|Along Fitzgerald Lake in the fall.|
Winter's coming. I can tell because the last hard rain took most of the leaves off the sycamore tree in the back yard. It's been a wonderful fall. The leaves have been beautiful, especially walking the trails out around Fitzgerald Lake. Since I retired, I feel as though I've finally got the time to really look at things. Like leaves. Millions of leaves out in this little hundred acre wood--well actually it's a little bigger than that. But it's easy to approach these paths with the wonder of a child on beautiful fall days. And I find myself stopping to pick up and examine leaves the way my children did when they were two or three or four years old.
|This position, coming before|
the techniques under
consideration, is the
same in each school.
No two leaves are exactly the same, at least in the fall when they change colors and the slow and inevitable process of decay begins. Of course, there's an analogy lost in there somewhere, covered over with piles of autumn leaves. It reminds me of something my daughter said the other day, watching her brother finish a bowl of ice cream that he had said he wasn't going to eat. Something about Newton's first law of motion or was it Galileo's concept of inertia? Anyway, it got me to thinking about kata.
|The final position is|
also the same.
|(4) Shodokan version.|
|(5) Other schools.|
So, if one looks at it this way, it suggests that the teachers that originally learned from Higashionna sensei or Miyagi sensei, and went on to establish their own schools, knew and practiced the same bunkai, even though the katas look quite different. And it also fits the general tenor of techniques in the Goju classical subjects.
The problem then, if this is the case, is not with the differences found in the different schools but in later followers who never learned the original bunkai and had to fend for themselves in attempting to interpret movement that was perhaps idiosyncratic and certainly a bit cryptic without the original teacher there to explain it. In other words, the differences in kata do not necessarily point to differences in bunkai. Which, I suppose, in the best of liberal traditions, suggests that it may be more fruitful to find commonality in things that differ to some degree than to dwell on differences in things that seem by and large so similar. To be clear, I am not suggesting that all bunkai are correct, just that that guy's kata, as different as it may look, may be just as "correct" or at least fundamentally the same. What was it Robert Frost said? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...and in the end, they led to the same place?
When it comes to leaves, however, I can't help noticing--and appreciating--their wonderful variety and stunning beauty. I may turn into a rabid leaf peeper yet. And isn't it ironic that
we take notice of their incredible beauty in the fall, just as they're on the verge of dying?