Archives par mot-clé : mouvement régénérateur

#3 La respiration, philosophie vivante

respiration philosophie vivanteRetrouvez ici le troisième entretien des six interviews de Itsuo Tsuda « La respiration philosophie vivante » par André Libioulle diffusées sur France Culture dans les années 1980. A écouter ou à lire :

 

 

 

 

ÉMISSION N° 3

Q. : La France, vous la connaissez bien, vous avez travaillé, avant les années quarante, avec deux personnages extrêmement importants : Marcel Granet et Marcel Mauss. Alors que Marcel Granet était sinologue, Marcel Mauss était sociologue. Quels ont été les moments importants que vous avez vécus avec eux ?

I.T. : J’ai suivi, pendant cinq ans, le cours de ces savants, et ça m’a permis d’avoir une ouverture sur des aspects inconnus de la société occidentale. Mauss s’occupait de sociologie des peuples, chez les Polynésiens, etc. Il avait une optique très très profonde dans les choses, et il a constaté des choses qu’il appelait des phénomènes totaux, n’est-ce pas. Tandis que dans les sociétés occidentales c’est toujours analytique, rationnel, etc.

Q. : C’est ça, c’est dans la rencontre de l’idée de globalité.

I.T. : Oui… et puis, Granet m’a donné aussi la possibilité de voir la société chinoise ancienne, et avec une perspective très très différente de ce qu’on fait d’ordinaire : transformer tout, avec les raisonnements occidentaux.

Q. : Après cette période française, après cette période parisienne, vous rentrez au Japon, et là, nouvelles rencontres absolument décisives, celles de Maître Ueshiba, le créateur de l’Aïkido, et celle de Maître Noguchi.

I.T. : Maître Noguchi, m’a permis de voir les choses d’une façon très concrète. À travers ces manifestations de chaque individu, il est possible de voir ce qui agit à l’intérieur. C’est une approche tout à fait différente de l’approche analytique : la tête, le cœur, les organes digestifs, chacun prend dans sa spécialité et puis, le corps d’un côté, le psychique de l’autre, n’est-ce pas. Eh bien, il a permis de voir l’homme, c’est à dire l’individu concret, dans sa totalité, voilà.

Q. : Donc là, vous travaillez avec Maître Noguchi, vous travaillez aussi avec Maître Ueshiba pendant plusieurs années.

I.T. : Avec Maître Ueshiba, j’ai travaillé pendant dix ans avant de venir en France. Eh bien, il m’a donné la possibilité autre que… l’individu enfermé dans la peau. J’ai visité les États‑Unis, et puis j’ai essayé de voir les possibilités, ce que j’allais faire. J’ai commencé par écrire, et puis petit à petit ça a pris forme.

Q. : Je crois que “Le Non-Faire” a été publié en 1973. C’est le premier ouvrage que vous publiez. Alors vous revenez en France à peu près vers quelle période ?

I.T. : 1970.

Itsuo Tsuda, respiration
Itsuo Tsuda, vers 1970. Photo de Eva Rotgold

Q. : Et là vous décidez alors de créer l’École de la Respiration. Alors, “l’École de la Respiration”, voilà un terme un petit peu singulier. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous dire pourquoi une école. Finalement, ce n’est certainement pas une école au sens traditionnel du mot ?

I.T. : Non, pas du tout (rire). C’est le seul nom que j’ai pu trouver, pour faire comprendre aux gens qu’il y a toute une… chose derrière la respiration. Pour les gens qui ne sont pas initiés, la respiration c’est le travail des poumons. Mais là, le mot respiration prend une extension de plus en plus grande, n’est-ce pas…

Q. : Oui, alors à l’École de la Respiration on pratique le Mouvement régénérateur. Alors vous avez décrit le Mouvement régénérateur (Katsugen undo) comme un exercice du système moteur extra-pyramidal.

I.T. : Oui. Le Mouvement régénérateur n’est pas une discipline comme on l’entend d’ordinaire.

Q. : Le mot extra-pyramidal n’est peut être pas immédiatement compréhensible par ceux qui nous écoutent. Mais enfin, le terme lui-même, “extra-pyramidal” désigne en somme une zone cérébrale, par rapport à une autre qui est considérée comme le siège du mouvement volontaire.

I.T. : Oui. Chez les humains, il existe deux zones motrices, n’est-ce pas. Une, c’est le système moteur pyramidal, qui est la source de tout mouvement volontaire. Ça on l’apprend dans les écoles, comme l’entrecroisement des systèmes nerveux, etc.

Q. : c’est un terme de physiologie…

I.T. : … oui, c’est ça. Mais on a longtemps négligé l’extra-pyramidal, qui seconde ce système volontaire, parce que on a peur de sortir du système volontaire, et justement, Maître Noguchi a commencé à le faire. Eh bien lui-même, quand il a commencé, il était un peu surpris : c’est que le corps se met à bouger tout seul. Lorsqu’on croit que tout le corps obéit à notre volonté, c’est quand même étrange, n’est-ce pas ? Mais, à vrai dire, nous ne contrôlons pas tous les mouvements du corps. Si c’était indispensable, comment ferait-on pendant qu’on dort ?

