What IS a Ninja?

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Cryozombie, Apr 1, 2004.

  1. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    Could you please tell me what Japanese language sources you used to research this pearl of wisdom you have shared with all of us? Or for that matter, the rest of what you wrote.
     
  2. SageGhost83

    SageGhost83 Brown Belt

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    The japanese language sources? This is what I learned about the ninja while I was in college. I had a minor in asian studies and my prof. had a masters in the subject. I am stating what he taught to me, and what was in my notes from class. Just providing another voice/viewpoint to add to the discussion, take it with a grain of salt just as I have taken it with a grain of salt. Actual truths regarding the ninja are sketchy at best, seeing as how they were and still are obscure even in their own country. What books/sources did he get the info from? I am not completely sure, he didn't really use too many books during his lectures, he spent many decades living in japan, china, and india, so most of his lectures came from personal experience and knowledge that he gleaned while he was over there. "Rice as Self", "Go Rin No Sho", "Tale of Genji", and handouts with snippets from a ninja scroll or something (I forgot about that one, I was too busy trying to learn about samurai women and the naginata methods they used at the time) were the only texts that I recall from the old History of Japan 400 class. He used some others, but I have forgotten what they were. Again, I am just adding another viewpoint to stimulate discussion. I don't know if the ninja were outcasts or not, I didn't live in japan during that era, and neither did anybody else on this forum. So most of what we know about them is glorified speculation. We have far more knowledge about, say, karate - and look at how many questions and loose ends we have with that story. So I should have put a big ALLEGEDLY in my post. Sorry about that.
     
  3. Grey Eyed Bandit

    Grey Eyed Bandit Master of Arts

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  4. heretic888

    heretic888 Senior Master

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    Based on the information you've told us, my guesses would be Donn Draeger, Andrew Adams, and Stephen Hayes.

    The "ninja" per se didn't really exist until the end of the 15th century, right around the beginning of the Sengoku Jidai, and they were certainly held in high regard by both the Ashikaga and Tokugawa shogunates. That being said, they did have ancestral forerunners --- powerful families in Iga Province such as the Oe, Hattori, and Momochi who managed the "estates" (officially owned by the Todai-ji in Nara) --- who, from time to time, refused to pay taxes to the Todai-ji and sometimes attacked their officials.

    Well, the Todai-ji certainly thought these people were "bandits" (akuto) and called for their summary executions. Oddly enough, the Kamakura shogunate didn't share their sentiments and essentially gave them a slap on the hand. Interesting consequences for a bunch of "outcasts", but not if we're talking about a bunch of local nobles (which is what they essentially were).

    I would suggest doing some real research for yourself before making blanket statements.

    Laterz.
     
  5. SageGhost83

    SageGhost83 Brown Belt

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    Well, can't argue with that. There are so many different stories out there as far as this subject goes, I was stating the one that I was taught. Never claimed that it was either true or false, just throwing it out there for the sake of discussion. I can see a lot of people really take this issue quite seriously, and I didn't mean to step on anyone's toes. I won't be so bold as to make absolutist claims about something that I personally was not around to verify as I didn't live in the time of the ninja, and if I came off as sounding that way, that definitely was not my intention. Not claiming that what I said was the holy gospel, just reiterating what I was told and presenting it to you guys. I don't take the issue that seriously, and I don't have a cult-esque obsession with it. Who really knows what the people of japan considered them to be? Unless you were there, you don't know for sure. I know that I don't know beyond the shadow of a doubt what they were considered to be, that is why I said take it with a grain of salt as I have taken it with a grain of salt. Lots of things are written into books, doesn't necessarily mean that it is all true, Christopher Columbus is an example that comes to mind.
     
  6. SageGhost83

    SageGhost83 Brown Belt

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    and ashida kim, too.
     
  7. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    Great. So you are saying you don't really know what you are talking about. If that is so, why bother posting?

    There are a lot of mistakes posted on the internet about ninjutsu history. How does your posting things that you really have no knowledge about help dispel any of the misconceptions? Asking a question is a good thing. Posting something as if it were fact and then refusing to take responsibility when it is proven false does not help.

    Please understand that the only reason people like Heretic and I post on the interenet is to try to correct many of the many mistakes about ninjutsu that are commonly accepted and what you write does not help.

