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Kuji-Kiri means “Nine symbolic cuts”. It is a technique that belongs to the esoteric Buddhist tradition. From the outside, it seems to consist in drawing nine lines in the form of a grid, then drawing a symbol on the grid. In fact, it is the setting in place of nine energy structures, that once activated, can empower a concept represented by the drawn symbol over the grid. This symbol then interacts with what seems to be reality, and modifies the structure of the universe according to the desired effects. It is the sacred esoteric science of the oriental mage.
Kuji-In is a ritual process that encourages the development of body, mind and spirit. It enhances the nervous system, endocrine system, energy channels of the body, mental abilities, comprehension, quickness of body and mind, and open the doors on great spiritual depth. It involves the combination of many tools to focus all of the practitioner’s attention: hand gesture, spoken words, mental visualization, philosophic contemplation, focus points on the body.
Kuji-in “Nine Syllable Seals,” is a specialized form of Buddhist meditation. It is derived from the Diamond Universe Nine Assemblies mandala of Shingon Buddhism. It is also used by other Buddhist sects, especially in Japan; some Taoists and practitioners of Shinto and Chinese traditional religion; and in folk-magic throughout East Asia.
Technically the word “Kuji-in” refers only to the hand postures (mudra) and their related incantations (mantra). The related practice of making nine cuts–five horizontal and four vertical, alternating–in the air or palm of a hand with the finger or on paper with a brush is known as kuji-kiri, nine syllable cuts. In Japanese folk-magic and onmyodo, the nine cuts are often made over writing or a picture, to gain control of the object named or pictured. Thus, a sailor wishing to be protected from drowning might write them over the kanji for “sea” or “water”. In Kuji-In practice you will be combining those three elements in order to manifest your desires.
The 9 Kuji-In sets with their Japanese titles, associating each with their popular benefits are:
1- RIN – Reinforces the positive aspects of the physical, mental and energetic planes.
2- KYO – Increases the healthy flow of energy, mastery of energy.
3- TOH – Enhances your positive relationship with the universe, resulting in improved harmony and balance.
4- SHA – Develops enhanced healing, regeneration.
5- KAI– Develops foreknowledge, premonition, intuition, feeling.
6- JIN – Increases telepathic ability, communication, knowledgeability.
7- RETSU – Enhances your perception and mastery of space-time dimensions.
8- ZAI – Fosters a relationship with the Elements of creation.
9- ZEN – Results in Enlightenment, completeness, suggestive invisibility.
Mudras of Kuji In
The body is filled with nerves that carry electricity, but it also has circuitry, known as meridians. These meridians are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine in the application of acupuncture. They are also the base of many massage techniques, since they have many beneficial influences on the body and the mind. Their use normally induces a state of relaxation, making the body prone to recovery. The hand positions, or mudras, crosses and extends the fingers in ways to benefit from these meridians. Even though the meridians travel through the whole of the body, most of them start and end at the fingertips, thus, the hand positions and finger puzzles. When you breathe while concentrating on focus points or acupressure points, it will work on these points in the same way a needle or massage would.
Mantras of Kuji In
The spoken expressions always represent a reference to the philosophy that we keep in mind, yet it is spoken to accelerate the effect of the technique. It is known in auto-suggestions and neural programming that even though we keep a thought in mind, the concept integrates the mental process much faster if it is spoken aloud, since it uses more parts of the brain to speak than if the concept is only mentally contemplated. The words can be spoken in any language, since the important thing is to involve the brain in physical speech. While many practitioners of Japan’s Kuji in appreciate speaking the Japanese kanji pronunciation, some healers and spiritualists prefer the Sanskrit mantra. The concrete affirmations of philosophical expressions are a key component for mental training, as it reinforces the concepts they represent in our mind. While repeatedly reciting a few words that hold a certain meaning, the speech interacts with subconscious parts of our mind to make new connections and render the concept more accessible to our awareness, in our conscious mind.
Visualization is an image that we imagine in our mind. Mental visualization is there to help us keep our attention on the technique, hoping to prevent the mind to wander too far astray. Yet, if you start to think about random subjects, do not put pressure on yourself to come back to the visualization, but try to come back in a peaceful and relaxed attitude, calmly resetting the imagery in your mind.
