The Rope Joint
The reason I can do the technique this way is that I’m using my spine as if it were a rope.
— Hatsumi Sensei
Last week Sensei spoke again of the importance of connection, using the examples of the joints in the body. The body has many joints which both connect all the parts together and allow it to move smoothly. The fewer joints, or connections, we have, the less smooth our movement will be. Demonstrating a technique, he said that he could do it this way because he was using all of the joints in his spine together, as if it were a rope.
The rope is an important tool in this years’ training theme as it demonstrates the connectedness of things. Sensei also mentioned that the rope is like one big joint working as a whole – it has no links or joints in it, such as a chain does for example, so it can be used in a supple and fluid manner. Perhaps another way of looking at it is viewing the rope as being composed of a billion tiny joints which have been amalgamated into one thing which works as a single unit. All of the separate parts have been united to create a new thing – and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as they say.
The word for joint in Japanese is ‘kansetsu’ (関節), and it is also interesting that the word for ‘indirectness’ is also pronounced ‘kansetsu’ (官設). I certainly felt both aspects of this when he allowed me to feel the technique. He was controlling me so lightly that it felt like I was being held in place by a single sheet of paper. It was the indirect manner in which he responded to my punch that allowed him to do it.