I have a daughter who loves to watch Downton Abbey. She's intrigued with Edwardian England and how it's portrayed with the upstairs people (lords and ladies) and the downstairs people (servants). I've had to remind her that if we lived at that time, and in that kind of society, she would likely be a downstairs person, not an upstairs one. She doesn't like the thought of that.
This whole upstairs and downstairs stuff comes from the medieval concept of the great chain of being. From Wikipedia: "The great chain of being is a strict hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought in medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain starts with God and progresses downward to angels, demons (fallen/renegade angels), stars, moon, kings, princes, nobles, commoners, wild animals, domesticated animals, trees, other plants, precious stones, precious metals and other minerals". This "chain of being" still exists today, but (thankfully) in a much more diluted form.
Lately I've been reading some posts on FB regarding people being banned from certain FB groups because they didn't tow the party line (of that group). That got me thinking. Do we have a great chain of being, or in the case of tenkara, a great chain of flinging? What do you think? Well, I think we do.
Person 1 says to person 2, "Do you like to fish?"
Person 2 replies, "yes, I'm a lure fisherman. I only use ABC gear! It's the best!"
Person 1 walks away feeling less of a fisherman as he only fishes with bait.
Person 2 says to person 3, "Look at the great ABC gear I just got. I can't wait to go fishing!"
Person 3 replies, "Oh, that's nice if you're into that kind of fishing. I fly fish only."
Person 2 walks away feeing less of a fishermen because he never learned to fly fish.
Person 3 says to person 4, "I just had a great day on the river using a Mop fly. Have you ever fished one before?"
Person 4 replies, "That's not a fly or fly fishing! That's a lure! I only use dry flies that I tie myself! And, I fish them with my handmade bamboo rod!"
Person 3 leaves feeling less of a fly fisherman because he sort of likes the Mop fly (and heaven forbid, streamers too). Also, he can't afford a handmade bamboo rod.
Person 4 says to person 5, "Do you fly fish? I can double haul seventy feet without breaking a sweat!"
Person 5 replies, "Use a reel and PVC line? Heaven's no! I only fish tenkara, an ancient Japanese form of fly fishing! It's a superior form of fly fishing!"
Person 4 walks away feeling less of a fly fisherman because he doesn't know what tenkara is and knows he's just been insulted.
|Stolen from Mike!|
Person 6 types, "That's not tenkara! Tenkara is fishing for trout in mountain streams."
Person 5 feels trolled because he doesn't live anywhere trout live and all he's got to fish are ponds and low gradient streams for warm water species. Person 5 leaves the FB group.
Person 6 types on a different FB group, "I caught 24 fish with my secret beadhead XXX fly. It's my one fly for tenkara."
Person 7 (a moderator for the FB group) types, "Bead head! That's not tenkara! Tenkara is fishing with soft hackled kebari patterned after authentic Japanese historical flies!"
Person 6 answers, "I've been fishing tenkara for 3 years and fish bead heads all the time. It's one of the "ten colors" of tenkara. It's American tenkara."
Person 7 replies, "Well, you don't know what you're talking about! I was an early adopter, only fish a level line, and have been to Japan, not once but X times! I have fished with tenkara masters X, Y, and Z! I've got pictures with all the tenkara legends. And, I only use the same rod, line and fly as tenkara master Z! So, I know more about tenkara than you do!"
Person 6 types. "Just because you've been to Japan doesn't make you any better at tenkara than me! And I'm an American, so no one's my master!"
Person 7 bans person 6 from the FB group.
I know I've over exaggerated the example somewhat, but this type of dialog happens all the time (BTW, person 7 is fictional and doesn't represent any actual offensive, arrogant American tenkara angler, just sayin'). Personally, I think it's sad that tenkara in America has come to this. That said, I see tribalism in a lot of my other hobbies as well. For example, in bushcraft there's the hatchet tribe versus the knife batoning tribe. In backpacking, there's the hammock tribe versus the tent tribe. In off-roading, there's the Jeep tribe versus everyone else!
Still, it's sad that tenkara, and all the variations therein, has become tribal. I guess I shouldn't say tenkara has become tribal, rather the people who fish it have become tribal. In the Twitter speak of He Who Must Not be Named -- SAD!
I would have liked to see person 7 educate and not belittle person 6. He could have said, "Here's what I've learned from my experience fishing tenkara over the years and from my journeys. There are many different styles of flies or kebari that can be used to effectiveness. Here are links to some websites showing the kebari of different Japanese regions. That is the way I prefer to fish tenkara, but I understand your own individual approach. I'm going to still try to follow traditional Japanese methods, but that doesn't mean you have to." That's what I would have liked to have seen, but alas, no. Instead, pride and ego take over and the "one-upsmanship" monster rears its ugly head.
I for one welcome variation in fishing, as well as in tenkara. If we were all the same and fished exactly the same way how boring would that be! You want to follow the traditional Japanese tenkara path, great! You use tenkara techniques to fish for bluegills in ponds, super! You use a tenkara rod to go after salmon in Alaska, cool! To each their own. Let's just try to be a little more civil. That's what I'm hoping for -- break the chain!