YouTube Series

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by Muawijhe, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    Hi all.

    Whilst stumbling around on YouTube, I came across two "ninja" related video series. One is called Shinobi Soldiers, hosted by Alan Cummings. The other is called Choson (sometimes Chosen) Ninja.

    I was wondering if anyon was familiar with these series, and what your thoughts were on them.

    Sorry I don't have direct links to them at this time, as I cannot check YouTube whilst at work, but I'll edit in links later today when I return home.
     
  2. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    Try doing a search on some of the more prominent forums, here, MAP, e-budo etc, and you will find plenty of discussion.

    I once Googled myself and up came a clip of Choson Ninja saying how mean we all were for not envouraging his non-Japanese origin non-Japanese ninjutsu, even though the term is Japanese. The rest of the Korean nation appear to have their own Korean rough equivalents of Japanese martial arts with Korean names e.g. Taekwondo = Karate, Hapkido = Aikido etc, and they had Hwarang instead of Samurai, so why does his Korean ninjutsu not have a Korean name, like Sulsado or something?
     
  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay, hadn't seen Antony before (kinda wish it was Alan Cummings, one of my favourite actors....), but we'll deal with him in a second. First to "Choson Ninja", Greg Park.

    Um, not sure if you are aware, but on MT there are very strict fraudbusting rules, so I'm going to be as careful as I can in what I say here....

    Greg claims many things, including a Korean version of Ninjutsu (a translation of the Choson Ninja name is "Korean Ninja"), and also claims a very Christian-based spiritual approach to why he is teaching (the name Choson Ninja is also said to have been chosen for it's similarity to "(The) Chosen Ninja"). He has had a long string of YouTube "lessons", with no actual dojo (and by extension no actual students), and he always comes across as being humble, dedicated, and sincere in his approach... except that there is nothing backing up anything he says, or claims, at all. His take on history is incredibly suspect, to say the least, and he has (a few times now at least...) gone out of his way to say he is not claiming to be teaching ninjutsu or anything related, as he respects the Bujinkan and related organisations.... and then continues doing what he said he wasn't going to. So, essentially, I see many people defending him because of the way he presents himself (humble, sincere, honest etc....), despite there being no backing to his inconsistant claims. Not someone I would pay attention to, although he certainly has fans (occasionally Bujinkan members, according to the comments.... although I'm not convinced of that either, my cynical side feels that they are plants to further his credibility).

    Now to Antony Cummings....

    I went through a lot of his stuff, and while very interesting for the most part, a number of things just didn't add up for me. To begin with, the study of combative methodologies throughout history, specifically from a more anthropological point of view, is known as hoplology, brought into popularity by the late Donn F Draeger. Within this field there are arguments as to which is the better method for understanding, an emic (included) approach, where you are part of the thing that you are studying, essentially an insider's point of view, or an etic (excluded) approach, where you are removed from that which you are studying, an outsider's point of view. It has long been held by hoplology students that the emic approach is the prefered method in this regard.

    When it comes to Cummings, his approach has been entirely etic, rather than emic, and in fact, is taking only a single account of that which he is supposed to be studying. He constantly refers to historical accounts such as the Shoninki, the Bansenshukai, the Ninpiden, and others, and relies on a man he claims is the foremost expert on ninjutsu and ninja in Japan, a man who all international television shows come to for information, someone he simply refers to as Nakashima Sensei. He doesn't reveal exactly who Nakashima Sensei is.

    However, his website does have one or two photos, and I have a few books with me. I thought he looked rather familiar, so I double checked. The gentleman in question appears to be Nakashima Atsumi, best known to the West as a teacher of Serge Mol, an author who has written a number of books. These books are very good overviews, however there are a number of innaccuracies throughout them, and Serge has been known to have a rather thinly veiled hostility or prejudice against the Takamatsuden schools. Nakashima claims the title of Soke to the Katayama Hoki Ryu, which is a reconstructed school.

    Cummings claims that Nakashima is the greatest ninjutsu historian in Japan. Well, that really is a matter of opinion. And I'm not sure I would class him as that. The next point is a little odd, or at least seems that way... Essentially, it comes down to the emic versus etic aspect of study. Antony has been exclusively etic in his approach, looking to old incomplete documents for his information. He has then drawn incomplete conclusions as a result. For example, he claims that there is/was no actual martial system of ninjutsu (although he seems to contradict that when he talks about certain groups engaging on battlefields, and constantly describing ninja as part of a warrior culture), as the documents he has seen have no techniques listed or mentioned. The thing he misses there is that they are not technical documents, and are not to be taken as technical manuals.

