INTERLUDE XII: Creation and Generation—from Aesthetics to Pedagogy
KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU (起承転結) and JO-HA-KYUU (序破急)
Writing, Music, Dance, Drama -- and Martial Arts
This essay brings together into one whole several strands of thought that possess much local clarity and some global obscurity. The ‘one whole' is the general expression of a creative or evolutionary process: the stages involved in the pursuit of an activity, or in the making or development of something, be it a play, a piece of music, a story, or in the activity of teaching or learning something—with the cognate concept of intensive training to acquire complex skills. (An obvious example in aikido would be the complex of skills subsumed under the concept of Takemusu Aiki
[武産合気].) The ‘several strands' are the various ways of expressing this complex process and in this essay I focus on three ways found in Japanese traditional aesthetic, martial, and pedagogical culture:
起承転結 [き- しょう- てん- けつ : KI- SHOU- TEN- KETSU
序破急 [じょ- は- きゅう: JO- HA- KYUU
守破離 [しゅ- は- り: SHU- HA- RI
(NOTE: I have followed the accepted convention of using capitals for the Chinese-based ON
readings of these characters and lower-case for the Japanese kun
readings. However, it would be too burdensome to use the same convention for all the many Japanese words I cite in this essay. 能 [のう] is given the customary English translation of Noh
, rather than Nou
, which is the convention I use here for rendering long vowels in the English alphabet.)
The ‘global obscurity' lies in the fact that very little has been written about these expressions and that they do not usually appear in handbooks and encyclopedias of Japanese culture. After three decades of teaching in Japanese universities, I can make the generalization with some confidence that the vast majority of my students (a) have heard of KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU from their high school writing classes, (b) have occasionally heard the expression JO-HA-KYUU, mainly because of its contemporary use, but (c) have never encountered SHU-HA-RI and do not know what it means. (I should add that the generalization also includes the aikido students I have taught over the years.) The ‘local clarity' also includes the fact that the meaning of the expressions is assumed to be clear by those who use them, especially non-Japanese.
The three compound expressions each have a different focus. KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU expresses a way of organizing thoughts in a poem or piece of writing, JO-HA-KYUU was, initially at least, a way of organizing court music, but was then extended to include traditional Japanese arts, and SHU-HA-RI expressed a traditional Japanese paradigm of developing proficiency in an art or skill. The focus of aikido students is usually on SHU-HA-RI and not the other two, probably because the other two are relatively unknown and not directly relevant to training, and also because a few eminent teachers have discussed SHU-HA-RI, sometimes explaining each stage in detail. In fact, some students of aikido regard SHU-HA-RI—or what they understand as SHU-HA-RI—as an indispensible way of presenting the practice of training and they tend to see the training almost exclusively in terms of training under the direction of one particular teacher. This training is sometimes seen in prescriptive terms, coupled with a view of the relationship with the teacher that verges on the semi-mystical. Thus the main aim in beginning aikido is to find one's teacher or master and one cannot presume to have begun ‘real' training until one has found one's ‘true' master. The process of search is usually governed by another semi-mystical adage, namely, that ‘one's teacher will appear when one is ready,' and ideally ends in a realization like satori
. Given such conditions, any rational explanation is usually deemed inadequate in the face of the seeming power of the feeling of certainty. There is an absoluteness here that might be disconcerting to the student who wants to begin ‘real' training, but is reluctant to have to deal with such absolutes. Even this reluctance is sometimes placed in a semi-mystical context, with the overall explanation that the student is ‘not yet ready', the assumption being that if the student really were ready, there would be no rational questioning or hesitation—and the circle is completed.
One important question for aikido students is whether Morihei Ueshiba ever used the terms and in this connection I was privileged to know an aikido teacher named Okumura Shigenobu. Mr Okumura was born in the north of Japan, but began his aikido training in Manchuria under the direction of Tomiki Kenji, who was sent by Morihei Ueshiba to teach aiki-budo
at Kenkoku University and some military institutions. During a training seminar in the Netherlands a few years ago, he gave a talk about the camel, the lion and the baby. According to Okumura Shihan, the camel represented SHU, the lion, HA and the baby, RI. As far as I understood the talk (and I was translating from Japanese to English), the emphasis was on SHU-HA-RI as a learning process, centered on the student. The quality of the relationship between student and teacher was not explored, nor was any connection made between these concepts and the way in which Morihei Ueshiba himself taught aikido.
There is very little discussion of these multiple concepts and such discussions that exist do not usually place them all together, as I have done in this essay. The question then has to be asked whether we are dealing with a happy coincidence, or whether there is a structural or historical connection between them, such that examination of one will lead to illumination about the others. Tamba Akira, who is a Japanese musician and music scholar with a particular interest in Olivier Messiaen, appears to believe that this is the case with JO-HA-KYUU, for in his book on the subject he gives an elaborate chart that is intended to show the development of the concept. Six traditional arts are grouped together, the six being 華道 [KADOU
: the way of the flower], 剣道 [KENDOU
: the way of the sword], 弓道 [KYUUDOU
: the way of the bow], 書道 [SHODOU
: the way of the brush], 香道 [KOUDOU
: which we can call ‘the way of the nose'], 茶道 [CHADOU
: the way of tea]. All these traditional arts supposedly exhibit the principles of JO-HA-KYUU, but according to the chart they can also be approached in terms of SHU-HA-RI and, since the chart purports to show historical development, the chart indicates that JO-HA-KYUU led to SHU-HA-RI. However, there are other arts listed where the connection from JO-HA-KYUU to SHU-HA-RI was not made. (The chart can be found on p. 170 of Tamba's book: 丹波 明, 『「序破急」という美学』 , which we can roughly translate as, ‘The Aesthetics of JO-HA-KYUU
.' All the citations and quotations from Tamba in this essay relate to this book.)
Tamba Akira's analysis is very wide in range, for he connects the principles of JO-HA-KYUU not only with the traditional arts mentioned, but also with shamanism and the concept of 成る [naru
: coming to be]. According to Tamba, who draws on the research of Maruyama Masao, an eminent Japanese scholar who wrote much about postwar Japan in relation to its earlier history, this is found in Japan's ancient myths as set out in the early sections of the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
. The argument underlying this connection is that JO-HA-KYUU expresses a much wider creative concept than the name would seem to imply. Other scholars discuss JO-HA-KYUU extensively—but exclusively—within the context of Noh plays or, to a lesser extent, kenjutsu
, and Tamba's discussion is valuable because he attempts to provide a much wider cultural context for these discussions. One problem with Tamba's analysis, however, is that he does not present evidence for any relationship between JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI, apart from connecting arrows in the chart referred to above, and those who wish to study his arguments in more detail should also be warned in advance that he follows the common Japanese academic practice of giving few references and no notes or bibliography.
For reasons of space, I have followed an earlier precedent and split this essay into two main parts. In the first part, I will examine two of the three compound expressions in some detail, focusing the discussion primarily on JO-HA-KYUU. There is little space in this essay for a detailed discussion of Tamba's views about JO-HA-KYUU and Japan's ancient myths, and so in this part we will focus the discussion mainly on Noh drama and swordsmanship, but also paying some attention to Maruyama's views on the Japanese vocabulary of creation and the connection with shamanism and Japan's early creation myths. Then, in the second part, which will appear as Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 28
, I will focus attention on SHU-HA-RI and its connection with JO-HA-KYUU. In both parts I will discuss general questions relating to the processes of development envisaged by the expressions. The questions range from the fundamental issue of whether creation follows any specific pattern, to more specific issues relating to structure: musical and dramatic structure, the structures employed in rhetoric, with or without the use of the written word. In the second part I will also focus the discussion on the relationship between teacher and student implied by the term SHU-HA-RI and the conceptual structures implied in the teacher-student relationship. Both compound expressions are thought to have a wider scope than the particular specific concepts in which they are couched and two of the three can be considered relevant in similar ways to the martial arts and aikido.
Issues concerning the relationship between JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI can be seen in greater focus by comparing these with the third expression to be discussed in this essay. KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU is considered as a literary device, but at least one scholar has underlined the connection between this concept and JO-HA-KYUU. One difference between KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU and the other compound expressions is the simple fact of numbering. KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU breaks the preferred pattern of Japanese cultural imports from China by having four numbered segments, not three. The Japanese preference for odd-numbered sequences can be seen in many examples: 天地人 [ten-chi-jin
: heaven-earth-man] and 真行草 [shin-gyou-sou
: true -- moving -- grass-like, used of different calligraphic styles], to give but two. What is common to all three compound concepts, however, is their assumed Chinese provenance, though this is less directly evident with SHU-HA-RI. So one important point of discussion will be the extent to which changes were made when they were imported. Since a study of KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU lays bare the general issues to be considered with the other two compound expressions, I have chosen to consider this expression first.
Preliminaries: Phonology, Etymology, Semantics
The three Japanese expressions are unusual in that they have ON readings, but are not compound words or abbreviations of statements, unlike the expressions, 駐輪禁止 [chuu-rin-kin-shi
: no parking for bicycles], or 年中無休 [nen-chuu-mu-kyuu
: Open all the year round]. Before examining the usage of these expressions, it will be useful to examine the meaning of the constituent terms and consider their use in ordinary Japanese. As we shall see, there is a wide range of meanings here, which reflects a similar breadth in Chinese.
With respect to one term [転: zhuan
], to be discussed below, a scholar of Chinese has noted that
Many free-standing Chinese characters have semantic flexibility, unless joined to a second character to form various compound words with narrower qualified senses. For example, zhuanbian [change, transform], zhuandong [turn around, rotate], zhuanhua [transform into the opposite], zhuanjia [shift, transfer], zhuanru [change over to], zhuanxiang [change direction, get lost], zhuanyi [change location, divert]. (David Cahill, "The Myth of the ‘Turn' in Contrastive Rhetoric," p. 188.)
Thus it is the addition of other characters to form compound words that has the effect of defining the meaning of the latter more precisely, but this can become clear only from a detailed discussion of individual examples. (Many examples of the Japanese equivalents are given below, but those who lack Japanese reading skills and who have little appetite for a dry and detailed discussion of Japanese etymology and semantics should go on to II: An Attempt at Definitions
1: ON and Kun Readings
Discussion of Japanese compound concepts like those examined in this essay is only possible on the assumption that the distinctive features of the Japanese written language are understood.
Scholars of comparative rhetoric have emphasized the enormity of the transformation that took place with the invention of writing, so much so that it is very difficult to imagine a language community that does not have writing. The scholar William G Boltz noticed a similar evolutionary pattern of writing in the case of four main groups: Chinese kanji
, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mesopotamian cuneiform, and Mayan hieroglyphics. In the case of Chinese, he also noted the "camouflaging effect of the Chinese script" and of the "unnoticed biases" that the script "imposes on our perspective" (Boltz, 1999, p.75). In his essay, written for the Cambridge History of Ancient China
, Boltz was concerned exclusively with the Chinese written language, but one can argue that camouflaging effect and the unnoticed biases also apply to written Japanese—with some added complications.
Since Chinese characters were used to write the previously existing Japanese language, a complex process of assimilation occurred over several centuries. The process has been set out in detail by scholars like Christopher Seeley in his History of Writing in Japan
, but some elements of the process need to be sketched here, in order to make clear the limitations of the explanations that follow. Though some Japanese nativists—and at least one teacher of aikido—argued that there was a Japanese written language that existed before the introduction of Chinese writing, no evidence has ever been adduced and so the working assumption followed here is that Chinese and Korean visitors or immigrants introduced the concept of writing to the Japanese as well as teaching them how to use Chinese characters as Japanese writing.
Given this provenance, we can relate Japanese morphemes with the approximately equivalent Chinese characters. Thus, to use Seeley's examples, when the Japanese word for ‘sea' was written down, the Chinese character meaning ‘sea' was used, which is 海, but the character was read in the Japanese (kun
) way as umi
. However, the word was also read by the Japanese as KAI
, which is the Japanese approximation of the way the word was pronounced in Chinese. Similarly, when the Japanese word for ‘heart' or ‘mind' was written, the Chinese character 心 was used, but it was read in Japanese as kokoro
. The character was also given the ON
reading of SHIN
, which was the Japanese approximation to the Chinese way of reading the character. In both of these cases, the meaning was constant, in the sense that to all intents and proposes the Japanese meant by umi
what the Chinese meant by their equivalents of KAI
This method was also used with other words that were written with several Chinese characters in combination. Thus, to continue with Seeley's examples, the character 海 [KAI
] was combined with 草 [SOU
] to make a compound word, 海草, and the result was read as KAISOU
and used to denote an important Japanese marine product, namely, seaweed. Similarly, 海 [KAI
] was combined with another character, 路 [RO
], to make 海路, which is read as KAIRO
, and denotes a sea route or journey by sea. In the same way, 心 [SHIN
], combined with 臓 [ZOU
], yields 心臓, SHINZOU
, which denotes the heart (understood as the physical organ inside the body). In all these cases the words were written in Chinese characters and were read in the Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation. (Seeley, History of Writing in Japan
, p. 1.)
A further question, which is not discussed by Seeley, but which is relevant to this essay, concerns the preferred reading. Generalizations are very difficult here, but a glance at a typical Japanese dictionary will show that the majority of compound words use the ON reading rather than the kun
reading. For example, KAISO
[seaweed] can also be read with the Japanese kun
readings as umikusa
, but my native Japanese friends assure me that virtually no one reads the word in this way. Similarly, the kun
reading of 海 [umi
] combined with the kun
reading of路 [ji
] would yield umiji
, also meaning ‘sea journey', but, again, this combination is not the preferred reading. Nor is the physical organ that pumps blood round the body ever referred to by the kun
readings of the characters that make up the compound word. There is no kun
reading for臓 [ZOU
] and this character is combined with others (all read with ON readings), namely, 心 [SHIN
], 肺 [HAI
], 脾 [HI
], 腎 [JIN
], and 肝 [KAN
], to denote the five internal organs of heart, lung, spleen, kidneys and liver, which are also referred to as 五臓 [GOZOU
: five internal organs]. (For some reason 膵臓 [SUIZOU
], the pancreas, which is also written with 臓 [ZOU
], is not included among the five.) So in these cases it would seem that the Japanese took over both the Chinese readings and the meanings because they lacked either in their own language.
