Essays From The Master

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Why evade the shadow

The secret of the evading shadow: there is no shadow for all is shadow

In unarmed combat the Komuso ninja uses the Evading Shadow Kata which is the core of the way of the Bat. The kata is made up of ninety moves forty five moves that are offensive and forty-five that are defensive. In this kata there are nine feints, nine blocks, nine strikes, nine holds and nine throws that can be used for offensive or defense. By combining the offensive and defensive techniques elaborations of the kata evolve and emerge in keeping with the circumstances of the ninja. The ways of the bat deal with unarmed combat but also with movement as meditation leading to escape and evasion methods. The way of the bat is the fourth level in the Komuso school of the Silent Way pointing to a blending of the mind, feelings and will in and through the body as a way to express the individual’s life-force and access there own spirit.

Why this kata is called the evading shadow and what does that mean? The title of this kata has to do with the training method in which the student is placed in a mostly dark space and back lit so that its shadow is facing it. Facing his own shadow the student uses the movements of the kata to evade or get behind his own shadow which can not be done in the mundane world because his own body casts said shadow. To evade his own shadow the student must merge and move with that of his foe which on the basic level is getting behind his foe. The foe represents the Komuso student’s own shadow and the student represents the shadow of his foe. If the foe and the student are both shadows then there is no shadow because the illusion of polarity is shattered. To be the shadow of a foe one must study the movement, stance and appearance of the foe and mirror that to a degree but only to put the foe into a state of unconscious sympathy.

The Komuso in understanding that all is shadow conversely understands that the light that casts those shadows, as they apply to that individual, comes from that individual Komuso. Controlling what he himself does the Komuso influences what his foe does because the Komuso has made the foe or target his own shadow. By understanding his own role as the source of the “shadows” in his life and path the Komuso negates the ability of the foe to influence the Komuso in turn. To master the kata the Komuso must balance the need to mirror with knowing when to go against the mirror. Power and knowledge are always the poles of what the Komuso does as these are the halves of the truth that the individual is expressing even in combat.

To evade the shadow one must realize that the shadow is an illusion and so realized the Komuso need only control what they do. In non-combative actions the Komuso can apply these concepts in order to be able to ebb and flow at times and disturb the ebb and flow at other times. All others are shadows on the Komuso’s path just as the Komuso is a shadow on the path of others as every Komuso is taught “to be a shadow one must have substance” and if the Komuso is a shadow and has substance then those who are also shadows also have substance and should never be discounted. The Komuso ninja is more than a warrior-mystic he is also a magician and as such he should govern the scope of his reality using its force to influence all else. The flute staff of the Komuso is as much blade as staff as it is also a medium of art and spirit, the diversity showing truth that any given thing can express infinity.

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