Serge Rebois is an expert in Nihon Tai Jitsu and Kyusho Jitsu, an advanced Judo practitioner as well as a Shiatsu therapist. A tireless researcher, he continues to improve, and recently started following the teachings of Paolo Bolaffio. He also authored many DVDs on Shiatsu and Kyusho Jitsu.
1. Do you have a morning routine
Yes, in the morning after breakfast, I do about 45 minutes of Yoga and 15 to 20 minutes of meditation and breathing exercises. I start with sun salutations (kalari version), followed by moon salutations, stretching and releasing of the back. My sessions vary depending on what my Yoga teacher showed me.
2. If you only had 10 minutes to train, what would you do?
I think I would do either sun salutations or a short but very complete form of Qi Gong that a Shiatsu teacher showed me.
3. What is the best investment you’ve made in yourself? In others?
First was to invite my teacher and friend Leeroy Roder to France for Kyusho workshops, and second was my training in Shiatsu. It allowed me to understand that you do not have to be in opposition or to compete with yourself or with others as is the case in most sports. On the contrary, it is about mutual aid and empathy and my beginnings in Yoga have only been confirming this feeling.
Since then, I have had a little trouble with the very idea of “performance”. Why would we absolutely want to compete with someone or with our own body? We have become certain that going beyond our limits is the guarantee of true commitment, and of the appropriate mindset in sports, all while shattering our body, which after a while says “stop”. I respect my body, I try to listen to it and go where it wants to go on its own. It does not necessarily mean staying in your comfort zone, just listening to what your body has to say to get there. Have some empathy for it. If your body asks you to rest, then rest and avoid draining all the energy of your kidneys, the oil of the lamp that must burn throughout your life.
4. In your opinion what are the biggest mistakes that people make when training? On the contrary, what do you think people get easily from the beginning?
I think the biggest mistake people make is to dwell on details that don’t matter, to the detriment of things that are fundamental. And that’s because they forget we do not all have the same body, the same corpulence. A teacher demonstrates a technique with his own body, his own feeling, his own personality and experience.
For example, some time ago, a group of practitioners were striving during a kata, slightly bending their ring finger while keeping all the other ones straight, as their teacher was doing so. When he asked them “but why do you do that?”, of course they answered “that’s how you showed it”. To which the teacher answered “yes, but it’s because I broke my finger a long time ago and today I cannot straighten it anymore”.
It is important to recognize the underlying principles that make the techniques work, rather than focusing on unnecessary detail. On the other hand, I noticed that some teachers are lingering over these details to give themselves a technical legitimacy, and this is a big mistake on their part in my opinion.
5. Has any failure you had in the past help you get better at what you do? Do you have a favourite failure you could share?
It’s hard to say… all failures allow you to move forward somehow, as long as you accept your “share” of responsibility and do not blame it on someone else, even if in some cases that “someone else” can be part of a number of variables you do not control. In the conditions of an exam for example (the jury, your partners …). I do not really know what to answer, in fact it’s not necessarily the “failure” that made me better but the different encounters I had with people like my friend Richard Folny, Leeroy Roder, Lionel Froidure or Paolo Bolaffio.
6. When you feel you are reaching some sort of ceiling/stagnation period in your practice, how do you go through it?
When I feel a stagnation, I do not focus on it. On the other hand I feel it is time to “stir the sauce” so I look at who could, by his practice, bring something “new” to what I do. I’m trying to meet new people, new inspiration. This is what happened recently with Bolaffio sensei. Then, well … I work on it.
7. What do people never ask you that you wish they did?
But where does this natural grace come from? Nah, I’m joking:-)
Do you believe in humans?
Humanity disappoints me, but individuals surprise me. I do not believe in the crowd, the mass, the “people”, in the human macrocosm that destroys this planet by greed, stupidity, cowardice when it could be a paradise. On the other hand I believe in the individual, the one who thinks, beyond the clichés imposed by this society, who does not believe that money is at the center of everything, the one who does his part, like the hummingbird, whoever thinks of changing the world by simply planting a tree. In fact, in all people of good will who are trying to make this “mass” more intelligent and thoughtful.