial arts. He had studied in France with Marcel Granet and Marcel Mauss, he was interested in Ki. He started his research in that direction and first discovered Katsugen Undo, then later Aïkido. Thanks to Ueshiba, Tsuda saw how one could use Ki in a martial art. He was forty-five when he started, without ever having done any karate or judo or any other martial art before.

– It is not easy for a westerner to understand what Ki is

Everybody talks about it nowadays. Just think of Taï Chi Chuan, Qi Qong… Everybody knows about it from a mental point of view, yet very few people have a physical experience of it. But that is something you cannot explain. It’s up to everyone to feel it, there is no explanation for it. We are not interested in explaining what Ki is, what we’re interested in is only the way to use it. It’s a bit like explaining what love is. Nowadays, one can analyse the smell of women, that of men etc… But that isn’t enough, otherwise it means we’re only animals… One cannot explain love, love is the meeting of two human beings and it doesn’t happen because the man has a beard, etc…etc… It is also like that with Ki.

– Since we’re talking about the practise of Aïkido, what are the different moments of a session?

An Aïkido session is a special moment in the day. I practise everyday, there is a sacred aspect one can retrieve in that. At the beginning of the session, there are ritual gestures: it is not important to know what they mean, but it is essential to make them, it brings about something. Also there is the norito (a text of shintoist origin recited in Japanese) which is a recitation of purification. Nobody knows what the words mean, but when the recitation is good, there is a vibration in it which is active.This may seem very mystical. But if someone listens to lieder by Schubert, for example, sung by a good singer, and doesn’t know German, he doesn’t understand anything, but as he listens to the singing, something sad or something cheerful happens, it produces an effect. It is the same if you attend a No theatre performance, you don’t understand anything, it’s in Japanese, but the gestures and the movements create effects. And this is not mystical but real.

– When we watched the part of the session towards the end, when free movement is done, the succession of attacks and « fusions » made me feel as if we were watching an improvisation.

Yes, it was in fact an improvisation.

– Does one need a particular technique to do the free movement?

Even though it is an improvisation, there are gestures which are a bit like a ritual. You cannot attack at random, but, in a way, it depends on your partner’s posture, let us put it that way.The « attacker’ »s gestures correspond with the posture of the person he is « attacking ». But in the case of an improvisation, as when musicians improvise together, there is always a harmony, otherwise it generates chaos. So one goes beyond technique and one creates harmony. Everybody can do it. Everyone does it at his own level. One does it more slowly at the beginning, with a technique one knows. One doesn’t invent anything completely new.

– What is the significance of respiration in Aïkido?

When talking about respiration in this context, it is Ki we’re talking about. One mustn’t think in terms of respiration through the lungs. It’s a respiration of the body that enables you to be more in harmony. When one is acting it’s expiration, when one is receiving it’s inspiration. When one starts practising, the pulmonary respiration becomes more ample. The whole body is breathing and becomes more elastic and supple, Ki flows more easily. In that sense, respiration helps making people more supple, it helps finding a rythm in the practise, because if someone is not breathing correctly, after five minutes he has no strength left. That is why one practises slowly at the beginning of sessions, to allow for the harmonization of gestures through respiration. So gestures become harmonized through respiration.

-At the beginning of the session, the master breathes in a very particular, very strong way, what does this correspond to exactly?

This type of respiration is done to breathe out completely, to empty. There is a very common and widespread deformation as far as respiration is concerned. In fact people nowadays have a tendency always to retain a little air, they don’t breathe fully. They hold their breath so as to be always ready to defend themselves, to act in reply. In the end, as they are never really empty, their respiration cannot be deep and their breath is short. So at the beginning of the session one first lets out all the air, in that way thoughts also come out. They become empty, new.

-On what does Aïkido have an action from a physical point of view? What sort of muscular response does it require from the body?

It’s the same as in daily life, normally you use all your muscles, in Aïkido also. It is true, though, that some Aïkido schools have been trying to make the body become stronger. Our School doesn’t want to do that. We do not want to become stronger, only less weak. The muscles don’t have to become stronger to do something special. In Aïkido, one moves normally and one makes everyday life movements such as running, turning, normal gestures which, however, are done with a special attention.

-Is it possible to transfer this « special attention » to one’s own daily life?

Of course, otherwise Aïkido is useless. Some people come here to become stronger, to defend themselves, but no. Aïkido is there to make people more sensitive, and therefore it is useful in daily life. One regains a certain suppleness. If the respiration was too short and high before, it gradually becomes calmer. Something that helps you in your relationships with children, at work… That is where Aïkido really is useful, in daily life.

– You always practise very early in the morning, why is that?

As far as I am concerned, in the Itsuo Tsuda School, I practise early in the morning but not all those who practise Aïkido do the same. I like the morning best because then one is more in the dimension of the involuntary, in a condition which enables the body to wake up and to prepare for the day.

– At the Scuola della Respirazione one also practises Katsugen Undo, the Regenerating Movement. What are its origins?

