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Me'je Oruka



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Post 1

January 2020

Me'je Oruka Broadsword Part 2
Eshu Elegba: Crossroads/Four Directions

Namaste’ Students and Fellow Martial Arts Enthusiasts!

Be sure to read the December 2019 Post in which we discussed the overview and basic structure of the Me’je Oruka Broadsword Form. That information explains the connection between the seven parts of the Me’je Oruka Broadsword Form and the relationship of the form to the Ase of the Seven Principle Orisa of the Ifa Spiritual Tradition. In Part 1 of the form we expressed the Ase of Orisa Shango, the Lord of Thunder and Lightning, of Illumination and Devastation. In Part 2 we are looking at the Ase of a very important and powerful Sentient Energetic Entity called Orisa Eshu Elegba, the Lord of the Four Directions and of the Crossroads.

Before we discuss the attributes of Orisa Eshu Elegba lets first establish some of the martial principles that are expressed in this part of the Form. Many of you have read or are at least familiar with The Art of War (Warfare) by Sun Tzu. In this amazing text on military strategy Sun Tzu shares wisdom that even today is read and practiced by military strategists and business magnates around the world.

In his chapter on ‘Weak Points and Strong Points’ Sun Tzu states, “Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.” He goes on the say, “To attack with the confidence of taking one’s objective is because one attacks what the enemy does not defend. To defend with the confidence of keeping one’s charge secure is because one defends where the enemy will not attack.

So veiled and subtle,
To the point of having no form (hsing);
So mysterious and miraculous,
To the point of making no sound,
Therefore he can be arbiter of the enemy’s fate

As you will see, these gems of strategic wisdom say much about the Orisa Eshu Elegba and the part of the Me’je Oruka Broadsword Form that is syncretized to his Ase. Note that in the Tai Chi Classics it states, ‘when the enemy attacks he feels that he cannot find you, and when the enemy retreats he feels he has no place to run or escape.’ In the Art of War, Sun Tzu states, “If we want to fight, the enemy has no choice but to engage us, even though safe behind his high walls and deep moats, because we strike at what he must rescue. If we do not want to fight, the enemy cannot engage us, even though we have no more around us than a drawn line, because we divert him to a different objective.” When one is able to understand and act in accordance with this wisdom of the Art of War, they approach invincibility.

Sun Tzu goes on to say, “To be prepared everywhere is to be weak everywhere. One is weak because he makes preparations against others; he has strength because he makes others prepare against him.

Consider these vital points:

  • Analyze the enemy’s battle plan to understand its merits and its weaknesses.
  • Provoke him to find out the pattern of his movements.
  • Make him show himself (hsing) to discover the viability of his battle position.
  • Skirmish with him to find out where he is strong and where he is vulnerable.

According to Sun Tzu, “The ultimate skill in taking up a strategic position (hsing) is to have no form (hsing). One’s victories in battle cannot be repeated – they take their forms (hsing) in response to inexhaustibly changing circumstances.

Just as the flow of water avoids high ground and rushes to the lowest point, so on the path to victory avoid the enemy’s strong points and strike where he is weak.

Thus, “of the five phases (wu hsing), none is the constant victor; of the four seasons, none occupies a constant position; the days are both short and long; the moon waxes and wanes.

In these words of wisdom we have laid a foundation for understanding of Sun Tzu’s treatise on The Art of War, the wisdom of the Tai Chi Classics, and the characteristics of the Ifa Orisa Eshu Elegba, the Lord of the Crossroads.

Holder of Ase (Power)

The Yoruba name ‘Esu’ means ‘the Divine Messenger’, and the Yoruba name ‘Elegbara’ means ‘Spirit of Good Character’. Eshu is that essential quality or characteristic of the ‘Cosmic Essence’ that allows information to be exchanged within the Consciousness of Creator and the Womb of Creation. In the language of Ifa, Eshu is the one, “...without whom nothing can be accomplished”. My personal experiences dealing with the Ase of Eshu-Elegba have given me a strong sense of his dual nature. Eshu is also considered to be one of the Warrior Orisa.

Reflect for a moment on this description of Orisa Eshu Elegba by Epega-Agbede.

Elegba or Elegbara is both a cognomen and aspect of the Orisha Eshu. Elegba is the trickster and the keeper of Ase. He opens and closes the doors to opportunity. He is the policeman of the spirit world. He has the ability to turn order into chaos. He is the spirit that allows transformation. It is Elegba who offers you choices. It is Elegba who is the divine messenger, carrying prayers, petitions and sacrifices to other Orisha and spirits. He is always appeased first because he is capable of disrupting or misguiding prayers, offerings, sacrifices and rituals.

Eshu is the most complex Orisha in the Yoruba pantheon. Known to have twenty-one different aspects, Eshu is known as the Trickster. He is the keeper of Force (Ase).


Attributes and characteristics of Orisa Eshu- Elegba:

  • Messenger
  • Owner of the Four Directions (east, west, north, and south)
  • Keeper of the Ase (power) of the (other) Orisa
  • Guardian of the Gates of Fortune, Good and Evil (bad)
  • Lord of Flexibility
  • Owner of the mysteries of Choice, Chance, and Change

You can think of the Me’je Oruka Broadsword Form as a moving meditation with a weapon in your hand. In Part 2 of the form, we are conjuring the Ase of this Sentient Energetic Entity in order to be able to draw in and become an expression of Eshu’s energy. This process of drawing in and expressing the energies of the various Orisa runs throughout the Me’je Oruka Contemporary Broadsword Form.

Now go back and practice the form with this new understanding. Notice how the Ase of Eshu Elegba in the form calls you to move fluidly in all directions, moving hard and soft, and high and low. At the same time notice how you occupy and are moving fluidly within a very limited space emphasizing the four cardinal directions. As you draw on the Ase of Orisa Eshu Elegba you are able to stand at the intersection, the crossroads, and command the world from that one, yet ever-changing position. You are striking so that the enemy must defend, and moving so that the enemy’s attack is effectively thwarted.

Ref: SUN-TZU The Art of Warfare, translated by Roger Ames, Ballantine Books, New York 1993 ISBN 0-345-36239-X (Note: Roger Ames was one of my mentors at the East-West Center Asian Studies Program during the 1990’s. His is my preferred translation.)

In this month's video lesson Seifu Sharif demonstrates Part 2 of the Me'je Oruka Broadsword Form.

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