The "Fish" exercise

// Источник: B.A.F. Newsletter, Сентябрь 2005, No 51

Illustration from Dr. Nishi's book published in 1949.

This exercise, called kingyo undo ('carp-fish exercise') in Japanese, is said to have been a favourite exercise of Morihei Ueshiba. It comes from a system of exercises developed in the early 20th century called The Nishi System. The purpose of this system is the maintenance and recovery of good health, and it was first introduced in 1927 by Dr. Katsuzo Nishi, who at the time was the chief technical engineer for Japan's first subway project, the Tokyo subway. From childhood Dr. Nishi was of weak constitution, and coming to the conclusion that the medical science of the day could not cure his ailments, he independently undertook in his late teens the study and practice of numerous folk cures and health methods, both ancient and contemporary. Oriental and Occidental. To these he added his own theories about the dynamics of the human body which were based on the mechanical science he studied in his own speciality, civil engineering, and thus established the 'Nishi-shiki Health Method'. According to his theories, in spite of the fact that the human bone structure and positioning of the internal organs are basically the same as those evolved for the mammalian species that walk on four legs, human beings have adopted a basically upright two-legged life style that places certain structural strains on the human bone structure, resulting in a number of health problems. Among methods to compensate for these structural defects, Dr. Nishi conceived the use of treatment through exercises such as the 'goldfish' spinal column rectification exercise. The Fish Exercise is incorporated into the warm-up exercises for Aikido practice as a means of stimulating the circulation and the flow of energy throughout the body.

We must understand that this exercise is concentrated on the spinal complex because the basic nervous system, which regulates all the functions of our body, works through the spinal canal, so that the stimulation of this system affects the whole body.

Photo 1: Lie down with the body perfectly straight and relaxed, knees, ankles and big toes together (toes pointing upwards); the whole length of your back in contact with the tatami. Clasp your hands behind your head, the elbows pulled in slightly. With the help of the hands and elbows you rock your head. This rocking, shaking movement is communicated successively throughout the whole of your body. Make sure you are perfectly relaxed: let gravity do the work.

Photos 2 - 4: As you vigorously shake and vibrate the whole of the body, working from the hips, the body curves from side to side in a crescent shape. When the head and shoulders move to the left, the feet also move to the left, and vice versa. Only the hips stay on the same spot.

You can do this exercise for about 40 seconds.

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