In all the examples discussed above, including umikusa
, the meanings given to the terms and the compound words also coincided approximately with the meanings given to the equivalent terms by the Chinese. However, one can easily see that this need not always be the case. Once a language community has grasped the concept of using signs as written words, to be used for communication, the relationship between the sign and the concept becomes arbitrary and more stereotyped, with the consequence that the writing system can be modified to fit the semantic and phonological requirements of the language, in this case, Japanese. This fact has some consequences for the semantics of the language. As we shall see below, in the case of the three compound terms discussed in this essay the compound terms are all read in the Chinese-derived ON
way, but all the individual characters that make up the compound terms are also read in the Japanese kun
way. It does not follow, however, that the meanings given to the compound terms and the individual characters are the same as those of the Chinese equivalents of the three compound terms, always assuming that these actually exist. In some sense, the compounds take on a semantic life of their own and the meanings of the individual characters, when used singly or in compounds, offers only a guide to the meaning of the compound terms. This crucial point should be borne in mind in respect of the discussions that follow.
The Chinese devised a system to give some structure to the writing of their language. The elements of the system were called radicals. A radical is one of 214 characters, or parts of characters, which were used to structure and classify the written language. Because of the use of Chinese characters to write the Japanese language, radicals are also important for readers of Japanese, since listing words in terms of the radicals that occur in the characters used to write the words is one method of ordering the entries in a Japanese Chinese character dictionary. Examples of such dictionaries include Andrew Nelson's Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary
, or Morohashi Tetsuji's massive Dai Kanwa Jiten
. (A complete chart of radicals can be found in the front of Nelson's dictionary or in the endpapers of Kadokawa's Daijigen
[大字源].) This traditional system is somewhat cumbersome and compilers of other dictionaries, such as The Kanji Dictionary
by Mark Spahn & Wolfgang Hadamitzky, have devised a more simplified system. There are also other methods of ordering the entries in a dictionary, such as the order of the Japanese kana
syllabary, which is used in monolingual dictionaries like the vast Nihon Kokugo Daijiten
[日本国語大辞典] or the shorter and more common Koujien
[広辞苑]. However, knowledge of the radical system is indispensable for reading Japanese and for those interesting in studying radicals, I have given the traditional number of each radical used in the characters discussed in this essay.
A dictionary is only as good as the skill of the compilers and the extent to which the dictionary is consulted and accepted as authoritative by native speakers of the language. The major function and importance of monolingual dictionaries, then, is to record the meanings of words as they are commonly used by native speakers and recorded in literature or, more recently, in ‘living' language corpuses. For Japanese words written in Chinese characters this is a double challenge, since the meanings change in two aspects: the meaning of the compound word itself, and the meanings of the constituent characters. For those accustomed to English monolingual dictionaries, even the massive Oxford English Dictionary
, which purports to give the history of each word in the language, coping with a Chinese character dictionary presents a major challenge. Similarly, Japanese monolingual dictionaries like the large Nihon Kokugo Daijiten
are a source for the meanings of the words themselves as they were spoken or written by native speakers and recorded in the literature, but the character dictionaries are also valuable sources for revealing the changing ways in which the words were actually written down by these native speakers. Both sources constitute a convenient short cut to the careful and detailed study of the literature and usage, but they are not a substitute for such study.
End of Digression)
1. 起承転結KI- SHOU- TEN- KETSU
(Radicals: 156; 49)
The Chinese-derived ON
reading of this character is KI, but there are several Japanese kun
, and tatsu
. The compounds in which 起 occurs cover a wide range, as the following selection will show: 起立/御起立 [kiritsu
]: stand up (polite form); 起伏 [kifuku
]: ups and downs; 起句 [kiku
]: opening line of a poem; 起源 [kigen
]: origin, beginning; 起動/再起動 [kidou
]: start / restart (especially of a computer); 起訴 [kiso
]: indict, prosecute; 起床 [kishou
]: wake up, rise; 起請 [kishou
]: vow, pledge; 起爆 [kibaku
]: trigger an explosion; 発起 [hokki
]: propose, initiate; 蜂起 [houki
]: revolt, uprising; 縁起 [engi
]: origin, omen, luck. The various meanings given to this character can profitably be compared with those given to JO (序).
The monolingual Chinese character dictionary will usually give a list of definitions of the character, but only a selection of such definitions is given here. Here are the main examples.
1. おきる; おきあがる[okiru; oki-agaru
]: to rise (get up out of bed), to pick oneself up, to regain one's balance (like a Daruma toy doll)
2. おこる [okoru
]: happen, originate (in an intransitive sense).
3. おこす [okosu
]: raise up, set upright, begin (something, in a transitive sense), bring about, create.
Larger Chinese character dictionaries also give an explanation of how the character was constructed. The explanation is called解字 [kai-ji
] and is an attempt to explain the logic of the relationships between the elements of a character. It relies on the etymologies given in early Chinese dictionaries, but is sometimes speculative and occasionally mistaken, a controversial case in point being the belligerent and pacifist 解字 explanations of the character 武 [bu
: war], which has been discussed elsewhere. The解字 explanation provides important pointers to the meaning of the character, but is not the same as the meaning itself.
According to the 解字 explanation of 起, the character is a combination of 走 [hashiru
: run] and 己 [onore
: self], giving 走るのをやめて立ち止まる: to stop running and stand still. However, 己 is a mistaken character for とどまる [止 todomaru
(Radicals: 64; 1)
The Chinese-derived ON reading of this character is SHOU
and there is one Japanese kun
reading, which is uketamawaru
. The character is often combined with others to form era names, such as 承平 [Shouhei
: 931-938], 承和 [Shouwa
: 834-848], or 承徳 [Joutoku
: 1097-1099]. Other compounds all have the sense of consent or compliance, as in 承服 [shoufuku
], 承認 [shounin
], 承諾 [shoudaku
], or acknowledgement: 了承, 諒承 [both read as ryoushou
The Kadokawa Daijigen
gives several core meanings for承. Here are the main examples.
1. ささげる [sasageru
]: lift up, hold up, devote oneself to a cause, あげる [ageru
]: raise, lift up, hold up .
]: receive, accept.
3. うけたまわる [uketamawaru
]: hear, listen to, be informed, understand, learn about.
According to the 解字 explanation, the character is a combination of 手 [te
: hand] and 丞 [jou, shou
: help]: 手の上に載せて「うける」, 両手をささげて割り符をうける. (receiving / accepting a score on a tally by holding up both hands).
(Radicals: 159; 41)
The Chinese-derived ON reading of this character is TEN, but there are several Japanese kun
. The last is similar to the the kun reading of 序に as tsune ni
, and is an adverbial expression, as in: 転た今昔の感に堪えない。 (The translation given is: "I am deeply struck by the changes wrought by time," Kenkyusha Japanese-English Dictionary
, 2003, p. 267.)
The compounds in which 転 occurs generally relate to turning or changing, but the kun
readings express this concept in a primary form, such as fall down (korobu
), roll, tumble (korogaru
), roll a ball, knock down, trip someone up (korogasu
). Here are a few examples, some of which should be familiar to students of aikido: 転換 [tenkan
]: conversion, diversion, change of posture in aikido; 転向 / 転向点 [tenkou
]: switch, convert / turning point; 転回 [tenkai
]: rotate, revolve; 転身 [tenshin
]: changing (jobs); 転進 [tenshin
]: shift one's position; 転た寝 [utatane
]: nap, doze; 回転 [kaiten
]: revolve, rotate, swivel; 回転投げ [kaiten-nage
]: name of aikido waza; 機転 [kiten
]: quick wit; 捻転 [nenten
]: twisting, torsion; 移転 [iten
]: moving house, change of address; 自転車 [jitensha
]: bicycle (= self -- turning -- vehicle); 転倒 [tentou
]: fall down violently, turn upside down, reverse; 本末転倒 [hon-matsu-ten-tou
]: reversing (mistaking) cause and effect, putting the cart before the horse.
The Kadokawa Daijigen
organizes the definitions of 轉
around three central concepts:
1. うつる [utsuru
], うつす [utsusu
: 壊れる]: to move (intransitive); to cause to move (transitive).
2. めぐる [meguru
]: turn round, go round.
3. うたた [utata
]: gradually, little by little (of temporal change).
According to the 解字 explanation, the character is a combination of 車 [kuruma
: vehicle] and 専 [sen
: which had the meaning of 遷 = utsushi-kaeru
, to move]: yielding the general sense of 車で品物を移し運ぶ: picking up and moving something by means of a vehicle. Thus the core concept is moving and turning.
(Radicals: 120; 30; 33)
The Chinese-derived ON reading of this character is KETSU or KECHI, but there are several Japanese kun
, and iu
. Compounds—with a variety of readings—include: 結文 [ketsubun
]: end, conclusion; 結合 [ketsugou
]: union, combination; [also read as musubi-awaseru
]: tie together, combine; 結い方 [yuikata
]: hairstyle; 結び付ける [musubi-tsukeru
: tie together, link; 結果 [kekka
]: result, consequence, effect; 結納金 [yuinoukin
]: engagement gift money; 結婚 [kekkon
]: marriage; 結紮 [kessatsu
]: ligature; 結構 [kekkou
]: fine, good, alright, sufficient; 結論 [ketsuron
]: conclusion; 集結 [shuuketsu
]: concentrate or mass (troops); 団結[danketsu
]: solidarity; 終結 [shuuketsu
]: conclusion; 凝結 [gyouketsu]: coagulation, curdling, congealing; 腎臓結石 [jinzou-kesseki
]: kidney stones.
The Kadokawa Daijigen
gives several core meanings for 結. Here are the main examples.
] : join together, いう; [iu
], ゆう/ [yuu]: tie up / arrange one's hair.
]: tying loose ends together,
断罪する [danzai suru
]: make a court judgment, to convict, condemn, behead.
]: enclose, surround.
The 解字 explanation of the character gives a combination of two radicals: 糸 [shi
: thread] and 吉 [kichi
: good luck], which is read as getsu
and has the meaning of 曲がる [magaru
: turn]: 糸を曲げてむすぶ: binding together by turning thread (as in darning).
2. 序破急JO- HA- KYUU
(Radicals: 53; 6)
The reading JO is the Chinese-derived ON reading of this character and it is usually read in this way when combined with other characters to form compound words. The compounds suggest that one basic meaning is that which comes first: a beginning or preface, especially when it occurs as the first character in the compound word. Typical examples, nearly all connected with literary or musical works, are 序文 [jo-bun
: preface or forward], 序曲 [jo-kyoku
: overture, prelude], 序言 [jo-gen
: preface, introduction], 序奏 [jo-sou
: musical introduction], and 序幕 [jo-maku
: curtain raiser, prelude]. However, it also has the meaning of order, system, or arrangement of things, as in 序次 [jo-ji
: order, sequence], 次序 [ji-jo
: order, system], 秩序 [chitsu-jo
: order, system, regularity], or 順序 [jun-jo
: order, sequence, procedure]. In this case the character usually, but not always, comes second in the compound word.
There are two Japanese kun
readings. One is tsuizu
[ついず], which we will consider below. The other is tsuide
[ついで] and it is usually read in this way when used alone or with particles like ga
. Examples here might be 「序でがあればぜひお立ち寄りください。」 [Tsuide ga areba zehi o-tachi yori kudasai
: Please call on me whenever you chance to be in the neighborhood.
], or 「翻訳を読んだのだから、序でに原文にも挑戦してください。」 [Honyaku wo yonda no dakara, tsuide ni genbun ni mo chousen shite kudasai
: You've read the translation, so now try to read the original as well.
]. The root concept in these two cases is connection: the temporal and spatial relationship between doing something, namely, being in the neighborhood or reading the translation, and also doing something else, visiting the acquaintance or reading the original text, the two actions taking place either at the same time or in succession.
The Kadokawa Daijigen
gives several connected meanings for 序:
1. かき [垣: kaki
]: fence, hedge or wall, dividing two parts of a temple.
2. ついで, 順序, 次第 [tsuide
]: order, precedence.
3. ついず [tsuizu
, written as 序ず, but also as叙ず]: to explain; to create an order of precedence.
In the case of 序, the elements are 广 [ie
: house], and 予 [YO
: myself, but equivalent to 壁kabe
: wall] and the explanation given is kabe dake no ie
: 「四方に壁だけあって部屋のない家屋」: a house with only the outside walls and nothing else inside it. The transition to予 is explained by a homonym 舒 [JO, SHO
, meaning nobiru
: spread, extend], namely, 「家の東西に伸び出た垣」: walls / fence that divide / extend the house.
Thus the central concepts can be summed up as division, extension, connection, and the order of the items so divided, extended or connected, especially the beginning.
The difference between 起 and 序 is quite marked. Both are used to mark beginnings, but whereas序 has the general sense of division and the beginning of an ordered series, 起 has the quite different sense of something arising that has to be dealt with in some way: that something is worthy of prior attention and subsequent analysis.
(Radicals: 112; 107)
破, with the Chinese-derived ON reading of HA, is common to JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI and so we will need to examine whether the meaning changes in accordance with its use in the two sets of expressions. This character is one of a number that are read as HA, with the radical character 皮 [HI
: skin, hide, leather] on the right. In this particular case the radical is combined with another radical, 石 [SHAKU / SEKI: stone
], on the left.
Even when combined with other characters, the compounds in which 破 occurs generally have the negative sense of breaking or destroying. Examples are 破壊 [hakai
]: destroy, demolish; 破砕 [hasai
]: crush, smash, fragment; 破談 [hadan
]: cancel, break off, reject. There are some interesting exceptions, however, in which 破 as a metaphor is developed or softened, as in 破顔 [hagan
]: broad smile; 破格 [hakaku
]: exceptional, unusual; 言い破る [ii-yaburu
]: refute, argue down; 道破 [douha
]: declaration; or 読破 [dokuha
, also read as yomi-yaburu
]: to read something through critically. There is also 道場破り [doujou-yaburi
], which one dictionary seems to restrict to one particular martial art: "make a circuit of challenge visits to fencing halls." (Kenkyusha, 1974). The revised edition of this dictionary expands the entry and includes 道場回り [doujou mawari
: going from dojo to dojo] and 道場荒し [doujou arashi
: dojo violence], but the emphasis is still on kendo.
dictionary gives several core meanings for 破.
1. やぶれる [yabureru
], こわれる [kowareru
: 壊れる]: break, be broken, be destroyed (in a passive sense).
]: break, destroy (in an active sense).
3. 分析する [bunseki suru
]: to analyze, to reduce something to its elements, to take apart
4. つくす [tsukusu
]: to use up, exhaust, or come to the end of, to discuss fully and from every viewpoint.
5. 財産などを費やす [zaisan nado wo tsuiyasu
]: to use up, or even squander, one's fortune or resources.
