I remember sitting near the hearth in [K] and OP’s old house in Canberra, when a phenomena almost identical to the one described in the post below was occurring. Even to the point of this other person creating a name that was fabricated and had no history.
Having seen this episode play out in real life and then having the odd deja vu of seeing this post pop up yesterday (I do not know the particulars in this case, so the post is on ‘general phenomena’), I am taking a moment to state again that I most certainly studied Stretch Therapy with Kit via apprenticeship, over many years.
It was an incredible education.
I am immensely grateful for this.
So, how am I not doing the same thing as below with ‘Alchemical Stretching’ [?]
This is actually a good question.
Firstly – it would be kinda hard to say I hadn’t learned from him, what with being on the front cover of one of his books! But there are deeper and more interesting points about art creation and the difference between practitioners and creators here.
When I was assisting [K] on a number of ST workshops (which I had the privilege of doing multiple times), a few times people would ask questions or make statements along the lines of: ‘isn’t this just yoga with partners?’ or ‘how does this differ from āsana work?’
Kit would then break down the principles that made ST different from Yoga; it’s use of contract-relax protocols; it’s theoretical heritage in human ecology and philosophy; and so on.
The fact is Stretch Therapy is very different from modern yoga.
Kit did teach yoga, long ago. Some of my fondest memories of my time studying with Kit was his reminiscing of his time in Japan in the 1980s. He was studying shiatsu and a few other Japanese exercise systems whilst teaching yoga. But at night.. at night, probably against the neon-glow of Tokyo (at least in my imagining), he was deconstructing yoga texts, leather jacket and cigarette (at least in my imagining), listening to Miles Davis… tinkering away.
This period of experimentation and art formation continued when he returned to Australia and expanded both practical (classes) and theoretical (PhD research) components of his craft. Particularly the classes, where the material took on a life of its own over the years and is now the method known as Stretch Therapy.
There are of course elements of yoga in the bones of ST. Just as there are elements of: Western anatomical research; supervenence theory; strength training and sports science; neurology; body work; embodied cognition; influence from Zen and more recently Theravada Buddhism; influence from Swami Rudrananda (though not obviously on the surface); and of course ‘auto-influence’ – that is, ST being influenced by its evolving self based on the experimental nature of particularly the Advanced class but also the workshops and all the weird and wonderful people who attend them.
These elements combined with the intention influence what happens with the ‘tools’ [in this case the stretches, relaxation practices, neural repatterning exercises and strength work].
In my own art of Physical Alchemy the ‘elements’ of influence are: martial arts, Stretch Therapy via apprenticeship (which is different than via workshop), body work, alchemy, ecology, Western physical culture, strength and conditioning [particularly Steve Maxwell], Ida Rolf, Morris Berman, especially Gurdjieff, Zen but definitely not Theravadan Buddhism, Sufism, especially my teachers [C], [K], [L] and [M], especially my students (thanks!) – and now, most strongly, Physical Alchemy itself (in a similar ‘self-generating’ and living growth of an art, way).
So we have a portrait of the base ingredients of two creators, and the ingredients effect what can be cooked.
We also have intentionality.
Stretch Therapy, as the name suggests is a rehabilitation method that also improves movement quality, fills in missing parts of motor and sensory maps in the brain, cultivates grace and ease in the body, repatterns unnecessary tension. And it is one of the premier systems in the world at doing all these things, IMHO.
Physical Alchemy, as the name suggests, is about transmutation of the physical body and awakening dormant perceptual and creative abilities. This is done via specific work on dissolving the disenchantment imprint and on accessing the aspects of consciousness that exist outside of the acultural matrix. It is also about filling in motor and sensory maps, physical cultivation, getting new skills and removing unnecessary tension but it is explicitly NOT about pain treatment or rehabilitation [for reasons I will go into in the book].
So there you have it.
Differing ingredients (some the same).
Same tools, for the most part.
Different arts – but related on the phylogenetic tree. The whole seeing further from standing on the shoulders of giants thing. I state again how grateful I am for the experience of the apprenticeship with Kit.
And so the intermittent kerfuffling and ‘Dave is just doing ST!’ that invariably reach my ears never really phase me.
People 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 to get more flexible; to have more freedom of movement and less stress and tension. The results are easily visible. (Some people) want to get out of their pain. The results are easily felt.
Far, far fewer want to find out that many aspects they considered core parts of their personality are mechanical habits caused via imprints that nullify a vast array of the amazing abilities possible for a human being and have wide ranging collateral for themselves and the Earth. These results can only be seen when you are outside the imprint, which makes things more difficult for Dave to put forth – but this is simply a puzzle to be solved.
As the last article I have written [Language of the New Alchemy] and the photo of the table of contents of one chapter of the book (somewhere below) indicate – I have my own art, there is no denying it – and we are moving from the ‘those who can see’ to the ‘those who can see when shown’ period of it. It has been quite the puzzle but I am confident said kerfufflers will get a special type of shock from reading my tome (looking at the draft of it sitting behind the window I type this post in).. in fact they are largely of one strain..
There is a big difference between ‘filling off the serial numbers’ and re-badging – and art creation. In the act of actual art creation you melt the whole car down and reformed anew. As it melts it looks a bit like the old mold but whence it has its new form it is something new.
We are very lucky to have Kit and OP and the other Senior Instructors in Australia. I would recommend anyone who works with the body or anyone who HAS a body attend at least one of the Stretch Therapy workshop types this lifetime. It is very fertile soil and who knows how many other arts could grow out of it?!
So now, thricely said – [K] – thank you again for all the education, training, good times, lessons and Love.