    I don't want to get nasty. I can be if needed. Please help us contribute to spreading good information by being very, very sure of what you write before you put it out for others to maybe accept as fact.
     
  8. SageGhost83

    SageGhost83 Brown Belt

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    I didn't post anything as though it were fact, if you or anybody else read my posts carefully you would see that. He asked a question so I gave him an answer based on what I was taught. I plainly stated that in my posts. You are the one who is taking stuff that is written in an internet forum, of all places, as though it is fact. You don't want to get nasty, but you can if needed? So you are posturing behind a computer? Please, get out of here with that. As if I am supposed to be scared and bow down to you or something. What a joke. I see why ninjutsu has the reputation that it has, so I'll just leave you to your fanboy fantasy. "I don't want to get nasty", what a *****ing joke. Grow up and get a life.
     
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  9. Teppan

    Teppan Yellow Belt

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    To my understanding in my 22 years of research with the ninja and samurai ;80% of ninja were trained in some form of samurai arts(hanbojutsu,kusarifundojutsu). The ninja were : farmers,doctors, witches,assassins,,mercenaries,crossdressers,spies,saboteours,special soldiers,illucionists,warrior monks,merchants,... and many more. Like the swords they carried : straight blade,curved blade, oval guard, short blade,...and so. To my understanding all ninja of the sengoku period were trained in 8 arts : kiaijutsu=victory,attack,defence,pasive shouting; Taijutsu=unarmed combat;shinobi kenjutsu=sword combat;soojutsu=spear combat;shakenjutsu=throwing objects;go-ton-po=escaping by using nature;cultural arts and practical education of the day. During the 1100's some ryu develop their own secret tool (shuko,shoge,...) and mountain farmers who could not carrie a sword develop tactics of combat using staff and canes. Sometimes to protect themselves their families and their religious belives. To my understanding this techniques and tactics were handed down from one generation to the next oraly. When japan is in turmoil in the period call the sengoku jidai many farmers sons enlisted in armies. In WW I samething happened when the britich needed snipers and did'nt have a sniper program. They enlisted hunters from ireland using a suit call a guiley suit to "hunt down german officers" The sniper was born.These hunters hunted a bird call a snipe. Just a bird that was name a snipe in ireland gave the name to the soldiers.
    The warriors that came from iga and koga had already a reputation to be very stealthy. Those the term shinobi no mono or iga no mono was born. Now to the opposing side they were ofcourse assassins. Same to the germans of WW I the snipers were assassins. Ofcourse after there's no more war some soldiers returned home perfecting their techniques but others become mercenaries,assassins,bodyguards,...and so. To me the ninja of old is a complex caracter. Theres a lot of material in both the iga museum and the koga museum. During the 1800's the word ninja was not around yet but shinobiya and assassin were sinonimous words. Also sometimes refered to men with special endurance skills from the mountains of iga and koga. Some say that the uesugi and negoro ryus are still alive today. In china,egipt,middle east,india,... anyone with those skills was an assassin. If one is cought escaping silently from a captive place; who might not think that one is entering instead of escaping to do some evil deed. And another thing; people are naturally afraid of the night or someone with a mask is not asociated to be doing something good.Any more ideas are welcome.......................................:)....Thanks...
     
  10. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    Yes, you did speculate and it could have been taken as fact. And of course, much of what you wrote was flat out wrong. If you don't know something, it is best that you leave things to those that do know. You think the ninja were outcasts, untouchables. You are wrong. We try to deal with facts whenever we can. There are a lot of people like yourself that say that the are trying to help, but will not take responsibilty if they spread bad information because they lack knowledge. My advice is to be very, very certain about something before you even try to speculate about it on the internet. If it is not something you want to take responsibility for, then it is not something that should be posted on the internet IMO.

    And that goes for everyone. I ranted about this in the rant thread already.
     
  11. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    80%? Give a source aside from a comment about 22 years of research.


    Wrong. They were some of those, not others. For one, they did not follow wicca.


    Wrong.

    Wrong. You have mistaken the Ninja no Hachimon with something else.

    Wrong.

    Wrong.

    One point for you.


    Beware of trying to use anologies if you do not understand both subjects very, very well.

    What did I say about anologies? I really don't know how to deal with all your flawed knowledge.



    Wrong.

