My personal "Interpretive" Lens!
"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour
"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon
"What is true today may be reevaluated as false not long after. Judgements are frequently based upon a set of "temporary" circumstances surrounding them. Conflicting ideologies can exist simultaneously. Antagonistic dualities are complementary aspects of a unified whole: are seen as mutually dependent mirror images of each other." - Nahum Stiskin
Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.
Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.
A person's heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while the blood circulating is similar to the Sun and Moon yet the manner of drinking and spitting is either soft or hard while a person's unbalance is the same as a weight and the body should be able to change direction at any time as the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself and both the eyes must see all sides as the ears must listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction.
A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while circulatory system is similar to the cycles of the moon and sun yet the breathing methods are either hard or soft while one’s posture should allow one to advance, retreat, engage, and disengage as the body should be able to act in accordance with time and change so that one must enter a state of emptiness (mushin/zanshin) allowing the eyes must see all sides and the ears should listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction. - My rendition per translation from Andy Sloane Sensei.
This new martial term means "ancient pathway." The below picture first viewed on the Cook Dings Kitchen blog written and posted by Rick inspired me toward the symbolism I detected within the photo. I will try to convey all or some of those symbolic meanings I perceive within this korai michi photo.
It is representative of the yin-yang concept as seen by the stones along this ancient pathway. The stones themselves are yang while the space between the stones in the yin. It reminds me of the garden pathways leading to the ancient tea ceremony where each stone is representative of some action to be taken by the follower of the path. It direction and placement often causes pauses and positions that best display the garden itself and the garden displays represent some symbolic or natural view of the larger nature around us in this world.
The raised stones and the void between are meant to symbolize that one must not stray from the path chosen. The path itself that lays under one's feet as they travel the korai michi provide lessons to learn along the way, they provide a means to step in correct ways, and it helps the follower of korai michi to determine by the placement, shape, and void between how to approach, step onto and then set kamae before immediately stepping past it and on to the next lesson. Any fault in the step or kamae will cause instability and often a fall like a great weight to another stone giving unexpected lessons before, during and after the loss of balance and weight falling.
The long grass waving on each side of the path are similar to the rough seas that are both yin-yang where the turbulence of the air moving the grass is yang and the underlying roots that grasp the earth are yang but the flexibility of the grass that bends to the will of the winds is yin. The winds flowing like a cool breeze barely ruffling the grass is yin while great gusts that bend the grass almost to the earth are yang. This represents the yin-yang of life's encounters from moment to moment where the will of the wind is indeterminable until experienced in the present moment and speaks to the korai michi follower the chaos of each moment and its ability to teach us about the unknown of each next moment.
The rough setting of the stones along the entire korai michi symbolize the practice of martial systems in that each determines a new lesson on stance, direction, body positioning, technique applications, type of technique, body alignment, principle applications, etc. Each is unique and requires applying something unique and different as determined by the step, the stone, the space or void between the stone, the stability of the stone when weight is applied, balance and equilibrium - to name but a few.
The fact that the stone korai michi was built by human's upon the earth under the heavens above through effort, diligence and discipline symbolizes that a martial artists must apply effort, diligence and discipline toward building a martial path to follow. It is a rocky road we follow requiring focus and determination to build, follow and leave behind for others.
The change or transition displayed by the darkness entering under the moons glow from the light provided by the sun or the sun setting its light below the horizon allowing the glow of the moon for night to enlighten the korai michi, the path of martial systems, so we may see, hear, and feel our efforts and results as we walk the korai michi along the martial systems path, road or way.
The lone staff is symbolic that one must discard things that are used to support the martial artists so they must stand alone, walk the path alone and unaided to achieve mastery of their system, style or branch/art. Its placement at the first of the path is symbolic that all who first step upon the rocky path of martial systems must adhere to the basics but soon must allow the steps taken to become balanced and unaided by the basics so that one can travel the remaining path with assurance, dependability and determination.
The symbolism of the korai michi bending around the earth gives credence to the fact that the path is symbolically entering into a void or the unseen, the unexpected and the unknown. It also symbolizes that no matter how far we travel on the korai michi we can never know what lies ahead and reminds us that we must remain open-minded to possibilities. It reminds us that no matter how much we learn along the path that nothing is set, everything is open to change and that we must remain flexible to self-reflect to self-transmutation according to each new stone encountered.
The korai michi also reminds me of the Shinto Shrines. The shrines are built within any environment but the environment of the shrine proper remains in a natural state as the korai michi here is resident within nature by the grasses growing out of the earth's soil under the natural heavens or skies above it. The korai michi, like the shinto shrine, is constructed from natural materials and does not obstruct the natural surroundings of the settings within it resides. It is utter simplicity like the Shinto Shrines. It contains not man made materials, all materials are found naturally occurring on the earth. It holds true to the Shinto concept of simplicity in materials and construction. No nails or other materials are used to combine the stones, each stone fits snugly to the next, a part of Shinto naturalness. As can be seen it also holds true to Shintoism that also drives the martial arts.
The stone path gives us the impression that it emerges from within the earth naturally pushing aside the grasses to make way for the path of human's. It also speaks to the ken-po goku-i as the stones represent heaven, earth, sun, moon, hard and soft, balance, direction changes to reach, step on and pass stones of various unique shapes, sizes and instabilities, opportunity, and the need to see the path, to hear the path and to feel the path beneath our feet up into the body-mind.
It remains open to clear view and acoustic vibrations while giving a feel for the roughness of the stone, the varying stones and the void or spaces between the stone. Symbolic of the very essence of life and the practice of any art discipline including martial arts.
The stars of the heavens are alluded to and known to exist regardless of the night/day sky be it open and lit or closed in darkness with only the glow of the moon directly or indirectly shining from the heavens as indicated in this photo.
It is symbolic of how we work diligently to walk the true path so that the enlightening light of the sun can shine through guiding us to mastery. It is stone so it has a hard permanence that symbolizes how one should view and practice martial arts for life.
Although inadequate, this post attempts to convey the importance of the path and the importance of symbolism as a means to open our eyes, ears and allow us to feel, both tactually and spiritually, the path or the way or the korai michi of martial systems.