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Colonial Somatics and Revolutionary Somatics

Somatic education, like most fields of knowledge, has been dominated for years by European ‘white people’. However, the majority of the somatic knowledge pool originates outside of the European tradition: Yoga, Qi Gong, Judo, Aikido, Capoeira, etc. Even the Feldenkrais Method, it’s theory and practice, developed from Moshe’s extended study of Judo under 嘉納 治五郎 (Kanō Jigorō).

Kanō throwing a student as a demonstration. (Student must have been exceptionally rude)

Western control of the field has made many somatic practices more individual and relaxation-oriented, a natural effect of the luxury and wealth afforded to many Europeans and North Americans. Individuality and relaxation are natural, healthy aspects of human experience but when community organization and direct action are absent, they enshrine the status quo by making us isolated, acclimated, and passive. Without community organization and action to create justice, many communities are denied rest, relaxation, and the right to determine their own path.

Just as a struggle is being made in our world between the colonized and the colonizer, the same struggle exists in the realm of somatics. Whereas, the somatics of the colonizer makes one comfortable, quiet and compliant with the status quo, revolutionary somatics makes one active and free to participate in society, social movements and revolutionary causes.

Whereas, the somatics of the colonizer makes one physically comfortable while shutting out others discomfort, revolutionary somatics understands that each of us is part of a larger social body, and no part of a body is unaffected by the other parts.

Capoeira, an African martial art brought to Brazil and practiced worldwide. Image: Atlanta Black Star

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