Q. : Il y a toute une zone de notre activité qui est couverte par le volontaire. Mais le volontaire ne concerne pas toute notre activité. Il y a une zone qui échappe à l’emprise de cette volonté.

I.T. : Il y a un médecin japonais qui dit que le mouvement volontaire n’occupe que trois pour cent de la totalité de notre mouvement corporel. Mais pour Noguchi, il n’y a rien qui soit volontaire. Ça c’est (rire) vraiment fort.

Q. : En somme, l’action de l’extra-pyramidal vient se superposer en quelque sorte à l’action du pyramidal.

I.T. : Oui.

Q. : Vous avez précisé que le Mouvement régénérateur existe sous deux formes…

I.T. : … oui…

Q. : … d’une part chez tous les individus comme forme de réaction naturelle de l’organisme. C’est par exemple le bâillement, c’est l’éternuement, c’est l’agitation pendant le sommeil. Et puis il y a une autre forme, qui a été mise au point il y a à peu près cinquante ans par Maître Noguchi. Maître Noguchi, il faut préciser qu’il est le créateur de la méthode dite “Seitai”.

I.T. : C’est par un pur hasard qu’il s’est lancé dans cette carrière : c’est le grand tremblement de terre de 1924 qui a sévi dans toute la région de Tokyo. Il avait douze ans à cette époque. Il s’intéressait beaucoup à ce genre de choses, il s’amusait avec. Mais, toute la région était dévastée, et puis il y avait des gens qui, sans abri, rôdaient un peu partout, et puis la diarrhée s’est propagée, etc. Il a vu une femme voisine, qui était accroupie, qui souffrait énormément. Alors il s’est précipité sur elle, simplement, il a appliqué sa main…

Q. : … appliqué la main sur la colonne vertébrale…

I.T. : … et puis elle dit : « merci mon petit », enfin, elle a souri. Ça c’est le point de départ de sa carrière. Dès le lendemain il y avait des gens qui venaient le voir. Alors depuis, il n’a pas pu quitter cette voie. C’est ce que nous pratiquons maintenant sous le nom de “yuki” : on met la main sur la colonne vertébrale ou sur la tête, et puis, on expire par la main, voilà. Eh bien quand on voit ça, ça n’a rien d’extraordinaire. Seulement, à mesure que l’attention s’y concentre, on sent que ça agit à l’intérieur.

Q. : Et donc là, yuki c’est un des éléments de la technique mise au point par Maître Noguchi. Il y a une chose qui m’étonne un petit peu dans la technique que vous décrivez, c’est que le Seitai, vous le précisez, est une technique qui sert à provoquer le spontané. C’est peut-être un petit peu paradoxal ?

I.T. : Le Seitai, c’est un mot qui a été créé par Noguchi plus tard. Au début, par la force des choses il est devenu simplement… un guérisseur. Il faisait la thérapeutique. Mais, aux environs de 1950, par là, il a quitté cette notion de guérison, de thérapeutique, il a rejeté tout ça, et il a créé la notion de “Seitai”, c’est-à-dire terrain normalisé. Lorsque le terrain se normalise, tous les problèmes disparaissent d’eux-mêmes.

Q. : le Mouvement régénérateur, on pourrait peut-être provisoirement le résumer par deux éléments importants : exercice du système moteur extra-pyramidal. Cet exercice n’est pas véritablement une technique. D’ailleurs vous précisez : « à l’École de la Respiration l’on travaille sans connaissance, sans technique et sans but ». Et alors, second élément important, le Mouvement régénérateur est un mouvement spontané qui existe virtuellement en tous les individus, et on ne peut pas dire que le mouvement est provoqué, il se déclenche chez les individus.

Fin de l’entretien numéro 3, pour écouter l’entretien numéro 4 :

 

Superficialité ou approfondissement

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

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

Régis Soavi Aikido

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

Itsuo Tsuda aikido

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

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

Régis Soavi

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

Seitai

The Seitai principles, which could even be described as « Seitai philosophy » – a way of seeing and thinking about the world – were developed by Haruchika Noguchi (1911-1976) in the first half of the twentieth century. In brief (!), Seitai is a « method » or a « philosophy » that includes Seitai sōhō, Taisōs, Katsugen undō, Katsugen sōhō, and Yukihō. These are practices that complement, permeate each other, and form the breadth of Haruchika Noguchi’s Seitai thinking. We can also mention the study of Taihekis (postural tendencies), the use of the hot bath, the education of the subconscious, the importance of birth, illness and death…

An art of living from beginning to end.

Today, unfortunately, the term « Seitai » is overused and means anything and everything. Some manual therapy practitioners too easily lay claim to Seitai (Itsuo Tsuda would say it takes twenty years to train a Seitai sōhō technician!). As for the charlatans who offer to transform you in a few sessions…, let’s not talk about it! The magnitude of the art of living, the global understanding of the human being in Seitai seem far away. If all there is left is a technique to be applied to patients, the essence is lost. If all there is left of Katsugen undō is a moment to “recharge your batteries”, the essence is lost.

