Stephen Hayes has built a beautiful dojo and training center for his Kasumi-An, Nine Gates Institute in his hometown of Germantown, Ohio. I attended his seminar entitled Ninja Mind (May 4-5, 1991) and had a good time participating and watching him and his students. As usual I learned a lot cf things and had some points clarified that I'd let slip. He led us through a series of mental reframing exercises drawn from the Mikkyo tradition that had immediate healing effects, presenting them in modern terms through physical exercises, meditations, dialogue, group process, and mini-lectures. It was a bit like attending an AHP convention except the students and teachers get to try to beat on and dodge each other.
Hayes is a good teacher and I've always been impressed by him. I had a chance to talk with some of his students and they were happy and busy working on their selves and preparing for their next physical test. The testing was public, and a board of black belts sat as judges of the students' taijutsu. Both men and women showed prowess and natural movement. Both those promoted and those who were not seemed to think the judgment fair and free of politics. I saw old friends from years back and some cf the early black belts who I never got to know very well but can recognize. We seem to be aging gracefully.
I talked to one of the parents of a girl who had survived an attempted rape at a swimming pool. He had enrolled her in Steve and Rumiko's children's class. He was so pleased with the positive growth she was experiencing, and since the Kasumi-An training requires that parents attend with their offspring, he was learning too and getting a lot closer to his daughter. He said that like many girls who are victimized by rape when too young to know better, she was blaming herself and feeling guilt. She had lost her trust of men and adults as protectors and was much more fearful in general. (Not a life pattern that a responsible person would like to see developing in a daughter.) He said all that was turning around. He expressed the usual questioning of whether a child will ever really appreciate what they are being exposed to or realize the skills of their teachers.
Dennis Kinsalla was there. He's an actor who works out of Chicago. He showed me Steven Turnbull's book on ninjutsu, which was filled with beautiful old prints, historical descriptions, and lots of misinformation. The foreword by Hatsumi is priceless. Hat-sumi quoted Takamatsu as saying you should go to original sources if you want to know history and pointed out that this would probably become the standard text on ninjutsu. Dennis had me look at the photograph of Turnbull and Hatsumi at the front of the book, as Hatsumi is not inscrutable to anyone who reads nonverbal behavior. It is easy to see which man feels he is in the presence of greatness. Hatsumi was practicing his Mona Lisa smile.
1 borrowed the book to read in my hotel room that night, and one of the prints really caught my eye. It shows a Japanese prince identified as a ninja. The caption says "Prince so and so . . . planning an assassination.', In the book's prose the ninja were identified as Chinese bandits and outlaws who had memorized Sun Tzu. Where does this Ninja Prince come from? (Ninja are nobles? Samurai weren't even considered nobles; they were managers of the royal holdings.) Hayes refers to ninja as freedom fighters; an even more accurate term might have been refugees who refused to be conquered, trapped on an island with their conquerors. The losers in a Japanese war are supposed to commit suicide. Warriors who are into Social Darwinism regardless of culture or age like the idea of "the winner takes all," as it simplifies the establishment of the New Order.
Taoists and Buddhists believe all life is sacred and our task on Earth is to create awareness or sentience. To take a life, even your own, is not following the Way. The ninja chose to live under the sword of the winners but moved into the mountains and away from the central government and established religion, which would have treated them as slaves and cowards. It is only normal that they would form a secret quasi-military vigilante group to protect their interests which would over time be demonized by the establishment.
A Japanese social anthropologist described Togakushi (I would translate the name in baby talk as The Straight Sword Mountain of the Loving Heart Knights) as the place "the wild people came to live and worship." Wild usually refers to animals we cannot tame. The place is a ski resort now, so the wild people are still drawn to the mountain. It's very beautiful up there and not easy to get to, even today. It is worth the trip.
The Spider Prince, as he was named in the picture, was garbed in green and gold. What do we know about the symbolic use of those colors? His hair was coiffed in the samurai manner but I don't know which clan, as I've never studied the hairstyles of the Japanese warriors. It gets a little crazier than vets and crewcuts.
