2. Walking and Running Styles of the Edo Period

running people

(II)Running Style of the Edo period

The running style during the Edo period is based on the walking style of the period.

According to contemporary records,
the word “running” was described as “Sokuho”
which translates roughly to “speed walking”.

It seems that they didn't particularly distinguish
between running and walking.

①The ”Doron-ron” - Training techniques for Ninja

Seiko Fujita, a descendant of one of the Kouga-Ninjas
recorded the practice techniques for “Sokuho” in his book “Doron-Dodon”.

Kouga Ninja Style “Sokuho”

・Seisoku-Jutsu (technique)
Place a small cotton ball (0.9cm x 1.5cm) on the top of your nose and breathe gently in order not to make it fall off.

・Walk on the balls of your feet all day

・Walk at 16km per hour in the “Riki Tei” style.
(taking short, quick steps while looking at your feet)

Beyond this, there are few if any records
because Ninja served as and spies and kept most of their important techniques as confidential information.

Not only for Ninja,
Japanese people transmitted all of the important techniques secretly
by only passing them on orally.

That’s why we hardly see the really important things in the documents back then.

Fortunately, I found more detailed records of “Sokuho”
which were shared among Samurai and Shounin(merchants)
called “Senri Zen Sou Hou” and “Shinsoku Hokou Jutsu”.

②"Senri Zen Sou Hou"

According to the document “Senri Zen Sou Hou”,
which was written in the middle of the Edo period (1771),
they had a variety of walking styles
such as “Shin”, “Gyo”, “Sou” and “Shichitai”.

Through a mix of these styles,
it says that people were able to run
up to 160 km per day with the mix of these walking styles.

(to be explained in detail further below)

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③"Shinsoku Hokou Jutsu"

According to the document “Shinsoku Hokou Jutsu”,
which was written towards the end of the Edo period (1850s),
runners could cover up to 160km per day by drawing “Ki” (Spiritual energy)
from the whole body to Tanden (a point located below the navel)
and by running in a free and relaxed way.

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④”Ukiyo-e” - Japanese Woodblock Print

As you can see “Ukiyo-e”, running people were described as below.

・Lean the upper body forward.

・Bend the knees deeply

・Put your feet straight down to maintain a good center of gravity

・The legs and arms should move in unison together

(when the right leg moves forward,
the right arm should move forward with it)

This type of movement is known as “Namba Hashiri” or "Namba running" today.

running people

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