Haruchika Noguchi and Itsuo Tsuda both went much further than that in their understanding of the human being. And the seeds they sowed, the clues they left for humans to evolve are important. Can we then speak of a way, of Seitai-dō (道 dō / tao)? Because that is a radical change of perspective, an upheaval, a totally different horizon opening up.

Let’s go back in history…

The meeting with Haruchika Noguchi: the individual as a whole

Itsuo Tsuda met Haruchika Noguchi around 1950. The approach to the human being as proposed in Seitai interested him from the very beginning. The sharp observation of individuals taken in their indivisible entirety/complexity, which Itsuo Tsuda found in Noguchi, was an extension of what had already captured his interest during his studies in France with Marcel Mauss (anthropologist) and Marcel Granet (sinologist). Itsuo Tsuda then began to follow Noguchi’s teaching and continued for more than twenty years. He had the sixth dan of Seitai.

« Master Noguchi has allowed me to see things in a very concrete way. Through each person’s manifestations it is possible to see what is in action inside. This approach is completely different from an analytical one: the head, the heart, the digestive organs, a specialist for everything and then, of course, the body on the one hand, the psychic on the other. Well, he has allowed us to see the human being, that is to say, the concrete individual, in his entirety. » (1)

Illness as a balance factor

All the more as it was precisely in the 1950s that Haruchika Noguchi, who had very early discovered his capacity as a healer, decided to give up therapeutics. He then created the concept of Seitai, i.e. “normalized terrain”.

« The word ‘terrain’ meant as the whole of what makes up the individual, the psychic aspect as well as the physical one, whereas in the West there is always a division between what is psychic and what is physical. » (2)

The change of perspective with regard to illness was crucial in this reorientation of Noguchi.

« Illness is natural, the body’s effort to recover lost balance. […] It is good that illness exists, but people must avoid becoming enslaved to it. This is how Noguchi happened to conceive of the notion of Seitai, the normalisation of the terrain, if you will. Diseases are not to be treated; it is useless to cure them. If the terrain is normalised, illness disappears of its own accord. And moreover, one becomes more vigorous than before. Farewell to therapeutics. The fight against illness is over. » (3)

Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©
Yuki. Itsuo Tsuda. Photo de Eva Rodgold©

A path towards autonomy

Abandoning therapy also goes hand in hand with the desire to get out of the dependence relation that binds the patient to the therapist. Noguchi wanted to allow individuals to become aware of their ignored capacities, he wished to awaken them to the fulfillment of their own being.
During the twenty years they followed each other, the two men spent long moments talking about philosophy, art, etc., and Noguchi found in Tsuda’s vast intellectual culture the substance to nourish and expand his observations and personal reflections. Thus a relation which was enriching for both developed between them.

Itsuo Tsuda was the editor of the magazine Zensei, published by the Seitai Institute, and he actively participated in the studies led by Noguchi on Taihekis (postural tendencies). A text by Haruchika Noguchi published in the magazine Zensei of January 1978 reveals that it was Itsuo Tsuda who advanced the hypothesis – validated by Noguchi – that type nine (closed basin) would be the archetype of the primitive being. (4)

The development of Katsugen undō (Regenerating Movement) by Noguchi particularly interested Itsuo Tsuda, who immediately understood the importance of this tool, especially as regards to the possibility it gives to individuals to regain their autonomy, without needing to depend any more on any specialist. While recognizing and admiring the precision and the deep capacity of the Seitai technique, Tsuda considered that the spreading of Katsugen undō was more important than the teaching of the technique. He therefore initiated groups of Regenerating Movement (Katsugen Kai) in a great many places in Japan.

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

Itsuo Tsuda favored the spread of Katsugen undō in Europe as a gateway to Seitai.

Today, even in Japan, Seitai sōhō has taken an orientation that brings it closer to therapy. One problem: one technique to apply. Katsugen undō becomes a kind of “light” gymnastics for well-being and relaxation. This is far from the awakening of the living, of the autonomous capacity of the body to react that Haruchika Noguchi’s Seitai is meant to be.

The yuki exercise, which is the alpha and omega of Seitai, is practiced at every Katsugen undō session. Thus, although Tsuda did not teach the technique of Seitai sōhō, he transmitted its essence, the simplest act, this « non-technique » that yuki is. The one that serves us every day, the one that gradually sensitizes the hands, the body. This physical sensation, that is real, that can be experienced by all, is today too often considered a special technique, reserved for an elite. We forget that it is a human and instinctive act. The practice of mutual Katsugen undō (with a partner) is also getting lost, even in the groups that followed Tsuda’s teaching. What a pity! Because through yuki and mutual Katsugen undō, the body rediscovers sensations, those that do not go through mental analysis. This dialogue in silence, which makes us discover the other from the inside and which therefore brings us back to ourselves, to our inner being. Yuki and Katsugen undō are for us essential tools, recommended by Haruchika Noguchi, on the path towards “normal terrain”.

