Q: Jose, you coach an elite team of16 or 17 world class athletes. How many members of your team have been Rolfed, and how did they come to be Rolfed?
A: Six players were Rolfed at my suggestion.
Q: Can you comment on specific ways that Rolfing improved the physical performance of these players?
A: The player spends all of his life developing parts of himself stronger arms, better legs, etc. and Rolfing brings to him a global perception, or awareness of the integrated body. This awareness permits athletes to use their strength in a more balanced way, with greater freedom of movement and greater efficiency. Rolfing also enables an athlete to breathe better. Good breathing reduces fatigue and allows for a shorter recovery time. Another factor is that breathing pat-terns change according to the level of tension felt by the athletes. Rolfed players are more aware of their breathing and therefore are better able to relax and to control their level of stress.
Q: Do the Rolfed players differ from the others in ways that might be termed psychological, emotional, or behavioral?
A: As I said, Rolfed players are better able to deal with stress through proper breathing. But there are other dimensions to this. Having observed Rolfed players in a number of difficult games, I am convinced that they handle stress better not simply because of better breathing, but also because they are more balanced in the global, or total aspects of their being.
Q: You intend to complete Rolfing certification in the October class taught in Sao Paulo by Stacey Mills. Do you hope to see the majority of your players receive Rolfing, and do you hope to do much of the work yourself?
A: I would like to see everyone in the world Rolfed; however, that isn’t possible. A person should be prepared, should be ready to receive Rolfing. People come to Rolfing; Rolfing does not go to people. Some of the players will probably be Rolfed by me. Some will probably be Rolfed by others, depending on how the player would prefer to receive the work. Some may prefer not to be Rolfed by anyone. The individual players should have a choice in this matter.
Q: How do you think your personally Rolfing some of the players will affect the coach/player relationship?
A: After being Rolfed myself I can better understand the concept of the global, or truly integrated, person. The integrated person is less individualistic, less self-centered, and therefore more open and receptive to other ways of being, both in himself and in others. This makes it possible to have more harmony in relationships, whether professional or general. It makes us feel responsible for all life in the universe, and we are no longer individuals trying to get the best for ourselves and not caring for other people. We see our place in the totality of things. The coach player relationship is no tan impersonal one between technician and player, but is person to person; it is directed toward achieving the best results for everyone in a consensual agreement. My relationship with the Rolfed players is more open, me to them and them tome. I can see more mutuality and openness in the relationship I have with Rolfed players, and this makes for a more integrated and better performing team.
Q: What about Rolling Movement training? Are there any benefits you see it could bring to athletes, and do you have any plans to provide this kind of training to your team?
A: Athletes should understand that there needs to be a balance between the extrinsics and intrinsics, and this is difficult if it is not understood experientially, by living it. An evolved person learns to be responsible for this process, to be always aware of the changes that Rolfing brings and to be ready to integrate these changes into his total being. It’s constant work with the global self. Rolfing Movement makes this process more aware and therefore easier. Body awareness training has already been used by our team, and now I intend to enrich this training with Rolfing Movement training.
Q: In world class competition, the differences in physical ability among the top athletes is often negligible, and even the slightest training benefit can often give a player or a team the competitive edge needed to win. How much of a competitive advantage do you think Rolfing can provide to volleyball players in particular?
A: I would mention again that Rolfed players have more freedom of movement and more economy of movement. But the main thing is that Rolfing opens spaces in the body so players can move in an integrated fashion. And I mean here not just integrated in the physical sense, but in a global sense, the whole person. And this higher level of integration in each member of the group creates a situation where the respect among themselves is greater. They have a perception that the group’s cooperative benefit is most important, and so no one tries to stand out as a star, which might cost the team points. I like very much a phrase I heard here in this class, as we were talking about the fifth session opening of the visceral compartment: that Rolfing makes space in the sky for the stars to shine. I cannot say by what percent Rolfing would improve a player’s performance, but in each game, which is a new and different situation, the Rolfed players adjust more readily to the stresses and therefore have a real advantage.
Q: As you know, a number of Olympic and world-championship athletes in sports as diverse as diving, skating, gymnastics, and cycling have been Rolfed and often bring their Rolfers with them to major competitions. How valuable do you think Rolfing is to athletes in general, and what are the benefits that could be gained by the average recreational athlete, such as a jogger or tennis player?
A: The human being is never immobile. Immobility is death. Harmony in movement is what imparts beauty and grace to any living thing. Rolfing promotes harmony with gravity, brings pleasure to movement, brings a perfection to the whole being, and this integration is what makes movement pleasurable. I think everyone is looking for this, and in this respect I see no difference between professional athletes and recreational players: both are seeking pleasure in movement. Rolfing, by bringing this integration to the body, brings this pleasure to anyone. The goals of the professional athlete are different from the goals of the recreational player, but the pleasure of movement is the same for both.
Q: Do you view athletics as an art form as well as a competition?
Q: Do you recommend any special approaches to Rolfing for athletes who seek Rolfing to improve this performance?
A: We as Rolfers should be conscious of the power of this process and evaluate with honesty and sensitivity whether a person is ready to be Rolfed. Rolfing brings changes and allows changes to go faster. It stimulates evolution. Not everybody is ready for that.
Q: In some ways, your coaching position is privileged because it gives you ready access to an elite group of athletes from many nations. Because of the publicity such athletes often receive, you are in a position to generate favor able publicity for Rolfing and for Rolfers. After you become a practicing Rolfer, do you plan to extend your work with athletes beyond the Brazilian national volleyball team?
A: I repeat that I would like to see everyone Rolfed, but that is not possible now. My privileged position will enable me to bring Rolfing for the people I am near, and I will be able to present the concepts of Rolfing that lead to better athletic performance. I think it is difficult for a person who has not experienced Rolfing to understand the process. The persons who are directly responsible for athletics in my country do not know Rolfing through their own experience. I’ll have difficulties, as has anyone who introduces something novel in the world. But to me, Rolfing is the way that has heart. Certainly, the difficulties will be overcome, and I’ll be able to help more and more people to accelerate their evolutionary processes.
Q: Would you like to add any final remark)
A: I would like to acknowledge my happiness at having encountered Rolfing and the Rolfers who brought me to this higher level of awareness. And especially I am grateful to Ida for having developed this beautiful system.
Frank Hanenkrat, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was a practitioner in the June course attended by Jose Augusto.An Interview with Jose Augusto Menegatti