What is "Traditional Ninjutsu"?

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Bob Hubbard, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    By our definition, it is the arts taught by the current Grandmaster, Dr. Maasake Hatsumi. It also includes those groups which split off from Dr. Hatsumi but still remain true to the core ideals.

    Please see the Ninja FAQ for more in-depth descriptions.

    There are three main organizations. The Bujinkan, Genbukan and Jinenkan.
    This forum is for the discussion of the history, techniques, concepts and ideas that relate directly to these groups.
     
  2. r erman

    r erman Green Belt

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    I applaud the effort to distinguish the differing groups. Hopefully this will stave off many of the thread drifts that have occurred previously, I do have a question, however.

    Why would a group such as To Shin Do qualify as a 'neo' group? Obviously Steve's org is descended from Hatsumi Masaaki. Irregardless of his 'unofficial' standing of late, he still gets diplomas from the Bujinkan Hombu for his shadows of iga rankings.

    Also, where is the line drawn? Is the Shinken Bujutsu system of Joe Svaral considered modern/neo? He split off from the Genbukan a number of years ago, but still teaches the takamatsuden lineages(as well as some extras he learned from Tanemura). I believe he even holds Menkyo Kaiden in one or more of the lineages aside from his modern dan rankings.

    What of Muramatsu-shihan's Myofu-An Dojo?

    FWIW, i'm not trying to stir up anything. I'm just curious, as the above criteria seem to fit the groups I've mentioned...
     
  3. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    Other lineages with a verifiable connection to Japan can be considered for inclusion of this list. My understanding is that at this time, only those lineages defined as 'X-Kan' above have been thusly verified.

    As to Mr. Hayes, while he does remain (AFAIK) a member of the Bujinkan, his ToShinDo is a modern adaptation of his training and is therefore not 'traditional' teaching.

    I'm not aware of the others you mentioned. Can anyone who is familiar with them quantify how they fit?

    No worries on asking. I'd like to see the list of both traditional and modern grow and evolve as we go. :)
     
  4. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    I think that the example of Shorinji kenpo shoudl be looked at.

    The founder is said to have studied in China at the Shaolin temple. But he was Japanese and founded his style when he got back to Japan. Despite the history of the founder, it is condsidered a Japanese art.

    Then there is Kuntao. It is the name for arts started in Indonesia by Chinese residents. It is not ocnsidered Chinese, but rather Indonesian.

    So, if an American studies a Japanese art, I do not think it makes it Japanese. It does not make it bad, just not Japanese. Hatsumi has come up with ways to use guns (very similar to the methods of Rex Applegate) but an art started in America has to deal with the legal problems unique to America and not Japan.

    If Shinken Bujutsu people want to talk about the traditional katas they do in this forum, I do not see a problem. But if they want to talk about new modifications in the way things are done unique to them, then this (IMO) is not the right place. General would be a better place for that conversation and Modern for discussions about Shinken Bujutsu in particular.
     
  5. sojobow

    sojobow Purple Belt

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    Please don't take offense but I have a question. If a new school is started because the new Soke didn't believe the original school taught what it's original founder developed as written, which school would then be considered "Traditional?"

    Can a Traditional school have a founder not born in Japan, but the school was conceived and developed in Japan and then given to a Japanese born person?
     
  6. Kizaru

    Kizaru Purple Belt

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    Please don't be offended by my answer.

    The original school would be considered traditional. The guy that didn't trust his teacher and named himself the new Soke would be considered "illegitimate", possibley even "self centered" or "an ego maniac". Usually, when someone passes their art onto someone else, they pass it on to them because they think that person will be able to pass it on correctly. I have of course heard of one situation where a Soke passed his art onto his adopted son, in hopes that the name would continue, but with the caveat that the adopted son needed to finish his training under the top student. After the father dies, the adopted son goes off proclaiming himself "Soke" without having completed training, and summarily brings embarrasment upon himself, "his" ryu and his father's name.


    Well, I think all the basics for traditional Japanese martial arts began in China (founder not born in Japan). Then were passed on to Japanese people during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period) becoming "ryu ha". They became "traditional" by being passed down from generation to generation, and "Japanese" because those generations happened to be in (you guessed it) Japan. So even if you were to study a "Traditional art" and name yourself "the new Soke", unless you had a time machine, it wouldn't be "Traditional".

