By Stephen Cheney
NINE HANDS CAN CUT STRESS, TIME, UNMINDFULNESS AND THE ENEMY
The Ninja, that ancient group of disperse clans of Japan who practice/d the arts of Ninjutsu, the Dark Arts that included Intelligence collection and sometimes assassination, practiced a technique called Kuji-Kiri or Nine Hands Cutting, a mini-art form that can be viewed as Hand Yoga or Mudra.
Kuji-Kiri was composed of nine formations of a hand or hands. These were used when a Ninja, as required in their shadow tasks, found themselves having to remain still for extended periods of time. Such as in a cramped space long-awaiting a best opportunity to observe, move or attack. The benefits of the techniques were in their assisting in the control of both the mind and the body.
The effectiveness of Ninja fingers in hand manipulations is a tradecraft teaching for Ninja spies and assassins. It enhances their stealthiness as they must sometimes remain undetected for long periods of time in positions of absolute quiet and stillness. The skill of course includes other processes including reducing the heart rate and breathing rate while retaining a full alertness and not sleeping. Such abilities and the techniques used to achieve them are also useful when utilized by persons who are under stress or who need to remain calm and alert for long periods, including in fearful or dangerous situations. Such people may be soldiers, security officers, hunters, and even businessmen and workers.
TOOLS CAN BE USED BY ALL
What benefited the Ninja can also be used to the benefit of others:
- The soldier who has to cope with the tenseness of waiting long hours before combat;
- The businessman who is awaiting a meeting;
- The student prior to a test;
- The patient awaiting an operation or appointment.
Who controls their time controls their future. Kuji-Kiri can be used by anybody as a tool for calmness. It can also be used as a learning or memory tool and for maintain alertness over long periods of time.
MEMORY AND EDUCATION AID
The selection of nine special finger-hand interlocking patterns has another purpose: memory and recall training. This method thus has an extra benefit in education. The teachings covered in the nine halls, houses or schools was voluminous. In quiet moments of inaction a finger pattern is pressed to send the mind into the hall to which the pattern has been selected to relate. And once there to recall all the teachings encapsuled. For instance, the hall where teachings allow the copying of other occupations to provide operational cover, such that of as a merchant.
A merchant is one who projects the thoughts of profit and loss. A merchant looks at others as either being customers, prospective customers or competitors, and makes conversation from that point of view irrespective of costume, though costume would be selected to conform. The merchant’s mannerisms reflect that of merchants. The merchant does not shyly hold back but initiates conversation relating to product knowledge of which he knows all there is to know and is well versed in salesman techniques of persuasion.
INTELLIGENCE IS KNOWING REALITY
A Ninja presses hands together to assist recalling teachings such as those learned in the Hall of Surveillance and Intelligence gathering. A general or spy or any business person needs to know not just the safe outside public observations such as of a building, organization or person. The more advantageous need is to take actions to know a building or organisation from the inside, or a person from the inside, intimately.
To know the internal structures, processes and faults and mind of another; the knowledge enclosed inside. That requires a learning to use the tools and methods of penetrating barriers both physical and mental. The mind can feel and know the world through the hands. Under stress a common sign is a wringing of the hands for reassurance; better to just touch the fingertips and broaden the mind, rocketing away from the problem at hand to soar in the vastness of the Universe knowing just how small daily problems really are. To wake from mistiness, confusion or fantasy the hands can slap the head connecting it to the reality of touch. We know reality by touching it, whether it is with our skin, or our sound in communication when vibrations reach our ears, or our eyes in photons that touch the far away and bring that reality to touch on our retinal nerves and thus our brain. Sight and sound are all a touching. From what we feel or choose to feel arises our feelings about other things and about ourselves.
EDUCATION, SCHOOL LEARNING
The mind has the ability to project knowledge into other objects to assist it in recalling when seeing or feeling or smelling that object. Into computer memory sticks you can project learning, as a Ninja does with the Nine Halls, into hand patterns. Make your fingers memory sticks. The choice of Nine Patterns is to use them and to touch the subject matter ‘stored’ there. A touch memory aid. Similarly one counts on ones fingers, or better, selects a finger to contain a learned subject, such as Chemistry or other topic at school. Mentally impress information into that finger and when you grasp it recall the knowledge that you have learned from there. The link goes to the brain where the knowledge is actually held. This is compartmentalisation thinking to isolate memories from being mingled with so many others. Grasp a finger that you have assigned to Chemistry. Next in your mind’s schematic of that topic go down to major topic headings. Then subheadings and to finer detail in a way that is uncontaminated by other knowledge.
THE NINE HALLS
The names of the Nine Hands are:
They reflect the Nine Halls of learning in which a Ninja may spend a life-time of learning and relearning. Learning never ends.
In Japanese the words and their internal components often have multiple meanings and this makes the language rich in flexing the mind and its poetry so deep in content in just a few words. The names of the Nine Hands somewhat relate to their corresponding halls of learning. Retsu for instance is the gripping of a single finger by the other hand and Retsu means a column. That Hall is the eighth and is about Entrapment and Evasion.
A slight variation forms a single finger lock. The reinforcing of a finger is a combat technique at close quarters, such as folding the middle finger over the first finger to prevent it bending in a strike (always to a soft target such as the jugular notch). The art of Deception is required to get to the target to prevent it being blocked; a Kunoichi or female Ninja would prefer to slide the hand up the sternum to strike the throat as she is usually smaller and that path avoids the hand being easily seen by the target. What you cannot see you cannot defend. Impacting a target is easy, what requires extra skill is obtaining a path to the target. In sparring distance you use sight but in close quarter body distance such as wrestling and related close arts you use feel.