The 解字 explanation in the big Kadokawa Daijigen
(which is the largest monolingual Chinese character dictionary to which I had access when writing this essay) suggests the combination of the concept of stone and the concept of smallness [komakai
[細かい], yielding a sense similar to 微 [bi
: minute, slight]: 岩石が細かく砕ける意 -- to pulverize stones or rock into small fragments. (『角川大字源』, 1992, p. 1258.) I give this解字explanation to suggest that the central concept of breaking something down into parts or fragments is of some importance.
急 has the Chinese ON reading of KYUU
, but this character also has the Japanese kun reading of isogu
, or kibishii
. However, in all the compound words given in the dictionaries, it is read as KYUU. In compounds, the sense is usually speed, suddenness, and unexpected happenings, as in 急行 [kyuukou
]: express train; 急送 [kyuusou
]: send by express (mail); 急速 [kyuusoku
]: swift, fast; 急進 / 急進主義 [kyuushin
]: radical, radicalism; 急停車 [kyuuteisha
]: sudden stop, emergency stop (of a vehicle): 急激 [kyuugeki
]: sudden attack; 救急車 [kyuukyuusha
]: ambulance; 急所 [kyuusho
]: vital point, vulnerable spot.
The Kadokawa Daijigen
gives several meanings for 急.
1. 心が狭い [kokoro ga semai
], きぜわしい [kizewashii
]: mean spirited, impatient
3. あわただしい [awatadashii
]: bustling, impatient.
4. 差し迫っている [sashi sematte iru
]: to be imminent, impending.
5. すぐに要する [sugu ni you suru
]: to need or demand something immediately.
6. にわか [niwaka
]: sudden, abrupt, unexpected, as in にわか雨 [niwakaame
: sudden rain showers].
According to the 解字 explanation, the character is a combination of 心 [kokoro
: mind, spirit] and a character no longer used in Japanese that has the sense of 引き締める [hiki-shimeru
: to tighten, stiffen, brace] or 緊 [kin
: tense]. Thus one central core concept is speed and a whole cluster of concepts about the unexpected effects of speed.
Conclusion to this Section
In one sense, the above analysis has been carried out back to front. We started with the Chinese characters as the basis for arriving at the ON readings of the three compound expressions and then looked at the Japanese kun
readings. Starting with the Chinese characters as such underlies the general assumption that the compound concept originated in China and was imported to Japan. For the early Japanese, however, the process would have been reversed and the Chinese-derived ON readings—and meanings—of the characters would have been grafted on to the living spoken language that was there to begin and eventually received the kun
readings. A different, but much more difficult, analysis would have been to start with the Japanese kun
readings and go from there to the ON readings. However, there are several reasons why this method would not work in these cases. First, the compounds appear to have been imported from China ready-made, so to speak, and were read with ON readings from the very beginning. A subsequent choice would be how the imports would be read in the Japanese language, but this choice involved only the individual component characters. Secondly, a glance at the index of a typical Chinese character dictionary will show the absence of a one-to-one relationship between the kun
reading and the Chinese-based ON reading with which it is paired. For example, okiru
, which is a kun
reading of 起 (the first character in the KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU sequence), yielded no other characters, but okoru
, also written as起, can in addition be written as 怒, 熾, or 興. In each case there is a different ON reading and in the latter two cases the meaning is congruent with that of 起. The first case [怒る], however, seems to be a straight homonym, meaning to become angry.
There is a double fluidity here. One, pointed out by David Cahill in a passage quoted earlier, is that there is a wide range of nuances for each individual character. This wide range is specified more precisely with the addition of other characters to form compound words with specific meanings. There is the possibility, therefore, that the meaning of HA [破], for example, might be somewhat different when it occurs in JO-HA-KYUU [序破
急] from when it occurs in SHU-HA-RI [守破
離]. The second fluidity derives from the fact of the enormous number of homonyms in Japanese. The index of The Kanji Dictionary
, by Spahn and Hadamitzky, follows the convention of printing kun
readings in lower case letters and ON readings in capitals, so that the straight homonyms, where the meanings are quite different, can be distinguished from the cases like okiru
, above, or hata
, where the some meanings are cognate and expressed with Chinese characters that have similarities, such as the same radicals. The existence of this fluidity needs to borne in mind by those who are unaccustomed to the distinctive semantic conventions of Japanese, especially when using borrowed Japanese terms as if they were English words with definite fixed meanings. It should never be assumed that a Japanese word that has been anglicized has the same meaning in English as it had or has in Japanese.
An Attempt at Definitions
Having examined the individual constituents of the compound expressions, we can now examine the expressions themselves. We will consider them in turn.
1. 起承転結 KI- SHOU- TEN- KETSU
JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI are sometimes discussed together with this other compound concept, also imported by the Japanese from China. One dictionary gives the generally accepted definition: KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU means ‘introduction, development, turn, and conclusion,' which are ‘rules for composing a Chinese poem.' The Chinese version of the phrase is qi-cheng-zhuan-he
and the Korean version is ki-sung-chong-kyul
. So the concept is not uniquely Japanese.
The large Kadokawa Daijigen
gives the following definitions of the compound expression. (I have given a transcription and translation of the second definition.)
① 漢詩で、絶句・律詩の構成の四段階をいう。第一句で詩想を起こし（起句）、第二で、これを承け（承句）、第三句で、情趣を一転し（転句）、第四句で全体を締めくり結ぶ（結 句）。律詩では、二句ずつをひとまとまりして絶句に準じる。起承転合。
② 文章や話などで、全体を秩序正しくまとめるための構成。 (『大事源』p.1694.)
Bunsho ya hanashi nado de, zentai wo shitsujotadashiku matomeru tame no kousei.
‘In written or spoken discourse, it is an organizational structure that presents the whole in a properly ordered and disciplined way.'
The first definition is specific to the internal structure two types of Chinese poetry and older dictionaries go into more detail about the internal arrangements of the two types, while the second definition applies to written and spoken discourse in general.
I myself came across the concept in a slightly different context, but one still related to composing a piece of writing. When I began teaching in a Japanese university, part of the training required students to produce essays and reports in English and I discovered an interesting phenomenon. Even very bright students, who had relatively few problems producing written English at the level required, had a disconcerting tendency to follow an unusual logical pattern: at some point they deviated from the usual pattern of introduction, main body, and conclusion—all following a set of prescribed logical steps, by adding a paragraph that I considered quite irrelevant to the main argument. However, I discovered later that they were following a different logical pattern, which they had learned at school. This pattern was understood as KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU and the crucial element here is TEN.
On one occasion I saw this pattern displayed in English texts set by Japanese examiners for the university entrance examination. There were four paragraphs and all four paragraphs followed the KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU pattern exactly.
There is some controversy as to how pervasive this way of logic actually is and the main area of controversy is in the field of linguistics known as contrastive rhetoric. One principal concern of scholars in this field is to explain how the native speakers of one language learn writing skills in a second or foreign language, hence the examination texts mentioned above. As an example of creative organization, the pattern of KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU is shown in popular art forms like manga
, some of which follow an organization known as yon-koma
. Manga is a major art form and has many variations, but the typical manga cartoon in a Japanese newspaper always has four segments, allegedly corresponding to the four stages of KI, SHOU, TEN and KETSU. Manga is thus an instructive parallel, for as an art form it is quintessentially creative and unpredictable, but it also follows a predictable pattern: there will be four segments and one of these will be the TEN. However, the problem most relevant to the present discussion is the meaning of TEN [転].
The Meaning of TEN 転
In the article cited earlier, David Cahill traces the beginning of linguistic interest in KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU in studies published in the US by Robert B Kaplan during the 1960s. Kaplan discussed ‘oriental thought patterns' and sought to explain the difficulties that Asian students supposedly have in learning to write in English by means of the tendency to digression and irrelevance that is allegedly a hallmark of Asian writing. Citing the KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU as an example, scholars
"claimed that this traditional rhetorical device by itself could account for the common reactions among American writing instructors and second-language writing scholars, accustomed to the dictum of directness, unity, and coherence in essay writing, of the supposed illogicality in incomprehensibility in Asian students' English compositions.
The evidence seduced researchers in contrastive rhetoric into accepting a narrowly literal understanding of the ‘turn,' that is, as a circular move of indirection or as an abrupt shift or digression from the main argument of a composition." (Cahill, op.cit., p. 171.)
This ‘narrowly literal' understanding of TEN is then used as a basis for explaining the alleged idiosyncrasies in Asian writing in terms of the ‘oriental mind', which apparently is essentially geared to vagueness, irrelevance and going off at tangents, renowned as a mark of inscrutability. There are two issues relevant to this essay. The first is whether 轉 / 転 in its Chinese guise actually has the narrow meaning ascribed to it and the second is whether this narrow meaning extends to the Japanese equivalent.
(1) With respect to the first issue, Cahill marshals a great deal of evidence to show that even the Chinese originators of the phrase (in Chinese: qi-cheng-zhuan-he
) did not give zhuan
[TEN] such a narrow meaning. In the essay cited at the beginning of Part One, Cahill quotes the originator of the term (Fan Heng, a.k.a Fan Deji, 1272-1330) on the uses of qi-chang-zhuan-he
in Chinese poetry:
"The poet has four methods at his disposal: qi—to be direct, cheng—to explain, zhuang—to change, and he—to collect." (Cahill, op.cit., pp. 173-174.)
Cahill also quotes a contemporary Chinese scholar on the variability of qi-chang-zhuan-he
in Chinese essay writing. The subject of the scholar's analysis is a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) essay by one Gong Zizhen, entitled "A Sanitarium for Sick Plums."
"The structure of the above essay is one typical structure among many. Sometimes, for the sake of topical or formal constraints, one of the parts may be omitted, or the order of the four parts may be altered, by, for instance, placing the conclusion at the beginning. Since ancient times, people have claimed both that there is a single essay-writing routine and that there is no single essay-writing routine. As Wang Ruoxu [1174-1243] said in Wenbian [On Essays], ‘I was once asked if the essay has a certain structure. No, I replied, it doesn't. I was then asked if the essay has no structure. Yes, it does, I replied. But what on earth is the correct answer? I say, there is no particular structure, but there is a general structure.' What he means by ‘no particular structure' is that is no fixed essay form. By ‘general structure' he means that there is a kind of essay-writing structure, but we cannot reduce it to a fixed formality as in the eight-legged essay.
(Quoted by Cahill, op.cit., p. 174. The scholar quoted is C Di, from pp. 294-295 of a paper on text rhetoric.)
Cahill concludes from the evidence he presents that zhuan
[轉 / 転 TEN] never had the fixed meaning of ‘turn', either when it was first coined as a description of Chinese poetry, or when it was later applied to Chinese prose. Furthermore, the order qi-cheng-zhuan-he
could be changed, or added to, or dispensed with altogether, so long as it strengthened the rhetorical impact of the essay or aided clarity and logical thinking by illuminating logical relationships within the essay. Cahill is a scholar of Chinese and his working assumption is that present-day Chinese scholars have an accurate understanding of the historical development of their own language.
(2) A question on which Cahill provides more limited evidence is whether this flexibility of meaning extends to the Japanese version of the compound term. He cites some scholars, but gives no careful analysis of the concept after it was imported to Japan from China. Instead, he gives an analysis of other essay-writing formulas in addition to KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU. Other scholars, however, give more evidence of the variable nature and function of the concept. Ryuko Kubota presents some evidence in a paper on Japanese written discourse. As examples, in stories KI is the beginning, SHOU is a development or crisis, TEN is the climax, and KETSU is the finale. In another interpretation (on journalism), KI is the makura
(preliminary remark), SHOU and TEN are sawari
(the point of the story), and KETSU is ochi
(a twist at the end). In another account two variations are presented by means of illustrations, according to different types of writing. In one interpretation KI, SHOU, TEN and KETSU are represented as a nest of squares, with KI in the center. Presumably, the point here is that the expository or argumentative essay expands from a central idea or concept. In the second variation TEN is the outside square, not in a vertical line of squares, which directly connects the first square (containing KI and SHOU) to the final square (KETSU). This is considered a variation that is more appropriate for a literary essay or a novel, where the logical connections can be structured in fashion that is less linear in form. However, these interpretations are by contemporary Japanese scholars and teachers who produce manuals of composition for high school students and have no interest in the history or development of the concept. (R Kubota, "A Reevaluation of the Uniqueness of Japanese Written Discourse," pp. 467-468.)
In the essay just cited, one other point is made by Ryuko Kobota that is relevant to the present discussion on the meaning of TEN. She emphasizes the
"drastic change in the form of the written language influenced by a dominant discourse of westernization and modernization. After the end of the feudal era in 1868, Japan began to reform most social, political and economic institutions along Western lines. Suddenly a large amount of western knowledge and technology began to flow into Japan." (Kubota, op.cit., p. 469.)
Kubota uses this point to emphasize the influence that this ‘discourse of Westernization and modernization' had on Japanese culture, including the written language. Until the 19th century the written language was based largely on kanbun
[漢文], which was pure Chinese or Chinese written by Japanese ‘as a foreign language.' The influx of Western ideas was the cause of a complex process of change in the written language. One change was the movement among those who were exposed to western literature of genbun itchi
[原文一致: correspondence of speech and writing], namely, that the written forms should follow the spoken forms more closely. Another was the translation of much Western printed material into Japanese, which led to the creation of new grammatical items and syntax devices, including punctuation marks. At the end of her discussion Kubota makes an important point.
"It is important to note here that unequal power relations are manifested in the practice of translating word for word without changing the structure of a source language rather than by reproducing the structure of the source language within the framework of the translator's own language. The language with less power is influenced by the language with power. The subordinate language changes its forms to accommodate the dominant language, whereas the dominant one is rarely influenced by the subordinate one." (Kubota, op.cit., p. 471.)
This might well have happened with KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU, coming as it did from Chinese to Japanese and then later being influenced by Western conventions of writing.
Conclusion to this Section on 起承転結 KI- SHOU- TEN- KETSU
Kubota's account, and also Cahill's, leaves some gaps. We know that KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU was imported to Japan from China, probably in the 13th century, but we do not know how dominant a role it played in early Japanese literature afterwards. I have seen no mention of the concept in classical Japanese grammars or anthologies of classical Japanese literature, especially poetry, and the attention paid to it by Cahill and Kubota is entirely based on the modern preoccupation with teaching Japanese students to write essays in an ‘English' or ‘Japanese' style. I recently consulted a Japanese colleague who teaches Japanese literature and he readily answered that KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU really came into vogue as a preferred way of writing only around the Meiji Restoration of 1868. He had no explanation for the 500-year gap and this leads me to suspect that KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU is another ‘invented tradition', with a beginning and an end, but little in between. So Cahill and Kubota are right to stress the fragile nature of the historical and evidence on which the received tradition concerning KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU is actually based and we will need to see whether this fragility is also present in the case of the two other compound concepts discussed in this essay. Also relevant for JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI is the question of semantics: whether the term acquired a Japanese meaning that the Chinese original did not posses. The evidence adduced by Cahill and Kubota suggests that this is not the case.