When we pay attention to a place in our body for a long enough period of time, the focus point will become relaxed and our awareness of this place will be enhanced. Paying attention to a part of our body will accelerate its healing or regeneration, since our mental attention does lend more neural electricity to the area of attention. This available extra energy is always used in the best possible way by the body. Each of our nine techniques requires us to focus on a specific point in the body, not to heal it but to enhance it. These focus points, specific to each of the nine techniques, are simultaneously a part of the meridians system, nervous system, and endocrine system, associated with an acupressure point, a main nervous center and a gland. When focusing on a point in your body, it should be done in a relaxed attitude. It is not necessary to concentrate with force. Simply pay attention to the focus point and try to feel it. It might take quite a while before you feel any particular sensation at this focus point, and it is not required. The moment you pay attention to a specific place on your body, the technique will be enhanced.
The hand postures are as follows:
(Rin): Hands together, fingers interlocked. The index (sometimes middle) fingers are raised and pressed together.
Jumon is On baishiraman taya sowaka. Mudra is dokko, “seal of the thunderbolt.”
(Pyō): Hands together, pinkies and ring fingers interlocked (often on the inside). Index finger and thumb raised and pressed together, middle fingers cross over index fingers and their tips curl back to touch the thumbs’ tips, the middle-fingers’ nails touching.
Jumon is On isha naya in tara ya sowaka. Mudra is daikongo, “seal of the great thunderbolt.”
(Tō): Hands together, index fingers cross each other to touch opposite ring fingers, middle fingers crossed over them. Ring and pinky fingers are straight. Tips of ring fingers pressed together, tips of pinkies pressed together, but both sets of ring and pinky fingers are separated to form a V shape or bird beak.
Jumon is On jite rashi itara jiba ratanō sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the outer lion.”
(Sha): Hands together, ring fingers cross each other to touch opposite index fingers, middle fingers crossed over them. Index finger, pinky and thumb straight, like American Sign Language “I love you”.
Jumon is On haya baishiraman taya sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the inner lion.”
(Kai): Hands together, fingers interlocked.
Jumon is On nōmaku sanmanda basaradan kan. Mudra is “seal of the outer bonds.”
(Jin): Hands together, fingers interlocked, with the fingertips inside.
Jumon is On aga naya in maya sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the inner bonds.”
(Retsu): Left hand in an upward-pointing fist, index finger raised. Right hand grips index finger, and thumb is pressed onto left index’s nail.
Jumon is On hirota ki shanoga jiba tai sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the wisdom fist,” also known as “seal of the interpenetration of the two realms.”
(Zai): Hands spread out in front, with thumb and index finger touching.
Jumon is On chirichi iba rotaya sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the ring of the sun.”
(Zen): Hands form a circle, thumbs on top and fingers on the bottom, right hand overlapping left up to the knuckles.
Jumon is On a ra ba sha nō sowaka. Mudra is “seal of the hidden form,” also simply called the “meditation mudra.”
Chapter One – The Fugitive
Even the way I sit cross-legged on the floor is a lie. Head tilted forward, eyes half shut, I sit on the heal of my left foot. My gaze focused on the candle flame, a saffron mained ballerina twirls around her soot blackened pool. Her azure skirt bellowing, and waining with the slight shift in the currents of my breath. What drives some to madness and others to self-discovery I quiet the internal dialog as I slow my breathing and empty my mind. Images flow thru my mind’s eye without attachment, time slows and then stops. All of my senses fully open and acute as the pit of my stomach and the hair on the back of my neck informs me I am not alone. The image of a train dropping from an opening vortex above my head, along with the whistle of razor sharp steel whipping towards my neck. I wait until the intention pushes me out of the way. The force of malice rolling me backward over my left shoulder as I draw my soul from its home of black lacquered wood and slice up horizontally in one velvet movement.
My attacker crumples as the katana cleanly melts a path through muscle, bone, and tendon. Mouth open his head lays in the spreading ruby pool even as the ring of steel upon hardwood floor echoes. Death has come once again and left satisfying his hunger with his servant rather than his target. My tiny dancer has also left, extinguished by a drop of crimson splashed upon her skirt. I raise and perform chiburi, the ritual cut removing gore from my brilliantly polished katana automatically. As practiced thousands of times, my soul returns home to be cleaned properly later, while reflecting on this last attempt upon my life.
For the last three years, I have survived attempt upon attempt for retribution of an offense against a man I have never met. His daughter, my lover the cause for my status as fugitive. Thirteen times, I have dodged death with one cut and one kill as the hunter has become the hunted. I know that in order to end this chase I must kill once more. I must extinguish the flame of a living legend, the teacher of my teacher. One of the most respected and greatest masters of Kobujutsu, ancient warrior arts, must have the veil of life’s illusion removed from his eyes. In order to explain my current dilemma and enigma I must start at the beginning. My recruitment by the Cadre, training in the ancient craft of the shadow warrior assassin, and my work killing people for political and financial gain. I am a civil servant working in the darkness delivering a message with no return address.
