I thought I would start a new topic post, as to not distract from the conversation about long line fishing and because I now have authorization to start a topic (ya!).
On suggestion from a few people in the forum, I decided to digest the collection of comments and view points from the discussion about the Tenkara “drama” in a more objective way. I have come a better understanding of the drama and maybe a suggestion to help the community move beyond it.
Before going into my thoughts, I just want to preface this by stating my past comments about being new to Tenkara have come from a place of respect, being a humble person, and partially in jest. I wanted to start that I am not completely “new”, where I know “nothing”. Though I live in a location that does not have many Tenkara users and I have not travelled to learn or fish with more experienced practioners, I have put A LOT of effort into my education. I have read books, conducted email correspondence with numerous people, reviewed all forums, read materials from Japan, studied TONS of videos, studied most blogs, practiced a lot (both lawn casting and on the water). I am not saying my form of education is even close to the impact of direct education from experienced practicioners, I am only stating that I feel I have a pretty solid foundation of understanding and far from knowing nothing.
Thought Adam K’s discussion about Camp A and Camp B, I had made some realizations and corrections in my thinking. I have come to the conclusion that the separation between both groups and the continuation of “drama” is partially culturally-based and historical in context.
It is common knowledge that elements of Japanese culture is more traditionally-orientated, than compared to North American (European-derived) cultures. Yuval Harari (in Sapiens) spoke about the European orientation towards innovation and change, which accounted for the magnitude of development that European countries have influenced over time. His rationale was that Europeans were not more intelligent that individuals from other countries that exhibited less growth, but there was a cultural focus on innovation. A lot of other authors/philosophers/scientists have also written about the “genealogical history on innovation” and how its been culturally based (Skinner, Kuhn, Godin). Godin outlined that most human pursuits develop the dichotomy of tradition versus innovation - Tenkara was not immune to this.
Fortunately or unfortunately (based on your view point and orientation), when Tenkara entered North America, it was eventually swept away by individuals focused on development and innovation, and now its too late to change its course.
Adam K stated that those who focused on development and innovation (or not practicing Japanese Tenkara in its absolute form) were either lazy, arrogant, shameful, etc. I absolutely do not believe that is the case. I believe a lot (maybe not all) of these individuals learned the foundation of Japanese Tenkara and have decided to branch out to additional areas or utilizing some different techniques. I do not believe that the act of innovating (evolving) something should not be seen as a disrespect. Following the people responsible with the development and innovation of Tenkara in North America, these people started with a solid understanding and foundation. They might not have known everything there is to learn, but they do have an understanding. To what degree someone learns the details about the original technique before venturing out is very subjective. Sure, there are some people who just pick up a Tenkara rod and start figuring it out without the effort to learn foundational methods and have no interest in learning tradition, but that exists in everything everywhere. I do not think that those to learned the foundation and innovated should be put in the same camp as someone who just grabs a rod and states, “look, I am Tenkara-ing”.
I do agree that there is now a distinct division between those to are focused on Japanese Tenkara and those who have taken the principals of Japanese Tenkara and applied innovations. Therefore, my idea (which might have been floated around before) is to now use two terms to describe two distinctly different forms and focus on Tenkara. I think that if we begin to use the labels “Japanese Tenkara” and “American Tenkara”, a lot of the confusion, arguments, drama, etc. would effectively be eliminated. For example, there would be no need for “Tenkara police”, no debates about what someone is doing is actually “Tenkara”, and all the back-and-forth I have read or witnessed would be redundant.
People would have the opportunity to develop their interest and skills in either or both forms, without having to face the judgement from the other. This discussion seems old, impacts the community, and should be dropped to help introduce new people to either or both forms of Tenkara.