Are ninjutsu practitioners weapon specialist?

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by DuskB4Dawn, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. DuskB4Dawn

    DuskB4Dawn Green Belt

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    I once asked a martial artist what he thought of Ninjutsu and was surprised when he said "weapon specialist"
    But I think its very true. No other martial arts has such a varied amount of weapons and tools as Ninjutsu. Perhaps kung fu also has a wide range of unique weapons.
    But Ninjutsu has weapons and tools. and sometimes tools are used as weapons.
    it is these special weapons and tactics that make ninjutsu unique to other martial arts.
    Ninjutsu has a huge array of skills. not just a huge variety in Taijutsu and weaponry but also traditionally depending on specific Ryu proficiency in the field survival, horse riding, military strategy, stealth etc was included
    this is not typical of today's martial art that mainly focus on one thing like unarmed. or one weapon like sword.
    Is it this huge variety of skill sets that make Ninjutsu different to other martial arts.
    is this because Ninjutsu is more of a specialist martial art that teaches unconventional tactics and weapons?
    for example I don't think Shuko was a common weapon and I doubt it was taught to the standard warrior class but it is a part of koto ryu weaponry and is also a tool for climbing. and is perhaps why there is a lot of hand claw strikes in their Taijutsu.
    is this what makes Ninjutsu stand out and be unique compared to other martial arts?
     
  2. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    I'd say no, actually. And that would go quadruple for the Bujinkan. While there are a large number of weapons taught and trained in Ninjutsu schools, they dominantly come from only two of the traditions (Kukishinden Ryu and Togakure Ryu), with some elements or small syllabus' found in others. Additionally, in order to be a specialist in a particular area, you need to specialise in it, not simply have it included, and I really don't think that's the case. The epitome of that is the Bujinkan itself, where the emphasis isn't on learning the weapons, it's on application of weapons as part of your unarmed methods, which is vastly different. What Ninjutsu is is a generalist system, rather than really specialising in any one thing above anything else (although, again, in the Bujinkan you could argue that the emphasis is on the unarmed teaching, which can and does incorportate weaponry, so they specialise in that...), so no label of "specialist" is really correct. To clarify, I'm using the term "Ninjutsu" as a generic term referring to the Takamatsuden systems and approach to martial arts, rather than the more specific historical usage of the term to refer to a specific skill set based around espionage and information gathering (which would still not be a weaponry specialist system either).

    Oh, and Shuko are not part of Koto Ryu, they are one of the three "secret treasures" of Togakure Ryu (Sanpo Hiden - Shuko, Shinodake, Senban).
     
  3. skuggvarg

    skuggvarg Yellow Belt

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    Chris, how do you know if there are shuko in Koto ryu? I dont for sure and seeing that koto ryu has been taught alongside of Togakure ryu for a long time there is always a chance it has been added at some point. Like has been discussed before, no one except the soke of the school can speak with authority on what is not in it. There are many weapons included in the other ryu-ha as far as I know.


    / Skuggvarg
     
  4. Aiki Lee

    Aiki Lee Master of Arts

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    Because all shuko "techniques" originate from Togakure ryu? You could perform Koto ryu with shuko obviously, but I do believe there are no specific teachings within the ryu regarding shuko.
     
  5. ShugyoIkkan

    ShugyoIkkan White Belt

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    What makes you believe that? Do you have special insight into Kotô Ryû? Perhaps access to the densho?
     
  6. Aiki Lee

    Aiki Lee Master of Arts

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    What makes you believe anything different? Any and all references I have ever seen or heard of in relation to the usage of shuko have been attributed to the togakure ryu. Koto ryu is a koppojutsu system, not a ninjutsu system. Shuk were primarily used for climbing not combat. It seems pretty reasonable to assume that koto ryu has no shuko syllabus.

    If you have evidence of the contrary, I would like to see it as I am open to change my views if the evidence leads to such a thing.

    Oh and I see this is your first post. Welcome to MT, you might want to go to the meet and greet section and share some details about yourself for the rest of the online community.
     
  7. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    I second that invitation to go and say "Hello!" over at the Meet & Greet. Feel free to share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with but don't be afraid to give us a flavour of your martial arts interests and experience.

    I also concur with Mr. Parker about the difference between "Generalist" and "Specialist"; for example, I would consider myself a 'specialist' because all I focus my attention on is the sword.
     
  8. Troy Wideman

    Troy Wideman Green Belt

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    Hello,

    To my knowledge, Koto Ryu does not have shuko in it but rather a type of brass knuckle that is used while applying the techniques.


    Kind Regards,

    Troy Wideman
     
  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Frankly, I'm sick of that excuse/reasoning, it has no basis in anything other than Hatsumi's habit of constantly saying "I've never shown x before...." as a way of ensuring people stick to him instead of looking to others. It started when Tanemura left, continued when Manaka left, and has been consistent throughout and til today. Essentially he's not trying to generate loyalty by providing a higher product, but by generating the feeling that you'll be missing out by not being there. It's also lead to this bizarre impression within certain sections of the Bujinkan that unless Hatsumi himself rules something out of being in a particular Ryu, you can't assume it's not there. This, then, is backed up by Hatsumi tending to not confirm or deny anything, as well as his habit of picking up completely unrelated items to teach particular Ryu-ha material with, giving instructors and practitioners the ability to claim that pretty much anything is in any of the Ryu, as they've never been told it isn't there. Honestly, the better way to think of it is that only things that have been confirmed as part of the Ryu can be considered part of the Ryu, not that anything not confirmed to not be a part of it might be there, or might not... that way people don't come up with frankly ludicrous questions such as "how do you know if there are shuko in Koto Ryu?".