It was a discovery Master Noguchi made. At the beginning, Noguchi was a healer. He used to pass on Ki to people so that they would get better. But at one time he discovered that the human being’s capacity to cure itself was something inborn, which, however, wasn’t functioning any more, or not so well. It was Noguchi who discovered that when one does Yuki, that is to say one passes on Ki through the hands, people’s bodies move all by themselves and this enables the body to restore its balance. Noguchi therefore found that some movements enable the body to awaken its capacity to cure itself. This discovery gave birth to the Regenerating Movement or Katsugen Undo, an exercise which enables the body to rouse capacities it doesn’t know it has.
Tsuda introduced the Regenerating Movement in France and I took an interest in it because I found the connection there is between Aïkido and the Regenerating Movement. I realized the existence of such links, by the fact that when the body is healthy and retrieves its capacities, Aïkido cannot go in the direction of fighting other people any longer, on the contrary the desire to act in such a way disappears. So, the Regenerating Movement is very important, in my opinion it is difficult to practise Aïkido in our school without knowing it.

– The only way to start practising the Regenerating Movement is to come to one of the seminars you hold every other month?

During seminars, I give talks, I explain and I show the « techniques » which allow one to get into the state where the movement may occur. I come again every other month so that the persons who practise regularly may continue on the « right path ». A lot of people may very easily deviate, perhaps because in the Regenerating Movement there is in fact nothing to do, just be there, close your eyes, empty your head. Some people think it’s better to have music during sessions etc, etc… But the path is what is the most simple.

– Is the Regenerating Movement something we already have, but have forgotten about?

Not really. The Regenerating Movement is a normal human activity, what we have forgotten is letting our body live all by itself. We have lost faith in our own body, in our capacities, as if after a traumatic experience. The Regenerating Movement enables one to retrieve all that: if before there were things I couldn’t do, now I can do them. I have only trained my capacity for action, nothing else. It’s a capacity of the extrapyramidal motor system, the involuntary system. When trained, it regains its ability to restore its own balance. That is the capacity we already have. Even people who don’t practise the Regenerating Movement know how to regain their own balance: someone who is tired goes to bed, and while he is asleep, his body moves, that is the body’s capacity to restore its balance. The Regenerating Movement is something everybody still has a little, but the capacity to let the movement occur weakens and, by training the extrapyramidal, one retrieves it.

– What is the extrapyramidal motor system?

It is the involuntary system, which allows the body to restore its balance. But the Regenerating Movement also has an action on the immune system, which does not depend on the extrapyramidal system but is also an involuntary faculty of the body.
Our body’s movement isn’t something we can learn, we can only discover it and accept it. The Regenerating Movement has an action on many things, for example the capacity to maintain body temperature, but it’s different for each person, no movement is identical to another, no reaction to another, because each person is different.

-Dealing with people he doen’t know, the master needs to have a special sensibility to understand which movement each participant needs to do?

No, because the master cannot do the movement for the « student », the movement is something spontaneous, so everybody has to find his own movement. The training of the involuntary system must, to start with, give a free hand to the involuntary. So, during the seminar, I explain, I show exercises, I just do « Yuki ». I may sometimes help someone empty his head thanks to a few technique, but then the movement occurs all by itself. It’s the same thing as when a person is scratching, she knows where and how to do it, without anybody telling her anything.

– What does Yuki and doing Yuki mean?

Yuki means « joyful Ki » and to do Yuki is « to pass on joyful Ki », but that is an interpretation… To do it, you lay your hands on the other person’s body.

– We are talking about restoring the body’s balance, but the Regenerating Movement isn’t a therapy, but exercises which allow for something to wake up…

Yes, because a therapy implies that one is concerned with the symptom of the illness and that one is taking a responsability regarding that. It isn’t the case here. Here we just let the body do what it has to do. If people have problems and need something, one can do yuki and this rouses the capacity of the rest of the body. So it isn’t a therapy. There are therapeutic consequences, we can say that.

– Can anybody practise the Regenerating Movement?

No. It is not recommended to people who have had transplants, because if a person has had transplants, it means she has in her body a part coming from somebody else. With the practise of the Regenerating Movement, her body will tend to reject that part which doesn’t belong to it. In fact, people with transplants must take medicines so that their bodies accept the foreign element. The Regenerating Movement activates the body’s capacities to restore its balance, so it works in the direction of expelling any foreign element. It may be allright, though, if the transplant comes from the person’s own body, for example if skin has been taken from one part of a person’s body to another. We also refuse people taking very strong medicines, like cortisone etc… because this type of medicine goes towards desensibilizing the persons, whereas the Regenerating Movement makes them retrieve a more vivid sensitivity.

– How many years do you need to practise to conduct a Regenerating Movement session?

Talking about years doesn’t mean anything. It is the practitioners themselves who conduct the sessions. One year of practise is enough. Of course the respiration of the person who conducts the session must be calm enough, and she must be in the right state of mind, warm, simple, not disturbing for the others. In fact, it is only the practitioners’ involuntary which is at work.

-Aren’t there things that may happen during a session, on an emotive level, coming from the most fragile persons?

Nothing of the sort happens, because one finds out that the Regenerating Movement is really something natural. It would be like saying that someone who is scratching an itch is making himself bleed. People have tensions inside themselves but the Regenerating Movement doesn’t make them come out, it makes them melt. If something has no reason to be there any more, it just melts.

-To allow the Regenerating Movement to occur, one must first free one’s head from thoughts, have a blank mind, but how does that come about?

To empty your head, you first drop the thoughts that come into your mind. An empty mind means that if there are thoughts, they go away. The mind needs to be active in any case, but the thoughts are not important. At the beginning it’s a bit difficult, but after some time, you don’t worry about that any more and gradually everything goes without saying.

Article of Francesca Giomo, published in the webzine « Terranauta » on 04/01/2006.

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