    What I don't understand is why with such a wealth of traditional martial arts knowledge from immigrants, ex pats and combat vets in the US, "new" systems with American names haven't been developed. Like in Israel, they came up with "Krav Maga" which I think has some good stuff. They didn't go and call it "Israel ryu Boxing Judo", same as the Indonesians don't call Kun Tao "Kung Fu"....but I suppose that would be a topic for another thread, probably in another section.
     
  7. Enson

    Enson 3rd Black Belt

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    it was my understanding that tradition can be started by doing something today and continueing it tomorrow.

    lets say that i started to shave my head every full moon. if i did that every month it would be a routine turned tradition.
    then if i taught it to my children and then my children's children it would then be a tradition.

    i.e. there was this lady who would make this roast. the best roast you had ever tasted. she learned from her mom. the secret was from an ancient family tradition of preparing the meat. one of the secrets was cutting the ends off of the meat. 3 inches on both sides. one day she was asked why it made the roast taste better? she didn't have an answer so she went to her mom. her mom couldn't tell her either so she went to her grandma. the grandma having invented the recipe (would be the soke), said "well the reason why i cut off the sides (3 inches on both sides) was because my oven pan was too small and i would have to cut the sides off to make the meat fit in my pan.

    you see sometimes tradition is done for no real good reason at all. just something someone learned from another.

    peace
     
  8. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    Another version:
    The lady decides that her mother's roast is not very combat tasty. So she throws in a bunch of spices from other recipes, but still calls the end result "Grandma's Secret Roast Beef."

    Jeff
     
  9. AaronLucia

    AaronLucia Guest

    I need to get me some of that Roast Beef! :)
     
  10. Enson

    Enson 3rd Black Belt

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    me too! :ultracool
     
  11. Enson

    Enson 3rd Black Belt

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    i have to admit that one made me laugh! :lol:
     
  12. Flatlander

    Flatlander Grandmaster

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    Yes, Enson. But the important ingredient here is sameness. If today, you shave your head, and next month, you shave only half of your head, it's no longer a head shaving tradition, it's a hairstyling tradition.

    In this context, it refers to the arts taught as they always were, without modification, renaming, etc.

    But I know that you knew that.

    The point of this isn't to redefine the art of ninjutsu, or to impose rules upon you, the artists. The point is to lay out the rules of the forum, so that everybody can play nicely together. In order to do that well, Kaith and the Adminstration needed to have some absolute definitions to lay a foundation for forum policy.

    Dan
     
  13. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    I think that for the purposes of this forum, before we figure out if the hypothetical example is a egotistical maniac or not, we have to determine if the guy really had a teacher, and if there was a link to Japan. This part of the forum is supposed to be for ninjutsu arts that are known in Japan. If there is no link to Japan, or the guy can not even show proof he had a real teacher, then the rest of the question is moot.

    And as for the example of the roast beef, I have seen a few people that tend to just follow tradition blindly. They go throguh the motions but never ask why those motions were created the way they were. They can quote lists of prior soke, but never learned the language, history, culture or wore the armor that privious generations did. And yes, they can be pretty pathetic.

    On the other hand, I can point to several examples of people who "modernized", "Improved", "modified" or otherwise chaged what went on before and threw out the baby with the bath water. They either never learned the full breadth of the part being dropped, or they failed to take into account the interaction as a whole bettween a complete system. By eleiminating one thing, they impact other areas that are supposed to be built on it.

    Daniel Furuya tells a story in his book "Kodo-Ancient Ways" about how he learned a certain move in aikido that he thought had no use. But since he is big on following what his teacher told him to do he continued training in it for traditions sake. Years later, he found out the meaning behind it and was able to make it a living part of his skill.

    The key seems to be to suck the marrow from everything you are taught and learn as much about it as possible. I personally am not willing to drop something unless I know the reasons it is there in the first place and its relation with other aspects of the art. If I know the reasons, and know those reasons are not valid anymore, then I can drop it. Otherwise I will not know if the ends of the roast are to get it into a small oven or to let teh juices sink in. I will not declare mysellf a master and start dropping things I do not know completely and say that because I do not understand them, they must not have any use. I have seen too many modern creators of arts that do that and create laughable arts. I have faith enough in the charecter of my teachers and their abilities to beleive that they would knowingly teach me somethign that is not relevent for combat. So if they teach it, I should learn it. But if I do not know the full story behind the aspect, it only seems logical to learn as much about it as I can.
     
