Performing the Bamboo Cut
Bamboo cut was held at the Ken and Jo Seminar at Tochigi HQ from the 11th (Saturday) – the 13th (Monday) of October.
The Bamboo cutting (Takekiri no Gyo) was held on the morning of the last day of the camp.
I have been receiving a lot of questions and enquiries from members about Bamboo cutting which is why I will be talking more about it in this blog.
There is a form of practice which is called Bamboo Cutting (Takekiri no Gyo). Each end of a green bamboo stick is placed in a couple layers of paper with slits cut in them to hold the bamboo stick horizontally of the ground, these layers of paper at each end is supported by a short knife with the blade facing up. Each knife is held at each end by someone throughout the bamboo cutting practice.
It is impossible to support the bamboo with just one sheet of paper, with 2 sheets it is also difficult, 3 sheets of paper is at least needed to support the bamboo. Even with 3 sheets of paper, sounds of the papers tearing when supporting a heavy stick of bamboo can be heard.
When everything is ready, all that is left is to cut the bamboo stick with a Bokken (wooden sword). When cutting if even a little weight is put onto the bamboo, the sheets of paper that is holding the bamboo up will rip and tear and the bamboo will fall to the ground without being cut. If there is tension/ unnecessary strain in the hands when swinging the bokken to cut the bamboo, the cut will also be unsuccessful.
While being relaxed and Ki flow is already going first and then swing the bokken to cut the bamboo, the sheets of paper holding the bamboo will not tear and the bamboo will be cut easily and clearly.
Being able to cut the bamboo cleanly with the bokken does not mean that the person has done anything “great or special”. The purpose of the Bamboo cutting practice is to realize the state of our mind when we perform the cut, the bamboo being cut at the end, is the result and reflection of the state of our mind throughout the practice.
When we are able to use and focus our mind a 100 percent, this is called Focus / Concentration “Shuchu”, when we get distracted and we are unable to use our mind a 100 percent it means we have already lost our focus/ concentration. During the bamboo cut practice if we think of trying to cut the bamboo perfectly or even if we worry about whether we are able to cut the bamboo, it means we have already lost our focus/ concentration and the result will be that we are unable to cut the bamboo.
If our mind is calm and our focus/ concentration is to just cut the bamboo, the result will be that we are able to cut the bamboo easily and cleanly.
“Mind moves/ leads body”, the state of our mind influences and reflects in our body movements, we can feel this clearly during the bamboo cut practice.
The following is a situation that happened 20 years ago.
Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei was sponsored by the Japanese Management Association to conduct 5 seminars about Ki Principles which ended with the bamboo cut practice for the last seminar.
During that seminar, a mother and her daughter participated. The daughter at that time was still in Elementary school. Her mother worked as a manager in the company and was often times busy working, which led to the daughter having a rebellious attitude towards her mother. The daughter was actually unwilling and uninterested in coming to the Ki Seminar at the Dojo.
Her mother was able to cut the bamboo with a single cut. The daughter tried repeatedly but was unable to cut the bamboo after many tries. She then started crying, at the time I was an Otomo and I remembered watching her cry.
Then, Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei spoke to the daughter gently.
Soshu : “Do you know why you are unable to cut the bamboo?”
The daughter: (While crying) “No, I do not know why!”
Soshu: “You are behaving rebelliously towards your mother right?”
The daughter: “… Yes.”
Soshu: “You were forced to come here by your mother and because of that you do not believe that you are able to cut the bamboo?”
The daughter: “… Yes.”
Soshu: “Trust what I am about to say only one time. Believe and decide in your mind that you are able to cut the bamboo and just cut. Can you do this?”
The daughter: “Yes!”
Immediately after, the daughter cut the bamboo easily and clearly. Everyone watching (mainly managers from companies) started cheering when they saw this.
Soshu Koichi Tohei Sensei spoke to the girl’s mother, he said: “Your daughter is strong in determination and able to achieve many things, you should be more encouraging towards her and believe in her.” After hearing this, the mother started to cry as well and went over to hug her daughter.
He then continued to say: “Our mind is real and powerful. I also want you to believe that you are strong and able to achieve many things.” It was at this time that I understood the meaning of the bamboo cut practice.
We have seen many people including a 6 year old boy as well as an 80 year old lady cut the bamboo easily and beautifully. Whether a beginner or an advanced member, anyone can come and practice cutting the bamboo correctly. What about coming to HQ and experience the bamboo cut practice?