One day a hungry old man entered a small village and noticed a sign proclaiming the name of a local Iaido school.
Knowing that it was customary for a dojo’s Sensei to accept all challenges the old man decided upon a very dangerous plan. If he could entice the Sensei into a duel and be defeated but not killed, he would then by tradition be offered food and drink, as well as a place to sleep for the night.
Summoning up all of his courage the old man approached the dojo and then walking boldly in he proclaimed his intention to challenge the Sensei to a duel. In response a senior student stepped forward, introduced himself, and said that his Sensei was at home resting but that he would gladly accept the challenge in his place. The old man refused and instead asked that a student be sent to the Sensei’s home to tell him of the challenge.
Upon hearing his students report of the events that had just taken place the Sensei immediately put on his swords and hurried to the dojo. When the Sensei arrived he and the old man politely bowed to each other and in turn introduced themselves, after which the old man re-issued his challenge, but explained that it was not his intention to challenge for ownership of the dojo as was sometimes the case, this duel was merely to be a test of each man’s skill with a sword. The Sensei accepted and because of the nature of the challenge and they agreed to fight using only wooden bokken (practice swords) so that if a customary fatal cut was made neither man would be killed.
The old man in truth had no skill at all with a sword, he was simply seeking a meal and a place to rest and this plan had seemed to offer the best prospect for success and so as he stood facing the dojo’s Sensei across the tatami mat he just held the wooden sword very casually at his side. The Sensei upon observing how open the old man was to an attack and how unbelievably foolish his defensive posture appeared, suddenly began to believe that this duel might not have been such a good idea after all. Slowly in his mind he began to wonder about the old man’s skill and in turn he began to doubt himself and his own chances for victory.
He knew, however, that his own reputation and that of his dojo was at stake and so he took an aggressive posture. For what seemed a very long time the two men just stood there facing one another, neither of them made even the slightest move. The old man for his part could not understand what was taking so long, but he knew he had no choice in the matter; all he could do was wait for the Sensei to attack and claim his victory. The Sensei on the other hand had by now thoroughly convinced himself that he did indeed face a true Iaido master, but even so he knew that he must do something very soon and so he started to move towards the old man, determined to press home his attack with all of his skill even though he felt sure now that he had no chance of winning.
The old man seeing the look on the Sensei’s face and sensing that he was about to be attacked in full force quickly dropped his sword and falling to his knees he broke down and confessed that he in fact had no skill at all with the sword, going on to explain that he had not eaten in days and that he had hoped merely to survive the challenge and then be offered a meal and a place to sleep for the night. Upon hearing this Sensei was suddenly overcome with the realization that by allowing his own doubts to fill his mind and by fantasizing about his opponents abilities he had almost defeated himself.
He decided then and there to change the name of his sword style to “Mu Nen Ryu” – The School of No Thought.
Sometimes the biggest obstacles and threats exist only in your mind, only because you give them power. Perception is colored by emotion, reality and perception are often very different things.
Kamae is not just a posture to move from or to but more importantly a manifestation of mental and spiritual power. There is intention and energy that is projected naturally. Part of the process of mastering Kamae is first to feel this natural projection, then to intensify and finally to hide or give a false sense. It is extremely dangerous in the world of real martial arts for your opponent to immediately and clearly see what your intentions are. For a trained fighter this is what exposes the weak points. To understand each Kamae takes time to settle into the frame, to not only study the posture and the way your body feels but to reflect on the reason we move into and out of each frame while practicing Kata. When first learning Kamae I would hold the posture in upwards of 12 to 15 minutes in order feel the weakness in my body. I studied what muscles were being strained, how was my balance and what corrections did I need to make to my posture to correct poor balance. Could I move easily into another Kamae, how must I shift the weight in order to move smoothly? These are the questions you must ask yourself first. After 30 minutes you are able to perceive natural intention. Before deep understanding of Kamae, your martial arts will have no spirit.
Because of our martial heritage the techniques and applications have already been set down for us by the great masters of the past. We do not need to reinvent the wheel only discover how to use the wheel for ourselves. Striking can be done with many parts of the body from the head to the toes. Whether we are kicking, punching or chopping the movement includes borrowed power from our opponent plus issued power starting from the ground transmitted through our body. Proper striking requires that our posture allow for a stacking of bones so we do not rely on muscle power and an acceleration of inertia as we accelerate through our target to maximize the force. Depending on the strike there is a sequence that must happen. Starting with the letting go and allowing the strike to happen we must also be shifting our weight, turning our waist and feet as if we were throwing, whipping or shaking.
