‘Maruki o motte, suigetsu o shire’ --- Knowing the ‘suigetsu’ by the round stick.


I have heard that according to legend, these words come from the enlightenment of Muso Gonnosuke’s (the founder of SMR) pursuit of the warrior path. I think that there is meaning to the formation of this legend (for SMR practioners).


‘Maruki’, meaning round stick, is easy to recognize in the shape of the jo that we practice with.


The word ‘suigetsu’ has the following definitions in the Koujien (a famous Japanese dictionary):

1. water and moon

2. Moonlight reflected in the water; or other phenomenon which have no substance (e.g. the moon we can see reflected in the water is not actually the moon. That is, it is a phenomenon without substance).

3. The situation during mutual approach, of glaring at your opponent.


Another meaning is that of the solar plexus (the part of the body in centre front, just below the sternum). The solar plexus is often explained (in Japanese) as ‘suigetsu’, because it is a vital spot which is exploited in many forms of unarmed fighting systems. This is a well known weak spot of the human body.


The meaning of the word ‘shire’ (pronounce shi-re) is to ‘know’, but the meaning of it in this context is difficult to understand. If you interpret ‘suigetsu’ as a weak point of the body, ‘shire’ might then be thought of as hitting/attacking the weak point. There are people who think the use of the word ‘shire’ is a mistake, and the word for hit/attack should have been used.


But, for ‘shire’, I think a deeper meaning can be taken for the ‘shinken-shoubu’ (or life and death duel). Therefore, I think the meaning of ‘suigetsu’ becomes less a part of the body, but has more of a substance-less or spiritual meaning. This becomes a matter of the heart, which has been passed down from our ancestors. The structure of these words is heavily influenced by the Manyo (Manyo is one of the original styles, and is a large anthology, of Japanese poetry dating back approximately 1200 years ago), and I think that the love of the beauties of nature also had an effect on bujutsu.


Based on the writings in the Shomokuroku scroll, I understand the words ‘suigetsu o shire’ to mean the following:


To understand or pre-empt the movements of your opponent, one has to polish one’s own heart as a mirror. Furthermore, if the water’s surface is not flat and calm, you won’t be able to understand your opponent. The water and the moon have ‘no mind’, and that’s why the water can reflect the moon as it is.


I think the essence of bujutsu, the highest understanding of training, is to understand your opponent’s movements with a calm and quiet mind.




Kiri-otoshi and other discussion - Jodojo Nov 04


Interview with Nishioka Sensei - Jodojo Sept 04


My Thoughts on Honte and Gyakute - A discussion by Nishioka Sensei. Jodojo 11 Apr 04


Knowing the ‘suigetsu’ by the round stick. – Jodojo 10 Feb 04


What is the opinion of SMRJ about fighting with multiple enemies at the same time?    – Jodojo 18 Oct 03


What are the essential elements of kata practice? - Jodojo 18 Oct 03


How does training in koryu differ to other, more widely available, martial arts such as karatedo, aikido or judo? - Jodojo 16 Oct 02


What do you think training in the traditional Japanese martial arts means in today's world? What kind of attitude do you expect a person studying kobudo to have? - Jodojo 6 Sept 02


Interview with David Dangerfield, Jan 02