Ninjutsu contradictions

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by fatninja, May 10, 2017.

  1. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    Hi guys! As you know I have been recently taking classes and I see a lot of different opinions on aspects of the Ninja, some say they didn't wear the typical outfits that are perpetrated by Hollywood, nor did they have the stereotypical straight bladed swords with square Tsubas, okay they had shortened Katanas or Wakisahis, cool, But I just got Hatsumi Sensei's book, Ninjutsu- History and tradition, which showed the Hollywood ninja outfits and which Hatsumi Sensei says himself that the swords were straight bladed with square tsubas, but later on he is stating that they were shortened katanas, I 'm confused as to what is what, maybe Mr.Parker or Mr. Roley can clarify?
     
  2. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    My understanding is that although the book in question was published under Hatsumi's name, it was mostly written by Stephen Hayes, who was relatively inexperienced in the art at the time.

    I'm not sure what the full backstory was behind this. Hatsumi doesn't speak English and the book is not a translation of a book published in Japanese. Did he provide some notes which Hayes translated and added to based on his own misconceptions? Did he just give permission for Hayes to use his name in exchange for money or to get his name out to the English-speaking market? Is there some reason besides carelessness that he didn't insist on vetting the book before it was published? I don't know, but I have heard that Hatsumi is not happy with how the book came out. (As far as I can tell he doesn't have anyone but himself to blame, but perhaps other people know more on the subject.)
     
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  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ooh, boy.... okay....

    Hi.

    They didn't... although we'll come back to this... but think about it logically... if the job of a ninja was to gather information by blending in, what good does it do to be seen wearing a "uniform" that basically screamed "I'm the enemy here, and I'm doing something you don't want me to be doing!"

    They didn't... although we'll come back to this... but the same rule applies. Being found wearing the "uniform" of an enemy of the area, with a weapon that is categorically associated with said enemy, what exactly do you think the survival rate would be?

    Well, that's not entirely correct either... a Wakizashi is a particular way of wearing and mounting a short (companion) sword... and the idea of a "shortened katana" first needs you to give specific dimensions for an "unshortened" one.... which would not be overly possible. A number of systems, for their own reasons, would often have a preference for one size/architecture of sword over others... the Togakure Ryu of the Bujinkan, for example, has a specifically measured sword with a shorter (but still curved) blade... which is what Hatsumi has always shown (other than in publicity photos in the early 80's where it was insisted upon... his theatrical background coming to the fore there). The tsuba could be any shape, really... square is not unheard of on any Japanese sword... or oval... completely round... billowing edges... or any of a few others. The very distinct "Hollywood" square, though, is rather impractical, and is there to easily identify the "bad guys" (ninja) to the audience... as is the "uniform", for that matter....

    The thing to remember with that particular book is that it was largely ghost-written by Steve Hayes, at a point where Steve's own training and understanding was quite lacking... it was based in some articles that Hatsumi had written, but there were also large areas (such as the description of the sword used) that was pretty much purely Hayes... if you look closely at the photos of the "ninja-to" that Hatsumi is using, you'll see that it's a shorter, but still curved blade... so no, that's not Hatsumi himself saying it, despite the name on the dust cover....

    Well, Don hasn't been here since about 2008... but hopefully this has helped clear a few things up for you.
     
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  4. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    Thanks guys!, bummer about that book, is there any "one definative book that is 100 accurate?
    I know there are a lot of opinions about Steve Hayes, but should I focus on Don's books? When I was a kid I was buying books by Ashida Kim , Steve Hayes and some others, already got burned on Antony Cummins, so I just want the most accurate info from the most reliable source :) I do have two books of Hatsumi Sensei, but was looking for more, are there any other ghost written books by Hayes I should be aware of?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Which (Hatsumi) books do you have? Cummins is so hit and miss as to be almost unusable until you know what you're getting at... Kim is an outright fraud with no credibility at all... but the real thing to remember is that these arts are learnt by the body.... the more you train, the more you can get out of the books... at the moment, it's like trying to go straight from learning the alphabet to reading James Joyce's Ulysses....

