First among the Kuji Ashi is the Hai Pu, the Black/Stealthy Step. It is taught not only as a means of moving in total darkness, but also as a type of dynamic meditation. In its advancing and retreating action is the core of Ninjitsu. Only by this method can one develop the kines-thetic sense of the body that is required to practice Ninjitsu. Master Hai Pu first.
This technique is used in total darkness. It is designed for the protection of the body, for moving silently and slowly, and for attacking instantly.
Fig. 1-Assume the following stance: lower the hips and raise both arms; the feet should be one shoulder's width apart; turn the toes inward; bend the knees and lower the hips until the knees touch. The hips are back, the shoulders shrugged, the head is lowered. Draw the elbows close to the chest, raise the hands above the head and extend the fingers. The eyes are directed without being fixed at a spot on the path about ten feet away. Martial artists will recognize this as a variation of the closed stance of Praying Mantis Kung Fu.
Fig. 2-Keeping the hips and shoulders at the same level, shift the weight onto the right leg; glide the left toes forward and out in a semicircular manner, keeping the knees together. The body does not move above the hips, but gently weaves from side to side as weight is shifted over each foot alternately.
Fig. 3-The right foot is then drawn over to the left ankle in the loose-ankle step of Tai Chi Chuan, and advanced in a similar manner. Practice in this step strengthens the hips and feet, developing balance. The most important point in practicing this step is that the hips and shoulders do not change their level. The arms act as antennae, sensing obstacles, and protecting the head. Practice in this step develops an unconscious awareness of the body as a whole.
In kabuki theater, this technique is performed so slowly that even though the Ninja remains in plain view, no movement is discernible. In ancient times, this method was used in crossing the obi, or sash-belt. If confronted by a gravel path or a nightingale floor (one designed to creak when weight is applied), the Ninja would roll his obi across the obstacle and tread its narrow width, effectively muffling any sound which might betray him.
Practice moving forward about ten feet, then back, always directing the Qi forward.
Hai Pu -The Black Step
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