The Spider Prince is pictured with an old scroll in his mouth that is tattered and stained. A ragged scroll is a Japanese artistic styl-ization that indicates internalizing knowledge that one is reluctant ever to use, as it is damaging to the user's very being if improperly applied. A scroll indicates a text that is written with such depth, clarity, and intent that one who reads it is immediately filled with new insights on his or her condition, regardless of the number cf times read. It is not just memorization; it is transfer of training. Reading a scroll over and over has no effect, as the meaning will not sink in until you understand it. You only understand it through observation and behavior. Behind the prince is a huge, black spider with slavering venomous jaws and glistening eyes. Its size completely enshrouds the prince with shadow as a black aura. He looks frightened but determined. According to picture notes, the text of the scroll refers to the black mountain spider, probably a not-too-distant cousin cf our black widow spider.
Now what can a prince, a man both bred and educated to care for the welfare of his defeated people, learn from studying a spider? Solomon, a king revered for his wisdom and songs for lovemaking, recommended that his people study ants. He had many wives and was said to commune with all of them, no matter how young and inexperienced or strange and exotic. As few people mentioned in the Bible are given the official designation of wise, it might be considered wisdom to develop some interest in Solomon's lifestyle.
Most warriors wishing to be known for their valor in battle study animals, as do sages—and ratrunners. Dr. N.R.F. Maier, my mentor, used to run Norwegicus ratticus instead of white mice. He ran the brown rats in size-to-size hedgerows or mazes to match them against the children of college professors. The brown rats kept up with or beat the kids to the prizes until the kids were around seven. Seven-year-olds or older usually could figure out the mazes quicker than the rats.
I was never certain if this was a comment on parenting skill or a demonstration of how swift and smart the rats were. He had one for a pet called Angel Face. There's a picture of it in an old Life magazine. It liked to ride around with him in his car, and his wife Ayesha told me, "The damned thing loved chocolates. You couldn't hide a box anywhere in the house that it couldn't get at it." Maier was the greatest American organizational consultant cf his time. He liked problem-solving, as do rats, or we would have wiped them out long ago. The teenage mutant ninja turtles' sen-sei is a large rat. I've always liked monkeys. I was bitten by one as a child trying to pet the little savage. Study at a distance is fine by me as far as monkeys go. I read the primatologists.
Now go back and read the above description of the painting and commentary, thinking about it from the viewpoint of a humanistic psychologist who has had anthropological training and a Ph.D. in communication. Think of part of it as a riddle, part of it as a statement about the presenter. What am I saying between the lines? What are the deeper meanings? You've just been handed a mini-scroll. A scroll is supposed to be a work of art representing the accumulated skill of the master at a given point in time. Humor and trickery are respected characteristics of a ninja master.
I wonder what Norm did with the demographics on the kids? The master's thesis might be entitled "Interviews with the human beings who couldn't beat wild rats at solving mazes, and the tragedy of their further pursuit of a meaningful life: a longitudinal study."
A spider researcher might discover that insects outnumber humans in terms of diversity and number, and spiders are almost universally feared and disliked, yet thrive in practically every environment. The female vagina is perceived as a venomous, rotting spider to the insane across cultures. Why is this web-weaving creature sent by God to teach us? What can we learn from the black widow concerning the behavior of human beings?
We eat what we love. We kill what we love. We love who feeds us. Powerful women are dangerous. Make the dangerous beautiful. The powerful ones will kill you if they get pregnant. Birth control is a good idea if you want a powerful woman. Behind every good man is a better woman. If you don't want his children, get rid of him or cut his balls off. Rape prevention, too. We act to protect our genes. Be nice to your wife or she will be your death. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. There is a harsh wisdom worth pursuing our eight-legged teachers to learn.
