Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A river runs through it

For the past several days I've had an upper respiratory infection and have been off work taking Biaxin and etc... So, no martial arts practice for the last few days. My mind has been wandering around martial topics, though. How about this one: the word ryu, as in Isshin-ryu or Tomiki-ryu is usually translated informally as "way" or "style" or "school." But did you know that it literally means "stream" as in flowing water. The connotation is that Tomiki-ryu is Tomiki's stream of thought or way of thinking about aikido.
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What does a river or creek do as it flows through an area? It errodes the landside and cuts a channel. The water shapes the land it flows through. In the same way, a ryu shapes the man that it flows through. The ryu cuts a chanel in the man's thought patterns so that the ryu can more easily flow through.
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I haven't read Tao of Jeet Kune Do in years, but I recall Bruce Lee writing that mastery of a martial art is like sculpture. It is a process of removal of the un-necessary until the final result looks like some ideal. It is an erosion of the personality and the habits.
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I had an instructor once who liked to fool around with esoterica. He loved wise-sounding sayings of masters like Confucius and Yoda and he dabbled in pseudo-Zen thought. He told me that as one stays in the martial arts for longer and longer, one cannot help but become conformed to Zen thought because Zen is the basis of the martial arts. I understand what he was saying, though I disagree.
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So, what is the ideal that we are allowing ourselves to erode into? Well, it seems reasonable, that pratitioners of Tomiki-ryu are being eroded to be more like Tomiki. Practitioners of isshin-ryu are being eroded to be more straightforward and "one-hearted," like Shimabuku. I think it'd be fitting for folks to take some time to do some research and figure out what kind of men Tomiki and Shimabuku (etc...) were, since these are the forms into which we are being eroded.
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Of course, I also think it would be especially fitting for people to take time to consider Jesus-ryu...

2 comments:

  1. One of the guys in class just gave me a book to read, "Zen and the Martial Arts." Once I get that done perhaps I can offer some insight via another person.

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  2. conforming to zen?

    that's like clapping with one hand...

    ReplyDelete

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