Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

An irreconcilable dichotomy?

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • An irreconcilable dichotomy?

    Not my words - I'm picking up on cklin's posting elsewhere...

    ___
    The cerebral me is fascinated with the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy of reigi and the act of bashing someone's head in (that's another thread). <cklin>
    ___

    What intrigues me is this - does this seem confusing to others, or do you find it natural? I ask because to me it seems very "right" to be bowing to someone that I am about to "fight" (I am still a novice though, so not much fighting as such). They might be about to kick my ass, or maybe (one day) I might kick theirs - but surely we both have something to learn from the encounter. This is actually one of the things I most love about Kendo - the feeling that those of greater experience and skill still look to junior kendoka to learn things from, as well as kendoka of greater skill.

    I asked our Sensei (6th dan), who he learnt from mostly nowadays. Looking around his students, his answer was "You".

    <rei>

    Dave

  • #2
    >the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy of reigi and the act of bashing someone's head in<

    Or, rather, that YOUR OWN head is about to bashed it.

    "Thank you for the mashing I am about to recieve" !

    Comment


    • #3
      Kendo is absolutely chock full of "irreconcilable dichotomies". That is, if you chose to look at the world in terms of binary opposites. I think the ultimate aim of (my) kendo is to reach a point where this kind of thinking about things in terms of the perpetual conflict of opposites just melts away...

      But to answer David's question, yes, I also find it incredibly natural to bow before fighting. Reigi might be the only way human beings can engage in violent physical conflict without inflaming aggression or hatred. It helps you "keep your eye on the prize" as it were.

      b

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi folks,

        I was using the term "reigi" in a broader sense, actually. Of course, I meant the act of bowing and the like, but I also meant the concept of respecting your opponent, etc.

        I too find it natural to bow to my opponent, but I guess what I was driving at is this: if we were instead using shinken and instead of being my dojo mate, my opponent had the real intent to kill me, would it still feel so natural?

        I think we find it natural because we are conscious of the fact that our opponent really has no intention of killing (or even hurting) us in the dojo.

        As to ben's assertion that "reigi might be the only way human beings can engage in violent physical conflict without inflaming aggression or hatred"... Historically, I don't believe reigi was able to prevent aggression or hatred -- if you look at feudal Japan, clansmen routinely killed men of other clans to exact revenge for losses in duels (which would fall under the governance of reigi, no?).

        In the end, this debate is kind of moot, since it places more emphasis on kendo's martial roots that perhaps is due, forcing closer ties than is perhaps warranted. But nonetheless, it is an interesting thing to think about.

        Just throwing this out though: perhaps reigi was codified and implemented more as a way of social regulation. Teaching the tenets of respect -- even for one's enemies -- might ultimately reduce the overall probability of people offing each other...?

        Comment


        • #5
          cklin, interesting assertions. let me just clarify...

          "As to ben's assertion that "reigi might be the only way human beings can engage in violent physical conflict without inflaming aggression or hatred"... Historically, I don't believe reigi was able to prevent aggression or hatred -- if you look at feudal Japan, clansmen routinely killed men of other clans to exact revenge for losses in duels (which would fall under the governance of reigi, no?)."

          I should have made it clear that I was thinking in a modern budo sense, refering to behaviour in a dojo, rather than hypothesising about medieval Japan, which is a millieu of which I have no first hand experience.

          I have seen situations in the dojo de-escalate from potentially harmful violence down to reasonable sanity just through the application of the authority of reigi, which, although I know it is designed to reinforce a hierarchy, is nevertheless, like a kamidana, an authority with a void at its centre. I suppose this is my partial answer to your final question.

          I agree that historically reigi was not able to prevent aggression or hatred and it was not my intention to imply that it could have. But I do believe that within the practise of modern kendo, reigi has the ability to ground the practice of violent skills within a humane framework.

          As to the question whether it would feel so natural if it were "shinken shobu", I think the only answer to that is "who knows?" At such a moment I think it's possible to assume that the ritual of reigi would certainly provide an anchor for a mind swirling with fears and doubts. The best description of the psychology of that moment I have read was I think in the Hagakure. Someone was asked: "When facing an opponent in a life-and-death match, how does one deal with fear?" To which the answer was: "In a life-and-death match, it is like suddenly being plunged into the darkest night. But if you can calm your mind, it is like a hazy moon appearing in the darkness."

