Ninjutsu

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Bob Hubbard, Aug 12, 2001.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    From the rec.martialarts FAQ

    (Contributor: Joachim Hoss - jh@k.maus.de, Adam James McColl -
    amccoll@direct.ca)

    Intro:

    Lit. Translation: "Nin" Perseverance/Endurance "jutsu" Techniques
    (of). Surrounded by much controversy, today's "ninjutsu" is derived
    from the traditional fighting arts associated with the Iga/Koga region
    of Japan. These arts include both "bujutsu" ryuha (martial technique
    systems) and "ninjutsu" ryuha, which involve a broad base of training
    designed to prepare the practitioner for all possible situations.

    History:

    The history of ninjutsu is clouded by the very nature of the art
    itself. There is little documented history, much of what is known was
    handed down as part of an oral tradition (much like the native
    american indian) and documented by later generations. This has led to
    a lot of debate regarding the authenticity of the lineages claimed by
    the arts instructors.

    Historical records state that certain individuals/families from the
    Iga/Koga (modern Mie/Omi) region were noted for possessing specific
    skills and were employed (by samurai) to apply those and other skills.
    These records, which were kept by people both within the region and
    outside of the region, refer to the individuals/families as "Iga/Koga
    no Mono" (Men of Iga/Koga) and "Iga/Koga no Bushi" (Warriors of
    Iga/Koga). Due to this regions terrain, it was largely unexplored and
    the people living within lived a relatively isolated existence. This
    enabled them to develop perspectives which differed from the
    "mainstream" society of the time, which was under the direct influence
    of the upper ruling classes. When necessary, they successfully used
    the superstitions of the masses as a tool/weapon and became feared and
    slightly mythologized because of this.

    In the mid/late 1500's their difference in perspective led to conflict
    with the upper ruling classes and the eventual invasion/destruction of
    the villages and communities within the Iga/Koga region. The term
    "ninja" was not in use at this time, but was later introduced in the
    dramatic literature of the Tokugawa period (1605-1867). During this
    period, ancestral fears became contempt and the stereotypical image
    ("clans of assassins and mercenaries who used stealth, assassination,
    disguises, and other tricks to do their work") was formed which, to
    this day, is still very much the majority opinion.

    Over 70 different "ninjutsu ryu" have been catalogued/identified,
    however, the majority of them have died out. Most were developed
    around a series of specific skills and techniques and when the skills
    of a particular ryu were no longer in demand, the ryu would (usually)
    fade from existence. The three remaining ninjutsu ryu (Togakure ryu,
    Gyokushin ryu, and Kumogakure ryu) are encompassed in Dr. Masaaki
    Hatsumi's Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu system. These ryu, along with six
    other "bujutsu ryu" (Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Shinden
    Fudo Ryu, Gikan Ryu and Kukishinden Ryu), are taught as a collective
    body of knowledge (see Sub-Styles for other info).

    During the "Ninja-boom" of the 80's, instructors of "Ninjutsu" were
    popping out of the woodwork - it was fashionable to wear black. Now
    that the boom is over there are not as many people trying cash in on
    the popularity of this art. However, as with all martial arts, it
    would be wise to be very careful about people claiming to be "masters
    personally taught by the Grandmaster in Japan".

    How do you verify the authenticity of an instructor? In the case of a
    Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu instructor there a few points which one can
    use.

    First: all recognized "instructors" of the Bujinkan Dojo will, in
    addition to their Dan grade (black belt), have either a Shidoshi-ho
    (assistant teacher - first to fourth Dan) or Shidoshi (teacher - fifth
    to ninth Dan) certificate/ licence from Dr Hatsumi. Only people with
    these certificates are considered to be qualified to teach his system
    (a Dan grade alone DOES NOT make one a teacher).

    Second: in addition to these certificates/licences, all recognized
    "instructors" of the Bujinkan Dojo will possess a valid Bujinkan Hombu
    Dojo Shidoshi-kai (Bujinkan Headquarters Dojo Teachers Association)
    for the current year. These cards are issued each year from Dr Hatsumi
    to those recognized as "instructors".

    These points will help you if you are looking at training with someone
    from the Bujinkan Dojo. Beyond that, it's a case of "buyer beware".

    Description:

    Terms like "soft/hard", "internal/external", linear/circular" have
    been used to describe ninjutsu by many people. Depending upon the
    perspective of the person, it could appear to be any one, all or even
    none of the above. It is important to remember that the term
    "ninjutsu" does not refer to a specific style, but more to a group of
    arts, each with a different point of view expressed by the different
    ryu. The physical dynamics from one ryu to another varies - one ryu
    may focus on redirection and avoidance while another may charge in and
    overwhelm.

