The Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration (RISI) was founded by Ida P. Rolf, PhD, in 1971. The organization has four aspects to its mission statement:
? To select, train, and certify qualified and competent practitioners of Rolfing Structural Integration (SI).
? To provide continuing education for Certified Rolfers?.
? To promote programs of research in Rolfing SI.
? To educate the general public concerning the principles of SI and the useful and beneficial nature of Rolfing SI.
This issue of Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute is dedicated to RISI?s Advanced Training (AT) and our Advanced Faculty. My desire for this article is to provide our membership and the larger community of SI practitioners, as well as the public, with a bridge to appreciating the value of RISI?s AT. I will trace this from an historical perspective to our current orientation with respect to opening the AT to International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI) members. I also want to infuse the article with some of my own personal experiences as a practitioner, a RISI faculty member, and as the current RISI Board of Directors (BoD) Chair.
The article will cover the following topics:
? A brief history of RISI?s AT.
? RISI in the larger SI community.
? A brief history of the Rolf Movement® program.
? RISI?s service marks.
? The RISI BoD?s Strategic Plan for allowing a path of access to RISI membership to IASI members.
A Brief History of RISI?s Advanced Training
Ida Rolf founded RISI and is the creator of the transformative work known as Rolfing SI. Her development of what is now known as the basic Ten Series evolved over time. By all accounts she began teaching her work during the 1950s and continued to refine the Ten Series in the early years following the formation of RISI.
At some time in the early 1970s, Rolf introduced the first iteration of the AT. The AT, by definition, brings together a collection of practitioners possessing a level of experience with the work in order to deepen their efficacy as practitioners. The purpose of the AT for Rolf was to further the ability of a practitioner to work effectively with a client who had already completed the Ten Series as well as to enhance the practitioner?s capacity to deliver an effective basic Ten Series.
By all accounts, Rolf was an innovator who possessed amazing skills. She had a remarkable ability to ?see? and to effect change in the human structure. Her AT was likely another opportunity for her to ?tune up? her students regarding their ability to ?see? and effect change in structure required in the work of SI.
Over the years, I?ve had conversations with all of Rolf?s initially appointed faculty. Some of these conversations indicated that Rolf, while committed to the value of these two desired outcomes of the AT, was frustrated with the limitations of her initial advanced work format ? a formulaic four-session series. To address this issue she charged selected faculty members to further evolve the AT. This led to a second iteration of the advanced work ? a formulaic five-session series.
This development occurred during the time from RISI?s inception in 1971 through approximately the time of Rolf?s passing in 1979. My training at RISI occurred in 1984-1985. I recall my own passion and excitement for the work and my desire to absorb everything I could from my early teachers: Peter Melchior, Jan Sultan, Emmett Hutchins, Michael Salveson, Jim Asher, Tom Wing, and Stacey Mills, all of whom had been students of Rolf and all of whom, except for Tom Wing and Stacey Mills, had been appointed to the faculty by Rolf herself. In a private conversation with Tom Wing, I recall him mentioning a story about Rolf?s appointment of faculty. He relayed that at a given point in time she decided to turn the task of the appointment of faculty over to the faculty itself. Her next action was to write a letter to the faculty recommending that Tom Wing be the next faculty member appointed and, of course, he was.
During my Basic Training (BT) with Melchior in 1984, I recall a provocative statement from him, one of many offered. A loose paraphrase is as follows:
The Advanced Training is the place where the work itself evolves and, over time, elements introduced in the advanced work make their way into the Basic Training.
As I recall, Melchior had just completed co-teaching an advanced class with Sultan. Melchior was now introducing into our BT an early incarnation of Sultan?s Internal/ External Model. Prior to this point, Sultan had been presenting his Internal/External Model at faculty meetings and was working with this as an important element of the AT class he and Melchior were teaching.