With beginning students of martial arts they are usually concerned with punching and kicking harder. As the student progresses they realize that just like chopping down a tree striking is an accumulation of applications which allow for the finalizing action. One of the applications that must be understood is compression. This occurs when we strike someone in a way that causes them to root which allows for a target that has stopped moving away from us. This is related to loading up a leg by pulling down on the gi before a throw. One of the best ways to compress someone is a focused strike to pressure points as taught in Koshijutsu. As an example picture a thumb strike or boshiken to the side of the neck just under the ear. A typical reaction is the raising of the shoulders and leaning away from the poke. This is compression and allows for the finalizing strike to drop or knock out our opponent. Another name for compression is sealing and if you have ever had the wind knocked out of you then you are familiar with sealing the breath.
Soke Hatsumi has spoken about one of the highest arts as Koppojutsu. Koppo sometimes referred to as bone breaking art but in reality is the way of unbalancing by displacing the bones. When I think of Koppo I think about multiple bouncing strikes that cave a person down on themselves like one of those toys where you press on the bottom and it just collapses on itself. As you strike the body reacts to the strike, bouncing naturally to the next target and so on will accumulate many small strikes which will again in the tree analogy allow it to fall. In my class I have several students who are at least a foot and half taller than I am. By first striking their legs or floating rib I can always bring their head down to a level where it makes sense to then hit them there. There is also something much deeper going on when you start to collapse someone with Koppojutsu. As the body bends it compresses nerves that branch out from the spinal cord through the spine out to the limbs. As the neck bends it compresses on nerves feeding the arms and makes them weaker, much easier to manipulate, so even if planning on a joint reversal a good way of entering is with Koppo or Koshijutsu. At the very least a well placed punch to the inside of the shoulder will weaken any incoming or possible strike from that arm for several seconds. Bouncing off the shoulder up under the jaw will force the head back and compress the cervical vertebrae possibly keeping that person from stepping backward and allowing a kick to the inside hip causing rotation. The progressive sequence of strikes will topple even the most solid and formidable oaks in the forest.
Do not use strength. If strength is used then the back and neck will be stiff and no energy will flow to the top of the head. If the energy does not flow and the blood does not circulate freely then the spirit cannot rise up. Using strength allows you to easily be manipulated. Use your mind instead of strength. If you can relax the whole body it will help you to avoid being clumsy. Being relaxed also allows the unrestricted flow of blood and energy. By using mind instead of strength we can rely on the connective tissues allowing our movement to be more light, circular and spontaneous.
Avoid expanding the chest. If you expand the chest then energy will be held in the upper body and cause you to be top heavy. Allow the back to raise and that is where you will issue power. When you avoid expanding the chest then you can sink your weight lowering your center of gravity.
Relax the waist. The waist is one of the most vital areas. If power is lacking look to the cause usually being in the waist movement. Once the waist is relaxed you can have a strong foundation but the feet will still be able to move. Relax your shoulders and keep your elbows down. This will allow you to relax your whole body. By relaxing we can deliver much more force in our striking. This may be one of the most difficult things to accomplish especially in during a fight. Relaxation requires release of all tension.
Try to feel the difference between full and empty. Do not allow all the weight to rest on one leg. Being double weighted also keeps you from being light, nibble and effortless rather than heavy and stiff. This principle is very important for balance.
Unify the entire body. The root is in the feet; it is issued through the legs, controlled by the waist and expressed in the hands. There must be a continuous flow of energy throughout the entire body along with a synchronized movement. This unification is also of the body, mind and spirit. Allow the spirit to command the body by raising the spirit and opening the mind. Every movement should be complete, continuous and circular.
Find the stillness in movement. Be patient, slow down and allow the breath to be long and deep. There is a quiet place where we enter when we surrender. Time slows down and allows you to see what your opponent is about to do or is doing. It is this stillness in the movement that allows us to have grace. When we move our posture should be balanced, upright, uniform and even. Stick and follow as a conscious movement by forgetting yourself and not separating from your opponent but rather joining with him.
Remember that energy and force are not the same. Energy comes from the connective tissue and force from the bones. Energy is a property of being soft, flexible and alive. Force is a property of hard and inflexible. Learn to distinguish the difference. When you issue energy it should be like shooting and arrow. The arrow relies on the elasticity of the bow and string which allows delivery of power. Also understand the difference between pulling and repelling. When you pull it should be in the direction of force, and when you repel it should start with the following of energy and then a deflection. Do not use your own force but borrow it from your attacker. If you add too much you will be unable to escape or release and give your opponent momentum to pull you with him.