    To provide some kind of brief description, ninjutsu includes the study
    of both unarmed and armed combative techniques, strategy, philosophy,
    and history. In many Dojos the area of study is quite comprehensive.
    The idea being to become adept at many things, rather than
    specializing in only one.

    The main principles in combat are posture, distance, rythm and flow.
    The practitioner responds to attacks in such a way that they place
    themselves in an advantageous position from which an effective
    response can be employed. They are taught to use the entire body for
    every movement/technique, to provide the most power and leverage. They
    will use the openings created by the opponents movement to implement
    techniques, often causing the opponent to "run in/on to" body weapons.

    Training:

    As was noted above, the areas of study in ninjutsu are diverse.
    However, the new student is not taught everything at once.

    Training progresses through skills in Taihenjutsu (Body changing
    skills), which include falling, rolling, leaping, posture, and
    avoidance; Dakentaijutsu (Striking weapons body techniques) using the
    entire body as a striking tool/ weapon - how to apply and how to
    receive; and Jutaijutsu (Supple body techniques) locks, throws,
    chokes, holds - how to apply and how to escape.

    In the early stages, weapons training is usually limited to practicing
    how to avoid attacks - overcoming any fear of the object and
    understanding the dynamics of its use from the perspective of
    "defending against" (while unarmed). In the mid and later stages, once
    a grounding in Taijutsu body dynamics is in place, practitioners begin
    studying from the perspective of "defending with" the various
    tools/weapons.

    In the early stages of training, kata are provided as examples of
    "what can be done here" and "how to move the body to achieve this
    result". However, as the practitioner progresses they are encouraged
    to explore the openings which naturally appear in peoples movements
    and apply spontaneous techniques based upon the principles contained
    within the kata. This free flowing style is one of the most important
    aspects of ninjutsu training. Adaptability is one of the main lessons
    of all of these ryu.

    Due to the combative nature of the techniques studied, there are no
    tournaments or competitions in Ninjutsu. As tournament fighting has
    set rules which compel the competitor to study the techniques allowed
    within that framework, this limits not only the kinds of techniques
    that they study, but also the way in which they will apply those
    techniques. The way that you train is the way that you fight. Ninjutsu
    requires that its practitioners be open to any situation and to be
    able to adapt their technique to ensure survival.

    Sub-Styles:

    There are a number of people claiming to teach "ninjutsu".

    Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi has been the recpient of numerous cultural awards
    in recognition of his extra-ordinary knowledge of Japanese martial
    culture. He is considered by many to be the only source for authentic
    "ninjutsu". However, as was noted above, the teachings of the three
    ninjutsu ryu which are part of his Bujinkan system, are not taught
    individually. Rather, they are taught as part of the collective body
    of knowledge which forms the foundation of his Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
    system.

    Shoto Tanemura, formerly of the Bujinkan Dojo, formed his own
    organization (Genbukan Dojo) and claimed to be the Grandmaster
    of/teaching both Iga and Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. He has since formed a
    number of other organizations and is becoming more widely known for
    his "Samurai Jujutsu" tapes (Panther Productions).

    The list of names of people claiming to teach "Koga Ryu Nijutsu" is
    quite long. The last person to be recognized as part of the Koga Ryu
    lineage in Japan was Seiko Fujita. His knowledge of "ninjutsu" died
    with him - he left no successor.
     
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  2. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Statistically speaking, you could just assume the instructor was not authentic and you'd be doing pretty well. I know that there are legitimate ninjitsu (ninjutsu, if you prefer) instructors out there but they are as rare as used car salesmen amongst all the ninja wannabes. It's better now than in the 80s I know but even still I'd be highly suspicious of anyone claiming to teach ninjitsu--Trust But Verify, as they say!
     
  3. Jay Bell

    Jay Bell Master Black Belt

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    It's actually easier then that. If the person is not studying with the Bujinkan, Genbukan or Jinenkan, they are not studying traditional Ninjutsu, period.

    There are some people that are former X-Kans teaching their own spin...

    The most over-run neo ninja group tends to be "Koga ryu"...which died in 1969 when Fujita Soke and his 4 deshi were killed in a car wreck. The densho for Koga ryu are in a museum. Unfortunately a lot of nut-jobs say that they were the long lost student of Fujita sensei...yet never seem to have any proof to back up the claims.

    Like arnisador stated...anyone claiming to teach "Ninjutsu" I would be weary of.
     
  4. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Would you say that what these people are teaching is authentic ninjutsu? Rule out the clearly fraudulent, but what would you call someone who teaches the older systems with their own modern interpretation? Newer karate systems are clearly still karate, for instance.