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  14. sojobow

    sojobow Purple Belt

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    Lets change this a little. Lets say that the "illegitimate" student found out through other sources (written syllibus, etc) that what the Soke was teaching was not what was originally taught by the school's founder. Thus, what the Soke would have pased on would not have been what was passed on to him. So the student started another school and proclaimed himself "teacher." Which one of the two schools is the legitimate school? In either event, there is a summary embarrasment that would need attention.
    Sounds familiar.
    Which answers my next question which would have been: Can (say Don Foley for instance), who finds some scrolls in a cave (a la "the dead sea scrolls"). So, Mr. Foley, having a strong background in traditional arts and language, starts a new school based upon the ancient scrolls that he found (which were tested for authenticity and found priceless). Would this scenario be legitimate? (Must the element of being "passed on" - person-to-person be a necessary element?)
    Good question. I know of one on the way but if I say it, this thread would get locked.
     
  15. sojobow

    sojobow Purple Belt

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    The remainder of this post I totally agree with. Only thing I can see that may not be clear to me is the "or the guy can not even show proof." I've read where a Soke revealed his Scrolls and was turned down and declared a fraud because one of the seals (whatever you call those stamps) was turned sideways according to Japanese custom. Document over 100 years old. Seems unfair. No room for mistakes.

    But, as said, I totally agree with the remainder of your post.

    Is there any way a "New" system can be introduced in Japan and be considered "Traditional?" and finally, who, or what organization is responsible in and for Japan that makes these determinations?
     
  16. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    Sounds like a silly internet rumor. I take anything on the internet that starts out, "I've heard/read/ had explained to me....." with a grain of salt, especially if the poster can't point back to another source and may have some sort of agenda.

    Not the guy that declared himself a teacher and tried to proclaim that what he was teaching as traditional, when he esentially made it up himself. That type of art would be called a recreated art. And there are some arts that have tried to recreate aspects that have been lost like the iai of the Kashima Shinto ryu.

    And the head of arts in Japan are allowed to make changes in an art- no one else. The responsibility of keeping an art alive and viable falls on one persons shoulders a generation. He is the only one who can change something to keep it alive and still keep the title of the art. Everyone else has to follow his lead. So if the teacher made changes in the art, if he was a soke, it would be his right.
     
  17. sojobow

    sojobow Purple Belt

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    Actually, I was hoping you knew exactly what I was referring to as the thread is in your e-budo/bad budo section. Since you were involved, I thought you'd remember and could help us understand what the significance of this error means. Think of the instance where the owner of e-budo posted a scan of the scroll and all you (the usuals) posted your opinions as to what you all thought was wrong with the scroll. Then, the owner removed the link to the picture of the scroll. There was also something about half of another seal was missing. Interesting thread. It just seemed an minor error that could never be corrected.

    Makes sense to me. Answers a lot of other questions I had.
     
  18. Don Roley

    Don Roley Senior Master

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    You are misrepresenting what happened to the certificate (not scrolls) that Jack Stern tried to use to prove he had a teacher. It was not a case of the stamp being turned sideways or anything like that. Among other things, one thing that proved he was a fraud was the fact that the same exact seal was used on both the certificate he claimed to have gotten from a Japanese and from a Korean source.

    He did not claim they were over 100 years old as you said, and it was not a case where we found fault just becasue a stamp was put on sideways, etc.
     
  19. sojobow

    sojobow Purple Belt

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    I remember reading the Jack Stern subject. You're right. But I do remember someone bringing up this other matter. Could have been used as an example by someone during the JacK Stern thread. I'll digress to your memory though.

    I never could figure out why someone would take the chance of letting the certificate out in public. I just thought he didn't know there was a problem with the certificate since he wasn't Japanese and was just an honest mistake.

    So that I don't have to go back and reread the thread, how old were these certificates supposed to have been (the originals)?
     
  20. Kreth

    Kreth Grandmaster

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    I think you mean defer. Digress is what you normally do...

    Jeff
     

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