In the effort of having a theme every year with which to direct my practice, expanding concepts, and going just a little deeper into the art, I really took a while (okay a few days of going around in circles), but I finally settled, though the deeper I reflect on what I chose, the more it demands…
Often times, I will refer to my research in classical Japanese martial arts, and the literature around that for inspiration, and this time was no different. This time around, it was from the teachings of a very old samurai school called Kukishinden-ryu. Within their teachings of the use of the jutte (a sort of sword capturing truncheon) there is discussion of the use of the rope for arresting as well as the use of improvised and concealed weapons (essentially, all small weapons should be used as concealed weapons). Within these teachings, there is the following statement:
(Kukishinden-ryu Jupposessho no maki)
(Hitosujinawa Tajō Busshin Jūjō no kamae
“The attitude that a single rope multiplies into the ten ropes of Buddha’s mind.”)
This correlates to the teachings of the “Ten Oxen” (jūgyū; 十牛), which is a series of short poems and accompanying drawings used in the Zen tradition to describe the stages of a practitioner’s progress toward enlightenment, and his or her return to society to enact wisdom and compassion. Though I’m very much tempted to write out my own commentary of this resource here, I will simply link to the translation and commentary that i am working off of HERE.
All that being said, it is from the exploration of this idea and the implementation of using just a single rope, that we will explore the possibilities of what can be done with just one rope. This will demand exceptional resource management, ingenuity, and some nice tight ropes!