          I think there is something to the idea that, without any metaphysical or religious baggage attached to it, the concept and practice of people being decent to each other does indeed "...reduce the overall probability of people offing each other...?"

          Which reminds me of something I read after Sept 11: that we see the few grave and horrific acts perpetrated against humanity and worry that our culture is decadent and cruel. But to do that we have to ignore the 10,000 small acts of decency that go unnoticed everyday. Or, as Desmond Morris pointed out, if any other species of higher mammal lived in such concentration and proximity to each other as humans do to other humans, they would almost certainly have torn each other to shreds long ago.

          I shall now step down from the soapbox...



          b

          Comment


          • #6
            Has anyone taken a look at Japanese culture in general? Let's take a step outside of kendo. How about their government? All the nice nice going on with all the smiling faces but behind the scenes it's business-as-usual with all the back stabbing and dirty dealing in smoke filled rooms. It's no wonder why reigi is so important! Now try to imagine Japan without it? It's all about WA!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              What? It's all about "Western Australia?"

              Comment


              • #8
                Haahaa !!! Good One Ben !.....

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sorry, that was so not funny. As for Japanese culture in general, I'd rather not go there...

                  But maybe Confound has some thoughts on the subject:
                  Moshi, moshi... Confhaundo-san imasu ka?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What? It's all about "Western Australia?"
                    Oho! Noogies for Ben on that one!

                    Noogie! Noogie! Noogie!

                    heh

                    Yeah, where is confound, eh?

                    PEACE
                    Meng

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      >the seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy of reigi and the act of bashing someone's head in<

                      Show respect and thanks to your training partner/s without them you can not develop your kendo.

                      The opponent is yourself.

                      To quote another -

                      "The Concept of Kendo - is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana.
                      The purpose of Kendo is -

                      To mould the mind and body,
                      To cultivate a vigorous spirit, through correct and rigid training,
                      To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo.
                      To hold in esteem human courtesy and honour,
                      To associate with others with sincerity and
                      To forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
                      Thus, one will be able -

                      To love one's country and society,
                      To contribute to the development of culture and
                      To promote peace and prosperity among all peoples."

                      David J, reigi fits if you understand the above concept.

                      Good luck, I am sure we all are faced with dichotomies and confusion in our study of Kendo !

                      Richard

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Reigi wa...

                        mina-san konnichiwa~

                        ... why do you people always try to make things look so superstitious? I've never found bowing to be something like "wooo...cultivate your spirit" and stuff. Dear Westerners, please do some east Asia cultural studies...

                        Bow to your opponent
                        = saying "let's practice together + learn"
                        =shaking hands and say "nice to meet you"
                        =saluting by placing your hand to your forehead (in the army)
                        =kiss your friends on their cheeks (okay, for French or Italian etc.)

                        When I was at school, every single morning when a teacher walk into the classroom, the whole class have to stand up ("Kiritsu!!"), and "Rei!" by bowing and say "Good morning Mrs. XX"... THIS IS NOT JUST LIMITED TO JAPANESE AND KENDO!! Oi come on guys!

                        By the way, if you run through the film "The Last Emperor of China", you'll see how the government official BOW to the emperor. All the bows are on the floor with your forehead knocking on the floor (and make a sound!).

                        And please don't quote " The Purpose of Kendo" all the time. They are not the Jedi Codes!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          NB...

                          Originally posted by Kendoka
                          David J, reigi fits if you understand the above concept.

                          Good luck, I am sure we all are faced with dichotomies and confusion in our study of Kendo !

                          Richard
                          Just for the record, its not me that is confused by this idea, it was based on a quote by cklin. Me, I dig the bowing thing I was just interested to see what other thought. Thanks all for comments raised so far, and to mingshi for reining us back in

                          <rei>

                          Dave

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            mingshi:

                            Bowing to your opponent: "I salute you who are about to die"

                            And what are the Jedi Codes anyway?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Reigi wa...

                              Originally posted by mingshi
                              And please don't quote " The Purpose of Kendo" all the time. They are not the Jedi Codes!
                              Heh, mantra of the day... "The purpose of practicing kendo is not to become a Jedi master, the purpose of practi...

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X