But time goes by and things get distorted, like words of wisdom of some people become religious oppressions… Little by little Katsugen undō is nothing more than a moment to « recharge », relax and above all not change anything in one’s life, in one’s stability. Seitai, a method to lose weight after childbirth… While it is a life orientation, a global thinking. The huge step Haruchika Noguchi took in moving away from the idea of therapeutics is a major advance in the history of mankind. His global understanding of the individual, the sensitivity to ki, sufficiently recovering sensitivity and a center in oneself from where to listen to one’s own body and act freely.

It’s not even about opposing methods, theories or civilizations. It is purely and simply about the evolution of humanity.

Manon Soavi

Notes:

(1) Itsuo Tsuda, Interview on France Culture, Master Tsuda explaining the Regenerating Movement, issue N°3, early 1980s
(2) Itsuo Tsuda, Interview on France Culture, op. cit., issue N°4, early 1980s
(3) Itsuo Tsuda, The Dialogue of Silence, Paris, Yume Editions, 2018, p. 75-76 (1979)
(4) About Taihekis, consult Itsuo Tsuda, The Non-Doing, Paris, Yume Editions, 2014 (1973)

Seitai and daily life #4

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.

 

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Health condition according to Seitai #2

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

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

Some additional information:

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

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

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

Seitai and Katsugen Undo #1

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

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

Some additional information:

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

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

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

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 –> https://www.ecole-itsuo-tsuda.org/en/bonjour-maladie/

Part #2

– How can one define Yuki ?

-Let the Ki circulate.

– How can Yuki help to activate the Movement?

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

Lire la suite

Hello Illness #1

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

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

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

Regis Soavi en conférence

Lire la suite

# 2 Breathing, living philosophy

respiration philosophie vivante
Here the second of the Six Interviews of Itsuo Tsuda « Breathing living philosophy » by André Libioulle broadcast published on France Culture in the 1980s.

Broadcast # 2

Q: During the second week we will talk more in dept about the books published by Itsuo Tsuda. All these works published by the « Courrier du Livre » in Paris, are currently six: « The Non-Doing », « The Path of Less », « The Science of the Particular « , a book with the title « One », « The Dialogue of the Silence  » and recently « the Unstable Triangle ». They relate to breathing and the field of thought in relation to it. […]

The concepts of soul and body has always been separated into clear-cut by the west. They have often talked about the elevation of the individual’s soul as much as underestimating the body, considered as related to temptation. If for Plato, the soul is cramped in its carnal envelope, a prisoner of the body, for a man like Itsuo Tsuda  the body appears to be the captive of the soul. A soul who constantly manipulates abstractions and cuts the vital impulse.The man more and more lives in the brain. The hopes of the society is based on the intensive exploitation of intellectual capacity in which it is seen the privilege of the human being.

But this hypertrophicity of the brain creates a gap that is the source of the imbalance between the sensations, the body as life, as energy, as momentum, and the world built, conceptualized cerebrated. Breathing is unification, return to self, if you release the separation body and soul, if the soul ceases to be an abstraction, then it is everywhere, it is in the body as well as outside.

So… « ki », the concept of which we gave already a hint during the previous broadcasting, introduces us to the idea of unity. This is what we will try to understand now. So, Itsuo Tsuda, it seems that the first step,  towards the understanding of ki, it is whether we feel the sensation. That is to say not to abstract it, not to imagine about living a sensation but really and truly feeling it.

I.t.: There is a principle we recognize in Chinese medicine, it is: cold head and warm feet. Currently it is exactly the other way around: hot head and cold feet. We do not even feel our feet. And the head heats up more and more. There is quite a contributing factor to it: this is Westernization. But we can not turn back. This is a trend that has been going on since long time already. But we also have the obvious benefits that come from Westernization. But if that is only on a material level it does not helps us, it places us in a precarious state as individuals. Individuals become increasingly prisoners of well-planned structures, they can not feel alive themselves anymore.

Q: Europeans elsewhere, you write, need to understand before acting. They do not engage immediately in action.
I.t.: What I am doing here, it is not precisely the same as what we would do in Japan. Often in Japan we do not explain, we found ourselves immediately into the experience path, it’s up to everyone to learn the lesson, isn’t it. Well, in the West this does not work. We need to understand first. But understanding is not enough. I have explained those people who were listening the explanation about swimming, but this does not allow people to be able to dive into the water. If we have not felt the first touch of the water, one can fill his head with all sorts of explanations, but it is useless.

Q: But people will perhaps argue about this, « but why do I need to be able to feel? Why is that so important for me? « 

I.t.: Well, this is the concept of « Seitai » precisely that one that Noguchi created after the war. At the moment people think in a dualistic way: « here – that is good, that is bad. We must fight the evil. When we have fought the evil, we will have the good.  » But in fact, we do not search this: we nomalize the terrain. That’s what he called « Seitai »: a well harmonized body. In the West we keep on finding the cause, we try to exterminate the cause. But as soon as we finished with the cause, here there are other causes that arise. But that’s the method that complies with this mental structure. But Noguchi brought this view which is quite different, which transcends all. If your organism is normalized, the problem itself becomes less important. In the West we say: there is such a problem. That’s a way of defining it, it does not change volume, it’s still there. We must attack this way etc.