David Cahill mentions in passing that other scholars have connected KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU with JO-HA-KYUU. These scholars
"distinguish a native three-part model based on Noh drama known as jo-ha-kyu—‘introduction,' ‘development' (literally ‘breaking up') and ‘climax' (literally ‘in haste'). The jo ha kyu of Noh itself derives from the bugaku dance genre imported from the Asian mainland in the 7th century A.D., preceding the development of Noh drama by seven centuries. This tripartite structure originally marked the increasing tempo of the bugaku dance, was elaborated and stylized in Noh, with the middle ha section being further subdivided into introduction, development and climax, though this stylization continued to serve the aesthetic principle of ever-increasing emotional tension and tempo…that regulates performance of the Noh. When and why the jo-ha-kyu dance structure was appropriated to prose composition is unclear…" (Cahill, pp. 180-181, my underlining. References to the ‘other scholars', not cited here, are given by Cahill in his text and bibliography.)
On that uncertain note, we may leave this discussion and consider the other concept in the series, which is potentially of more interest to students of bujutsu
2. 序破急 JO- HA- KYUU
We can begin with a basic definition from an online dictionary of 古語 [older Japanese]. The definition is of interest because it gives a literary aspect to JO-HA-KYUU, which is what David Cahill also noted in the previous section. (A transcription and translation follow.)
舞楽・能楽などで、曲の構成や演出の 上での形式の一つ。一曲を三部に区分して、「序」は緩やかで自由な拍子の導入部、「破」は変化のある拍子の展開部、「急」は急速な拍子の終局部とする。三 部構成の基本形式として、能楽の演出のほか、他の音楽・舞踊や文芸などにも用いられる。(http://kobun.weblio.jp/)
Bugaku, nougaku nado de, kyoku no kousei ya enshutsu no ue de no keishiki no hitotsu. Ikkyoku wo sanbu ni kubun shite, ‘jo' wa yuruyaka de jiyuna hyoushi no dounyuubun, ‘ha' wa henka no aru hyoushi no tenkaibu, ‘kyuu' wa kyuusokuna hyoushi no shuukyokubu to suru. Sanbu kousei no kihon keishiki toshite, nougaku no enshutsu no hoka, ongaku, buyou ya bungei nado ni mo mochi-irareru.
One of the forms governing a piece of music or a performance in bugaku and Noh. The single piece or performance is divided into three parts. ‘Jo' is the introductory part and the melody or tempo is slow and free. ‘Ha' is the part that develops and expands, with a change of melody or tempo, and ‘kyuu' is the concluding part with a quickening melody or tempo. This three-part organization is a basic form, seen in performances of Noh drama, music, dance and also literary arts.
Probably the best place to start an analysis of JO-HA-KYUU is with the detailed explanation given by Tamba Akira in his book, mentioned earlier. Tamba Akira regards the compound JO-HA-KYUU as applicable to a wide set of phenomena and implicitly treats it as the most common of the three. He mentions SHU-HA-RI only in passing and does not mention KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU at all. SHU-HA-RI seems to be a concept more specifically related to a learning process and does not appear outside traditional arts, whereas KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU is related to the ordering of thoughts in a literary presentation. The question whether this commonality is in fact the case will become clearer as a result of the analyses that follow.
Tamba begins with an attempt to place JO-HA-KYUU in a general context and also explains his own preoccupation with the concept. The crucial element here is the act of creation and Tamba quotes a French scientist named Henri Atlan. The quotation is in Japanese and is not sourced:
Souzou to wa kichi no mono ga, michi no mono to souguu shita toki ni okonawareru.
‘Creation is something that occurs at the point when something known encounters something mysterious.' (Tamba, p. 6.)
Tamba adds a context, however. Atlan is a biologist and is discussing the creation of pathogens from a confluence of known and unknown bacteria. However, Tamba then extends this confluence to culture in general and especially to Japanese culture, which he suggests has developed from a similar confluence between the original substrate and a range of ‘mysterious' elements encountered from outside Japan: T'ang dynasty (618-907) culture, Buddhism, Confucianism, the culture of Zen, Christianity, European and American 文明開化 [‘civilization and enlightenment'], all amounting to the creation of something new. Tamba's own concerns have been with music and especially the music used in Noh plays and composed by Olivier Messiaen, but he also notes that JO-HA-KYUU, as a ‘meta-language' for a set of skills that have a temporal dimension [時間芸術], has not yet received the scholarly attention accorded to other important aesthetic concepts, such as miyabi
[雅: elegance, grace, finesse], aware
[あわれ: ], yuugen
[幽玄: quiet beauty, elegant simplicity], fuuga
[風雅: refinement, artistry], mushin
[無心: detachment], ushin
[有心: awareness, thoughtfulness, consideration], sabi
[さび: simplicity], wabi
[わび: austere], or sui
[粋: tasteful, smart]. (I am well aware that the above translations do little to capture the full range of meanings of the these terms, especially in regard to 無心 and 有心 in the martial arts.)
Tamba Akira's Fifteen Varieties of JO-HA-KYU
Following on from Atlan's—and his own—definition of creation, Tamba gives his own account of the development of JO-HA-KYUU. Over the course of his book, Tamba distinguishes three broad categories in which the concept JO-HA-KYUU is exhibited: traditional Japanese music; traditional Japanese arts in general; and traditional Japanese dramatic arts. He examines the arts in each category and distinguishes a total of fifteen manifestations of JO-HA-KYUU. The historical span is very wide, starting from the Nara period and the strong influence of China and going on to the present. Tamba is a musician and some of his discussions of JO-HA-KYUU, especially in Noh drama, involve detailed analyses of the music involved. It would take us too far out of the way to analyze all these fifteen manifestations individually, but we can briefly summarize Tamba's discussion of some of these, paying special attention to the occurrence of the concept in some forms of music and dance, martial arts, and Noh drama.
A: JO-HA-KYUU Encountered in Traditional Japanese Music and Arts
The account given by Tamba begins during the Nara period in the eighth century, when Japan was undergoing extensive and pervasive Chinese influence. The term JO-HA-KYUU was used to indicate changes in Chinese court music that was introduced in Japan under the general name of gagaku
[雅楽]. In other words, the term was directly borrowed and imported as it was and given the Japanese equivalents of the Chinese way of reading the expression. It is therefore plausible that a similar semantic transfer would have occurred and the term used to mark similar principles of Japanese court music. (I stress this point here, because the direct Chinese provenance of SHU-HA-RI is less clear.)
To give the following discussion some context, the main principles of traditional Japanese music need to be stated. Such music has been compared to Western chamber music, in that there is an ensemble of instruments, but the combination produces a ‘tone color' of the instruments that does not ‘melt' into a single experience. There is also usually a vocal part, with text or theme, and a lack of interest in the vertical sound units like chords and harmony, but, instead an emphasis on ‘pillar tones' and stereotyped rhythm patterns.
"Perhaps the most difficult aspect of traditional music for the inexperienced listener is that it is generally through-composed. It does not state a theme and then develop it, as in the standard Western classical tradition. Instead it moves on to new musical ideas. What gives it a sense of logical progression is its conventions of form, which are stated most generally by the terms jo, ha, kyuu (introduction, scattering, rushing towards the finale). In much of Japanese classical music there is a general goal of creating the maximum effect with a minimum of material." (Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia [the revised 9-volume Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan], p. 1023.)
Within the general category of gagaku
, Tamba includes several subcategories. Briefly, mikagura
[御神楽] were musical performances given at the Japanese court and appear to have been organized on the model of the performances given in T'ang China. Alongside this were musical performances outside the court, with accompanying dance, called bugaku
[舞楽], and music with wind and string instruments [kangen
: 管弦; utamono
: 歌物]. Shingon and Tendai Buddhism also had chanting to musical accompaniment [shoumyou
: 声明]. Tamba analyzes all these manifestations of gagaku
and marshals a great deal of evidence to show that the common feature underlying this music was the overall structure, of slow beginning, scattering into ‘fragments,' and gathering of the fragments into the climax. Like KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU, the JO, HA, and KYUU stages were highly flexible and were further subdivided. We will analyze one of these manifestations in a little more detail. The example is the music and dance form called bugaku
[舞楽]. What follows is a paraphrase of Tamba's discussion (which can be found on pp. 38-39 of his book).
The complete form [keishiki
: 形式] of bugaku
was in the three specified stages. (I have given the Japanese term for keishiki
because when written it contains one of the characters for kata
[form], which we will encounter again later. Those who have never encountered gagaku
, can see several examples on YouTube
. Some are performed on the open-air stage at the Itsukushima Shrine, on the island of Miyajima, just down the coast from Hiroshima, where I live.)
The dancers (sometimes a single dancer) come on to the 舞台 [butai
: stage] from the 楽室 [gakuya
: dressing room, backstage], if there is one. As the dancers move around the stage, the music is from a free canon called 追吹 [oi-buki
] and is performed by a small group with wind instruments. The same single melody is played by several performers and is timed to match the slow movements of the dancers on the stage. Since there is no regulation of the length of the accumulated rhythm, the situation that is created, with the seemingly chaotic absence of any tempo, shows a technique that astonished the musician Olivier Messiaen for its modern flavor. (As a musician, Tamba Akira, who lives in France, studied Messiaen in depth, for he believes that Messiaen's music is a contemporary expression of JO-HA-KYUU.)
The musicians slowly perform what one may be called melody—the term is 舞曲 [bukyoku
: dance tune] or 延拍子 [en-bioushi:
delayed beat]—and the dancers also start off very slowly. However, they gradually increase their speed. In the last part, the taiko
[太鼓] drum is prominent and the percussion of the drum, called 加-拍子 [ka-bioushi
], shortens a long cycle by half. For example, in every fourth bar, the drum is struck a single time, and in the half cycle the drummer makes to strike the drum at the second bar, with a consequent increase in the internal complexity of sounds [called 密度: mitsudo
, commonly translated as ‘density'].
The music that is played at this stage, called 早拍子 [hayabioushi
], is faster than that of the HA stage and the tempo gradually increases. The final part of KYUU is called 加拍子 [ka-bioushi
], with the similar increase in 密度 [mitsudo
However, it should also be understood that in bugaku
the JO stage does not introduce any beat or tempo, but in the HA and KYUU stages the sequence is further subdivided, so there is JO, HA and KYUU in each of the two following stages. In other words, HA exhibits JO, HA, and KYUU, and KYUU also has this triple structure. This subdividing is also seen in mikagura
, but according to Tamba, in bugaku
it was not done as a conscious process. It is Tamba's opinion that in bugaku
, there was some comprehension of the JO-HA-KYUU sequence as a performance form, but the melody had not yet been adapted into an organized structure. The conscious application into a definite structure, with the subdivisions sketched above, can certainly be found in the analyses of Noh written by Zeami.
Hyoushi [拍子]: 1
Apart from the concept of JO-HA-KYUU itself, a crucial concept used in the above description is 拍子.
The ON reading is ひょうし, hyoushi
, which means rhythm, beat, time. It is mainly used as a measurement of time or beat in music, but can also mean doing something tactfully, on impulse, or on the spur of the moment. The first character, HYOU [拍], uses Radical 64 and the Japanese kun
reading is はく[haku
], to beat (in music), to strike, to clap. Another compound, 拍手 [hakushu
], is very often heard at the carefully planned wedding banquets in Japan and means to clap or applaud. Announcers usually tell the participants exactly when to do this. The second character, SHI, 子, is also Radical 39 and means child. It is also is a name suffix, as in 花子 [Hanako]. The Japanese kun
readings are こ [ko
] or ね [ne
]. This character appears in several hundred compounds, ranging from 王子 [ouji
: imperial prince] to 帽子 [boushi
: hat] to 獅子 [shishi
: lion], so it is difficult to find any unitary specification of the logic of the combinations. However, the compounds of 拍子 are more focused in meaning and some are very technical. The term is constantly used by Zeami, but also appears in the writings on sword training in bujutsu
, such as Yagyu Munenori's Hei-hou-ka-den-sho
[『兵法花伝書 』[へいほうかでんしょ] and Miyamoto Musashi's Go-rin-sho
[『五輪書』 [ごりんしょ]. We will discuss this further below.
B: JO-HA-KYUU in Noh drama
Since Noh developed from kagura
, it is quite likely that Noh would share structural links with gagaku
and its derivations. In some sense Noh constitutes a high point in the evolution of JO-HA-KYUU. Whereas gagaku
could be a group of musicians playing instruments, bugaku
added dancers, and the coordination of the dance movements with the music added another dimension of skill. Noh took this one step further and embedded the music and dance in a highly structured dramatic form, all the elements of which were supposed to manifest the sequence of JO, HA, and KYUU.
The Importance of Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443)
Tamba devotes a fair amount of space to analyzing the music of Noh
drama and one reason for this is that Zeami Motokiyo himself analyzed the concept of JO-HA-KYUU in Noh in great detail. Some idea of Zeami's understanding of the concept can be gained from the following quotation.
"Question: In all arts and vocations, one often hears the word ‘realization' [jouju: 成就]. Is this to be taken superficially, or is there a more profound meaning to it, and what is the reason for this?
Answer: ‘Realization' means to become complete, so in this art, it means the arousal of interest. This realization corresponds to jo-ha-kyuu. The reason for this is that in becoming complete, things fall into place. Without this falling into place, the minds of the spectators do not realize full appreciation. The moment when the acting is realized is the moment when one's interest is piqued. The proper progression through jo-ha-kyuu brings about this realization.
Upon careful consideration, it becomes apparent that all phenomena in the universe, positive and negative, great and small, sentient and nonsentient, are each equipped for jo-ha-kyuu. Even the chirping of birds and the crying of insects—the way each cries forth with its own particular truth—this is jo-ja-kyuu. (This is precisely the realization of no-rank and no-mind.) Consequently, these have the power to create both interest and pathos. If there were no ‘realization', there could be neither interest nor pathos." (Quoted in Hare, Zeami's Style: The Noh Plays of Zeami Motokiyo, p. 274.)
