September Theme: Mekugi

If you have ever wondered how the blade of a Katana stays in the handle (Tsuka), then look carefully at the handle of a sword about a third up from the Tsuba and you will see a little pin of bamboo poking up from between bindings in the handle. This is called the Mekugi, and it is only this little pin of bamboo, only about an inch long, that attaches the blade to the Tsuka. Something to think about when performing strong men cuts in front of your instructor!
This clever yet simple idea allows the swordsman to remove his blade for cleaning or repair with just a few taps of a special hammer, thus removing the blade from the furniture of the handle.
In older times it allowed the swordsman to quickly change blades in battle, or simply to clean and service his most precious possession and even to allow him to change his Tsuka for a more ornate one during ceremonial occasions from his more basic day-to-day Tsuka.

Either way  this surprisingly simple and yet strong solution to the problem of  securing the blade to the Tsuka survives today and is still the method we use in our swords, everything held together by a little hidden peg of wood! In fact how often do we observe and yet fail to see what is important, be that in an event or even in the hidden quality of a person.

No student of sword cannot train with a weapon of death and not begin to realize the thin thread that attaches us to life, for around us is the illusion of stability and permanence and yet at any time we may depart this world, so much unfinished or unsaid. A swordsman must truly understand  his own fragility to be great.

For training in a true martial art shows a student  not just about his power and strength, but his vulnerability and humility, these are his true strengths.

Just like a small peg of bamboo, they lie unseen, strengths that holds all together.

One little piece…special.

Holding a man to his life

Hidden yet there.

Just one heartbeat from greatness,

and maybe just one more from rest.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “September Theme: Mekugi

  1. RH

    I think it an interesting point that we can observe closely, yet fail to see what is important.That we don’t always see underlying strengths that hold all together.
    I often wonder just what it is that makes us different from other living ceatures, is it that we have been able to evolve and therefore have purpose? As individuals we are but one amongst many, often going unseen, un-noticed, yet every now and then an indiviual stands out on his own, why? Do we ever notice a single grain of sand in a dessert of many? do we see an ocean as many individual droplets? No, but it is true that the whole is but a mass of many – much like the human race.So what is it that makes each one of us unique? We are all different in appearance, but we are essentially all made up of the same elements – carbon and water- but so far as behaviour is concerned we are all different.So what then is it that makes us unique within our own kind, is it our brains, I don’t believe it is.Our brains may well make a difference in our academic abilities, our ability to recall facts, or our sense of reasoning. But what about wisdom, emotion, knowing right from wrong and our ability to show compassion and feel hopelessly in love? Is there something within each of us, unseen and unknown yet essential, our uniquenesss, There to hold all else together! Our Mekugi ?

    One grain of sand – special
    A droplet of water in an ocean of many
    Alone not seen
    But there none the less

  2. Hdavies

    Those pieces are so lovely to read. Often what we can’t see we don’t believe is there or we take for granted. Something so strong to hold us together or maybe sometimes in life it is a person who cares for us that helps to keep us together or maybe just knowing that helps! On our own, it’s our non-brain that keeps us alive because without this we truly would be dead. And then together, it forms a strong bond that moves everything forward.

    • Can’t believe I didn’t read this before – great post!

      Just a thread of life
      Attaches to all this wonder
      Or this despair
      How shall we spend out last cut
      Our last day?

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