    Weary indeed! A Freudian typo no doubt.
     
  5. Jay Bell

    Jay Bell Master Black Belt

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    Well...there's been a lot of discussion about that as of late. "Updating methods" and whatnot....no...it's not traditional in my opinion.

    If someone, for instance, takes the striking in Gyokko ryu and makes it "modern"....well....to me it means that they don't have the knowledge and depth of understanding why things are done the way they are.

    We have an enormous amount of people in the western world that try and conform budo to what they'd like it to be, instead of the other way around.

    It's easier though eh? And screw that whole bit of being a student for the rest of your life. Better to rule in hell then serve in heaven ;)
     
  6. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    I'd prefer to learn authentic, rather than "modernized. If it takes a lifetime of study to master, so be it. The personal and spiritual growth is a process, not a destination. :)

    Its very hard for the novice to seperate the fluff from the facts though.
     
  7. Cthulhu

    Cthulhu Senior Master

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    I think another problem is the inaccurate portrayal of ninjutsu that has been going on in the mass media for the past few decades. This gives adolescents a false perception of the art. It is then very easy for the unscrupulous person to dupe these misinformed individuals into paying them money for poor training.

    I've seen a Web site where the person put their 'credentials' up for all to see. However, this individual failed to notice that by doing so, they openly admitted to never spending more than two years with any one organization. Since I'm pretty sure the ranks probably wouldn't carry over from group to group, it's a pretty good bet this person never even reached shodan in any of the organizations, let alone a rank high enough to start their own system of 'ninjutsu'.

    I agree with Jay Bell. If a person is not active in any of the three organizations he listed: Bujinkan, Genbukan or Jinenkan (which I'd like to learn more about, by the way), then they are not teaching authentic ninjutsu.

    Cthulhu
     
  8. arnisador

    arnisador Sr. Grandmaster

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    Is anyone familiar with the White Dragon Ninjitsu of Frank Jones? I understand from him that he studied the art in Japan under a (then) 72 year old ninjitsu master.
     
  9. Jay Bell

    Jay Bell Master Black Belt

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    Unfortunately the site isn't up anymore. But due to the romanji error in the spelling of Ninjutsu, I'd cast it into the "better off without" pile ;)
     
  10. John Bridges

    John Bridges Guest

    Sadly bad teachers and schools in this art are a dime a dozen. I'm my home town we have "master's" *chuckle* of every art you could think of...yet none of them have ever left this town of 50.000 people in southern Az. Students flock to them thinking that they're really learning somthing great and traditional, and loosing enormous amounts of money in the process, but on the flip side of this is the feeling that a student deserves his instructor. I'm not trying to be harsh but it seems like most people who meet these kind of instructors want to believe their claims and fight that inner voice that screams out that somthing is wrong with this situation. Always trust your gut, if it dosen't seem like a good environment it's probally not the place for you.....then check credentials ;)
     
  11. whats your take on Rick tew's Martial Science... ?
     
  12. Edmund BlackAdder

    Edmund BlackAdder <B>Rabid Wolverine</B>

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  13. Jonathan Randall

    Jonathan Randall Senior Master

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    After IKCA Kenpo, it is the "deadest horse" in the martial art's Internet forum world. I'd read through the threads Mr. Blackadder posted seriously, and in depth, before starting a new "Who is Rick Tew" type thread. If you have any further questions after reading those threads, then ask. Just my unofficial two cents.
     
  14. Shaun

    Shaun White Belt

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  15. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    Thats crazy talk. You are saying that I cant decide to teach, but edit out everything I havn't been taught, or dont understand, because i WOULD have a complete understanding of the art before i removed it? That doenst even begin to make sense... it talks in circles.
     
  16. Shaun

    Shaun White Belt

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    What I'm saying is that when someone decides to merge systems or create a system based on a traditional art, they should have a complete understanding of that art. When teaching an art the teacher learns too. But I feel in the traditional arts that even if techniques are "out-dated" or "unrealistic" they are there for a reason and do teach something. Teaching an art without mastery is one thing, taking techniques X,Y, and Z out to make "such and such Do" is another. Occassionally great martial artists are able to do this but it is rare. Just my opinion.
     
  17. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    Im sorry, I missed the "Should have", and only saw the "would have". My apology.
     
  18. jubei42

    jubei42 White Belt

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    l would like to know if any one out there could give me pointers on the trowing technique of ninja trowng spikes?

    Domo
     
  19. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    Didnt you make a post about this already?
     
  20. jubei42

    jubei42 White Belt

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    yes i did.123
     

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