Some context is needed here. When I first came to Hiroshima, I visited the Itsukushima Shrine. The occasion was a cycle of Noh plays presented as an offering to the shrine deity by a troupe visiting from Tokyo. The cycle consisted of several plays each day, interspersed with comic plays called kyougen
[能狂言], and whole event lasted for one week. I was there only for one day and understood nothing of what was going on, but the event was a stunning introduction to Japanese traditional culture. At the Itsukushima Shrine there is a theatre built specifically for Noh plays and it is very old. The whole shrine is built on the seashore and when the tide is in, everything, including the Noh stage, appears to be floating on the water. At the time I did not understand the connection between Noh and traditional Japanese arts, including martial arts, so I could not equate the training in aikido to the training that the Noh musicians and actors must undergo. The way they move, even walk, the way they project their roles to the audience: all are the subject of rigorous training and it is not for nothing that this training, like aikido training, is referred to as keiko
[稽古]. Since they are plays, they present, like Aristotle's tragedies, an intense and critical distillation of human experience, such that the audience, also, undergoes an experience—a vicarious experience that is similar, probably, to what Aristotle envisaged as the cathartic effects of the performance of tragic drama. Zeami himself put it in this way.
"Performance is of a kind with life itself in its immediacy, impermanence, and grounding in experience and might be indistinguishable from life but for the interposition of a special bent of awareness. Subjects in performance, being subject to a concern for how they are perceived by other subjects, their audience, enjoy or suffer a more extensive, and yet more circumscribed field, of consciousness than most of the subjects of life." (Zeami, Performance Notes, Translated by Tom Hare, p.1.)Some Aspects of JO-HA-KYUU in Noh
In Noh, JO-HA-KYUU is manifested in several aspects and it is necessary to be aware of these, for Zeami's detailed explanations do not distinguish between them.
The first aspect is the compilation of the program of plays. There are usually five plays in one day and JO-HA-KYUU determines which plays should be presented in a cycle and in what order. JO is the beginning and the first play should smoothly present basic style and posture, with a clear story line and without complex detail. The second play has a similar straightforward theme, but is more vigorous, with intimation of HA to come. However, it should have no excess of detail and should not allow an actor to display his individual virtuosity. So it is still a part of JO. HA truly begins with the third play, which develops the earlier expression of JO. The acting techniques and visual effects combine with a clear sense of characterization. The fourth play, still in HA, allows the actor to move more dynamically and his individual versatility, the point being that the uncomplicated quality of JO is broken up into different aspects. The final play is the finale and is KYUU: an exuberant spectacle of rapid dancing and vigorous gestures, leading to a powerful ending.
Of course, there is a reason for having five plays in one day—and the particular order of the plays. A distant descendant of Zeami's puts it in this way.
"In modern language we might say that there are five types of breath coming from the five yin organs of the human body, and that they become the five tones and the six modes. … Similarly, to emit the five voices from the five yin organs one uses the five senses and moves in five ways—and out of these movements emerges dance. This was Zeami's explanation of how the body, voice production, and dance are connected. In addition, we find scattered throughout his writings references to things grouped or classified in fives: the five methods of dance; the five necessities that the actor must master (the two arts, singing and dancing, and the three body types, old man, warrior, and woman—ni kyoku, san tai: 二極化三体); and the five categories of structural elements (music, dance, acting, gesture, and emotion).
Much of the culture in Japan has developed from interpretations of continental culture, including Buddhism, art and architecture, and ancient Chinese five-element cosmology, and this theory of the five elements and their correspondence was an important component of medieval Japanese scholarship. Phenomena and objects were organized into groups of five and believed to correspond to the five elements and the five yin organs of the human body. This theory had gained currency in Japan much earlier, and could be found in gagaku-related writings and even in textbooks; it was apparently the prevailing wisdom in Zeami's day…
Noh plays are classified into five categories according to their main characters—gods, men, women, lunatics, or demons—and this system is thought to have been conceived in conjunction with the Five Elements Theory, as was the compilation of a program made up of one play from each category, in the order given…
The jo-ha-kyuu of a day in Noh means that the god is a gentle being of morning; the warrior's flashing sword reflects the blazing noonday sun; the climax of yuugen [幽玄] comes at midday, when our energy is at its height; the depths of madness parallel the sun's decline; and the demon is the personification of the growing darkness." (Kunio Komparu, The Noh Theater: Principles and Perspectives, pp. 30-34.)
The second aspect of JO-HA-KYUU is the structure of the play. Just as a typical program has five plays, a typical Noh play has a five-part structure. The parts are called dan
[段: section] and present the same progression. JO is the beginning and is usually quite slow. HA are the middle three stages and, as in bugaku
, the three stages together represent JO-HA-KYUU. The final stage KYUU is fast paced and leads to a dramatic conclusion.
The third aspect of JO-HA-KYUU concerns the music and the voice of the actors. In a section entitled 「一曲の構造に適用された序破急」, Tamba quotes Zeami with an analysis of the same five-part structure, but applied to the musical and vocal production of the actors.
「．．．．．．先、序破急に五段階あり、序一段、破三段、急一段なり。開口人出て、サシ声より、次第、一歌まで一段。これより破、さて為手の出て、 一声より一歌まで一段。その後開口人と問答ありて、同音一歌ひ一段、其後又、曲舞にてもあれ、只歌ひにてもあれ、一音曲一段。これより急、その後舞にて も、あるひは早やぶし、切拍子などにて一段。以上五段也。」
(Quoted by Tamba, op.cit., p. 81.)
Hare provides an informative translation (with explanations in square backets).
"First, there should be five sections, or dan, organized into an introduction or JO, a development or HA, and a conclusion or KYUU; the JO consists of one section; the HA, three sections and the KYUU, one section. In the first dan, the opening player [the first actor to speak or sing, usually the waki] comes on stage to sing his sashigoe, shidai and hito-utai[names of individual song types]. (The HA follows.) The shite now emerges and sings from the issei [a song with a particular metrical pattern, sung by shite shortly after coming on stage, usually with the prolongation of one syllable over a number of notes] through his hito-utai: one dan. After that is a mondo [dialogue] with the opening player and a hito-utai in unison [with the chorus]: one dan. Then after that is a musical passage, either a kuse-mai [song and a dance] or a piece in a normal tada-utai [standard singing] style: one dan. (The KYUU follows.) After that, another dan, whether dancing or sparring, or hayabushi or kiribyoshi [songs with a specific syllable beat], or the like. These are the five dan of a play." (Hare, Zeami Performance Notes, pp. 152-153.)Hyoushi [拍子]: 2
As Zeami indicates above, JO-HA-KYUU also governs the speed and rhythm of the music and chanting and the crucial concept here is Hyoushi
], briefly discussed above. As Kunio Komparu puts it,
"Jo-ha-kyuu governs all the rhythms of Noh, based on the assumption that jo-ha-kyuu is the natural rhythm of human life, that all thought and verbal modulations proceed not at an even pace but with time on an incline, so to speak. The idea is that the most natural, human way of being and doing is to begin slowly and gradually build up to a rapid climax, to stop and begin again. The jo-ha-kyuu of rhythm in Noh, in other words, is the application of the theory that because human beings exist in a state of unbalanced harmony, our aesthetic consciousness of rhythm also exists within as disharmonious construct. Jo-ha-kyuu in Noh rhythm is not simply a rough division into three parts of increasing tempo; it applies on every level, from each phrase of chant to each movement by the actor." (Kunio Komparu, op.cit., p. 29.)
Later in his book, Komparu goes into great detail about the various rhythms of Noh and uses a highly technical vocabulary. Hyoushi
] is the base concept here, but it is used in compounds and always underlies the other technical vocabulary. Two of the books on Noh consulted for this essay have various tables and charts showing the subdivisions of Noh rhythm in some detail. For example, in his book, Zeami's Style
Hare prints a taxonomy of 小段 [shoudan
: a term depicting the individual songs and spoken passages of which a Noh play is composed]. The taxonomy starts with two basic components: spoken passages and songs. The songs are subdivided into two types: songs which are incongruent [拍子合わず: hyoushi-awazu
] and songs which are incongruent [拍子合う: hyoushi-au
]. In the former, there is no specific one-to-one relationship between the syllables of the text being sung and the beats of the music. These former songs are further subdivided into specific types with their own names. The latter songs are songs where the text and the music do correspond and, again, these are subdivided into three rhythmic patterns, each with their own names. (Hare, Zeami's Style
, pp. 4, 52, 53.)
Finally, the fourth aspect of JO-HA-KYUU concerns the stage setting and the actors. Noh follows other arts in having a main stage and a dressing room, but there is also a mirror room and a bridge connecting this to the main stage. There are also specific places for the actors and the members of the orchestra. The particular places on the stage and the bridge leading to it were all explained by Zeami in great detail, again using JO-HA-KYUU.
Zeami's contribution to its theory and practice constitute a vast subject, which has been the object of much detailed study. It is sometimes suggested that Zeami's discussions constitute a bridge between earlier Chinese theories of dance and drama and later analyses of Japanese arts exemplified by the tea ceremony and bujutsu
. One scholar has called some of these arts Zen arts and suggested that Zen provides the common thread. Zeami did indeed have experience of Zen, but tied this experience to a previous grounding in Shingon Buddhist esoteric rituals and practice. The discussions of JO-HA-KYUU by Tamba Akira, Thomas Hare, and Kunio Komparu suggest that the relationship between Chinese concepts of creativity and bujutsu
is rather more complex—and less well understood—than an analysis simply in terms of Zen might suggest.
C: JO-HA-KYUU Encountered in Japanese Sword Training
Tamba begins his account of JO-HA-KYUU in sword training with a sketch of the literary output in the late Muromachi and early Tokugawa periods. In 1632 Yagyu Muneyoshi and Yagyu Munenori published 『兵法花伝書 』[へいほうかでんしょ: Hei-hou-ka-den-sho
] and this was followed in 1641 by Miyamoto Musashi's 『五輪書』[ごりんしょ: Go-rin-sho
]. Tamba notes the close relationship between the Yagyu family and the Komparu family, of which Zeami was a member. He notes that Yagyu received material on Noh from Komparu and a kind of appendix to Hei-hou-ka-den-sho
contains material given by Yagyu Muneyoshi to Komaru Ujikatsu, who was also expert with the sword. This close relationship suggests that it is not surprising that concepts like JO-HA-KYUU and hyoushi
[拍子: rhythm, beat] appear in 『兵法花伝書 』. Tamba quotes part of a note from the first part of the work, which is called 「進履橋」[Shin-ri-kyou
, commonly translated as ‘Shoe-Offering Bridge']. The text is quoted below, with a transcription and translation.
「かかりにも序破急あり。かからざる前は序あり。かかるうちは破也。敵に合うちあう時は急也。 ．．．．．」（『近世芸道論』 三〇五−頁・岩波書店）
"Kakari ni mo jo-ha-kyuu ari. Kakarazaru mae wa jo ari. Kakaru uchi wa ha nari. Teki ni auchi au toki wa kyuu nari.
"There is jo ha kyuu also in the tachiai [Tamba's term for kakari or kata]. Before the tachiai even begins, there is jo. In drawing the sword ha appears and at the point of matching the cut with the enemy kyuu appears."
The item quoted by Tamba appears as a headnote appended to the main text. The headnote is from Musashino
, written by Yagyu Mitsuyoshi.
Immediately after the quotation, Tamba gives his own explanation of the extract from 『兵法花伝書 』:
"JO-HA-KYUU is regarded as one hyoushi (beat or rhythm). JO is when one senses the movement of the attacker, HA is when one moves to match the attacker, and KYUU is when one has contact with the partner." (Quotations from Tamba, op.cit., p. 68.)
There is a great deal more detail in 『兵法花伝書 』concerning JO-HA-KYUU. In the section after the short extract quoted by Tamba, there is a classification of joudan
, [上段], chuudan
[中段], and gedan
[下段]. As Tamba states,
「また、この序破急三部の各々が上段、中段、下段を有し、その組み合わせは三掛ける九、計二十七通りを敵に対応する動きとしています。もちろん、こ の二十七通り組み合わせは無意識のうちに相手の動き適応し得る自然な動作となるまで、長い訓練を必要とすることはいうまでもありません。ここでは、長いか かわり（序）、それに続く攻撃（破）、最後の結着（急）が一拍という連続時間内における漸進的加速を伴う一連の運動として把握されており、「序破急」が剣 道の理論化に一役買っていることが分かります。」
(Tamba, op.cit., p. 68.)
The text itself gives no explanation of JO-HA-KYUU, but simply lists the number and style of cuts that belong in each category and also applies the names to a sequence of sword kata
. Tamba's explanation, given above, is more detailed than the terse classification given in the actual text of 『兵法花伝書 』, which appears on p. 305 of the Japanese text printed in『近世芸道論』. The two English translations are also as terse as the Japanese text, though they do have brief notes. The translation by William Scott Wilson follows:
"Concerning jo (preface), ha (breach), and kyu (dispatch), there are combinations of three and nine, and thus twenty-seven cutting techniques.
Jo: Jodan (3) Chudan (3) Gedan (3)All three are performed with a single beat."
Ha: Jodan (3) Chudan (3) Gedan (3) Tobo Kiriai Sekko
Kyu: Jodan (3) Chudan (3) Gedan (3)
(William Scott Wilson, The Life-Giving Sword
, 2003, p. 66.)
In his notes on the above translation, Scott Wilson gives a comment on the note from Musashino
, appended by Tamba.
"Yagyu Mitsuyoshi notes that jo (序) is described as the combat before the attack, ha (破) as the attack itself and kyu (急) as the responding blow of each contestant. …" (Scott Wilson, op.cit., p. 170.)
In his note on the ‘single beat', Scott Wilson compares this with "the music accompanying Noh drama, with which Munenori was very familiar." (Scott Wilson, ibid
.) The other English translation, by Hiroaki Sato, contains similar notes that stress the close connection between beat / rhythm in sword practice and movement & voice production in Noh. This connection deserves a closer look.
Hyoushi [拍子]: 3
This term is used many times in both 『兵法花伝書 』and 『五輪書』and in both works it is explicitly compared with Noh. In the 『兵法花伝書 』the discussion occurs in the second part, entitled 「殺人刀」 [Setsu-nin-tou
: ‘Death-dealing Sword']. Three hyoushi
are initially distinguished: ate-byoushi
[付拍子], and koe-byoushi
[越拍子]. Here is the translation by Scott Wilson.
"One rhythm is when you and your opponent strike at the same time; another is when he raises his sword and you strike from beneath; and a third is when he lowers his sword and you go over it and strike." (Scott Wilson, op.cit., p. 83.)
In the section immediately following, there is a distinction between 大拍子 [dai-byoushi
] and 小拍子 [ko-byoushi
]. The former is "striking with a big swing and a shout," while the latter refers to "swift and detailed moves." The point of both sets of distinctions here is to emphasize that it is generally undesirable for both partners to have the same beat or rhythm. Here is the translation by Hiroaki Sato.
