Doctor MaryJayne on Wellness

Since my return from my most recent visit to Japan, I have been telling my friends, students (anyone who will listen..) about all the great adventures that I had. One of which was Kabuki Theatre. I had the opportunity to attend with Kauru, one of the Japanese Master Trainers (who does not speak English). That was an adventure in and of itself – but for today I will stick to the Kabuki..

If you are not familiar with Kabuki, it is traditional Japanese theatre in which all the actors are male. I think in the United States we think that is all there was to it. However, Kabuki is has very distinctive qualities. The stage is set in a specific manner and the stories that are depicted have been told for centuries. But one aspect that I find truly amazing is that the actors are not just a bunch of guys that get together and decide to put on a play. They are actors who have inherited their roles from generations past. In fact one MUST inherit their place in Kabuki. There are no "auditions" or anything of that nature. Newcomers are non-existent. In fact, one of the primary actors in the presentation that I saw was a 15th generation Kabuki actor in that role! 15 Generations! Can you imagine the tradition?

As I watched in utter awe and fascination, I was struck by the absolute precision of every move. This was particularly true of the actors playing women in traditional Japanese garb (think Shogun or Memoirs of a Geisha). Every nuance of their movement from a gentle nod of the head and a slow feminine decsent to a kneeling position to gently open a rice paper door or to kow tow was the epitome of the Japanese feminine ideal.

Of course watching movement is what I do – so I couldn't help but think, "Wow imaging the core control they must have in order to do that!" I had to go back to my room and try it. Now I am a small person, and I AM a woman, AND a Pilates teacher so I should have a reasonable amount of core control. I must tell you – it was a CHALLENGE. I could imagine trying it on stage with all those draping robes on and falling right through one of those rice paper doors!

The next day I was relating all of this to Saki, my brilliant interpreter. She told me that since the roles are inherited, families begin teaching their sons as tots about the subtleties of movement and core control; preparing them for their roles in Kabuki. By the time they are adults, she explained, they are incredibly strong and fit. Further, she noted that when you see them outside the theatre in their street clothes, you can't help but notice their strength and poise.

Wow – now THAT is a the legacy we should be leaving our children. A lifetime of fitness, health, poise, balance, control......not a competition. A Lifestyle. A LIFE!

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