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Roppo: six ways to infinity.

You may remember "Roppo kuji no biken" as the theme from 2004. But this idea of "roppo" cannot be left in 2004 and does not only apply to the sword. In fact, Hatsumi Sensei made reference to this recently.


In a Friday night class at Hombu, Soke said that roppo was a way of evading and taking space. He said it was six ways of backing up. He said it was like roppo training in Kabuki theater.

In Kabuki "roppo was used originally as a form of entrance but became more used for exits along the hanamichi. It is derived possibly from the swaggering walk (tanzen roppo) of the Edo period dandies as they strutted between the teahouses of the pleasure quarters. Its literal meaning is "six directions" and the term may have been derived from the purification ceremony of low ranking priests where they referred to heaven, earth, east, west, north and south. There are several forms of this exaggerated style of exit. The tobi roppo (flying roppo) involves the actor gesticulating with his hand whilst bounding along the hanamichi in a skipping motion. The kitsune roppo involves the actor leaving the stage with curled "paws" in the manner of a fox."

Roppo is also described in this Aikido Journal interview with Seigo Okamoto Shihan:
"Roppo can be understood in a variety of ways, such as the roppo of roppogumi [six groups of chivalrous young men who used to wander the city streets in the Edo period]. Or it can be equated with the roppo from the kabuki term roppo o fumu of Benkei [a priest of the early Kamakura period and a famous retainer of Yoshitsune Minamoto. Roppo o fumu means to make one’s exit with bold gestures along the runway].

However, I usually compare roppo to gaming dice to describe techniques which can deal with any situation from any direction, top or bottom, front or back, right or left, like the faces of dice. But these techniques do not have square angles like dice but are round, forming six (roku) infinite circles."

Sometimes it takes an idea like roppo to get your taijutsu to flower.



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