Kuji-Kiri (九字切)

In Japanese, “Kuji-kiri” is written as 九字切, where:

  • 九 (Ku) means “nine.”
  • 字 (Ji) means “character” or “symbol.”
  • 切 (Kiri) means “cut” or “carve.”

So, the term literally translates to “nine symbols cut” or “nine-character carving.” This reflects the practice of forming specific hand signs or mudras along with vocalized sounds as part of the Kuji-kiri ritual.

Kuji-kiri, often referred to simply as Kuji, is a series of hand signs used in esoteric Japanese spiritual practices, including some forms of martial arts such as ninjutsu. The term “Kuji-kiri” translates to “nine cuts” or “nine symbols,” and it involves the performance of specific gestures or mudras accompanied by vocalized sounds (mantras). These hand signs and vocalizations are believed to have mystical and spiritual significance, promoting focus, energy manipulation, and a sense of empowerment.

The core of Kuji-kiri consists of nine syllables, each associated with a specific intention or effect. Practitioners may use Kuji as a form of meditation, ritual, or as a means of enhancing mental and physical abilities. The hand signs are often performed in a specific sequence, and each gesture is associated with a particular concept.

Here are the nine Kuji-kiri hand signs and their associated intentions:

  1. Rin (臨) – Power of Concentration:
    • Associated with focusing one’s mind and increasing concentration.
  2. Pyo (兵) – Power of Balance:
    • Represents the balance between the spiritual and physical aspects of an individual.
  3. Toh (闘) – Power of Harmony:
    • Symbolizes the integration of mind and body, fostering inner harmony.
  4. Sha (者) – Power of Healing:
    • Connected to the intention of promoting healing and well-being.
  5. Kai (皆) – Power of Intuition:
    • Enhances intuitive abilities and a deeper understanding of one’s surroundings.
  6. Jin (陣) – Power of Perception:
    • Amplifies sensory perception, helping to be aware of one’s environment.
  7. Retsu (列) – Power of Strength:
    • Represents physical and mental strength, providing endurance and resilience.
  8. Zai (在) – Power of Creation:
    • Associated with creativity, helping to manifest ideas and goals.
  9. Zen (前) – Power of Absolute Presence:
    • Represents the realization of one’s true nature and the connection to the universe.

Practitioners of Kuji-kiri often learn and use these hand signs in conjunction with specific meditation practices, martial arts training, or spiritual rituals. It’s important to note that Kuji-kiri has historical and cultural roots in esoteric Buddhism and Shugendo, and its interpretation can vary among different traditions and practitioners. While it is associated with ninja and martial arts in popular culture, the extent of its historical use by historical ninja is debated.