I myself completed two ATs at RISI: one taught by Sultan in 1990, assisted by Pedro Prado and Michael Murphy; and the other co-taught by Salveson and Asher in 1991. By this point, the AT was in the early phases of its next major transformation ? the introduction of non-formulaic work. As a result of attending these ATs, my skill level leapt. My practice grew. I began attracting new types of clients, apparently drawn to me upon learning that I had just completed a significant upgrade in my knowledge and skill level.
For more regarding the historical perspective of RISI?s AT, I encourage the reader to read the article by Sultan in this issue of the Journal (see page 7). Sultan, as you know, was one of the early faculty directly appointed by Rolf and one of the early Advanced Faculty members. Sultan was at the epicenter of these evolutions in the AT to which I refer.
RISI in the Larger SI Community
RISI is the original school of SI and is now one of many schools teaching the work of SI. The SI ?umbrella? organization IASI was founded in 2002. IASI recognizes fourteen schools of SI, including RISI.
RISI membership has slowly and steadily grown from approximately 600 members in 1984 to slightly over 2,000 members currently. I am heartened by this slow yet steady growth over the years. I hope to see growth of the field of SI in general, and the membership of RISI in particular, continue well into the future.
After forty-five years of existence as a non-profit organization, RISI remains, by far, the largest school of SI. It is resourced with a worldwide faculty (including Life Sciences, Basic Rolfing, Rolf Movement, and Advanced) in excess of sixty members, an amazing growth from the original five appointed by Rolf. Of this group of sixty plus faculty members, ten of these members comprise the esteemed Advanced Faculty. At this time, to my knowledge, only one other school of SI currently offers an advanced training, the Guild for Structural Integration, and I believe it has only one advanced faculty member.
RISI has a long-standing and robust history of evolving the work, of further developing its practitioners, and of furthering the ability of these practitioners to evoke change in their clients. These attributes are enhanced in the practitioners through the unparalleled experience offered in its AT.
A Brief History of the Rolf Movement Program
RISI also has an illustrious history evolving a movement curriculum and a certification program in Rolf Movement. The earliest incorporation of movement into the BT was the result of a collaboration between Rolf and Dorothy Nolte. This collaboration predates the formation of RISI and occurred in the 1960s. Rolf and Nolte presented what are now referred to as ?Ida?s Yogas?: a sequence of arm and leg rotations that were performed in a very specific format. These yogas continue to be taught in RISI?s BT to this day. The purpose of the yogas was primarily as a means of self-care for the practitioner.
I recall being introduced to these yogas in 1984 during my BT. I found them to be very profound. The arm rotations gave me a sense of openness through my heart space. The leg rotations helped to free my hips. Both activities gave me a sense of flow, length, ease, and connection to/with my center of being ? my ?Line?.
In the days immediately preceding RISI?s formation, Rolf taught classes in Big Sur and Los Angeles, California. It was at this time that she identified the group of individuals who would become her initial movement teachers. Among her students was Judith Aston who, at the encouragement of Rolf, developed a lead-in class for students and practitioners which was the next evolution leading to RISI?s Movement Training.
Aston left RISI to form her own work, Aston-Patterning®, in the mid-1970s. Rolf passed away in 1979, the year that also saw Megan James and Heather Starsong teach the first Rolf Movement Certification Training. This initial training was comprised of individuals who were not practitioners of Rolfing SI. The focus of the training was to develop a movement work based on Rolf?s vision rather than the vision provided by Aston. Thus, as of 1979, there were two ways that one could be a member of RISI: as a practitioner of Rolfing SI or as a Rolf Movement Practitioner.
The original Rolf Movement Training certified practitioners to perform a series of independent movement sessions. The training itself consisted of a class that paralleled the BT being offered through RISI at the time. The class consisted of mornings spent listening to and observing the lecture and demonstration of the BT instructor. In the afternoons Rolf Movement students would learn their craft at the guidance of the newly formed Rolf Movement faculty members.
