You are one of 24 grandchildren of genius comic actor, filmmaker and composer ‘the’ Charlie Chaplin. How was it growing up with this legacy?
I wasn’t even aware that he was my grandfather until I was around nine.
Up until that point, I’d believed that my granddad was the French actor Jean Rochefort because, once, when I was at my grandmother’s house my family said that they were going to watch a film of my grandfather. Finally, I thought, I would get to see his face. However, they must have changed their mind about what film they were going to watch and instead of putting on a Charlie Chaplin film they put on a Jean Rochefort movie and so I grew up believing that he was my granddad. I only found out the truth when Charlie Chaplin’s centenary was being celebrated and my parents suddenly began being invited to lots of festivals.
You had an unusual upbringing raised in the ‘samurai spirit’ can you tell us a little about this?
My dad is very passionate about Eastern philosophy and the Zen school of thought, or I should probably say of no thought. His bedtime stories were Zen stories that can be found in the book Zen Flesh Zen Bones and involved the connection between the Samurai and Zen monks.
The Samurai had to deal with death every day and they realised that if you’re scared of death you become tense, use too much muscle, forget your technique and the movements won’t flow. So a lot of Samurai went to the monks to try and gain their spirit of no thought. The Samurai spirit led me to both jujitsu and yoga. In fact, when I look at it now, it’s almost like I didn’t have a choice.
You’ve had an exciting career as a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu professional, winning the 2005 European championships. How does it relate to yoga?
Brazilian Jujitsu is like playing chess with the body. You use leverage instead of strength. Timing instead of speed. It involves a lot of technique and in that way it’s like yoga – if you do it the right way, it works. The only difference is that if we do Jujitsu together I’m going to try and bring your body out of alignment; in yoga I will try and bring it into alignment.
You offer ‘invisible yoga teacher training’. Can you explain this philosophy?
This is coming in 2018 because I’m interested in the yoga that you cannot see - what’s happening deep in the body. It’s like mental yoga, meaning if you’re thinking, it’s probably not yoga you’re doing. It’s bringing the awareness back to the breath.
As your father influenced you are you also passing on his traditions to your children?
My kids’ do some yoga and some martial arts. My son is very tall and when you grow fast the hamstrings start to tighten and yoga is great for that. Yoga’s really the antidote for all the technology that leads to a rounding of the shoulders too. And, of course, there are some Zen stories at bedtime, as well.
If you would like to listen to the full audio interview with Tracy, please click here
Tracy is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. To find out more about his yoga classes, retreats and workshops, please visit www.tracychaplin.net