“The Not Doing”, my English translation of “Le Non-Faire” (published by Le Courrier du Livre, 1973) by Itsuo Tsuda, a Japanese living in Paris, a former student of Aikido under founder Morihei Ueshiba, Seitai under founder Haruchika Noguchi, and Noh recitation under Master Kanze Kasetsu. Tsuda taught Aikido and Seitai at his school, L’ecole de la Respiration. Branches exist in various locations around Europe.
I got interested in Aikido in the 1970’s and Seitai in the 1980’s, both Japanese arts which are subjects of “The Not Doing”. In a later post, I’ll write about how I came to meet Tsuda himself.
I grew up in southern England in the 60’s and 70’s and as a teenager, I read Alan Watts (“The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are), “The Art of Loving” and Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful“. Later discoveries were Macrobiotics by Michio Kushi, D.T. Suzuki on Zen though I found that rather hard going, and Herrigel’s “Zen and the Art of Archery“. I came across a book on some kind of martial art in a 2nd-hand bookshop, and decided that when I went to university, I would join a martial arts club.
At the university freshers’ fair, I came across a demonstration by the Aikido club, and fell in love at first sight with the grace, beauty and power. “I want to do that!” I joined on the spot.
A friend of mine at the Aikido-club graduated from uni and went to Japan, from where he wrote me a letter: why don’t you come to Japan, teach English and practice Aikido? The Japanese government was recruiting British graduates to assist in the teaching of English in schools and businesses across Japan and they paid for your air-fare! I applied, got the job and arrived in Tokyo in September 1980, along with 40 or so other British graduates.
I was sent to a high school in Kakogawa City in Hyogo Prefecture. Soon after arriving, I met Peter Shapiro who had practiced Aikido under founding master Morihei Ueshiba. Peter told me he had moved to Shingu and was continuing his Aikido studies under Hikitsuchi-sensei, whom he (and many others) considered to be Ueshiba-sensei’s true successor. (Peter later moved to Europe and helped organize demonstrations by Hikitsuchi-sensei as well as getting videos made, before Hikitsuchi-sensei passed away in 2004.)
I only had the opportunity to practice Aikido with Peter once, but I never forgot it. Here’s a video of Peter demonstrating (that’s not me in the vid):
Here’s the remarkable Hikitsuchi-sensei:
Peter also introduced me to Seitai. While practising Aikido one day, Peter injured his back. He could only walk with his arms around someone’s shoulders. A friend and fellow dojo member at Ueshiba’s Tokyo dojo, Itsuo Tsuda, took him to Seitai master Noguchi. Peter had to be assisted into Noguchi’s dojo, but was able to walk out on his own. He was so impressed that he applied and was accepted as a student and earned a qualification as Seitai Consultant.
There were several books about Seitai, but no English translations (at the time; there are now three of Noguchi’s books in English.) .) One day, Peter gave me a book about Seitai and Aikido by Tsuda, “Le Non-Faire”, written in French for Tsuda’s students at his Paris dojo. At the time, it was the only non-Japanese book available on Seitai. As I could read French and I soon began translating the book into English for the benefit of the others who were interested in knowing more.
About a year later, the translation was almost finished. Unfortunately, Tsuda suffered a stroke and passed away in 1984. The English translation was published but the publisher went bankrupt. A few months later, I received a box full of copies of “The Not Doing” in lieu of payment.
So the book is out of print, and I’ve created a pdf of it which you can obtain from this website.