Kuij literally translates as “nine letter-words”. The reference comes from a nine-word sentence of Chinese language origin that summons up the ninja’s powers to deal with obstacles and opposition. I describe it in my book Ninja Vol 3, Warrior Path of Togakure.This term is often used as a catch-all for the ninja’s warrior protector spirit practice, though there is a lot more to the practice than just those nine words themselves.
Part of the bigger teaching is an imaginary symbolic 4-sided, 4-walled- 4-doored fortress palace and geographical layout known as a mandala. What if your life in operation were like that fortress palace? What if you had different types of response strategies for handling different kinds of situations that could rise up to challenge you?
The four parts or wings or doors of the fortress can be interpreted as four specific roles you might take in accomplishing what you need. Think of this as four roles to play, four types of identity you might take in order to be sure that all the angles are handled most effectively.
Here’s an example of how this can work. When I counsel my friends who run professional martial arts schools, I often refer to this mandala idea, and urge friends to see all the roles that need to be taken to drive a professional school to success in serving the community. Most successful businesses need four key players to get four types of job done. The four kinds of roles to be carried out – in a “4 W” format – include:
1. Whip-cracker – is the person who oversees daily operation and makes sure that everything gets done and done quickly and effectively, with an emphasis on urgency and accuracy. In a professional martial arts school we call this the office manager or the administrator.
2. Warrior – is the person who does the production work to provide the service or build the product or deliver the goods. In a professional martial arts school we call this the instructor
3. Wonderer – is the person who comes up with the idea and application and designs the product or service in a fashion that will serve the client’s needs in the best possible way. In a professional martial arts school we call this the conceptualizer or designer, or maybe the research and development role.
4. Welcomer – is the person who attracts and draws in the clients with effective communication of the benefits of the product or service. In a professional martial arts school we call this the marketer or the salesperson.
Sure, you can do it without one of the four, but that takes a lot of hard lopsided work and a lot of luck. Do you want to base your success on a program of over-working and counting on luck? No, me neither.
In a brand new school, these four roles may be handled by two people or even a single individual. A new business is a lot of work in the beginning. Gather allies and become a fortress, and you have a better chance of being the victor in that campaign.
It is interesting to see that what I thought was modern Archetypal Therapy is actually a very old and very tried and tested science for overcoming a wide variety of obstacles/challenges.
I have seen this used in conflict negotiations between peoples of different nations and cultural beliefs, resulting in two very different people, becoming one and working together to change the world.
Yet even though I had seen it used in resolving conflict I had still failed to see just how powerful and flexible (‘applicable’ is a better word) to nearly all things that may be experienced – even in business.
Thank you – great article.
“if only you had told me many years ago.” the student said to his teacher. The teacher just smiled to himself and went about his day.
I am not exactly sure but I believe this topic was impliedly covered by Hayes Sensei in his lecture at the University of Toronto years ago and which was available on the web before. The best thing is that he doesn’t just teach martial arts but how to handle everyday things in life or about life itself.
I think that is one of the essential aspects of an “art”. For all genuine artists, their art pervades every aspect of their life, structures how they see and relate to things, etc. It is when the martial ‘arts’ become a sport or leisure activity, when they lose this essential connection to the ‘art of living’, that we find the (arbitrary) construction of the dichotomy between “martial arts” and “how to handle everyday things in life”. Ninpo as taught by Hatsumi and Hayes (among others) is greatly credited by seeing and teaching this. Furthermore, the cultivation of emptiness is exactly what gives ninpo its flexibility to apply to *all* situations, and that in a non-codified way (as in the four element approach). But, of course, understanding this intellectually and being able to embody it are two different things (with some overlap).
Thank you for your enlightening response. It is very kind of you. This is the kind of understanding which has drawn me to ninpo and Shadows of Iga Society. It feels good to be connected to people who has something valuable/good to impart and live what they teach. In turn, you learn from their musha shugyo and develop the inclination to follow their good examples.
Please allow me to go further and connect some dots. Pages 30-31 Four Marks of Existence from First Steps On The Path Of Light by Hayes Sensei stated the importance to face life for “what it is” not what “it ought to be”. These may explain the need to cultivate emptiness (Hannya Shin Kyo) which gives ninpo the flexibility to be applicable to all situations. Once more thanks and efforts are being made, not just to understand, but to embody what is being learned and understood. I wish you all the best – Ninpo Ikkan!