I have been struck recently by a number of differences between how we learn things here in the West, as opposed to how most of the traditional Japanese arts (kinbaku included) are passed down.


The concept of a ryu is something we don't really have much of an English equivalent for.  The closest we come to it is the idea of a school, as in "school of thought."  A set of unified beliefs that emerge around a body of work or a group of people working together.

The term and concept seems to have far greater traction in Japanese society, perhaps because group inclusion is so much a part of the social and cultural structure.  The word ryu (流) literally means flow and the addition of ha (派,) creates the word ryuha which means mainstream.  In a culture where difference is avoided and blending into the flow is prized, it would make sense that the concept of ryu would have deep cultural significance.

There is also a high level distinction between -do and -ryu, which I am just now trying to grasp.  The idea of do or "way" (literally the path to enlightenment) is a broad conceptual category, where a ryu is more about the particular style, which encompasses not just the technique, but also a greater sense of style of being within the spirit and the mindset of a way of seeing the world.

In the West, our value system is different.  We want to stand out.  We strive for individual success and attention.  Mainstream is boring and the idea of a ryu is much more of a technical concept.  We believe we can take bits and pieces from many different ways and construct our own.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

We in the West prize individual style.  We even talk about it in just that way, we say, "Wow, he's got style."  And we don't mean "he has embraced the mainstream" when we say it.  We equate style with something quite different.

So here we have something of an impasse.

We in the West are trying to learn an art form that is grounded in the deepest sense in the concept of ryu.  When you see the great kinbaku master's work from Japan, you can see the have a strong sense of style, but one which can be traced back through the mainstream of kinbaku.  There is a line from Ito Seiu to Minomura Kou to Nureki Chimuo.   The development of a history, a lineage, a ryu

The Western approach of laissez-faire, take what you can get and cobble it together, is a very different approach. 

Without the ryu we may learn the technique, but we lose the perspective on the world that the history, tradition, and style that has been passed down represents.

In the West, we are a culture of teaching.  We strive to demonstrate, to share, to explicate and explain.  In the East, the dynamic seems quiet different.  They are a culture of learning.  Knowledge is not given, but must be taken, often stolen.  The aspects of that matter most are the ones which remain unspoken and are absorbed as tacit knowledge.  They are the essence of ryu, of spirit, and of the underlying philosophy that animates so much of what we see in kinbaku.

In the end, learning kinbaku may have less to do with the ropes and technique and everything to do with finding the mainstream and allowing oneself to be enveloped in the flow of art, history, and beauty.

 



Grabado: 2010-06-23 05:32:45

Ver fuente original del artículo