八方斬 Happō Giri – cutting in eight directions/all sides
Happō giri – the eighth technique
八 – eight
方 – directions, alternatives
斬 – to cut with a blade
While 八方 can be directly translated as eight-directions, it can also be read as all sides. Instead of thinking as with 四方 of the four cardinal directions, 八方 is the entire circumference around tori, tori is the the centre. So this technique is associated with being surrounded by adversaries.
Hachi 八, the kanji for the number 8, has various significances in Japanese language and history. In buddhism there are the 八部衆 Hachi bushū – the 8 deva guardian legions, of which the Shitennō are part of the first legion – and 八幡 Hachiman – the Shintō deity that adopted buddhism, protector of warriors, god of archery and war.
The downwards diagonal cut of kesa giri 袈裟切り can be seen in the kanji 八. The kesa refers to an over-robe worn by Japanese buddhist monks and nuns, hanging from the left shoulder and wrapped around the body, describing a diagonal line form the left shoulder toward the right hip.
Kesa giri is sometimes called ‘collar’ or ‘lapel cut’, although this is a little misleading as the angle is a little different from the lapel of a kimono. ‘Monk’s over-robe cut’ is a little unwieldy to use, so best stick with calling it what it is – Kesa giri. Initially this is a cut from the upper-right to lower-left / which can be performed in reverse \ as in writing the kanji 八
* Picture courtesy of the web somewhere…