My Straight Sword and the Silversword of Hawaii
Early this year 2016 l at last completed my Straight Sword Pattern . My thanks goes to my instructors Shaf Amiraftabi and Chief instructor Russell Suthern. It has been three years plus getting there with lots of stops and starts. Included were some fabulous teaching locations like Toledo in Spain organised by the White Crane Club.
This year l had the good fortune to practice my complete sword pattern in another fabulous location. It’s setting was the island of Maui in Hawaii. I went there as part of a private gathering attending a wedding . Although this was not connected to the White Crane club I intended to practice my White Crane and Tai Chi whilst I was there.
The islands of Hawaii originate from volcanic activity above a hot spot in an oceanic tectonic plate. The islands foundations are the build up of fluid lava forming a spread of volcanic material over a large area of the sea floor known as a “Shield Volcano”. In time the lava build up rises above sea level to form an island.
As the island cools it is slowly colonised by life forms. Seeds carried on drift wood washed on the shore or from bird droppings combine with small animals arriving on rafts of flotsam. In time man appears, arriving by exploratory canoes.
One life form is particularly unique to the island of Maui is confined to its Haleakala Volcanic crater. It is the Silversword Plant. It lives between the elevations 7.000 feet and 10,000 feet.
The Silversword Plant lives to 15 years to 50 years as a low round bush. At the end of its life the plant sends up a flowering stalk which may be 6 feet tall and be covered with up to 600 flowering heads.
This plant seen in its natural setting made me appreciate the sword l practice with. The plant has its roots in the volcanic rock and cinders from past eruptions. The forces of nature has created in its own way a forge where ths Silversword has been crafted out of extremes of temperature and rock. As the island grew bigger its large land mass creates its own micro climates and differing habitats. This continues the process of change in the plant and in so doing create new species of Silversword.
The Silver sword also made me appreciate the straight sword pattern . The leaves of the Silversword collect water and are the water holding centres of the plant. When the plant flowers at the end of its life each silver sword blade will shrivel and die donating its water. The flower replaces the swords. The straight sword pattern is a sequence of individual sword moves in series. The moves are given titles like “drifting with the current”, “Salvage the Moon from the bottom of the Sea”, “Black Dragon Wagging its tail”. The pattern is made from the titles perceived from the passing sword movements like the flower formed from the passing of the bouquet of silver swords.
The Silversword is also one of the rarest plants in the world. The White Crane Tai Chi and Straight sword form is also very rare. Both the Martial Art form and the Silversword plant needs to be appreciated for their uniqueness, beauty and endurance to survive. The white crane straight sword form once learnt is memorised by your central nervous system , is ready to adapt to the journeys you take in your life. Similarly the DNA of the Ancestor of the Silversword through its incredible journey will continue to radiate its owns patterns through its swords, flowers and variations.
The image is of Robert Lyne with Silversword and flower.