"If the opponent moves his sword in a slow beat, you must move yours in a quick beat. If the opponent uses a quick beat, you must use your sword with a slow beat. Here again, you must use your sword so that you will be out of tune with your opponent. If you allow yourself to be in tune, the opponent will be able to use his sword well." (Hiroaki Sato, The Sword and the Mind, p. 67.)
In this and the following sections, a connection is explicitly drawn between swordsmanship and Noh. There is a striking mixing of metaphors in the following short section, which has clearly been a challenge for translators.
まひもうたひも、しやうがしらずしては、はやされまひ事也。兵法にも、章歌の心もちあるべき事也。敵の太刀のはたらき如何様にあるぞ、何としたるさ ばきぞと、とくと見すへて、そこをしるが、舞うたひの章歌よく覚えたる心なるべし。敵のはたらき振舞よくしりたらば、こちのしかけ自由なるべし。」（『近 世芸道論』 三一六—七頁）
Hiroaki Sato gives the following translation.
"Understanding the Startup Rhythm
In dancing or in chanting, if the performer doesn't know the startup rhythm, accompanying him will be impossible. In swordsmanship, too, there is something like a startup rhythm. You much correctly grasp how your opponent may use his sword and what tactics he may employ in order to see his ultimate intention. When you do, you are like a Noh dancer or chanter who is well acquainted with the startup rhythm. Once you know your opponent's moves and behavior well, you can work on him freely." (Hiroaki Sato, op.cit., p. 68.)
William Scot Wilson's translation is somewhat different.
"Being Aware of the Entire Song
For both dance and chanting, you will be unable to perform if you do not know the entire song. You should understand the Entire Song in the martial arts as well. You should especially see through your opponent and ascertain the action of his sword. Know this through to the bottom of his mind and you will have a mind that has memorized the Entire Song well.
If you know the demeanor and action of your opponent well, you will gain freedom in your own devices." (Scot Wilson, op.cit., p. 85.)
Experts in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu who understand the niceties of the Japanese text will be in a position to argue over the quality of the translations, but the main point of the discussion here is to underline the close relationship between the concept of hyoushi
[拍子] found in the theories of swordsmanship expounded by Yagyu Munenori and the concept found in Noh.
Hyoushi [拍子]: 4
As stated above, the term is used many times in 『五輪書』 and it is also connected with chanting and dance. Miyamoto Musashi does not use the term JO-HA-KYUU and he is not mentioned in Tamba Akira's book. However, he gives hyoushi
[拍子] the similar ‘universal' meaning that JO-HA-KYUU has in Zeami's works. The references to 拍子 appear in the first section of 『五輪書』, entitled,「地之巻」. The English translation by William Scott Wilson follows each sentence and he also prints a more modern Japanese explanatory / interpretative text directly below the main text. However, to show some differences of interpretation, I have occasionally added the translation and notes of Kenji Tokitsu, from his book, Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
. (For ease of reference, I have added numbers to the various sentences.)
1. ー 兵法の拍子の事
The Rhythm of Martial Arts
There is a rhythm to everything, but particularly in the martial arts. If you do not train in its rhythm it is difficult to succeed.
To indicate some of the rhythms in the world, there are those for the Way of Noh Drama. When the rhythms of the musicians playing wind and stringed instruments are coordinated, the entire rhythm is balanced.
In the military arts, there is rhythm and timing in the release of the bow, in the firing of a rifle, and even in mounting a horse.
You cannot ignore rhythm in any of the arts and accomplishments.
Moreover, there is rhythm for the formless.
7. Concerning the position of a warrior, there is a rhythm to rising in the service of his lord, and a rhythm for retreating from it; there is a rhythm to being in harmony with others, and a rhythm to not being in harmony with them.
Tokitsu has a note concerning 筈 [hazu
]. This term refers to two ends of a bow where the string is attached or to the notched end of the arrow that fits on to the bowstring. So the meaning becomes ‘that which is thought will normally happen, or that which is reasonable.' (Tokitsu, Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
, p. 378.)
In the Way of Commerce, there is a rhythm for becoming a wealthy man, and a rhythm for ruining oneself with wealth. The rhythm is different according to each and every Way.
You should discriminate thoroughly between the rhythm of success and the rhythm of failure.
There are various rhythms to the martial arts.
First, know the rhythm of balance [with your opponent], and be able to distinguish the rhythm of imbalance. Within the rhythms of large and small, slow and fast, know the rhythm of spacing, and the rhythm of resistance to rhythm. There are essential to the martial arts.
Tokitsu has a note concerning his translation, which is similar to Scott Wilson's.
First it is necessary to know the concordant cadences and then to learn the discordant ones. Among the large or small and slow and fast cadences, it is indispensable for strategy to discern striking cadences, interval cadences and opposing cadences.
(Tokitsu, op.cit., p. 149.)
Tokitsu's note concerns the various ‘cadences', which is his translation of 拍子. On the ‘interval cadence' he states that
"This term refers to all the rhythmic elements that can develop in an interval or the moment of void, however short it may be, that occurs between two movements or between two phases of the breathing process. Such moments of void occur when a person is in movement as well as when he is not moving, for example, when he is a guard position. If your level is high enough, you can detect these moments of void in your adversary and at this moment attune yourself intentionally to his rhythms; and you can also become aware of the moments of void in your own actions and fill them with a new rhythm." (Tokitsu, op.cit., p. 378.)
In relation to the ‘interval cadence', Tokitsu also discusses the general notion of suki [隙: fault or opening].
"In the development of technique in the Japanese martial arts, ways of provoking a fault (suki) in one's opponent play an important role. It is not a matter of finding such a fault in your opponent, but of creating it in him by exerting various pressures through your own technique and through your will to attack." (Tokitsu, ibid.)
If you are unable to discern the rhythm of resistance to your opponent's rhythm, your martial art will not be correct.
In a battle of martial arts, victory is in knowing the rhythms of your various opponents, using a rhythm your opponent will be unable to grasp, and developing a rhythm of emptiness (空) rather than one of wisdom.
With respect to the relationship between 空の拍子を智恵の拍子より発して, Tokitsu's translation is slightly different from Scott Wilson's.
"At the time of strategic combat, you must know the cadences of each enemy and utilize cadences that they will not think of. You will win by unleashing the cadences of emptiness that are born from those of wisdom." (Tokitsu, op.cit., p. 149.)
In each of these chapters, I will write most principally of this matter of rhythm.
You should investigate what is written here and train yourself thoroughly.
(The Book of Five Rings, English translation by William Scott Wilson, pp. 66-69.)
(Kenji Tokitsu, Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings, pp. 148-149.)
There is a lengthy discussion in Kenji Tokitsu's biography of Miyamoto Musashi about the meaning of 拍子. The discussion mainly concern 拍子 as applied in situations of combat, but it is appropriate to quote here the more general aspects that show similarity to Zeami's universal concept of JO-HA-KYUU.
"In a more general sense, I would define hyôshi in this way. It is an integrated set of cadences that link as rhythmic factors several subjects and their surroundings within the framework constituted by a cultural activity. This integrated set of cadences comes to fruition in a balance or overall harmony." (Tokitsu op.cit., p. 343.)
Although Tokitsu is Japanese, he wrote his work on Miyamoto Musashi in French and it might help to make sense of the English if the French is also included.
"D'une manière plus générale, je proposerai de définir ainsi le hyôshi: c'est une integration des cadences qui lient comme facteurs rhythmiques plusieurs sujets et leur entourage dans une cadre d'une activité culturelle constituée. Cette intégration des cadences aboutit à un équilibre ou à une harmonie d'ensemble." (Tokitsu, Miyamoto Musashi, maître do sabre japonais du XVIIe siècle, p. 364.)JO-HA-KYUU in Iaido
Finally, Peter Boylan, writing in the Iaido Journal
, gives a detailed account of the JO-HA-KYUU sequence in iaido
. He is describing the Ipponme Mae
as it is practiced the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei Seitai Iai.
"The kata begins with the iaidoka in seiza, sitting peacefully. As he becomes aware of his neighbor's intention to attack, he slowly moves to draw his weapon to prevent the attack. Throughout this period, the tension increases as the iaidoka comes closer and closer to drawing his weapon and his opponent does the same. This is clearly ‘JO', the beginning that builds towards the action. ‘HA' occurs at the moment that the tension breaks into action, when the kissaki leaves the saya.
Using ‘HA' to describe this transition is particularly appropriate for budo kata, where the beginning and middle are so different in feeling and in the character of the movement, and where the transformation happens so abruptly that it truly does feel like something being torn. …
The iaidoka has arrived at the moment of ‘KYUU'. The finish of the kata is the final kirioroshi. Teki has been driven back, and in this moment when he is open, the iaidoka finishes the action. This kirioroshi must be powerful, containing all of the energy and tension that has developed through the ‘JO' and ‘KYUU' (not HA?) sections of the kata. This is culmination of the entire kata. Everything in the kata has to drive to this point, with the energy and intention of the iaidoka leaving no room for any other resolution once teki has fully committed to the attack."
(Peter Boylan, "Jo Ha Kyu", The Iaido Journal, Mar 2007, Accessed from EJMAS: http://www.ejmas.com)
One issue is when the sequence actually begins and one could argue that in Boylan's account the sequence begins before the attacker has actually begun to move, whereas in Tamba's account the sequence begins immediately afterwards. The following description of K Chiba's swordwork also seems to match Tamba's account.
"At the end of the class Sensei demonstrated a simple series of steps to demonstrate the timing of drawing the sword. Three steps forward, draw in a horizontal cut, step forward, raise the sword and strike down to the head. Jyo, ha, kyu -- slow, faster, fastest. I'd seen it a thousand times, but as I watched Sensei cut with prefect precision and power, his back straight and his leonine head erect, I had a sense of being in the presence of something truly great." (Edward Burke, The Swordmaster's Apprentice, p. 154.)
I was fortunate to have been taught by Chiba Shihan in the early days of his sojourn outside Japan, before he moved to the United States, and he taught the basics of Shinto Musu Ryo iaido
, as interpreted by his own teacher Mitsuzuka Takeshi. However, I do not profess any expertise with swords, so I leave the issue here for the experts to consider.
Contemporary JO-HA-KYUU: The Evangelion Phenomenon
In the introduction to his book, Tamba Akira applies the concept of JO-HA-KYUU to more modern art forms than gagaku
and Noh. In fact, a perusal of the Internet in Japanese revealed a large number of hits for JO-HA-KYUU, with progressively smaller numbers for SHU-HA-RI and KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU, respectively. The name has been appropriated by pop groups and cinema chains and Tamba also applies the model to feature films, especially some directed by Akira Kurosawa, and popular television programs like the long-running Mito Komon
The name is also used as the subtitle in a set of science fiction anime
films based on a TV series called Shin Seki Evangelion
[新世紀ヱヴァンゲリオン], which was a major hit in the 1990s. The plot of the three films—a blend of Terminator
—is very complex and there is no space here for a detailed description. As science fiction, the films feature a battle between humans and machines and the setting is the future—2015, to be exact. A secret UN group called NERV is involved in a major battle with alien forces, called Angels. To fight against the Angels, NERV scientists have developed a series of bio-mechanical giant machines, called Evangelion
, which can be operated only by a trio of children, one of whom is the hero, a 14-year-old boy named Shinji. He has major problems in relationships with his father, with the two other chosen children, both girls, and with himself. In fact, one doctoral study examines the first two films as a study in the quest for the self, which is a common theme in Japanese postwar popular culture. Like Harry Potter, Shinji appears to be open and friendly, but also totally perplexed at what is going on in himself and around him. At various times he is ordered by his father to pilot the Eva
military vehicles and destroy the Angels, in order to prevent the End of Civilization as We Know It.
Although his book was published in 2005, Tamba does not mention this series, but in the introduction to the second film of the series on DVD, there is an explanation of the subtitle and this gives some indication of one contemporary understanding of the concept. For students of Japanese, most of the original text follows, with a short summary in English.
Why does the second installment of the Evangelion
films have HA as a subtitle?
Originally the subtitles of the three-part series were JO-HA-KYUU, which had been used in Japanese traditional arts and bujutsu
The original concept of the films can be likened to a railway line. JO marks the departure of the train and it runs along the tracks. But then the points appear and the direction changes and becomes unfamiliar, but for this to happen, the original point of departure had to be JO.
それをふまえて迎えた第２部『破』では、一部を除き「過去素材から再現する」という手法をたらず、基本的に新作ベースで進められた。そして、新キャ ラクター、新エヴァンゲリオンが次々登場。物語面でもシナリオには改訂に次ぐ改訂が加えられ、同じに新設定の使徒などの要素もいたるところに入って、過去 の印象を刷新していた。 ．．．
So HA, the title of the second part, does not mean a reevaluation of the source, but points to a largely new reconstruction of the characters and story.
What have the staff achieved with the second film? Well, HA is a kind of symbol. HA signifies ‘destruction' and one Eva
is destroyed by another Eva
. The builders themselves wanted to move (the train?) in a new direction.
The world of Shinji, the young hero, changes and his earlier awareness of the world and the significance of his past life is destroyed. So his questions about the ‘story of the present' are changed.
(Evangelion: 2.22, Blu-ray
disk, Introduction [part of the material included with the disk], 2009.)
So the meaning of JO-HA-KYUU here is somewhat different from the ‘slow beginning, speedy development and rapid conclusion' that is the accepted meaning in Noh and sword training. HA is used in one of its original meanings as a change, a reversal, and, in a play on words, the third segment, KYUU, is changed to ‘Q', meaning ‘Quickening' (in the sense of resuming life and vigor, as well as an increase in pace). The intention here is to change the sequence completely and move from focus on a rapidly paced conclusion, which is what one meaning of KYUU suggests, to focus more on a conclusion where nothing is certain and everything is in question. This is especially relevant in view of the fact that the makers of the Evangelion
films changed the original idea of a trilogy, which JO-HA-KYUU fits exactly, and intend to make a tetralogy, with a fourth film yet to be produced.
D: Tamba on Maruyama on JO-HA-KYUU and Naru (成る)
The discussion concerning Masao Maruyama and 成る [naru
] is another argument made by Tamba about the breadth of meaning found in JO-HA-KYUU. Though Maruyama does not appear to discuss the compound concept himself, it is Tamba's strong opinion that Maruyama's discussion of 成る, involving the time-based creative process found in Japan's ancient myths, concerns a creative process that can also be expressed in terms of JO-HA-KYUU. In the following section, I will give a very brief summary of his arguments, which can be found in Chapters One and Six of his book 『「序破急」という美学』, and leave readers to make up their own minds about the validity and soundness of these arguments.