How 'bout Daddy Longlegs? Balance. It has the deadliest poison but can't bite human beings. I've seen spiders that can walk on water and some that move along pretty well under it. I know the little rascals thrive all over the house, and you're continually dusting their webs above and below eye level. They are particularly good at establishing networks, yet they also toil alone. They hide in the still, dark, narrow ways. Some even seem to fly, as they use their webs for many tasks from communication to mobility as well as a trap for their prey. Even the big ones usually don't come charging out to greet you; they've learned caution right into their breeding. There's some poor Koga ninja I've seen on Japanese television who has poisoned himself with more than four hundred spider toxins. He has beaten calluses on his hands that jut out like knobs. He likes to climb the walls of the old palaces. He was some sort of engineer. His brand of spider knowledge has limited interest, as he confuses fear and love while seeking respect. His is the stereotypical ninja image. I can't recommend it but he seems happy. His nonverbals are a little odd, probably because of the poison. He looks the type to sweat it out rather than be humiliated by total evacuation. Spider venom is neurotoxic and affects how electricity is processed in the brain. His interpretation of Sun Tzu's references to the web of life don't conform to my idea of grace under pressure.
"Ichi" means one or the best in Japanese. (That is probably an indication of chi's place in the minds of those who formulated their mathematical system. That kind of pun and double entendre cannot be an accident.) Niten Ichiryu, Musashi's name for his "best school of the two swords" can also be translated as "body/mind heaven using the best chi." "Kunoichi" could be broken down and translated in baby talk as "the loving heart or stance is best." Kunoichi are spies of the ninja female variety for gathering intelligence. Women who practice ninjutsu are referred to as kunoichi. The spider way would be to send in your best first. Women are the better survivors. Women and children first. The lesson of the black widow indicates that a man's heart is below his stomach. Make the desirable feared and people will study what they practice.
Sun Tzu says treat your captured warriors well. Make the undesirable attractive. A traditional Japanese supervisor cares for his subordinates. A supervisor in a traditional organization will even act as a matchmaker if required. Arranged marriages are a universal trait of royal families. It usually results in some pretty spectacular inbreeding and blood diseases. The ninjas seem to prefer exogamous marriage or marrying out of the clans, differing from the xenophobia of the typical Japanese and materialism of European royals. Sun Tzu highly recommends the life of adventure on many levels.
An arranged marriage indicates a bond between families. It was often used in the West to prevent wars, as the grandparents tend to love their children's offspring even when it's hard to control their own. In warfare the beautiful kunoichi has an easy time reaching the beds of the leaders if they are far from home. Do not be aggressive; make the enemy come to you. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. Taijutsu is defensive. It is drawn from the fighting styles of Chinese nobles and adventurers. There is even a spider kung fu which is associated with the emperor's teachers. Takamatsu said you have to follow the silk trail. The kunoichi is skilled in both the recognition and gathering of intelligence. She reports back along her network but being ninja has plenty of autonomy and options. In a man's world it is truly embarrassing to have your butt whipped by a girl, particularly one thought of as your wife or lover. Women in general appear very subservient in Japan. Most of the ninja women I've met were happy and articulate. We all know and care for Rumiko Hayes. She's a pretty woman from a country village in the mountains near the sea.
I had heard that Rumiko thoroughly thrashed Jack Hoban in a mock knife fight when he was teaching the knife fighting methods favored by the U.S. Marines, in which he was a captain. I've always fancied my knife work. I like a good match. I'd never been beaten. I wanted to try her out. In 1984, I cleverly managed to partner up with her when she was eight months pregnant. (I do not believe in giving away advantage.) She's a bright, cheerful spirit with soothing mannerisms. It's hard to believe she can tame demons, but Jack was a pretty hard boy. The moment I cut she had me stretched out in an arm bar using her rounded belly to pin my elbow. (Even the ninja fetus has potential to kill. That would make a great Original Ninja magazine headline.) This locked my arm and knife hand across her knees, forcing me to the earth; with both her hands free she dragged my 220 pounds as she walked duck-like, taking away my knife. Her spirited action convinced me that ninjutsu was an art of true self-protection that surpassed any physical training I had ever encountered. Her skills might be described as chiropractic. She pulled off this feat without even breathing hard and I took no damage while she knocked me about. She always refers to Hatsumi as Hatsumi-sensei. Many Americans think that she is Hatsumi's daughter. She's not but it seems a good idea to see her that way.
