HAI PU (BLACK/STEALTHY STEP)
First among the Kuji Ashi is the Hai Pu, the Black/Stealthy Step. It is taught not only as a
means of moving in total darkness, but also as a type of dynamic meditation. In its advancing
and retreating action is the core of Ninjitsu. Only by this method can one develop the kinesthetic
sense of the body that is required to practice Ninjitsu. Master Hai Pu first.
This technique is used in total darkness. It is designed for the protection of the body, for
moving silently and slowly, and for attacking instantly.
Fig. 1-Assume the following stance: lower the hips and raise both arms; the feet should be
one shoulder’s width apart; turn the toes inward; bend the knees and lower the hips until the
knees touch. The hips are back, the shoulders shrugged, the head is lowered. Draw the elbows
close to the chest, raise the hands above the head and extend the fingers. The eyes are directed
without being fixed at a spot on the path about ten feet away. Martial artists will recognize this
as a variation of the closed stance of Praying Mantis Kung Fu.
Fig. 2-Keeping the hips and shoulders at the same level, shift the weight onto the right leg;
glide the left toes forward and out in a semicircular manner, keeping the knees together. The
body does not move above the hips, but gently weaves from side to side as weight is shifted
over each foot alternately.
Fig. 3-The right foot is then drawn over to the left ankle in the loose-ankle step of Tai Chi
Chuan, and advanced in a similar manner. Practice in this step strengthens the hips and feet,
developing balance. The most important point in practicing this step is that the hips and shoulders
do not change their level. The arms act as antennae, sensing obstacles, and protecting the
head. Practice in this step develops an unconscious awareness of the body as a whole.
In kabuki theater, this technique is performed so slowly that even though the Ninja remains
in plain view, no movement is discernible. In ancient times, this method was used in crossing
the obi, or sash-belt. If confronted by a gravel path or a nightingale floor (one designed to
creak when weight is applied), the Ninja would roll his obi across the obstacle and tread its narrow
width, effectively muffling any sound which might betray him.
Practice moving forward about ten feet, then back, always directing the Qi forward.