Maruyama's discussion is found in various articles that have not been translated into English. It starts from the fact of three general concepts to be found in the two main collections of Japan's ancient myths: (1) 成る [naru
: becoming, coming into existence, coming to be]; (2) 次ぎ次ぎ [tsugi-tsugi
: successively, one after another]; and (3), 勢い [ikioi
: force, energy]. The descriptive metaphor used by Maruyama is from music: the three concepts function as a basso ostinato
, underlying all the accounts of creation in the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
. Tamba considers each in turn.
(In the discussion that follows, a perceptive reader will see the recurrence of similar issues relating to semantics that were noted earlier, which Boltz termed, the "camouflaging effect of the Chinese script" and the "unnoticed biases" that the script "imposes on our perspective." In other words, the discussion involves the semantic value attached to the different ways of writing words in Chinese characters and the effect that this has on the meaning of the concept that is expressed by the character. It is an effect that someone who is accustomed to using concepts expressed in an alphabet language might have a problem in discerning.)
Naru (成る) and Cognates
First, Maruyama notes that Motoori Norinaga in his Kojiki-den
, which is his vast transcription of, and commentary on, the text of the Kojiki
, gave three base meanings to 成る [naru
]: 現れて出る [arawarete-deru
: to appear], 生まれ出る [umarete-deru
: to be born], and 作る [tsukuru
: to make or create]. Against this, Maruyama argued that a large number of Chinese characters can all be read as 成る / naru, namely, 生, 成, 変, 化, 為, 産, 実. On the one hand, the ancient Japanese could not analyze in detail all the original meanings of these Chinese characters; on the other hand, they were not unaware of the fact of these various original meanings, so for the ancient Japanese all these meanings were subsumed under one main image, which was なる [naru
]. In other words, they left the problem standing. To underline his point, Maruyama points to texts like『淮南子』 [Huainanzi
: a compendium of beliefs and doctrines written for rulers], which were brought to Japan from China, and discusses how, with respect to the terms used to describe acts of creation, the Japanese altered the terminology found in those texts.
(1) With respect to 成る [naru
], Maruyama finds that the actual process underlying many ancient accounts of the creation [創造] of the world is expressed in one of three verbs: 作る: [tsukuru
: to make], 生む [umu
: to bear, give birth to] and 成る [naru
: to become, come into existence, come to be]. What is of most interest to Maruyama, however, is the suggested difference between成る [naru
], found in Japan's ancient records, and 創る [also read as tsukuru
: to create], found in the Biblical accounts of creation. Within the Japanese concept of 成る [naru], there is no element at all of a creator standing apart from what is created. (A glance through the first four chapters of the Book of Genesis
and the earlier sections of the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
will certainly show the differences, but understanding the points that Maruyama makes will require a close study of the Japanese text, both the kanbun
text and the latter transcriptions / translations into more modern Japanese.)
(2) With respect to 次ぎ次ぎ [tsugi-tsugi
: successively, repetitively, one after another], Tamba cites an observation made by Motoori Norinaga in his Kojiki-den
, to the effect that generation [連続性: renzokusei
] is two-dimensional. In the vertical dimension the generation is successive, with progenitors and descendants; in the horizontal dimension it is simultaneous, with siblings. However, the simultaneous dimension of generation was absorbed into the successive dimension, which, as generation progressed in the same linear direction, took on the character of branching off in several different directions. The metaphor of the growth of a tree is an obvious one here, with the main trunk sprouting branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, and, as one temporal cycle is completed, another begins and the 次ぎ次ぎ [tsugi-tsugi
] cyclic character of repetition in a time frame becomes evident. It is Tamba's opinion that this cyclic concept of gradual growth shares the same basic category as the biological concept of creation noted earlier by Henri Atlan, which, of course, manifests the speeds and rhythm of JO-HA-KYUU.
Tamba further notes that the Japanese have a name for this dynamic notion of time that includes the concept of gradual growth. This is 時勢 [jisei
] and it is a nuanced blend of 時代 [jidai
: era] and 時世 [jisei
: ‘the times', understood as something to keep up with, to be ahead of, or behind]. One dictionary rendering is the German zeitgeist
. It contains the notion of repetition without limit of abstract units of time, but it is not the ‘perfect' idea of time entailed by any concept of God or the Absolute.
(3) This dynamic time is not regulated by any outside source of power, but affords each individual thing its own natural power of generation and growth. According to Maruyama / Tamba, the ancients gave this power another name, well known to aikido practitioners. It is the power of musubi
「産単日: むすびの力」: musubi no chikara
], which Maruyama identifies with the third general concept 勢い [ikioi
: force, energy]. It is by means of this 勢い that creation and generation unfolds. According to Tamba, this creative energy also manifests the rhythm of JO-HA-KYUU.
In order to strengthen the association of 勢い [ikioi
: force, energy] with what he terms 自然に成りゆく力 [creative power in nature], Tamba gives a kaiji
[解字] etymological analysis of the character 勢, which is taken from the Kanwa Daijiten
, published by Gakken. Since the usual practice in this essay has been to use the Kadokawa Daijigen
as the base reference, we will give this account first.
This compound character is composed of two other characters. The lower one is 力 [RIKI, RYOKU, chikara
: strength: Radical 19] ; the upper character is埶 [GEI or SEI, but also read as ikioi
: to grow: Radical 32]. Thus,
「穀物や草木を植えつける農事には非常な労力を要することから、力の意味が生まれ、「いきおい」の意に用いられる。」『大事源』, p. 226.)
From the intense labor necessarily involved in performing the agricultural tasks of growing grain and other farm produce, the meaning of strength originated and it also has the sense of ikioi [energy]. (My translation.)
The Kadokawa Daijigen
also has a kaiji
[解字] account of the upper character 埶, [SEI, GEI]. There is a complicated explanation about the earlier form of the character [金文: kinbun
], which results in the general sense of using both hands to grow plants. It is stated in addition that the character is an earlier form of 芸 [gei
: skill], namely, 藝.
The 解字 explanation of 勢い given in the Kanwa Daijiten
, covers much the same ground, but in a different way. The explanation starts with the lower part of the character, which is力 [chikara
], However, even if we ignore this lower part [力], the same overall meaning emerges. The upper part has the meaning of a person [人] growing plants [植物] in the ground [土], by means of human strength, but in a proper manner, and this is coupled with (1) the power yielded by the technique or skill to grow plants appropriately and (2) the power of nature, which is external to the physical power of the person who is growing the plants. The human element is somehow disregarded and to the base meaning of 勢い [force, energy] is added the meaning of the 霊力 [‘soul power'] of nature that causes the plants to grow. Thus the central concept of ikioi
勢い evolved as 自然の霊力: the power of nature that generates, maintains, develops and causes things to flourish, understood in a very wide sense.
I have given these accounts in some detail to show the relatively fragile nature of the linguistic and etymological bases for discussions involving the analysis of Chinese characters and to underline the tendency to identify the purported meanings of the constituent parts of a character with the meaning of the character as a whole.
Tamba then suggests that some 2,000 years before the time that the Chinese began to create the characters used in their writing, this concept of the power of nature strongly influenced various streams of religion and shamanism over a wide area of Asia. Amid this wide variety of practices he argues that it is possible to discern some common concepts, such as the spirit or soul [霊] in beings, including deities [神], ancestors [先祖], animals [動物], plants [植物], the dead [死者], and also shamans, sorcerers and intermediaries, so that governments, social structures and individuals could take appropriate steps to communicate with and accommodate themselves to these powers.
Naru (成る) and JO-HA-KYUU
Tamba argues for this connection from a very basic position. The individual has within himself / herself the natural power of creation in a time frame. For example, a fetus growing in the course of nine months and being born as an individual in the tenth is evidence of an indispensable energy that is manifested over a specific time period. However, an exemplar created in accordance with the principle of ‘beauty over a time period' is not by itself a product of むすびの力」: musubi no chikara, or
: force, energy]. This type of creative process needs to mastered and so, bearing in mind this model of the potential power of nature, artists and craftsmen in different fields have gradually established this traditional principle of ‘beauty over a time period', which is JO-HA-KYUU. The first person to make this connection between JO-HA-KYUU and this自然に成りゆく力 [creative power in nature] was Zeami.
Tamba then asks why Japanese art & crafts, religion, and martial arts use this traditional principle of "art and beauty displayed over a time period", which is exemplified in JO-HA-KYUU and to answer this question, he makes use of a common trope that is rather controversial. This is that the Japanese have a concept of nature that is fundamentally different from that assumed by religions such as Christianity and Islam, which do not include any concept of 自然に成りゆく力 [creative power in nature]. Arguments about the ‘western' concept of nature as something tainted as a result of the Fall are well known in Japan, but they need not concern us here. However, Tamba uses western religious concepts in another way, as the following quotations illustrate. (A short summary follows after each paragraph.)
「特定の教養を有する宗教が、たとえばカトリック、プロテスタント、イスラム教が、自分の教養以外の美的原則で典礼を組織したなどということは聞い たことがありません。もちろん、宗教の典礼を儀式化し、常久化することによって、その信仰の尊厳と継続を考えることは十分あり得ます。宗教儀式の儀式化が 演劇の原点にあることは、しばしば指摘されているところですが、教養以外の原則を使用することはむしろ避けられてきました。それなのに日本の仏教は、教養 のはかに序曲、具曲、定曲の三つの漸進的に加速する「序破急」形式を取り入れ、また御神楽でも、閑拍子から揚拍子へと少しずつ速度をはやめてゆき、揚拍子 の最後の部分の「急」では、人長が舞い、律動間と空間性を最大限定に達せしめおうという「序破急」原則がはっきりと打ち出されていることが分かります。」
(丹波 明, 『「序破急」という美学』, pp. 16-17.)
Tamba discusses the cultural boundaries imposed by the Christian religion and Islam and suggests that they do not encourage anyone to develop aesthetic principles outside the specific cultural boundaries of the religion in question. Of course, within these boundaries there is ceremony and drama of great aesthetic merit, but for believers to dabble in profane things is considered something to be avoided. Japanese Buddhism, on the other hand, has long been open to the principles of JO-HA-KYUU, which is not inclusive to its specific culture, and this is seen in mikagura
, with the pacing of speed, the dancing, movement and use of space, and variations of rhythm [拍子hyoushi
, discussed earlier]. Tamba specifically mentions the ritual dance known as人長舞 [ninjoumai
], which can actually be seen on the Internet:
「ここでは明らかに教養の力と「自然に成りゆく力」の規範として創った「序破急」を重ね合わせて、同時に使用することによって、人間の想像、教養を 超えた最高の域に達せしめようという希求から出たものだと思われます。「序破急」は、あるものを完成の域に達せしめる「過程」としての「道」と考えられた からこそ、仏教、神道をはじめとして、多くの芸能の理論化に一役買ったのだと思います。また、「過程」としての成りゆく時間と同じに、「型」としての「序 破急」を用意することによって、いつでも最高の境地に達せしられるように、用意しているのだと思います。これはあたかもカトリックの聖餐式で、パンと葡萄 酒をキリストの肉と血として受けることになり、キリストの聖霊に接しようとするのと同じように、「序破急」を通して「自然に成りゆく力」に接し、個人の普 通の力では足し得ない芸能の境地に達せしめたいという願いなのです。この自然に成りゆく力に自己の成りゆく力を託し得た時、日本人はその精神的境地を無、 空、悟りといい、またその美的境地を幽玄、わび、さびなどという言葉で表現しているのだと、ある意味ではいえるのではないでしょうか。」
(丹波 明, 『「序破急」という美学』, pp. 16-17.)
So here you have the power of particular culture (教養の力 in the first line of the quotation), in harness with the general ‘creative power of nature', manifested as a standard in JO-HA-KYUU, utilizing at the same time the urge that human beings have to progress, create goals, reach these goals and then surpass them. With JO-HA-KYUU comes the cognate concepts of ‘process' [過程], according to a Way [道], and from Japanese Buddhism onwards, these concepts were utilized by a large number of crafts and performing arts. Along with ‘process' [過程] comes the cognate concept of kata
[型: pattern, form], also a part of JO-HA-KYUU, and the aim is always to reach the highest state of some activity. Tamba uses as an analogy the Catholic Mass, where the common human products of bread and wine are transformed into something sacred, and his point is that ordinary human power is insufficient and needs to be transformed, or ‘sacralized', through JO-HA-KYUU, in order to attain proficiency in [芸能], the skills, arts and crafts that achieve such transformations. The Japanese have used terms like MU
[空], and satori
[悟り] to denote this transformation and, in the field of aesthetics, terms like yuugen
, and sabi
It is curious that Tamba uses an analogy from Catholic theology, for Catholic spirituality always teaches that there is a sharp distinction between the profane and the sacred and that one cannot progress from one to the other merely by one's own efforts; one needs the divine power, called grace, that accrues from such sacramental transformations as occur during the Mass. However, Tamba cannot rely on such a sharp distinction to make the point he wants to make, but in his discussions of JO-HA-KYUU, he does not emphasize so much the importance of 修業 [shuugyou
: training, usually to an ascetic degree] that is assumed to be necessary, in order to achieve the states he mentions.
Not content merely with yuugen
, sabi, and satori
, as the Japanese expressions underlying the effects of自然に成りゆく力 [creative power of nature] manifested as JO-HA-KYUU, Tamba also adds other concepts, some of which appear in Morihei Ueshiba's discourses: 産巣日 [musubi
], which is a constant refrain in his discussions on uniting the three worlds; 直毘の霊 [naobi no mitama
], which also features in the writings of Onisaburo Deguchi; and 自然法爾 [ji-nen-hou-ni
Conclusion to this Section on 序破急 JO- HA- KYUU
There are similarities between JO-HA-KYUU and KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU and the above discussion has shown that the elements of both are hugely flexible in meaning. Some analyses by Zeami suggest that the unfolding of JO-HA-KYUU in a drama performance can be likened to KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU, but without the TEN stage. However, in some respects, the HA
segment of JO-HA-KYUU functions like the TEN segment in KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU and marks a major change in the sequence. The earlier analysis of the meanings of the constituent characters and their combined meaning is relevant here, for the concept of HA as breaking up into fragments, or analysis or focus on constituent parts, seems to be the focal meaning here. However, unlike KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU, which seems to have been dormant until its resurrection during the Meiji Period, JO-HA-KYUU seems to have had a continuous and fairly prominent development in Japan, as the complex and detailed analyses of Tamba Akira and the recent Evangelion
The discussion of Maruyama on the concept of 成る [naru
] adds another aspect to the concept of JO-HA-KYUU, which ties it more closely to the other complex concepts discussed in this essay. All deal with the problem of creative production in a time frame, but the discussion of成る [naru
[勢い] and JO-HA-KYUU ties this more specifically to the act of creation in nature and also and more specifically to the matter of how this creation, both creation in nature and creation of art and other works of aesthetic quality—understood in a very wide and general sense, is structured to take place over a time period.