It was a treat to see her at the Ninja Mind seminar. Her skin was glowing with health, and I finally got to meet the daughter I may have frightened all those years ago. Both daughters were bright and cheerful, scrubbed and happy to see all their crazy uncles. One was joking about getting As in recess to bolster her average. I showed Rumi the diploma Hatsumi had sent me. Her first words were "Ah. Hatsumi-sensei hassent you a shidoshi's license." Then she translated it for me. That took care of the idea that it would be fun to send me an official pass to a Tokyo brothel which started off "If you read Japanese don't laugh because he thinks... ."
I hear a high-level American instructor is engaged to a Mara-matsu clan girl. She was over as a translator for Hatsumi at the New Jersey Tai Kai. Pretty girl, funny sense of humor, and smart to handle the translation, which requires the ability to think eso-terically in two languages as well as martial art codes. It's fun to hear how Hatsumi describes something in baby talk. English was not part of his studies. According to modern biolinguists, languages are learned best young as the brain is most flexible and there is a biological proclivity to acquire language that seems to kick in about two and may pretty well dry up by adolescence if not exercised.
People always sound foolish in a new language, particularly if they like to joke. I was never exposed to foreign languages until I was in high school. My French professor in college told me I was clever but hopeless, too late to learn a tonal artistic language like La Belle Langue Française. When I first saw the Dalai Lama in the early seventies, I made the mistake of not paying as much atten tion to his baby talk and listened more to his translator, who spoke my language with exceptional clarity. The message was essentially the same but the Dalai Lama exhibited a greater sense of humor. The other guy was showing off his language skills.
Hatsumi uses many illustrations drawn from the observation of nature. He has a lot of pets and walks them every night. The pets are gifts from students who don't realize that space is limited in Japan. I only have the faintest idea how he maintains the cardiovascular systems of his owl and turkey. Ben Franklin studied turkeys and thought they better represented Americans than eagles, now a threatened species. Merlin, the legendary advisor to King Arthur had a fondness for owls. Many of the observers of ninjutsu regard this as eccentricity. It looks like higher wisdom to me.
Sun Tzu's Art of W&r (which is also translated as The Art of Strategy) could also be translated as an "Art of Chi," particularly the sections dealing with adventure and intelligence gathering. R L. Wing has done the best job of translating to date; if he were familiar with chi kung and the Go Dai he could have revealed another level hidden in code. It is my hope that his translation becomes the standard work. His feel for what is written is excellent. He's Chinese, bilingual, and an excellent writer of clarity. His subtitle for the work, "The World's Most Widely Read Manual of Skillful Negotiations and Lasting Influence," lets the astute reader realize he isn't referring to the Americans fighting their way into the bookstores so they can have this on their bookshelf right next to Kitty Kelley. He refers to the section associated with the spider prince as The Divine Web. He understands baby talk.
The story of Samson and Delilah is a classical example drawn from the Old Testament of the development of chi and fits nicely into our discussion of Spider Princes. His story is in the Book of Judges. Samson was a Judge of his people (a title having more to do with connection to God or exhibiting extremely violent creativity if you kick back and read the King James Version again), a rich kid and a great warrior who wore no armor and carried no weapons as the Philistines had captured and overrun Israel. (A similar situation to the Okinawans and ninja when overrun by samurai.) In one of his recorded battles he slew many of his enemies using a pick-up weapon, the jawbone of an ass. What else he did with that bone is really interesting. (Bone in Chinese medicine has many uses; some are said to be aphrodisiac. They might be interested in the properties of mule bones.)
Rather than dally with his own kind, Samson loved the women of his greatest enemy and his people's conqueror as a statement. In those days hair was thought to be a connection to the gods of the air. Then as today hair was also a mark of beauty as well as strength. (Taking someone's scalp is a little trick the French and British encouraged in the Indians of North America.) A woman of the enemy named Delilah conspired to capture him using lies, ties, and magic numbers. Even when he was being abused Samson enjoyed the game and would ignore her treachery and witchcraft as she was such a skilled lover. It was not his first folly with Philistine women.
