Wednesday, September 28, 2016

3 Sword Meditation Techniques


Sword meditation is the practice of meditation through movement involving a sword. Moving meditation isn’t uncommon, and several practices involve walking a set path while training the mind to focus on the present situation. In sword meditation, the movement is incorporated with a weapon. Most styles of sword meditation center around learned forms, or choreographed routines of movement incorporating sword. The goal of the practice is to unify the body and mind through kinetic meditative practices.

One form of sword meditation practiced by Knights of the Templar Order involves cycling through a series of stances. The first position is called “Ochs”, in which the practitioner draws their sword up and to the side. The second position is called “Pflug”, in which the practitioner lowers the hilt to the hip and extends the point outward. There are five stances which are cycled, and some variations on the combination of movements. A metal or wooden sword may be used, and if neither of those are available, a broomstick or even a yardstick will suffice. This series of stances is part of a ritual warm-up for training, and may even be thought of as a type of prayer for the Templar Knights. Through the movement in this form of meditation, practitioners link their inward mind and spirit with their body as it moves through the sequence.

Another form of sword meditation practiced in the Japanese art of Iaido involves stepping through 4 motions in repeated sequence. This moving meditation becomes a physical mantra, wherein the practitioner focuses their energy to the mental plane and the movements become automatic. The four movements in the sequence are called “nukitsuke”, “kiritsuke”, “chiburi”, and “noto”, and repeat indefinitely until fatigue. Again, students apply mindfulness techniques, and focus on connecting the inner mind to the movement through the external world.

A third type of sword meditation is “Shim Gum Do”, which was introduced 1965 following the enlightenment of South Korean Buddhist monk Won Gwang, following a 100-day meditation retreat in Hwagyesa temple in Seoul. This practice incorporates weaponry into choreographed sequences of movement called forms. Many different combinations of weaponry exist within Shim Gum Do beyond the sword, however the principles remain the same. Forms may involve use of a short staff, long staff, single or dual swords. Each of the different methods incorporates 50 forms each. Beginning trainees use a practice wooden sword, known in Korean as the “mokgum”, and once a practitioner has achieved a rank of black belt, they may use a single-edged Korean steel sword. The goal of the meditation remains similar to that seen in empty handed moving meditation technique, where in the inner mind is connected to the outer world via movement. 

The underlying philosophy of the sword meditation emphasizes the principle of a clear mind and a harmony with the actions that the body is performing. The intent is not to fight, but to allow the practitioner to find an inner balance which’s the strongest foundation for interacting with the world and defending against any kind of assault, mental or physical.

No comments:

Post a Comment