About Ninjutsu

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Mujician, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. Mujician

    Mujician Yellow Belt

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    When I got my itching to do martial arts again, I found out there was a Ninjutsu club near me. I went along to see what they did. Spoke to the instructor too. He taught both Ninjutsu and Toshindo. Is Toshindo a style of Ninjutsu like Wado Ryu is a style of Karate? I know it was developed by Steven K Hayes.
    This lead to him telling me about the Bujinkan. The way he put it was that they seem to be the global organisation that people have to join to train in recognised Ninjutsu - is this the case or are there other training organisations? Do people not have small ninjutsu schools, or do they all belong to the Bujinkan? This seems a bit 'Mafia-esque' to me.
    How many of the Ninja arts do modern day Ninjutsu (or even Toshindo) schools teach? Horse riding?, poison mixing?! Is it just the weapons, and hand to hand fighting skills that are taught?
    I would still love to do some ninjutsu training, but I want to focus on my karate for now. If i were to find a train partner near me that would be great!
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'll leave the rest to those with more information, but I'll address the organizational issue. Many arts are largely housed within organizations. So, if you wanted to train in Ueshiba's Aikido, you'd almost certainly be joining an organization - almost all the schools belong to one. You might be part of Takemusu Aikido Association, the USAF, the ASU (I think those are the three largest in the US). Most schools simply belong to one of those, and to train at that school you'd have to join their organization. The same was true of NGA until about 10 years ago - nearly all the schools in the US were part of the NGAA. Nothing mafia-esque about it. It's just how they operate.
     
  3. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Sorry, I just have to...

     
  4. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    Let's see if I can summarize this in a somewhat simplified fashion...

    When you see a reference to "ninjutsu", there are basically three categories it might fall into.

    The first is a sub-category of historical Japanese military methods, perhaps roughly analogous to todays espionage and military intelligence operations. There are remnants of these methods contained within a few Japanese koryu ("old school") traditions. However those methods are not the primary focus in any of these arts and the arts in question are not very widely practiced.

    The second category is modern arts created (mostly in the West), by people who got their ideas about ninjutsu from books and movies, then hand-rolled their own systems based on whatever prior martial arts experience they may have had (perhaps some karate or aikido), plus their own imagination. This wouldn't be so bad if most of them didn't claim to have been taught by a mysterious master of an ancient ninja clan.

    The third category is the Takamatsuden arts, so-called because they trace back to a Japanese gentleman named Toshitsugu Takamatasu. Takamatsu is known for sure to have been a licensed master instructor in three documented historical Japanese martial arts. None of those arts is a Ninjutsu system. Takamatsu also claimed to be the inheritor of six more historical martial arts, three of which were systems of Ninjutsu. None of those arts have been historically documented as existing prior to Takamatsu and it is certain that at least some of the claimed history has at least been exaggerated. Perhaps they really were obscure historical traditions that were passed down to Takamatsu, perhaps Takamatsu invented them or reconstructed them from older documents, perhaps he had a teacher who invented or reconstructed some or all of those six arts. We'll probably never know for sure.

    Takamatsu passed "grandmaster" (soke) status in these arts down to his student Masaaki Hatsumi. Hatsumi founded an organization he called the Bujinkan and worked to spread his particular blend of the nine arts he learned from Takamatsu around the world. In the early days, he leaned heavily on the "ninjutsu" label to market the Bujinkan amalgamation of arts, even though most of what was (and is) taught in the Bujinkan does not come from the three purported ninjutsu systems. Mostly what is taught is a combination of unarmed and armed fighting methods. These days the Bujinkan curriculum is more commonly referred to as "Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu", but many people who started training back in the day still refer to it as ninjutsu.

    As time went on, various Bujinkan practitioners splintered off and formed their own organizations (Jinenkan. Genbukan, Toshindo, etc) . Some of them continued to teach the Takamatsuden arts as they had been taught, while others used the Bujinkan concepts as the foundation of their own systems. Toshindo is an example of the latter. Steve Hayes created Toshindo in an effort to apply the principles of the Bujinkan arts to modern self-defense needs, or to build his own personal brand, or both. In Toshindo you would learn unarmed and armed fighting techniques along with a hefty does of Hayes' own personal philosophy. Poison making and horseback riding are not typically included.

    The Bujinkan is a governing organization for the art only for those who are training under instructors who are still connected to Masaaki Hatsumi. If you were to train with one of the other groups you would not be expected to join the Bujinkan. In fact, Hatsumi has explicitly forbidden Bujinkan students to train with instructors from the various splinter arts, so you should not be a member of both the Bujinkan and a Toshindo school. (Although I don't know that anyone is bothering to actively police that, so you could probably get away with it if you wanted to.)

    Hope that helps.
     
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