Q. So there is in fact for the West an anatomical way of understanding, discursive kind, in which we distinguish cause and effect and in order to be able to act on a particular item. The concept introduced by the Seitai is a different concept. It is the notion of sensation. But this is the notion, if I understand, in which knowledge is not excluded. But it is another type of knowledge, intuitive knowledge, qualitative I would say, in relation to the Western notion of measure or quantification.

I.t.: The same problem increases or decreases importance depending on sensation. A bottle is half empty or half full. But the quantity is exactly the same. But the sensation is different in both cases. So just a little nothing can change human behavior. If one says, « that’s it, I’m done, » from that moment on one can no longer move forward. While if I say « I have already made three steps forward, » then Iam ready to make a fourth step, isn’t it.

Q. Do you not think that there is a notion that is brought by the West, which is about the total or the global but understood as an assembly of parts? With the quality we are also in something global, but without this assembly idea.

I.t.: In Seitai, we do not look at a person as an assembly of various parts. That’s the basic idea. A person is an individual, total, isn’t it. But everyone is different, in its movement, in his breath, in his sensitivity. That’s what matters to us.

Q. You talked about Master Noguchi repeatedly. Could we try to understand what the whole is, the unit in an individual through some examples of the practice of Master Noguchi, Noguchi was a therapist, wasn’t he. He is the creator of the Seitai method. So how is his job? What enabled him to understand those concrete things, spontaneously?

I.t.: For example, each one has its own biological speed, which determines the behavior, actions, movements etc. It is viewed in a quite detached way, objective, as per minute etc., etc., but for Noguchi, well that’s something concrete. Everything comes from that biological speed that is inherent in the individual. Without this notion of speed he can do nothing. But this…

Q: … so there, the notion of speed has nothing to do with the notion of rapidity, for example …

I.t. … no, no …

Q: … as we know it, it’s something else …

I.t.: No. We need to create the contact with the biological speed of that particular person. No need to apply a general and objective speed. Well, for example, there is a kid who comes while crying, he is crying because he broke his arm. Parents say: « It is impossible to touch him, he keeps on crying and crying … ». But Noguchi has already touched him. « Ah, ah good then it is because he does not dare to cry in front of a master. » No it’s not that. He touched him at a , biological speed, the breathing speed of the child, which is peculiar to him. At that time, the kid does not feel the contact, it’s part of him, and that it’s so important.

[Read extracts from books Itsuo Tsuda]

Q. You wrote that Master Noguchi could identify the individual through observation and by touch, something like the notion of an unconscious movement.

I.t.: Yes, for him, all the movements are unconscious hundred percent. We believe precisely the opposite. We believe we are the masters of ourselves, but we can not do much, and we try to hold us, to behave in front of others, etc. And then one day the brake is released, and then we wonder where it comes from. For Noguchi everything is unconscious, we are not masters of ourselves.

Q. Did Mr. Noguchi made a distinction between the unconscious movement and posture …

I.t. … but the posture is the realization of the unconscious movement.

Q. So the posture, it is observable by everyone … from the outside, without preparation, while the unconscious movement itself, requires preparation.

I.t.: Posture, if you think about the military way, for example, « Attention! » etc., so everybody tries to do pretty much the same. But when one is at rest, everyone is different.

Q. What is the relationship there between breathing and unconscious movement?

I.t.: There are some people who are breathless, for example. So when this happen, respiration rises higher and higher. So, people breathe from the top of the lungs and then finally when their breath weakens it goes through the nose. What we do it is to go lower, right, so we can breathe with our belly, or, if one’s wants, with the feet. Without the practice it is quite difficult to explain that.

Q: The idea of ​​breathing is a concept much broader than a simple biochemical deal. Breathing is life, it is ki …, the « souffle » , the soul …

I.t.: yes …

Lettres inédites #2

Suite de la  correspondance d’Itsuo Tsuda dont nous publions quelques lettres, avec l’aimable autorisation de Bernard et Andréine  Bel. Le lien pour lire la  première lettre.

Itsuo Tsuda au dojo, ParisIl s’agit ici des réponses apportées par Itsuo Tsuda, entre 1972 et 1979,  à un jeune couple qui commence à pratiquer le mouvement régénérateur. On suivra ainsi dans ces lettres leur désir de faire connaître autour d’eux, dans leur ville, cette découverte.