STOPPING BLOOD, ACTIVATING NERVE
Blood is fed into the palm side of the hand through the radial and ulnar arteries which loop together. The veins extracting blood flow across the top of the hand. To remove a gripping hand from your person when the thumb is straight you can reach over their hand from the outer side and press a finger tip into the palm side of the thumb muscle about one third up from the thumb base. This compresses the radial artery and also a part of the median nerve and causes the thumb to release its grip. When their thumb is bent and gripping you, a more vicious and damaging technique is used to release.
The gripping hand can also be released by digging a thumb tip into the median nerve in the middle inside of the forearm (a soft area) just before it enters the carpal tunnel of the hand. As nerve positions vary from person to person, it is best to always press deep in and then smear the nerve into the nearest bone for a pain reaction. In this case you go in and then slide the pressure towards the base of the wrist until you feel bone.
UNDERARM BEAR HUG FROM BEHIND
Another way of hand release, such as to an underarm Bear Hug from behind, Is to form an extended knuckle and smash it into the nerves on the back of their hand, continuing to press and vigorously grinding your knuckle into the hand (a pen from your breast pocket is also a good tool for this). When the attacker’s fingers raise, grab one and apply a bending back finger lock (mentioned in Retsu above), pull his arm away, turn and savagely counter while maintaining the finger hold.
From neuroscience we know that when one presses their fingers or hands together, their sensory input and motor control are joined in the Primary Motor cortex and the Primary Somatosensory cortex of the brain. These brain sections span both of the brain’s two hemispheres, each controlling one side of the body. Thus a loop is formed joining both sides of the body and mind in the brain’s independently working hemispheres. The largest proportion of touch receptors in the body is situated in the hands. The deliberate act of joining ensures same time activation of both the conscious and unconscious (always on) processes of the mind. Hand/finger joining uses touch deliberately for conscious proprioception to the cortex’s parietal lobe where the mind reconstructs external space (like teleporting the outside in); and also taps into the unconscious processing in the cerebellum where the body’s internal special components are coordinated. Thus the outside environment and the inside world become one. Your being is maximized.
Stability of the body registers a corresponding stability in the mind. As seen in yoga, dance, martial arts, and meditation. A firm pressing of the palms together and bending the wrists backward towards the forearms towards a 90 degree angle or “L” shape” – as seen in some prayer gestures or martial arts bowing salutes prior to arranged combat – gives the weak wrist its highest stability. The anterior radiocarpal ligaments are stretched to tightly hold the wrist bones together. The brain registers all such inputs, being acutely aware of any body weak areas, such as the eyes, and makes natural reactive moves to protect those areas when threat or instability is detected. Stability as in balance, as in hand feedback, gives reassurances to the mind.
USE OF FORCE
The Buddhist Tōdai-ji temple of Nara, which was once the capital of Japan, was constructed in 728 AD. Ji (like Te) also means Hand and if you look at the fierce Niō warrior deities that protect the temple, they have a hand bent back in the Stop gesture. These deities justified the use of martial force to protect cherished values against evil. Much like the philosophy of the secluded Ninja clans who saw themselves as a force against the dominance of governments that were against independent ways. Buddhism though a philosophy of peace was in ancient times not adverse to self defence, its famous warrior Buddhist monks were an admired force. The bent back hand that so firms the wrist is used in the Palm-Heel Tei-sho strike of Jujutsu (the Heel-Palm Sho-tei strike of Karate). Its power comes from the lower palm being backed by a strong wrist base and the forearm bones, whereas a fist always has the structure of too many compressible finger parts and an un-reinforced wrist. The opposite structure of the forward bent hand and striking with the taunt back of the wrist (Koken or Kakuto) is also powerful
ANY TOUCH PATTERN WILL DO
To form a loop for stability to the mind and a folding together of both the outside and inside worlds, it does not matter what hand/finger formation you make so long as the hands/fingers contact one another. When a mindful person, sitting, wishes to contemplate what is before him/her, a simple bringing together of all the tips of the fingers seems to provide a focus or lens to bring to bear the faculties of the mind to a problem.
1...From Dragon Pearl: standing normally, place one heel out on the ground at 45 degrees to the front, your toes point upward. Press your palms together firmly and bring your wrists to your chest. Now breathing out, bend forward at the waist towards your placed foot. Keeping your back straight, bend forward towards your placed foot so stretching the calf muscle of your forward leg. Return to normal stance and do the other leg (or swing around 90 degrees and do the other leg). Know your power to find what is missing.
2...From Dragon Pearl: in front of you press your thumb tips and first finger tips together, forming a void in the shape of a spade (as in cards) or spinning top. Send your vision and mind into that void as you slowly press your hands downward to the full extension of your arms. Know your healing power.
3...Grandmaster Kinjo Hiroshi, Hanshi, advised me that practicing push-ups on the backs of the wrists was an excellent exercise to develop wrist strength.
When one is in spiritual prayer often the hands are brought together, joining oneself to the higher realms of mind and spirituality. Thus you get a merging of the Spatial world of movement around you, and Time which seems to slow down, and Mind which expands and Spirituality which soars.
(Image: The Speed Painting of a Ninja - Youtube)