The Compound Concepts Taken Together:
Paradigms of Evolutionary or Creative Processes
Expressed in the most abstract way, the two sets of concepts taken together are an attempt to delineate something of fundamental importance in human activity: they are a depiction of origin, creation, coming-to-be, and change or transformation. In the field of philosophy, study of these issues began with Greek philosophers, notably Aristotle—in his works on change and on rhetoric and poetics, and in more modern times, by intellectuals like Thomas Kuhn and Arthur Koestler, who wrote a trilogy (The Act of Creation
, The Sleepwalkers
, and The Ghost in the Machine
), but the three concepts discussed in this essay collectively emphasize that the change is always understood as a process taking place over time and therefore amenable to analysis in terms of speed, and therefore stages, and thus systematization, understood in a very wide sense.
In the field of literature, the process has been analyzed to some degree. A colleague of mine, from whom I spent 25 years learning the intricacies of the Japanese writing system, wrote a book entitled, 『創作の海図・不確実性の時代と文学』[Sousaku no Kaizu: Fukakujitsusei no Jidai to Bungaku
, which means something like, ‘A Guide Map for Literary Creation: Literature in an Age of Uncertainty']. The book, which I translated into English, is an analysis of how seminal authors like Ovid, the writers and editors of the Bible, Shakespeare, James Joyce, John Milton and Jonathan Swift, and also more modern writers like Virginia Woolf and T S Elliot, used models—and were also used as models by others, in creating their works of literature. The question is how and to what degree works of genius, which are supposedly at the vanguard of creativity, can be structured or systematized.
One contemporary example of such a process in literature would be the popular series of Harry Potter novels written by J K Rowling. As works of creation they are original, but Rowling clearly followed some established literary conventions as regards plot and characterization. In terms of the concepts discussed in this essay, the sudden and dramatic rehabilitation of Severus Snape, which occurs in the seventh book, is completely unexpected and could be understood as a clear example of TEN
in the KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU sequence. It is known that the author bound the actor playing Snape to complete secrecy when the films were being made and only the actor himself knew beforehand what was going to happen to his character. The whole development of the story, through successive volumes, could also be analyzed in terms of the more complex versions of JO-HA-KYUU, after the pattern of Noh plays, especially in respect of the move to the climax in the final book. Finally, as we shall see in the second part of this essay, the learning process undergone by the eponymous hero as he progresses through the school from year to year could also be expressed as a process of SHU-HA-RI, particularly in respect of Harry's relationship with Dumbledore. So the three concepts express a process that is easily seen as fundamental to human experience, but much more difficult to analyze.
The three concepts focus on three different aspects of the creative process, all fundamental in their various ways: creation in writing; creation in art, dance and drama; and creation as a process of learning from others how to master a structure and then how to break away from the structure and form one's own. The martial way of aikido, thought to be fundamentally different from other budo
and also other gendai
arts like judo, has rarely been subjected to such analysis. Certainly, works like Ueshiba's Takemusu Aiki
are often mentioned, but this term usually is left untranslated, or given a bland meaning like ‘spontaneous creation of techniques', which is probably true, but unhelpful to those seeking to understand and replicate the process.
Tentative Conclusion to Part One
One major issue, for me at least, is the extent to which the compound expressions discussed in this essay illuminate, or obfuscate, understanding of the creative process. Tamba Akira has made a courageous attempt to clothe this creative process in one, single, mantle, termed JO-HA-KYUU. Like a superb figure skater, Tamba gives a virtuoso performance, though the ice on which he skates is not always of uniform thickness.
For Morihei Ueshiba, aikido was most certainly an act of creation. Equally certainly, Ueshiba did not create his art in a vacuum. I have never encountered the term JO-HA-KYUU in any of his discourses, but the same cannot be said of the creation myths in the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
. It is highly likely that Ueshiba would have been aware of both the Biblical accounts and the distinctions in the meaning of the Japanese terms, together with their Chinese antecedents. Tamba made use of the distinctions made by Maruyama in order to demonstrate to his own satisfaction the importance and pervasive influence of the compound concept of JO-HA-KYUU. However, the distinctions argued for by Maruyama stand by themselves, even if their connection with JO-HA-KYUU turns out to be largely speculative. In the second part of this essay we will examine the relation between JO-HA-KYUU and SHU-HA-RI and tie this to the general question of the creative aspects of learning and teaching.
Not a great deal has been written about the concepts discussed in this column, though short treatments of each item have recently appeared in Wikipedia
. In fact, during the time I have been researching and writing this article, the Wikipedia
entries have changed several times, but are still generally unsatisfactory. More has been written on JO-HA-KYUU and KI-SHOU-TEN-KETSU than on SHU-HA-RI. Apart from Tamba's book, discussion on JO-HA-KYUU has usually concerned its relationship with Noh and the analyses of Zeami Motokiyo. There are some penetrating essays on SHU-HA-RI, considered as a training experience under a master, but very little on JO-HA-KYUU understood as a general concept applicable to different processes. Of course, the latter is not specifically a learning experience, though it can certainly be considered as a way of organizing activities—possibly learning or training activities—in stages.
Most of the material on this subject is to be found in learned journals, especially those on contrastive linguistics.
David Cahill, "The Myth of the ‘Turn' in Contrastive Rhetoric," Written Communication
, Vol. 20, No 2, April 2003, pp. 170-194. Cahill's paper has an extensive bibliography.
Ryuko Kubota, "A Reevaluation of the Uniqueness of Japanese Written Discourse," Written Communication
, Vol. 14, No. 4, October 1997, pp. 460-480; "Cross-cultural Perspectives on Writing: Contrastive Rhetoric," Nancy H Hornberger & Sandra Lee McKay (Eds), Sociolinguistics and Language Education
, 2010, Multilingual Matters, pp. 265-289; Kubota's papers also have extensive bibliographies.
The only full-length book that I have come across is the Japanese work by Tamba Akira discussed in the article: 丹波朗, 『「序破急」という美学』, 2004, 音楽之友社. However, the term is discussed in detail by a number of scholars in connection with Zeami and Noh (see below). Tamba discusses Maruyama Masao in many places in his book, but the latter's writings on naru
[成る] are scattered throughout his works and none have been translated into English.
There is a short essay by Peter Boylan in Joseph Svinth's EJMAS
. Boylan's discussion of JO-HA-KYUU in iaido is valuable, but he wrongly attributes the origin of the concept to Zeami: Peter Boylan, "Jo Ha Kyu," 2007, http://ejmas.com/tin/2007tin/tinart_boylan_0703.html
The Japanese text of Hei-hou-ka-den-sho
can be found in a collection of such works: 西山 松之, 渡辺一郎, 郡司正勝, 『助近世芸道論』, (日本思想大系新装版 芸の思想・道の思想 6), 1996, 岩波書店. The text of 「兵法家段書 」 is edited by Watanabe Ichiro and can found on pp. 301-343. It is followed by the text of 『新陰流兵法目録書』, also edited by Watanabe Ichiro, on pp. 345-354. There are two accepted English translations of the Hei-hou-ka-den-sho: The Sword and the Mind
, Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Hiroaki Sato, 1985, Overlook Press; Yagyu Munenori, The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun
, Translated by William Scott Wilson, 2003, Kodansha International. A review by Meik Skoss appears in one of his articles in the list of titles on the koryu.com
The Japanese text of Miyamoto Musashi's 『五輪書』can also be found in the collection of works mentioned above: 西山 松之, 渡辺一郎, 郡司正勝, 『助近世芸道論』, (日本思想大系新装版 芸の思想・道の思想 6), 1996, 岩波書店. The text, also edited by Watanabe Ichiro, is printed on pp. 355-374. An English translation, with a modernized Japanese text by Matsumoto Michihiro, has been made by William Scott Wilson: Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
, 2001, Kodansha International.
A serious biography of Musashi has been written in French: Kenji Tokitsu, Miyamoto Musashi: maître de sabre japonais du XVIIe siècle -- L'homme et l'oeuvre, mythe et realite
, 1998, Editions DesIris. This book also contains a French translation of 『五輪書』and some other works, with a vast and detailed apparatus of notes and appendices. For those who do not understand French, an English translation was made in 2004: Kenji Tokitsu, Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings
, Translated by Sherab Chödzin Kohn, 2004, Shambala. Those who have both versions (like myself) will find that the pagination is different, but having both texts is of some value when comparing how Tokitsu and his translator have chosen to render some difficult Japanese terms like hyoushi
There is a chapter on Evangelion
in Satomi Ishikawa's doctoral thesis, though she does not discuss the provenance of the title of the film series: Satomi Ishikawa, Seeking the Self: Individualism and Popular Culture in Japan
, 2007, Peter Lang. (Satomi Ishikawa is a Japanese aikido practitioner resident in the Netherlands.)
Except perhaps for Donald Philippi's rendering, English translations of the Kojiki
and Nihon Shoki
will be of little use for investigating Maruyama Masao's thinking about 成る [naru
]. The latest English version is by Gustav Heldt: Kojiki: An Account of Ancient Matters
, 2014, Colombia U P. The best Japanese version is that published by Iwanami Shoten in the Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei series.
The concept of JO-HA-KYUU in Noh is discussed by Tom Hare in two books on Zeami in English: Thomas Blenman Hare, Zeami's Style: The Noh Plays of Zeami Motokiyo
, 1986, Stanford U P; Zeami: Performance Notes
, Translated by Tom Hare, 2008, Columbia U P. Hare's two books constitute a detailed scholarly discussion of Zeami's theory of drama and its close relation to reality. In addition to Hare's books, I found the following works of some use. Thy are listed in chronological order: Nippon Gakujutsu Shinoukai, The Noh Drama: Ten Plays from the Japanese
, 1955, Tuttle; Donald Keene (Ed.), Twenty Plays of the No Theater
, 1970, Columbia U P; Kunio Komparu, The Noh Theater: Principles and Perspectives
, 1983, Weatherhill; Thomas Rimer (Tr.), On the Art of No Drama: The Major Treatises of Zeami
, 1984, Princeton U P; Mae J Smethurst (Ed.), The Noh
Ominameshi: A Flower Viewed from Many Directions
, 2003, Cornell U P. A major work on in Japanese on Noh consulted for this essay is 西平直, 『世阿弥の稽古哲学』, 2009, 東京大学出版会. Nishihira's book is of interest because he focuses particularly on 稽古 [keiko
] and less on the general concepts underpinning noh
drama, which is the main concern of Thomas Hare's research.
Rupert Cox has written about Zen and the traditional Japanese arts in a full-length book and a long essay: Cox, "Is there a Japanese way of Playing?" in Joy Hendry and Massimo Raveri (eds), Japan at Play: The ludic and the logic of power
, 2002, Routledge, pp. 169-185; Cox, The Zen Arts: An Anthropological Study of the Culture of Aesthetic Form in Japan
, Routledge, 2003.
The Zen Site is a good place to start research on Zen: http://www.thezensite.com/index.html
The article in the Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
offers a non-critical analysis of zen philosophy: Nagatomo, Shigenori, "Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
(Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/s.../japanese-zen/
Some Ancillary Material
The essay on Chinese writing by William G Boltz can be found in the Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC
, 1999, CUP, pp. 74-123.
Other works on Chinese culture consulted for this essay include the following: Wm Theodore de Barry & Irene Bloom (eds.), Sources of Chinese Tradition, Volume One
, 1999, Columbia U P; Wm Theodore de Barry & Richard Lufrano, Sources of Chinese Tradition, Volume Two
, 2000, Colombia U P; Mark Edward Lewis, Sanctioned Violence in Early China
, 1990, SUNY Press; Writing and Authority in Early China
, 1999, SUNY; The Construction of Space in Early China
, 2006, SUNY Press; The Flood Myths of Ancient China
, 2006, SUNY Press; Meir Shahar, The Shaolin Monastery: History, Religion and the Chinese Martial Arts
, 2008, Hawai‘i U P. Also of great value are series of translations made by Burton Watson: Xunzi: Basic Writings
; Zhuangzi: Basic Writings
; Mozi: Basic Writings
; Han Feizi: Basic Writings
, all published in 2003 by Colombia U P. In the same series there is a complete translation of the Huainanzi
by John S Major, Sarah Queen, Andrew Meyer and Harold D Roth, published in 2010. An important recent general history of the martial arts in China is by Peter A Lorge, Chinese Martial Arts: From Antiquity to the Twenty-first Century
, 2012, Cambridge UP.
Nelson's Chinese character dictionary comes in two editions. The original edition is still published: Andrew Nathaniel Nelson (ed), The Original Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary: Classic Edition
, 1995, Tuttle. Users complained that the dictionary was cumbersome to use and becoming out of date, so a new edition appeared: John H Haig (ed), The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary
, 1997, Tuttle. A major addition to this revised dictionary is the Universal Radical Index (pp. 1370-1600), which allows the reader to look up a character by means of any of the radicals found in the character—which in fact underlines the importance expressed in this essay of knowing the 214 radicals. Details of the other dictionaries used for this essay: 山田俊雄 (編), 『大字源』, 1992, 角川書店; 『国語大辞典』, 1981, 小学館; Toshiro Watanabe et al. (Eds), Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary
, Fifth Edition, 2003, Kenkyusha; Mark Spahn, Wolfgang Hadamitzky (Eds.), The Kanji Dictionary
, 1996, Tuttle.
Peter Goldsbury (b. 28 April 1944). Aikido 7th dan Aikikai, Emeritus Professor at Hiroshima University, teaching philosophy and comparative culture. B. in UK. Began aikido as a student and practiced at various dojo. Became a student of Mitsunari Kanai at the New England Aikikai in 1973. After moving back to the UK in 1975, trained in the Ryushinkan Dojo under Minoru Kanetsuka. Also trained with K Chiba on his frequent visits to the UK. Moved to Hiroshima, Japan, in 1980 and continued training with the resident Shihan, Mazakazu Kitahira, 7th dan Also trained regularly with Seigo Yamaguchi, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Masatake Fujita, both in Hiroshima and at the Aikikai Hombu. Was elected Chairman of the IAF in 1998. With two German colleagues, opened a small dojo in Higashi-Hiroshima City in 2001. Instructed at Aiki Expo 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada.