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Where did the Chi Machine concept originate?

Katsuzo Nishi was a Japanese Engineer who was responsible for building the Tokyo subway system back in the 1920’s. He was also very knowledgeable about health, and deve

loped his own self-help system of maintaining your own health. The Nishi-shiki system is still practiced today by people in Japan and other countries.

One of the principles Nishi taught was based on the realization that human beings face a great challenge in maintaining health because of our erect posture – unlike four-legged animals, fish, reptiles and the rest of the animal kingdom. Nishi said that the basic bone structure and arrangement of the internal organs of the human body have evolved from animals that are not erect in the same way as us. So, although our two-legged posture is very convenient for all the practical tasks we take on in our daily lives, there are certain strains on our system that result from this posture and which can affect our health.

One of the principles of Nishi-shiki is therefore designed to compensate for this weakness or vulnerability. Often called “Kingyo Undo” or Goldfish Exercise in Japan, Nishi taught his students to create a fish-like motion through the spinal column to stimulate circulation and energy flow through the body. He understood that the spinal column is fundamentally involved in all the body’s systems. The Japanese concept of “Kingyo Undo” has been used in Aikido and other Martial Arts for many years, starting long before the invention of the first chi exercise machine that was designed to simulate the same movement – see this short video by an Aikido Master: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XER1_GNwEUs.

Masatomi Ikeda is one of the most influential Aikido teachers who also practised judo and sumo. He taught Aikido internationally for many years and was greatly influenced by Nishi’s method. Consequently Goldfish Exercise practices are also widely used in Aikido – the martial art which is practised now throughout the world.

Another person who was strongly influenced by Katsuzo Nishi was Dr Shizuo Inoue, who in fact acted as his secretary for some years. It was Dr Inoue who first had the idea of using a machine to easily create the fish-like motion through the spine which Nishi had taught. In the 1980’s this idea was taken up by another engineer, Keiichi Ohashi. He worked on a few designs which he patented in the late 1980’s before coming up with one which was commercialized by a Japanese company called Skylite Ind. Co. Ltd. It was launched in the early 1990’s. This was the original “Chi Machine” – though the Japanese did not use this name.

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