The origins of Life Exercise date back to San Francisco in 1996, when Shintaido student Connie Borden, then director of Hospice by the Bay, asked Master H. F. Ito, who first brought Shintaido from Japan to the United States, to develop a program that would help improve health and reduce stress levels for caregivers to AIDS patients. In 1995 Master Ito began a series of Caregiver Workshops that introduced Shintaido techniques for meditation and health in a supportive environment. The initial focus was for HIV/AIDS and hospice caregivers and has grown to include caregivers in a variety of settings.
That work has been expanded and refined through Kenko Taiso (‘Life Exercise’) workshops in the United States and Canada. Master Ito also visited China repeatedly in order to study Wu style Tai Chi, which complements his Shintaido vision for integrated health and wholeness.
In 2000, as part of his ongoing interest in activism for world peace, Master Ito began teaching the Taimyo meditation to interested Shintaido instructors. After September 11, 2001, he worked with Tomi Nagai-Rothe of San Francisco to establish the Taimyo Network for Peace, an international group that transcends space and time to pray and meditate for world peace.
In 2006, Master Ito began working with several of his senior students to develop a program that would bring his lifework in peace and health to a broader audience. The Life Exercise pilot project was launched in Bellingham that year.
Master Ito continues to work on quality control and program evaluation in developing body movements that encourage spiritual health and growth in the modern world. Now in his 60s, he incorporates his lifetime of learning in Shintaido, international relationships, and caregiver communities into body movements that are natural and easily accessible to people of all ages.