    Wrong. Well, if some drunk in an alley spouts off about how the Uesugi ryu is still alive, then you are technically correct in saying that some say.... But serious folks do not.

    Sigh...... Looks like you should have spent 22 years doing something else.
     
  12. Bigshadow

    Bigshadow Senior Master

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    Mod. Note.
    Please, keep the conversation polite and respectful.

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  13. Teppan

    Teppan Yellow Belt

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    Well, well if it isn't mr. Roley. Can seem to forget your warm welcome to me in this forum. When you say "Wrong" "Wrong" "Wrong" don't say wrong just express your historical notes. You are in Japan, are you japanese? Noone whants everybody to know of their culture more than they do. Not wicca. But if you live in Japan the ninja were said to be "Wizards". In Hatsumis book " Ninjutsu: History and tradition; You can read the hachimon it's there unless you are one of those that say it was Mr. Hayes who made that book. You read a book about medicine and can do any practice from that! Well my dad when he was sane he read the four volumes of automechanics from chilton without going to any class and he did'nt play at been a mechanic. He had a shop.In later years he was verry rich just by reading those books. In his shop there were many pictures of his uncle bayoneted to a tree in the philipines. Since then i started reading about the japanese battle tactics from WWII. His other uncles were gundown quikly in the first waves that landed in normandy france. So you least of all tell me that i wasted 22 years of my life. MR. roley he who knows everything ninja related. If we are a comunity in the bujinkan let's help eachother. When ever you say "Wrong" Eliminate that word and write your own knowledge please. If not read and READ some more. Read stephen turnbull books about the ninja and the samurai. Are you truly studying with Soke Hatsumi? Bud Malmstrong once said "there are many people that go to japan but don't get the message; yet there are those who never been to japan and have gotten the messege." Maybe SageGhost83 was right when he said : grow up and get a life. You say flawed knowledge. What you know about world history Mr. Roley? There could be a Ninjutsu ryu in japan that maybe unheard of. Ninja families where secret societies like the skulls, freemasons , and so... So someone could be training in the authentic Koga ryu and you would'nt know it. The Koga ryu's ichimonji-no-kamae it's basically the same for the koto ryu with the exeption of the front hand been bended at 90degrees. So it could be called a jumonji-ichimonji-no-kamae. If you are in japan this day go to the koga museum and tell them you are a koga expert and that they are wrong. When my father was in the military we travel to many places when in japan in the 1980's. " wakarimasen-ka"... just don't tell me " Watashi wa sensei hodo eigo ga joozu ja arimasen" " Wakarikana? Thanks ... :)
     
  14. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    2nd warning
    Please, keep the conversation polite and respectful.

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  15. Grey Eyed Bandit

    Grey Eyed Bandit Master of Arts

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    I kind of doubt that.

    Heck, back then you were a wizard if you knew how to swim.

    I suppose you have evidence to the contrary?

    I honestly used to believe in that too. But all you can do is try your best to surround yourself with people who aren't idiots (i.e. those who have trained correctly - that's what it all boils down to).

    Nope.
     
  16. heretic888

    heretic888 Senior Master

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    In anthropology, "witch" and "wizard" (or "sorcerer") are very distinct and very different terms. Please don't conflate the two.

    History and Tradition is basically bits and pieces of Hatsumi's writings (poorly translated by Hayes) interspersed with Hayes' own writings. This results in some amusing contradictions in the text, such as "Hatsumi" saying the ninja used a straight-edged sword with a square hilt and then the next page showing several photos of him using a curve-edged sword with an oval hilt (the only straight-edged ninja sword in that book is used by Hayes).

    Additionally, the "ninja no hachimon" is never mentioned in History and Tradition. I think you have your information seriously confused here.

    Where exactly did Don say that?

    Personally, I wouldn't recommend Turnbull's "ninja" books except for the handful of quotations from period accounts (such as the Nochi Kagami). Souryi's book on medieval Japanese social structures is a much better exposition, in my opinion, on the Iga communities.


    Don's knowledge of "world history" is irrelevant to the discussion.

    Unheard of in Japan but talked about on the Internet, eh??

    You do realize what that sounds like, don't you??

    They were nothing of the sort.