Since that first Rolf Movement Certification Training taught by James and Starsong in 1979, RISI has been inspired by a variety of gifted and talented practitioners and faculty members, among them Gael [Ohlgren] Rosewood, Roger Pierce, Janie French, Annie Duggan, Vivian Jaye, Jane Harington, and Hubert Goddard. Our current Rolf Movement Faculty sit upon the shoulders of the work brought forth by all of these incredible souls. Our current Rolf Movement faculty is a diverse group consisting of twenty-three members residing on four continents.
By 1988 a request from the faculty to the RISI BoD resulted in the Rolf Movement program becoming limited to individuals already trained as Certified Rolfers. Last year the RISI BoD overturned this decision and now allows IASI members and International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA) members entry into RISI?s Rolf Movement program.
RISI?s Service Marks
At the time RISI was established in 1971, so too were its service marks: Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration, Rolfing® Structural Integration, Rolf Movement® Integration, and the Little Boy Logo. The IASI website states that RISI is one of four IASI-approved schools with registered service marks, the other three being: Hellerwork® International, The Soma Institute of Neuromuscular Integration®, and Structural Innovations®.
Our service marks provide RISI members and the public with an assurance of quality and consistency regarding a practitioner?s training as well as a level of brand recognition. RISI BoD members strive to protect our service marks even as we strategically consider additional areas of the world to register our marks.
The RISI BoD?s Strategic Plan: A Path for IASI Members to Gain Access to RISI Membership
During my eight years in service as a faculty representative to the RISI BoD, the last four of which I have served as its Board Chair, the RISI BoD has wrestled with many issues. Among these, and central to the theme of this article, are topics such as:
? The desire to support RISI and its members while at the same time recognizing our strategic alliances with other organizations (the strategic alliance between the RISI and IASI being the primary one related to this article).
? The desire to grow our membership.
? A desire on the part of the RISI faculty to find an appropriate way to open the AT to graduates of IASI-approved schools.
? A desire voiced by a number of graduates of IASI-approved schools that they are interested in access to RISI?s AT and use of its service marks.
As the Board wrestled with these issues we were also confronted by a restriction of the RISI By-Laws: entrance to RISI?s AT is restricted to RISI members. Our solution was to allow entry into the Rolf Movement Certification Training to Non-RISI members (IASI graduates and ISMETA members). Upon graduation from RISI?s Rolf Movement Training, the individual now has access to RISI membership. (These individuals will also have access to a yet-to-be-created Rolf Movement logo. The Rolf Movement logo will be created and approved by the RISI BoD sometime in 2017. If you are already a Rolf Movement Practitioner, you too will have access to this Rolf Movement logo once it is created.) Once a RISI member through this route, graduates of IASI schools will be able to take RISI?s AT after completing the usual prerequisites.
In summary, RISI has a long and illustrious history. The history includes an evolution of the work itself through the Basic, Advanced, and Rolf Movement Trainings. RISI is in strategic alliances with many organizations and the Strategic Plan adopted by the RISI BoD in 2015 will allow for the growth of RISI membership by allowing IASI members a path of access to RISI membership and the benefits associated with this. For specifics of this pathway through which graduates of IASI-approved schools may acquire RISI membership, please see the chart on page 11.
<i>Author?s Note: I wish to thank the following individuals for their time and guidance in my writing this article, as well as for my evolution as a practitioner. Some of these interviews were formally conducted in preparation for the article while others are my recollections of conversations over the years with these generous souls: Jim Asher, Kevin Frank, Nicholas French, Jane Harrington, Emmett Hutchins, Peter Melchior, Gael Rosewood, Michael Salveson, Jan Sultan, Heather Starsong, and Tom Wing.
Kevin McCoy graduated from RISI in 1985. He holds a BS in physical education from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse and a BS in physical therapy from the University of Wisconsin. He was employed at The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey from 2000-2004 where he provided Rolfing® SI for individuals enrolled in a pain-management program. Kevin joined the RISI Faculty in 2006 and has served as one of two RISI Faculty Representatives to the BoD since 2008. He served as the Secretary for the RISI BoD from 2008-2011 and he has been the RISI Board Chair since 2011.