THOSE 5 is a poem I did a few months ago. There has been a lot of curiosity about what I wrote and a group of Shiatsu Colleagues in England have asked me to explain what my poem is all about.
I do my best to share that in this blog.
My world of Shiatsu, if I am truly honest with myself, started when I was a baby. I say that, as my mother’s mother was a healer. She had thirteen children and when the doctors gave up on babies i.e. they would die. She would say, leave it with me and she will fix them. This was not only relatives or children of her own but also people in the village would look to her to do her traditional healing magic. I have to put it that way as some of what I heard she did, fits into no known medical text or viewpoint. As the decades have gone by, I have come to realize that she was a Mayan traditional healer. By the way, I share more about her in my Autobiographical audio book Rex Lassalle & The Alchemy of TIME. She carried a Touch, which I still remember some seven decades later. She did not say much and she had a way of holding me also lifting me into the pram to take me for “a walk”. She walked as I sat in the pram. Besides touch, she carried a presence. I guess these days one would say that her auric field was a vast one. My mother told me that the first time that my granny took me to get my hair cut, I was about nine months at the time. I was so scared with what the barber was doing as my granny held me in her arms that I just peed on her. Mum told me, Granny just held me, she did not push me away. I have no conscious memory of this.
Interesting though how that “imprint” kept showing up in my Shiatsu classes. I constantly reminded Shiatsu students that there attitude needed to be like a Big Stone sitting in the garden. If the sun shines, the big stone remains in the garden, if rain falls, the big stone stays in the garden. If a dog comes and pees on it, the big stone remains in the garden.
What am I talking about when I say that?
Your presence as a Shiatsu therapist needs to be there for the client. You are open, receptive and present. There are no boundaries. Yes, energetically you need to have a practice to recharge your batteries otherwise you tend not to make it to more than sixty years of age. This brings me to my meeting with Kanetsuka Sensei in the spring of 1977 at his dojo on Albany Street, near to Great Portland Street tube station. I went there because of my curiosity about Aikido, which I read about in a book about the Kototama Principle. The founder of Aikido O Sensei Ueshiba was a devotee of Kototama and this curiosity about chanting and martial arts was very strange to me back then.
Anyway, I was there at a lunch hour class, watched what they did and what he taught. When the class was over, I greeted him with a bow and asked if I could join. He said yes and told me that I needed to get a keikogi. I did buy one from him that day and two days later, I was on the mat learning Aikido. At the time, I was studying Acupuncture and Homeopathy with Prof. Malcolm Stemp in Newton Abbot Devon. I was already doing massage at Debenhams health club. There is more about this time and those experiences in my Audiobook Rex Lassalle & The Alchemy of
TIME. I was learning about the Meridian Systems from Prof. Stemp, this was very detailed and the link they had to the five elements.
A major shift to my world occurred when a fellow student of Aikido, Birger Sorensen, told me that if I wanted to do good Aikido, I HAD TO DO ZAZEN. It was as blunt and intense as those capital letters when he told it to me as he pointed his finger in my face. I did and this changed my life. We did this three mornings each week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 6 a.m. It was very intense Zazen. As Sensei used his stick the Kyosaku, if you fidgeted or moved or drifted off as you sat. He would hit you across the top of your shoulders. Plus his emphasis in doing Zazen was that you did it sitting in Full Lotus. All of these transformations with my body happened in being taught Zazen by Sensei. He was always stretching your limits with the Zazen, it was forty minutes that we sat for two sittings. But at times, he would stretch that into forty-five and even fifty minutes and the pain in your knees and legs were howling for a release. Then he introduced this innovative Zen command that I have never heard anywhere else. “Abandon Body” Somehow this immediately shifted something in your awareness and something else became present. It was in the one to one coaching sessions that I had with him that the breath and the extension of it called “Kokyu” was emphasized with relaxed shoulders. Those were his only instructions to me about Shiatsu, there was nothing about technique or points. That extending of your Ki from your Hara was the bottom line and the extension could only happen from relaxed shoulders.
Kazuo Chiba Sensei, I first met at the Aikido summer camp of 1977. Kanetsuka Sensei introduced me to him and told me to see him every morning at 9 a.m. to give him Shiatsu. Entering Chiba Sensei’s room was entering into another time. Above his bed was his katana/sword. One was entering the domain of a Samurai. His body was unlike anyone that I have worked on since. There was a level of toughness that had a lot of give to it yet there was resilience, which was like rubber. Let me explain it another way. If you were to hit him with a rod of iron, the rod of iron would bend on his body. Doing Shiatsu on him was very much like a dance with his ki and the give and flow of it. Here I am lost for words in describing how that was, hence many would project the words “mystifying” as that would be the most accurate word. Yet the paradoxical aspect about it was that it was extremely grounding with a constant presence of the Now. Chiba Sensei always wanted to have Moxa done on Stomach 36 at the end of the Shiatsu. Some mornings, I would also do Colon 4 on his hand, but Stomach 36 moxa always ended the session. His level of intensity meant and he requested it that a blister needed to arise as I did it. Which it did, he would then squeeze it out as I was putting the moxa cigar out in a bottle of sea salt. What was always surprising was that the next morning when I came to give him shiatsu, there was no sign of a blister or any mark on his shins.