Cette lettre faisait suite à un courrier dans lequel nous faisions part à Itsuo Tsuda de notre séjour à Saanen au mois de juillet, au cours duquel nous avions fait pratiquer le mouvement régénérateur à un groupe de personnes – dont un grand nombre d’élèves d’Yvon Achard, professeur de yoga à Grenoble. La réaction du groupe avait été enthousiaste. La réflexion d’Itsuo Tsuda sur la tendance des occidentaux à tout amalgamer nous a incités à une très grande prudence. Nous avons eu soin de ne jamais emprunter ce terme alors même que nos séances étaient en tout point identiques à celles organisées par Katsugen-kai. C’est aussi à cette époque que nous avons pris la décision de ne jamais accepter d’argent des participants : « en famille et entre amis »… Andréine Bel
Lire la suite

Haruchika Noguchi

Noguchi was born in Ueno, a district of Tokyo, in September 1911. When he was three or four years old, to his surprise, he soothed another child’s toothache simply by putting his hands on it. His hands went towards the spot, without him realizing what he was doing.
This was the beginning. When he was twelve, he accomplished his first deed, curing a neighbour who had been suffering from dysentery since the great earthquake struck the Tokyo area in 1923.

From this age, he begins to receive people asking to be treated by him. At that time, he had no knowledge, not even elementary, of anatomy or medicine. Like almost all healers, he believed at first that he had exceptional powers that he alone possessed. In his teenage years, he begins to understand the consequences of his actions. He finds his own vocation but does not stop at that; he continues. He studies, through self-studies, all Eastern and Western therapeutic methods. At the age of fifteen, he opens a dojo in Iriya. At seventeen, he formulates the Precepts of Full Life (Zensei Kun), which helps to better understand his thinking. In 1930, he writes the Reflections on Integral Life, a surprising text for a young man, then only nineteen years old.Lire la suite

Unpublished letters # 1

mouvement régénérateur

The correspondence of a writer, a philosopher, often reveals itself beyond peculiar general views. Such is the case with this correspondence of Itsuo Tsuda from which we publish a few letters, courtesy of Andréine and Bernard Bel. It reveals answers given by Itsuo Tsuda, between 1972 and 1979, to this young couple as they began practicing the regenerating movement. Through these letters we will follow their desire to make this discovery widely known.

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.

Lire la suite

At the philosopher of Ki #2

Continuation and end of the article published in the journal « Question de » in 1975, written by Claudine Brelet (anthropologist, international expert and woman of French letters) and student of Itsuo Tsuda.

Part #2Itsuo tsuda Katsugen undo
Can one ‘fusion’ respiration and visualization?
– “Indeed, visualization is one of the aspects of ki. Visualization plays an important and vital role in aikido. It is a mental act that produces physical effects. Visualization is part of the aspect of ‘attention’ of ki. When attention is localized, for example it stops at the wrist, breathing becomes shallow, disrupted… we forget the rest of the body.

Lire la suite

At the philosopher of Ki #1

This coverage was published in the journal ‘Question de’ in 1975. Claudine Brelet (anthropologist, international expert and a woman of French letters) who wrote this press coverage and did the interview and was one of the first students of Itsuo Tsuda.

First part

At the fringes of Bois de Vincennes, in the rear of a garden in the suburbs of Paris, there is a particular itsuo tsudadojo. Dojo, meaning, a place for practicing the Art of breathing and martial arts. It is not a gym. It rather is a sacred place where ‘space-time’ is different from that of a profane place.
We salute when we enter to sanctify ourselves and when we leave to desacralize.Lire la suite

On the watch for the right moment

The writer and director Yan Allégret is interested in aikido and traditional Japanese culture since 20 years. He practiced in France and Japan and became interested in the concept of a dojo: what makes a space at a time « the place where we practice the way. »

Chronicle of Tenshin dojo of the school Itsuo Tsuda.

Tenshin Paris
6 am. People leave home and head for a place. On foot, by car, by subway. Outside, the streets of Paris are still sleepy, almost deserted. Dawn is near. Those outside have not put on the armor needed for the working day ahead. There is something in the wind. At the break of dawn it feels like walking in a twilight zone. It is in this gap we find dojo Tenshin of the Itsuo Tsuda school.
In this place dedicated to aikido and katsugen undo, the sessions are daily. Every weekday morning, a session at 6:45 am, on weekends at 8am, regardless the weather or holidays, except January 1, the day of the ceremony of purification of the dojo.
Dawn influence practice. At all times this porosity was considered in the Japanese tradition. Just read the « Fushi Kaden » from “Zeami », creator of the Noh theater, to understand how the traditional arts were on the lookout for the « right moment » (taking into account time, weather, temperature, the quality of silence, etc.) to perfect their art.
Walking towards the dojo at 6:30, we will realize, practicing in the morning creates a relief. The mental capacity is not yet assailed by concerns of family and social life. The mind has not yet taken control. We come as a white sheet at 120, rue des Grands Champs in the 20th arrondissement. The association Tenshin is established here since 1992. It was founded by a group of people wishing to follow the teaching of Itsuo Tsuda, transmitted by Régis Soavi. Itsuo Tsuda was a student of Morihei Ueshiba and Haruchika Noguchi (founder of aikido and katsugen undo). Concerning Régis Soavi the current Sensei, he was a direct student of Master Tsuda. The dojo is not affiliated to any federation. He follows his path, independent and autonomous, with continuity and patience. When passing the doorstep, we feel that we enter « into something”. A mixed form of density and simplicity emerges from the place. In Japanese, one would say, the « ki » of the place is palpable, the space is silent. People are gathered around a cup of coffee, accompanied by the Sensei. On the other side the space with the tatamis, yet at sleep.