A dynamic flexibility creates unitary power by not focusing on relaxed flexibility Rather focus on specific points that are not relaxed for greater extension alone. These points can be connective or bone structures that improve extension and power. We are not stretching but strengthening the body’s springing power. Being relaxed and loose does not mean feeling weak. It means that the body can have proper alignment and stability. Once we are relaxed the energy we were born with and inherent can be utilized. Depending on varying degrees of consciousness, mental focus and efficiency using the principles of physics this energy helps us apply proper issuing of both muscle and mind power.
Other methods of delivering power require a compression or storage of energy. By having strong ligaments and the ability to focus using proper strategy, timing and advantageous positioning we can compress and release like a spring. We can also store energy by twisting to create a more penetrating strike as we drill or unwind. There is also a wave like method which is loose and springy. You can compare this energy to the way a wave moves through a whip to its tip. Understanding and the use of these energies are two different things and we gain proficiency only after much perseverance and practice.
By perseverance and practice we can awaken qualities without intellectual pursuit. A few of these goals can be patience, attention, endurance, stamina, ease and will power. Budo is a synthesis of opposites as well as of similarities. Just like finding the stillness in activity we seek a state of being and becoming. We quiet our mind to be more alert and allow no distinction between transient, flowing or arrested time.
Whole body power is where the body acts as a single unit. By delivering your strike through the waist you can accelerate this movement. In addition, the weight of your body should also be used. This movement is a pouncing action coming through the hips. When all the muscles of the body work together in harmony there is an internal opposing power that develops similar to the action of drawing a bow. In other words when the whole body is used the power generated is a release of the opposing power of the muscles. By adding continuity you can then follow your opponent’s movement and continue attacking. You never stop changing and redirecting this power. Think about a tiger who pounces and misses, he will pounce again and again so the pray cannot get away. You must not only understand the martial technique but only by employing these qualities will you master Budo.
Our training must strengthen the connective tissue as well as the muscles or the body. What good is all the other more esoteric training without a strong body able to withstand blows as well as issue all the power you have learned how to develop? So have a good bumper as well as a good engine. Your engine will allow you to keep up with your opponent even if nothing else is working. By training your forms or kata as well as the basics, you can strengthen the body as a bumper and develop the energy needed to fuel your engine.
Be heavy when you engage or when someone contacts you. Employ spring and shaking exploding natural power when you strike. Think about how a dog shakes water off instead of just striking. Do not lose your opponent when they change direction. Even if you knock them down you must stick with them not just watch. You must make your body a part of their body. Be loose not stiff while being heavy. Make sure that all parts of the body are interlocked to become one unit and spiral your movement. Work on increasing your range of motion to allow for extension of the joints. This will keep the weight out of the knees and into the hips. Do not be afraid of experimenting with the movements to make them your own.
Also keep in mind that once you start thinking about what technique you are going to do your opponent can sense this. So let your body work by itself. If you do not know what you are doing than neither can your opponent. To apply these same ideas to your teaching requires you to stop trying to teach but instead show a natural way of movement which your students can then steal for themselves. Manipulate the perceptions of truth and falsehood in order to deceive an opponent. You must force your opponent to draw false conclusions, so that instead of knocking them down you can let them fall down for you. Appearances are deceptive so be aware that when you think there is nothing there is always something.
As we follow our opponent’s energy we must find a way to neutralize or deflect then change or reverse their attack. We do this with the 10 keys of control. Most people think of physical direction. There is up and down, left and right or any angle in between as well as forward and backward. If we add in the dimensions of space/ time, and creation through intention we approach a level of control of any situation that transcends blocking, punching and kicking to rudimentary and vulgar forms of interaction. Juppo Sessho is a means of training our awareness to be everywhere, linking our physical body to the universe. We must first receive our attack from a neutral place of no mind. Being soft we adhere to our opponents raising energy with automatic motion and peripheral awareness. We relax and allow our waist to turn, our joints to sink and a unity to form. As we follow the intention of our attacker we appear and disappear with artistry and precision, stepping consciously with peaceful or wrathful gaze. By borrowing and sinking we momentarily root to deliver power of central equilibrium. Using the energies of spiraling and explosive force we uproot and open, we split and we interrupt. The transference of power is only after drawing in your opponent both mentally and physically we borrow their strength and as if shooting an arrow or like a dog shaking water, strike, throw, or cut case by case.
Professor Leon Drucker
Myofu An Budo Dojo