    In terms of "100% accurate"... no, I can't think of any. They all have their own perspective and that leads to particular biases... you get a much better understanding by taking more than one perspective and contrasting them against each other. But I would recommend sticking with the most credible names you can come up with... for the Bujinkan, that will mean Hatsumi's books will top the list... depending on what you want to get into, that will take you in one direction or another. Ninpo: Wisdom for Life is a good philosophical overview, with some interesting ideas and lessons... Unarmed Fighting Techniques of the Samurai gives much of the technical material for the primary 6 ryu taught.... but it isn't easy to follow until you have some real solid grounding in the art... same with "Way of the Ninja".... and many of the more recent book titles.
     
  6. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    "Complete Ninja- Secret world revealed" and "Way of the Ninja- Secret techniques", and "Grandmaster's book of Ninja Training is on the way Thanks for getting back to me.
     
  7. hwoarang-hapkido

    hwoarang-hapkido White Belt

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    I've read somewhere that the ninja where often "opportunist" with their gear. Having a blade was very expensive, and they usually steal the blade from their dead opponent, and just shorten it . So it was curved, because it was a traditional samurai sword.

    I've also learn that they don't find any historical writting or painting talking about straight sword. I remember that they only found one painting showing a straight blade. But they are not sure if it's a perspective view of the sword, a mistake of the painter, or an artistic choice, or if it's really show a straight blade.

    But...i don't remember where i learned that. So be careful with what i say ^^' may be wrong
     
  8. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    As long as we are on authors and instructors, what's the concensus about Richard Van Donk?
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't know the quality of his training or his instructing, but my wife had some classes with him. She was not impressed at all by his character.
     
  10. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    I've never met him, but he doesn't have a great reputation in Bujinkan circles. I have seen some of his videos and was not impressed.
     
  11. dunc

    dunc Yellow Belt

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    I've always found him to be a pretty nice guy

    Not a good representative for the Bujinkan 'though
     
  12. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    Why is that?, I know he comes off like a used car salesman, selling stuff, is that why, I am not familiar with him.
     
  13. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    Why not?
     
  14. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    As far as his reputation in the Bujinkan, you'll have to ask the people who are still active within that organization.

    As far as my opinion of the videos I've seen ... let's just say I have reasonably extensive experience in a variety of martial arts (including some years in the Bujinkan) and the stuff I've seen from him does not seem to demonstrate great fundamental body mechanics or understanding of realistic violence. That said - I think most of what I've seen are old videos. For all I know he could be much better now that he was when those were made.

    (General disclaimer - given that you have never met me or seen evidence of my martial arts skills or knowledge, you should take any judgments I offer on such matters with some large grains of salt. For all you know, my knowledge of martial arts comes from reading comic books and watching anime.)
     
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  15. dunc

    dunc Yellow Belt

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    Well the sales focus for one - We're not supposed to make a living from the art

    His movement leaves a lot to be desired

    Although his translations Soke's of old books are helpful I think
     
  16. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay.... as mentioned, I think that the benefit you will get from these will be rather limited at this point... training is more important, and the more you get exposed to the art, the more you can get out of the books. That said, the best one for you there is Way of the Ninja... it's got a bit more of the basic, fundamental technical aspects, being a kinda version of the older technical manuals (aspects of the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki, for example, largely the Ten and Chi sections... with fundamental strikes, throws, locks etc). Complete Ninja is one that doesn't really have much to interest me.... partially as there's not a lot of "new" material there, and more that it's more a lot of stories and musings... kinda interesting and amusing, but nothing too major or special (for me). Grandmasters Book is basically a couple of interviews some senior students did with Hatsumi in the 80's... again, interesting to get some perspective, but not something that offers much benefit in anything other than intellectual interest at this stage in your journey. That said, enjoy them... and keep coming back to them. You'll find they mean more later than they do now...

    Er..... yeah.... nothing about that is correct at all....

    Well, I will say that he doesn't like being corrected.... ha!
     
  17. fatninja

    fatninja Yellow Belt

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    UhOh Chris, Sounds like there's a story there, C'mon spill it, inquiring minds wanna know, lol!
     
  18. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I've actually met Richard at a Tai Kai. He would not be someone I would
    train under.
     
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  19. Charlemagne

    Charlemagne Black Belt

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  20. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Godsdammit, no. Nothing Cummins has ever done can be described accurately as "scholarly"... and that particular tome is deeply, deeply flawed. Not a good recommendation for anything other than promoting Antony's blood-thirsty fantasies and complete lack of regard for genuine forms of research and academic approaches.
     

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