A void at work
The dojo is vast. All the walls are white. The central tokonoma includes a calligraphy of master Tsuda. Portraits of founders (Ueshiba for Aikido, Noguchi for Katsugen Undo and Tsuda for the dojo) are located on the opposite wall.
It is 6:45. The session will begin. The mats were left to rest since the previous day. The space is not rented for other courses because of profitability. One begins to understand what this « something » is we felt entering. A void is at work. Another crucial element in the Japanese tradition: the importance of a linked emptiness.
Between sessions, the space is left to recharge, to relax, like a human body. You should have seen the place, naked and silent like a beast at rest, to understand the reality of this fact. Practitioners sit in seiza, silence falls and the session begins. The person conducting faces the calligraphy, a bokken in hand, then sits. We salute a first time.
Then comes the recitation of the norito, a Shinto invocation, by the person conducting. Master Ueshiba began each session accordingly. Mr. Tsuda, customary of  Western mentality, did not deem it necessary to translate this invocation. He insisted only on the vibration that emanates from it by the work of the breathing. Of course, the sacred dimension is present. But no religion so far, no mystical « Japanese style » Westerners are sometimes fond of. No. Here it is much simpler.

Beyond the combat
Hearing the norito, we feel resonating something in the space that facilitates concentration, the return towards oneself. As one can be touched by a song without the need to understand the words.
Thereupon follows the « breathing exercises, » a series of movements done alone. Master Tsuda kept this part of the work of Master Ueshiba that wrongly could be considered as a warming up. The term warming up is restrictive. It engages the body only and assumes that true practice begins after. In both cases, this is false. One movement can infinitely be deepened and involves, if you work in this direction, the totality of our being.

Then comes the work in couple. We choose a partner, one day a beginner, the next day a black belt. Any form of hierarchy predominates. We work around four to five aikido techniques per session. The Sensei demonstrates a technique, then everyone tries it with his or her partner.

What emerges from practice, is the importance of breathing and attention to what circulates between the partner and yourself. A circulation, when taking the premise of a fight as a starting point, that leads beyond. A beyond the combat. It isn’t no doubt by chance that Régis Soavi uses the term « fusion sensitivity » to speak about aikido. « The way of fusion of ki ».

The art of unite and separate
On the tatami, no brutal confrontation. But no weak condescension either. The aikido practiced is flexible, clear, fluid. We see hakamas describing arabesques in the air, we hear laughter, sounds of falls, we see very slow movements, then suddenly without a word, partners accelerate and seem drawn into a dance until the fall frees. We think back to the words of Morihei Ueshiba: « Aikido is the art of uniting and separating. » There is no passing grade. No examination. No dan or kyu. Instead, wearing hakama and black belt. Beginners, meanwhile, are in white kimonos and white belt. The time just to wear the hakama is decided by the practitioners theirselves, after talking with elders or the Sensei. To choose to wear the hakama involves to assume freedom, but also responsibility.  Because we know that beginners take more easily as a model those who wear the traditional black skirt. The issue of grade is turned inside out. The key is not outside. It is our own feeling we must sharpen, to recognize the right moment. Of course, mistakes can be made, the hakama is put on too early or too late. But the work has begun. It is obvious that we must seek inside. As for the black belt, the Sensei gives it to the practitioner the day he thinks the person is ready to wear it, the latter never being informed of this decision. And that’s all. The person wears the black belt. No blah-blah. The symbol is taken for what it is: a symbol and nothing more. The path has no end.

A special atmosphere
Seeing the Sensei demonstrating the free movements, in which techniques are linked spontaneously we think again about a term often used in the literature and the teaching of Itsuo Tsuda: « The non-doing ». And this is what probably brings this special atmosphere in the dojo at dawn, the smell of flowers at the tokonoma and the emptiness. A path of non-doing.
The session ends. Silence returns. We greet the calligraphy and the Sensei. He leaves. The practitioners leave the space or fold their hakama on the tatami.
Around 8:30, we find ourselves around breakfast. We seek to learn more about how the dojo functions. For this lively place is both alive and financially independent, considerable energy is invested by practitioners. Some have chosen to dedicate much of their lives to it. They are a bit like Japanese Uchi Deshi, internal students. In addition to the practice, they manage the spine of the dojo, then taken in turns by the other practitioners that could be involved as external students. Everyone involved is encouraged to take initiatives and to take responsibility.