    Pierre Souryi's The World Turned Upside Down: Medieval Japanese Society quotes directly from a constitution ratified by the Iga commune around 1560. One of the articles of this constitution describes how the samurai in Iga took an oath and both the oath and the names of the samurai were posted in temples throughout the province.

    It is a huge leap of the imagination to suppose these people were a "secret society". Even the Nochi Kagami, an annal of the Ashikaga shogunate, mentions how a samurai from a particular family in Iga earned great merit as a "ninja" in front of the shogun's army and that, since that time, the "men of Iga" had continued to held considerable merit with their names "known throughout the land".

    What is your source for this information??

    Laterz.
     
  17. Teppan

    Teppan Yellow Belt

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    Heck, back then you were a wizard if you knew how to swim.



    So i supose that a tanegashima was a wisard or warlock magic stick. And people saw it as a magic stick that sounded like thunder and voila! a flying bird went down. Well i see that our backgrounds are verry diferent. So in the ashikaga shogunate's period in history the word ninja already existed. "People who aren't idiot's" please don't insult me. One of many tora no maki in the museum of koga. If those books are not recomended then what should be or is a true sourse of authentic ninja knowledge. You can see for youre selves straight ninja swords in those museum displays. God... If a warrior needed a sword right away anything would do. God ... Well to me mr. Hayes has been a great influence in my knowledge. Great experiences and many happiness from his teachings.And no i'm not a heretic i have a strong believe in God.Unheard in japan and talked in the internet? Did i said something like there's this ninjutsu ryu or some other invented name; Like the Takagure dojo of haru or the makato clan of kinjo? Experience tells me that when someone is against someone his friends sudenly rise up against the up coming threat. Such behavior is expected. If i was wrong i apologise but if not you can all use you're psychology on me. Hmmm reminds me of the art of war. Don't tell me that that ancient book is also not to be read. So then what is a ninja acording to you?
     
  18. Grey Eyed Bandit

    Grey Eyed Bandit Master of Arts

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    I don't know whether or not you've practiced correctly. And I'm NOT going to say "if the shoe fits".
     
  19. heretic888

    heretic888 Senior Master

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    Not at all. Flintlock rifles were commonplace during the Sengoku Jidai, even among the ashigaru.


    The actual term was shinobi-no-mono, but yes.

    However, my point wasn't that this term was in existence by the Muromachi Jidai (even though it was), but that the people we are calling "ninja" were well known and admired even among the Ashikaga shogunate. Their names were also public knowledge in Iga.

    Put simply, to maintain they were some kind of "secret society" is to engage in historical revisionism.

    I assume this is in answer to my last question as to your source.

    Unfortunately, without the name of the actual document, this tells us basically nothing.

    The swords in question are manufactured replicas, not authentic antiques.

    Sure, but why would a bunch of moderately well-to-do samurai families simply not use katana?

    That actually explains quite a lot. Most of Hayes' information on Japanese history is fundamentally flawed.

    What does that have to do with anything??

    Umm...... wow.

    A word that means different things to different people, and nothing to me personally.

    Laterz.
     
  20. Teppan

    Teppan Yellow Belt

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    Well bottom line is that my first training lessons in 1988 were in togakure ryu. From 1988 till 1991. I was train in intonjutsu. true fact is that today if hatsumi is not teaching togakure,kumogakure or gyokkoshin one can not say that is training in ninjutsu; simply some form of budo. Actually just the other day i learned to tie a belt. The training was always with a black t-shirt with a nin simbol and a black karate pant. There was few wooded or paded weapons. We trained sometimes with sharp knives and most training sesions were outdoors. So what is a correct practice. Yes there was a lot of taijutsu. Always went to bed in pain and sometimes i slept in class when in college. Probably i didn't train correctly and wasted four years of what i thought to be athenthic ninjutsu training in the togakure ryu. NO THERE WERE NO FLINTLOCKS ; All were MATCHLOCK rifles till 1867. One says something then the other says something else. Make up your minds. The TANEGASHIMA was not a FLINTLOCK but a MATCHLOCK rifle. And yes you could block a katana sword or gunto with an M-1 rifle. The ashigaru sometimes used a big umbrella during battles under the rain; the water made it imposible to keep the match lighted. Well heretic means someone who believes in ? Don't tell me that they also had the wheellock too. I tought that you had some background in japanese history. Later ...:)123
     

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