How to Hide in Sunlight

In Ninjutsu there is a word “ton’ ei” which translates as “shadow shield;” or casting your shadow forward. For some, hiding in sunlight is the real shadow of budo.

When people think about hiding techniques they instantly think about moving themselves out of view of the opponent or hiding in shadows or behind something. Using ‘shadow shield’ we do the opposite and hide behind the light behind us. It is a very skilled and beautiful art that few can master.

The most basic application of this would be to stand with the sun behind you so that your figure is silhouetted against its light and so its glare blinds your opponent if he tries to look at you.

Now he can’t see you only your shadow being projected in front of you. This will make it very hard for him to judge distance and to see what you are holding. Often if you employ this method and hold your sword pointing directly at your opponent’s eyes, your opponent will simply run into your sword as he will not be able to judge how near it is. Sometimes he will think you are closer than you are and will take wild swings at your shadow instead of you. 

This reminds me of a technique that is mentioned in the 16th century Ninja manual called the ‘Shoninki’ when a dummy or scarecrow is thrown in a room before you enter or placed on guard before you, to lure out opponents and place them in a very vulnerable position.

Symbolically this of course also applies to our overall strategy in life.  You can use this in a situation when you can’t hide or don’t wish to hide such as when starting a new job or meeting someone you are unsure of.

In this case, you would project an image of someone quite different to yourself and expose weaknesses and values you don’t really have. So for example you could pretend to be slightly insecure about your weight or your social class.

The more attention you get the more you can use that spotlight to project a different image. This is very useful for high profile people as they already have the light on them. Because people perceive your weaknesses incorrectly and instead are attacking your projected shadow. This is very powerful as it shows people for who they really are and because you are completely unharmed and emotionally detached you can judge the person and the situation truthfully without any need to respond. Of course, some people will be very pleasant to the shadow shield and you must be just as fastidious to judge that as their true nature too. One thing you need to be aware of is that because the weaknesses your are projecting are not your own you do have to be particularly attentive to watch out for attacks and you may miss them. After all, it is not always easy to notice someone is trying to ‘stab’ your shadow.


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