Archive for September 9th, 2008

Lyssa is an amazing woman. She can knit, sew, design costumes, dissasemble, paint, reassemble and ride a bicycle, grow plants, cook great food and be help desk diva to others. And she’s also a Bujinkan student. Lately, she’s been applying her artistic talents to the production of Ninja Gears, an online shop featuring her designs for budoka. The design that appeals to me most is the 眠り猫, nemuri neko or sleeping cat.  The original cat, a wooden sculpture by a left-handed artist, is to be found at Nikko‘s Toshogu Shrine, and is said to both represent the spirit of Nikko itself (a shrine complex designed to honour Tokugawa Ieyasu) and the healing Buddha. Sleep is a great medicine, sensei reminds me, and says that, when you’re injured or sick, lie down and rest yourself as long as you need to.

Lyssa’s graphic of the sleeping cat captures the shape of the sculpture beautifully. Hidari Jingoro, the artist who created the original, was fascinated by cats. Cats, like any animal that hunts, have natural 無心, mushin, or no mind. They are completely aware and ready to react. The famous tale, 猫の妙術, neko no myojutsu or the Uncanny Skills of the Cat, tells us about a feline who has mastered the ability to react out of no mind, and totally unnerve his opponent.  Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese folk tale, recalling the theme of Neko no Myojutsu, about a boy obsessed with cat illustrations in The Boy who Drew Cats, brings to mind this uncanny quality of the cat.

Lyssa is a girl who draws cats…

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In his new book, Unarmed Techniques of the Samurai, Hatsumi Sensei included some of his calligraphy on 色紙, shikishi, the coloured boards, often with gold edges, that are so often used for keepsake Japanese writing such as calligraphy or haiku. One of them featured in the book is 忍友, ninyu. I suppose one of the meanings could be keeping company with fellow learners, helping each other to persevere. Sensei has also used the word 武友, buyu, or martial friends to encourage us to learn together.

Two people I consider 先輩, seniors, are writing insightful blogs. Doug Wilson’s Henka and the Paul Masse’s Goshinjutsu pick up themes from our budo, the authors’ life experiences and study of 文武両道, bunbu ryodo, or book and martial learning. Paul’s artistry comes out in his photography, too.

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