Work with less
An elder summarizes the instructions received: « Aikido. Katsugen undo. And the dojo. » The life of a dojo is a job in itself, an unique opportunity to practice out of the tatamis what one learns on the tatamis. Rather than a refuge, a greenhouse, the picture is rather that of an open field in the middle of the city, in which we lay fallow at dawn, where we clear weeds to allow gradually its place to other blooms.
Before leaving we look at the empty space with tatamis one last time. It seems to breathe. The day dawned and the city is now in a fast and noisy rhythm. It awaits us. We leave the dojo and walk away with a wisp of a smile. In a world of unbridled accumulation and filling up, there are places where you can work with less. This one makes part of it.

Yann Allegret

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Vers le mouvement du Non Faire

 

Bruno Vienne est cinéaste, réalisateur animalier et aventure humaine, membre de l’expédition TARA ARCTIC aubruno_vienne Pôle Nord, et également un ancien élève d’Itsuo Tsuda.

Au bout d’une trentaine d’années de pratique, il sent que c’est le moment de partager ce qu’il a compris et ressenti dans l’approche du Mouvement Régénérateur et de la pratique respiratoire de Maître Ueshiba (fondateur de l’Aïkido). Il nous invite à une plongée dans notre infini potentiel intérieur.

« Serons-nous capables de passer le cap pour une nouvelle humanité ?

Tout est là, c’est l’enjeu des prochaines années…

Les clignotants rouges sont allumés depuis déjà longtemps en ce qui concerne notre façon d’utiliser l’énergie et l’eau sur terre.
Lire la suite

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.

Lire la suite

Amateur ?

Itsuo Tsuda se considérait comme un écrivain, un philosophe. Et comme un amateur en Aïkido, pour le Nô et la calligraphie…

Et voici un extrait de Maître Tsuda qui nous éclaire à ce propos :

« Un mot sur l’enseignement ésotérique qui avait été pratiqué à l’époque féodale et conservé jusqu’avant la Deuxième Guerre itsuo tsuda seizaMondiale au Japon.
L’enseignement, qu’il s’agisse d’un art martial ou d’un métier traditionnel, était de deux sortes : l’une s’adressait aux amateurs, et l’autre à ceux qui voulaient en faire leur carrière.
Chose vraiment curieuse qui choquerait bien notre conception basée sur les principes de l’éducation moderne, c’est que l’enseignement complet n’était réservé qu’aux amateurs.
Que faisaient-ils, les vrais apprentis professionnels alors ? Ceux-ci vaquaient, du matin au soir, sans une minute de répit, aux travaux de ménage, au nettoyage de la maison et du jardin, aux soins à porter aux vêtements du maître, à la préparation de sa nourriture et de son bain, enfin à tout, et tous en parfaits esclaves. S’il y avait le moindre défaut dans ces travaux, le maître les réprimandait sévèrement. Et avec tout cela, ils n’avaient pas accès aux leçons dont jouissaient les amateurs.
Combien n’était-ce pas irrationnel ? C’était diamétralement opposé à l’enseignement moderne.
Irrationnelle, certes, dans un sens, cette méthode ne l’était pas dans un autre.
C’est que ces esclaves-apprentis brûlaient du désir de connaître l’enseignement du maître, d’autant plus qu’ils en étaient privés. Tout ce qu’ils pouvaient en obtenir était quelques paroles entendues au hasard du vent, des réprimandes, des gestes et des manières du maître, des bribes de démonstrations accordées aux amateurs, entrevues par la fissure d’une porte, etc.
Le désir étant intensifié par la privation, ils devenaient des espions, des voleurs de l’enseignement. Assoiffés, ils ne laissaient échapper aucun des détails qui leur parvenaient.
Le diamant est précieux parce qu’il est rare. S’il y en avait en abondance, on en aurait brûlé dans le poêle pour se chauffer.
Entre maître et amateurs, il y avait communication. Entre maître et apprentis, il y avait transmission inconsciente, d’âme à âme. Il y avait un travail intense de visualisation qui façonnait les derniers. Tout était axé sur la préparation du terrain chez les aspirants dont le succès ou l’insuccès dans leur carrière était une question de vie ou de mort, ce qui n’existait pas chez les amateurs.
Dans certains métiers, le maître choisissait un apprenti le moment venu, organisait une réception en son honneur, s’inclinait devant ce dernier, en s’excusant de sa dureté des années passées et déclarait qu’à partir de ce moment il n’était plus apprenti mais maître au même titre que lui. L’apprenti pouvait très bien en rester stupéfait, car durant ces années il n’avait peut-être rien appris de substantiel du tout.
Aujourd’hui, tout a changé. Partout dans le monde, l’éducation est standardisée. L’amateur viendra prendre des leçons pour son plaisir. L’apprenti professionnel aura un entraînement plus intense. Mais le problème du terrain reste.
L’homme est devenu, aujourd’hui, une sorte d’encyclopédie. Il connaît un peu de tout. Il est bien informé, non pour faire quelque chose, mais pour communiquer et pour faire un rapport. Il pourra étudier la natation, discuter sur son utilité, relater son histoire, sans bouger de son fauteuil, sans jamais se mettre dans l’eau. »

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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