The following year, I also gave Chiba Sensei shiatsu at the Summer Camp. The next connection I had with him was in the late 1990’s when I was living in Dana Point California. From time to time, I would drive down to his Dojo in San Diego to practice Aikido in the mid-afternoon. His dojo was the largest that I have even been to it was as large as a football field. Yet in mid weekdays in the afternoon, he would have at least fifty people on the mat attending his classes. He had such a draw in the world of Aikido. I remember an afternoon, I was there and practicing the technique
that he had just shown with a partner/uke. He came up to me as I was doing the technique leaned against my shoulder and said “Relax, Rex, relax”. I was totally surprised by this as this is unheard of him doing this in Aikido classes that he taught. He was known as the hardest hard in the world of Aikido, which was said with a reverence and awe about him in the world of Budo.
Another time I had just come out of the toilet at Heathrow airport and I heard this voice shouting “Rex where you going?” In my mind before I looked in the direction of where the voice was coming
from, I thought it was somebody from Belmont Valley Road, the road where I grew up as a child. It was Chiba Sensei. There was this warmth and friendliness that he had towards me, yet I was always in awe as to who he was and how he was constantly honouring his teacher O Sensei Ueshiba.
That was the foundation of my Shiatsu practice and influence.
There was one other person, the Macrobiotic teacher and Shiatsu teacher. Shizuko Yamamoto.
I only attended two classes by Shizuko one was a Friday evening class at the East West Centre in London, the other was a weekend at that same location. Shizuko was totally blunt and direct in her teachings, plus it carried a level of intensity about it, which was similar to Kanetsuka Sensei
and Chiba Sensei’s Aikido classes. I remember in the Friday evening class she had us do certain exercises in a very brisk and intense manner for less than ten minutes. Then she said put your
palms together and Shizuko went around the class putting her palms without touching the person’s hands and gave one sentence diagnosis that was at a100% per cent accuracy with everyone in that room. Her feeling of your chi was around five to seven seconds. She would then blurt out in her blunt manner…”Weak kidneys” “very lazy, get up earlier in the morning” “you eat too much dinner” People in the room were blown away by what she did. We left that Friday night class on a high. People were just bouncing with the KI energy that she generated in the room. Shizuko’s teaching style was not so much about information per se but she would demonstrate techniques then correct students as she walked around and observed what you were doing. She was total inspiration. She left you with such a high wall for you to get over from the capacity and skills that she brought to her Shiatsu art form.
THOSE 5 THE POEM
The first one was the Sami young lady from the Artic circle that I met at Eila Hellgren’s salon in Helsinki. Eila Hellgren invited me to teach a Shiatsu program at her salon in 1983. There were about fifteen participants in the program. They were primarily members of her staff; there were a few other beauty therapists who had their own salons who were more than likely trained by Eila. The Sami young lady was short and compact and she moved naturally from her centre. Her shoulders were relaxed and she carried an excellent posture, a bit shy but with very clear eyes, which I guess, saw more than most of us saw. Whatever I showed, she could immediately do it with relaxed shoulders and effortlessly. In the lunch hour I asked Eila who she was. She told
me that she was from the indigenous Sami group that lived in the Artic circle. Her presence still inspires me to day though I only saw her that once at that weekend I did.
Then there was the Italian young man whose presence I recognized from my past and who in spite of his very strong body and presence carried that rustic energy of the mountains. His eyes
had a soft look but behind that there was a steel presence that was not invasive with knowingness. His posture as he knelt into seiza to do shiatsu was all about the acknowledging of heaven above and earth below his being. The use of his hands and fingers had no dependency on his shoulders it was happening from his breath. Was this about the ease of being on the earth or working on the earth with the fruits of the earth; the wheat, the olives the artichokes? I have no idea as I never had the opportunity to chat with him and ask him such questions. It was easily a class of some forty or more students. Yet there he was kneeling in his glory and this innate skill of doing shiatsu.
In that same room was Danish Anne, a disarming charming smile with an ease of movement all with these relaxed shoulders. She carried a passion in her eyes for shiatsu, yet though in her early
twenties that passion did not carry any flavour of excitement in her body. A deep calmness was present in her expressing the Shiatsu art form. I am consciously using the word art form with how she did from what I was teaching. At times I would catch myself standing behind this relaxed yet very present body doing a technique I showed. Faultless with grace carrying such a pleasing personality as she did her thing this was Danish Anne.
JP the abbreviation of his name Jukka-Pekka, he has been a very good friend going back to almost four decades. He studied with me over the decades and organized many classes for me in Finland over the years. These classes were not only Shiatsu, they were 9 Star Ki classes as well as Sotai along with Chi Gung programs. JP carries a profound curiosity about life and has explored other cultural aspects of energy. He has run workshops in Tuva throat singing and has worked with Shamans in Tuva. JP’s shiatsu has grown over the decades. The touch he carries in
Shiatsu is very much like a Sibelius Symphony, reaches to the core of your essence and opens new chambers of sound in your being. The awareness of breath and posture is ever there with him
as he has explored this in many other disciplines which he carries an unassuming mastery. His humility is inviting with an enrolling quality that is persuasive.
Andre from Flanders, the late Andre was the most innovative Shiatsu practitioner that I have ever met. He was a sincere dedicated student of mine that showed me great respect, yet within
that he was always pushing the boundaries of Shiatsu and ways of working with KI energy. He had those qualities with the posture and the breath; it was how he looked at the whole context of the
patient, client or student. His Shiatsu imagination was vast. He ran many classes of Shiatsu in Belgium, yet somehow in my view did not get the respect he deserved. He kept pushing the limits of Shiatsu as regards the mind and ki energy. He was fascinated with my 9 Star Ki work and was very skillful with it and had some very interesting ways of using that context of TIME and how he did his shiatsu. Plus he brought many innovations to help his clients and patients with what he did in some simple approaches. Yes Andre is the Miles Davis of Shiatsu.