The story is worth reading again now that you know some of the codes. Do you suppose there is a relationship between Nazarite and Nazarene? His heart was definitely below his stomach, not in his hair. But, he was a man of his time, and beliefs affect reality. We tend not to do what we don't think is possible.
He told her the secret of his strength was in his hair. It's a good thing he didn't think it was in his balls; that probably saved his life. She cut off his hair while he was sleeping off a drunk and probably drugged as well. (That's my version; he doesn't strike me as the type who would sleep that deeply over sex.) His enemies captured him easily as he thought he was weakened, because for him chi was a gift, not something developed. It just grew. If you've ever had a chi hangover the pain goes from the top of the head to the tips of the toes; when your whole body hurts and your mind is impaired it slows you down to normal.
The Philistines imprisoned this righteous man who thought of women as heifers when angry and never noticed his mother was smarter than his father (it's in the story), blinded him and put him to forced labor. The story goes they forgot to keep trimming his hair so it grew back so long and so strong that he was able to pull a temple down on those responsible for his humiliation. The reality of the tale might be that he had been sensory-deprived, had time to meditate, was mostly isolated, certainly celibate, somewhat starved, doing strong physical labor, in constant fear, and without his hair had to go into himself to find strength.
The Hindu, Oriental monks, and samurai who shave their hair are making a statement about their peaceful intentions and/or what aspect of God they serve. Only the highly skilled in spiritual matters or seekers of peace shave their heads. We in the West associate it with defeat and prostitution. Monks and holy men are known for their strength. It's more of a biker thing these days, but the emotional content is somewhat similar if wilder. The wise men knew we all serve more than one master.
When Samson needed all his strength he drew on all the sources available, even the gods cf his beloved enemy. He was a Mensch, he liked animals and insects. He also understood endurance. Judges as a book puts some very dark behavior in a positive light. The term "judge" would include execution of action, as judges embodied the Law in Old Testament meaning. When I asked my daughter what she'd learned and remembered from the story of Samson she said, "Delilah cut off his hair so he wouldn't fool around." Linda thought he pulled down the tower of Babel. History is always being rewritten by the winners.
I think the story of Samson and the Spider Prince have some interesting correspondences, as does Musashi. We know little of what happened to the ancient ruling families of Japan who held the mountains. The archaeological evidence suggests that they were Chinese adventurers who had already cut a swath through Korea. Both ancient and modern stories suggest considerable exchange between the mountains of Japan and China. (Many Chinese masters say they studied with nameless Taoist masters on a mountain that they won't reveal.) Most martial arts combine like oil and water. Ninjutsu and the secret martial arts of the Chinese nobility flow together like honey and butter, to use a chi kung allusion. A close reading of Sun Tzu, a personal knowledge of the higher-level men and women who are members of Bujinkan as well as Chinese Arts, and a knowledge of art, language, medicine and history reveal a long-suffering noble face to this ancient and misunderstood art of spider princes and princesses surviving the death bringing sword of oppression. Living under the sword is a battle cry of the underground, where the sword over the heart indicates murder. The kanji is the same to my eye and indicates endurance that is heroic and worthy of study. The real thing is worth the journey. A follower of Sun Tzu starts the journey with one step.
I was asked to give a demo of ninjutsu to Mauck Elementary School in Hillsdale for the children's academic award day. Rumor was I was going to break flaming concrete blocks with my head. The kids were excited, the teachers weren't. I invited five or six young volunteers up on the stage. I spent about three minutes showing them how to do a simple wrist technique which throws people to the ground. I showed them how to roll and fall. We had a soft mat. I paired a small blond third-grade girl against a big-for-his-age, fifth-grade, red-headed boy who the teachers told me later was a bit of a bully. The little girl slammed him to the mat, jumped over his prone body, and ran off the stage back to her seat, grinning from ear to ear. He walked around shaking his wrist, trying to figure out what happened. I hadn't coached her beyond the basic technique. She understood ninjutsu and did the right thing. She knew he was dangerous. I gave her a bow. History can repeat itself in small ways.
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