月之輪 Tsuki no Wa – full moon
Tsuki no Wa – tsukinowa – the ninth technique
月 – moon
之 – of – indicates possessive
輪 – ring, circle, loop, hoop, wheel
月之輪 is an older Japanese term for the moon and more specifically the full moon.
You could use a literal reading of the kanji to say circle of the moon, moon circle, moon ring, moon disc and so on, or a more creative version such as the circle (of light) formed by the shape of the moon.
The moon is an emotive image in Japanese culture, mythology and literature. The moon is one aspect of the beauty of nature and the seasons as captured in the phrase 雪月花 setsugekka. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, the C19th ukiyo-e artist, produced a famous series entitled ‘100 aspects of the moon’ many of which may be familiar.
The technique itself involves thrusting (through) with the sword at the neck, side and abdomen. This is thrusting at a specific spot/point. There is the idea in budō of practicing a thrust at a point of light – a shaft of sunlight or moonlight – with the katana, yari or other weapon.
Tsukinowa is an alternative name for the wooden ring on a zen monk’s clothing – 絡子環作務 rakusukansamu where 環 kan is the common kanji for ring. This ring secures the kesa and so is another interesting link to monk’s clothing, as seen with kesa giri (ref. happō giri), in the sword techniques. This ring has evolved from a functional to a decorative item in modern day. The ring itself is small and can be seen as an indication to accurately strike a small target.
– many thanks to Oguri-san, shihan and sōtō zen monk, for his discussions and input on this.
When thrusting at the abdomen in this technique bear in mind the kyushō 五輪 gorin – 稲妻 inazuma and 月影 tsukikage – lightning and moonbeams. The kanji 月影 tsukikage is also read as getsuei and is on the right side of the abdomen. Also on the right side and associated with the moon is the liver – hopefully this demonstrates the connection with with technique.
月之輪 alternately written 月の輪 or 月輪. 之 is a more archaic kanji, commonly replaced by the hiragana character の no in the modern written form. の is often omitted altogether when the reader knows it should exist – a good example being the Yamanote train line around Tokyo, everyone knows it is pronounced Yama-NO-te and not Yamate as the characters may suggest 山手.
‘Ring around the moon’ – this translation appears to have been popularised through Anime and the Final Fantasy series, a more Jinglish approach. As a translation/interpretation for the budō phrase it may be a little misleading. 之 no indicates the possessive ‘of’, whereas the spatial preposition ‘around’ may use the kanji 回, 廻 or 周. The ‘ring of the moon’ (the full moon) brings to mind a different image to ‘ring around the moon’, the former is the moon itself or the ring/wheel shape formed by the light of the full moon, the latter indicates something separate from or enclosing/encompassing the moon. If the latter was the case being described then a more suitable interpretation would be along the lines of ‘moon halo’, ‘corona’ or ‘nimbus’ (each of which have various kanji forms).
Tsukinowa ‘full moon’ is also a brand of sake from Iwate.