Essays From The Master

Archive for February, 2007

Candle Work

Candle work 

 

Everything that is found in Ninjitsu has multiple uses. There is
no reason for the ninja to possess any object, or technique, that
can’t be used for more than one purpose. Even ordinary items found 
around the average home can be turned into training tools. One such
object is an ordinary candle. It provides light, sets the mood, and,
if scented, maybe even smells good. 


      But it can also be used by the martial artist to develop 
effective striking abilities. It requires a great deal of patience and
focus, but that is part of the training. The exercise requires that
you sit, kneel, or stand in front of a lit candle and strike at it
with the hand without hitting it. You want to generate enough power so
that the force of the compressed air puts out the flame. 


      On the surface this may sound easy, but it is not that simple. 
Mind, body, and spirit must all be in accord to achieve the goal, and 
this exercise helps one to develop that sort of inner harmony. It 
trains the student to gain control of the Elements on an internal 
level as well as external. First off, it brings one into a meditative 
state where clarity is found by focusing the mind on a single topic 
through the use of all five senses. The sight of the flame naturally 
holds the attention of human beings. The sound of it struggling with 
the air is audible, its heat is easily felt, the scent of smoke fills 
the room, and what you can smell you can taste. 


      All of these “elements” keep the mind in one place and help to 
block out external and internal distractions. One can also use the 
mental imagery of projecting a ball of energy out of the Kia point, 
the chakra located at the solar plexus, and use the image to help 
smother the candle when striking. 


This type of focusing also helps one to calm their emotions by 
narrowing the attention to a single a goal and then channeling the 
energy in a constructive way to relieve the stresses of daily life.
      The practice also develops the physical body obviously. The main 
skill acquired is that of precision. A candle flame is much smaller 
that a brick or sand bag. Its size is closer to that of the targets on 
a human body, so it has a little more practicality than just 
developing brute force. And one must strike in a straight line so that 
the air is collected by the hand and moved with enough force to blow 
out the flame thereby teaching proper striking technique. 


      Many schools use board breaking as a test of technique. Some 
practice with the punching bag, and some smash their hands on stone. 
However, though these methods do help to develop force, they don’t 
work on accuracy in the way that the candle exercise does. Plus 
candles are cheaper than wooden boards and they hurt a lot less than 
bricks. 

 

By Michel Ministeri 

 

Second year Komuso student