Shinden Fudō and Nature
What is the connection between Shinden Fudō Ryū, nature and Gyokko Ryū?
This struck me as significant today and I’ll explain why.
As we have always heard and know Shinden Fudō tradition is all about nature. Now when we hear the word ‘nature’ this usually conjures up images of green forested landscapes – trees, foliage, long grass, blooming flowers, loamy earth, birdsong, animals, peaceful tranquillity, a certain sort of unspoiled naturalness. Watching the old Quest video Hatsumi has the Japanese teachers outside in a wooded area to practice the techniques.
But is this right? Bearing in mind the cultural prejudice that comes with a Western English speaking mindset this may be our picture of ‘nature’ or ‘the natural’ environment. Having spent the first 8 years of my life in the Middle East maybe ‘natural’ would be more inclined toward a dry, dusty, sandy, azure skied interpretation. So nature is more of a geographical-ecologically rooted phrase.
Looking at the names of the techniques from the first level of the Shinden Fudō Ryū we see that the first characters of the techniques follow the chain:
日 月 風 雨 雲 雪 霧 霞
Sun – Moon – Wind – Rain – Cloud – Snow – Fog – Mist/Haze
So no trees, plants or animals?
The themes are based on light, air and water. Writing this now in a flash of inspiration it seems like this school is looking at the foundation of natural things – from observation we can see that plants need light, air and water to grow. So is this a valid interpretation for the names of techniques? did the Japanese X-hundred years ago know of photosynthesis? – well not as I know it as I come from a western scientific-analytical culture. But it is interesting to consider as there are Japanese poems about natural cycles – the falling rain flows downhill but eventually will rise to the skies again.
This theme of light, air and water has taken my understanding of Shinden Fudō from thinking of the naturalness of trees and all things green to looking at the root of these, the foundation of nature – so yet one more step back, or step inside.
Lastly that leads me to the link to Gyokko Ryū. Having been told before that Gyokko is the foundation of Shinden Fudō I have nodded, gone uh-huh, thought about it a little, thought some more and then tried to find (or force) some links. Looking at it in this light, Gyokko uses Fūsui, known as Feng Shui, which simply means air-water. Gyokko also has the principles of gravity and magnetism in the first level, air as the second level and water as the third. The link between using the principles of air and water in the two schools is a new inspiration, light from the sun and moon link to the gravity of Gyokko…