    But, to answer it, Shuko are one of the three "secret" treasures of Togakure Ryu, and have always been described as being unique to that tradition by all references, including Menkyo Kaiden holders, and the current Soke of the tradition. So while it hasn't been stated that Shuko aren't in Koto Ryu, it has been stated that they are unique to Togakure Ryu... which, by default, says that they aren't in any other system (in that form, at least).

    Seriously, though, the Bujinkan is the only organisation that I can think of where the makeup of the curriculum is a matter of debate... and that's even within it's own membership! I mean, what level do you think you're learning when you can't even know what there is in your systems? I might also point out that that is a direct contradiction with all other Takamatsuden organisations as well... so it's got nothing to do with "secrets of the traditions", as that's completely beside the point and misses the way such things happen. It's Hatsumi's approach and the misinterpretations of people who don't really have any understanding of traditional martial arts. Which is the vast majority of the Bujinkan, honestly, no matter what they think.

    Hi Troy,

    Yeah, I've come across that item... a form of Tekko, from memory. I've also seen Shuto-gane being referred to on occasion, which makes a lot of sense considering the amount of Shuto ken being found in the Ryu.
     
  10. Hatsie

    Hatsie Yellow Belt

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    I think it's interesting to say or hint that hatsumi is throwing in stuff or pretending to have extra material he has never taught, in attempt to retain students, when his organization is bursting at the seams with members. I'm sure he wouldn't mind losing a good few in actual fact.

    Also it's interesting that a few of these self appointed Internet guru's who denied the existence of any Gyokko Ryu Tojutsu, on the similar 'logic' over on another forum ended up with egg on their face when, shown several kata to practice and also where they were written in the densho, after attending a seminar by a proper teacher who has a direct link to the source and who is in a position to make calls on what is or is not in the densho, as he has them in his hand and can actually read them, as opposed to someone's guess based on books, dvd's and YouTube.

    Id agree it's strange that hatsumi sensie is leaving it a bit late to release 'new stuff, but perhaps it's only for a select few, or having witnessed the skill level of the masses, he feels 'what's the point in them struggling with even more, when most cannot do the basics'

    Just my opinion.
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    With regards to Gyokko Ryu Tojutsu, the member in question went on record as saying he had some questions answered, but not that he was sold on it as being in any way authentic. He actually went to pains to point that out. And really, considering who it was, his attending Kacem's seminar was really a "can't lose" situation for Kacem's supporters. Either he would learn something, showing that Kacem is the real deal, or he would say "no, still not impressed", which would open the floodgates for attacks on that members understanding, knowledge, experience, previous teachers, ability to see what is good and what isn't, and so on. So, sorry, Darren, nope. Not a solid argument. Especially as he couldn't answer any of the questions himself either.

    With Hatsumi wanting to retain students, it's not the numbers that are the concern. And this has been his modus operandi for decades now, really. The class after Tanemura left he gathered everyone and said "I've never taught the real ninjutsu before, I'll teach it now", implying that those who followed Tanemura to the Genbukan wouldn't really get the "real ninjutsu". The change shown was a hand position on a front roll.

    As to the last there, no, there's plenty of examples of him doing the exact same thing, saying the exact same thing, using the exact same tactic, to the masses. He started with the Ryu-ha once Manaka left... and immediately said he'd never taught a number of things there before (in other words, go to the Jinenkan, and Manaka was never taught properly, same as Tanemura). This is where Kacem's comments about the initial Shihan not being really Hatsumi's successors came from, really. But more to the point, if Hatsumi was really concerned about the skill level of the masses, each training session with him would be either restricted until they could demonstrate they could do things properly, or it would just be basics until they got it. Yeah, people would get bored, and a large number would leave, but you just said he's not concerned with retaining students, yeah..?

    But to the point in your first paragraph, Hatsumi is constantly throwing stuff in. It's kinda one of his hallmarks, really, and is a big part of the philosophy he has about martial art training. I was watching the 1999 Kukishinden Ryu DKMS, and there are a large number of techniques where he uses things like pistols in the traditional kata... now, that's not really there, it's something that was found "in the moment", so to speak. But that's not what I'm talking about, really, I'm talking about him saying in the 1998 one that he's never taught certain aspects of some of the Shinden Fudo Ryu techniques he's showing... well, he wouldn't have if it was an exploration that he was coming up with in the moment, would he? Then we have the 2004 DKMS where he says that if you're not there, learning things like the way of tying a helmet, you're not a real samurai (for the record, there were a huge number of ways of tying a helmet, in many cases it was a matter of personal taste, more than anything else), or the 2010 one where he says that "you need to be here to understand the Tachi", while at the same time not using the tachi like any other system does. The constant implication of "if you're not here, right now, you're missing out" is a control mechanism. If it's a quality control mechanism, so he can ensure everyone is at the same level, it'd be fine, but we all know the answer to that.

    Oh, and for the record, I haven't ever intimated that Hatsumi is holding anything back (in terms of entire sections of the curriculum of anything), that's really my point. It's others who say "unless Hatsumi says it's not there, you can't say anything about whether or not it is" who seem to be implying that that's the situation. From a traditional martial arts point of view, from a Koryu point of view, from all evidence that has ever come out, from all behaviours, from checking against other lines/organisations, that's really not the case. What each Ryu is made up of is pretty well known and pretty well documented around the place. That doesn't mean that everything is out there as public knowledge, but that what the make-up of each Ryu is is well known. It's just the Bujinkan membership, basically the Western ones, who seem to want it to all be more than it actually is, waiting for the day they receive the secrets. I sometimes think it's a way of justifying the vast differences in skill level that Hatsumi allows...123
     

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