    His claim is that there is no documentation he can find of ninjutsu techniques in documents such as the Bansenshukai, which is fair enough. What he sees is a lot of reference to espionage, spying, and so on, so he draws the conclusion that that means that there was no physical martial art that was called ninjutsu. In fact, if anyone claims to be teaching it as a physical art, they are by his definition fraudulent. I would counter that by (gently) pointing out that he has no emic understanding of the various ninjutsu-related systems teachings... The Bujinkan, for example, is made up of 9 systems, only three of which are classed as ninjutsu. Two of those (Kumogakure Ryu and Gyokushin Ryu) have not been taught publicly, and it is thought that they may not have formal techniques, although that is not the same as having no martial art. The third, the Togakure Ryu, certainly has physical techniques in it's teachings, although they are rather different to many other arts. The basic philosophy of the Togakure Ryu is more in the avoidance of violence, but the techniques are there.

    This is obviously only one instance, but frankly I saw quite a lot of things in his presentations I would at the least query, if not downright argue with. Add to that some bad pronunciations (ninjitsu from time to time, reference to ninjas [to pluralise], and what seemed to be a complete misunderstanding of what the term jujutsu actually entails from a historical perspective, or how it should be applied) has left me a little unimpressed. He can give you a few things to think about, but he's not really a reference I would go to. He's just far too limited in his own understanding and knowledge, frankly.
     
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  4. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    If you read the British 'Combat' magazine recently you would weep Chris.

    Cummings submits questionable articles, stories, comic strips and just about everything that might be regarded as kicking an art that is already down.

    If martial arts were a circus, the MMAists would be the lion tamers and strong men, and the ninjas are the clowns with the disintegrating car.

    Seeing him on youtube only confirmed what I already suspected. I don't know what makes these people tick.
     
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    That I don't doubt... I was trying to be rather gentle. If you were here with me as I went through the clips, you would have heard a lot of yelling, and seen my cats scampering for cover....
     
  6. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    I've found a common denominator on youtube:

    Talky Talky Talky = Crappy Crappy Crappy.

    And unfortunately that includes some of our own, including Mr BujinWalmart himself.
     
  7. Cryozombie

    Cryozombie Grandmaster

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    Hey Ninja"s" is a valid plural. Unless you refer to them by their collective name... A "Stealth" of Ninja.

    hehe
     
  8. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    Actually... Historically it's interesting that ninja have such a reputation. I mean, if you would be a minority, underdog warrior-spy class warrior, the best way to be left alone was to make sure you refer your existance to the realm of mythology, OR to make sure nobody takes such things seriously.

    It's not neccessarily bad to be misunderstood and underestimated.

    I guess it depends on what you expect of your art. If you want it to work for you, and enjoy training in peace, it probably even helps not being overly popularised and thus vulgarised ( plenty of neoninjers taking care of the vulgarisation ;) ). If on the other hand you run a dojo and hope to make a living out of it, for which you would need enough students. Well, in that case you're probably boned.

    Personally I don't practice my art because of what other people think about it. In fact, i proudly and consistently keep on going DESPITE what prejudices others (and other, martial artists) often hold. I guess deep down it's the same for any true student of ninpo. You're the underdog. At least that is historically correct :).

    don't be bothered too much by such people Chris. They create a smokescreen that gives us some peace, and allows us to invest thourough time and students dedicated enough to choose the long, slow road of traditional arts over the speedy, flashy approach of most neoninjerclans.

    just my five sents. Incoherent and full of grammatical errors. Tradition is important ;)

    ps, what Chris meant is that Japanese doesn't pluralise nouns, and ninja is a Japanese word. YOu could pluralise it if treated as an imported word, but that's not-done in traditional MA :) *
     
  9. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    Well, some of the mythology is actually correct. There are students which are so skilled in henso jutsu that you can't even see them during practice. Time and time again you may try to catch a glimpse, but you'll never see them...

    I'm sorry, but according to the most authoritative source of ninjer information on the internet, a 'slaughter' of ninja would be a much better name :D
     
  10. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    I always thought it was a 'Flipout' of ninja.
     
  11. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    That would be sweet too.
    :p
     
  12. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    Holy bucket of faeces. Did I make some strangely interesting typo's in my previous post.
    My five scents [sic]...Probably including the bucket.

    anyway.

    Actually it is interesting to see how old, martial traditions respond when thrown on the global market. Taken out of their old secluded and sheltered environment they become more and more public and thus the likelyhood of being copied increases too. Given a mythical, empowered, anonymous archetype as the ninja, that is bound to be the case since it provides people with a feeling of control and mythical power that many subconsciously feel as lacking in their lives. Dull jobs, dull routines, safe and sheltered lives, regulated by so many laws, rules and regulations it actually becomes an art to even be aware of them (we pay lawyers to find out or exonerate us), many feel out of control, and anonymous warriors with near mythical reputations tend to be an appealing icon than, especially if you can join them. Of course, to truly feel less insecure you would need to be secret grandmaster, and since that doesn't come easily with koryu, you go DIY-ninjermaster. Nobody needs to know or care, afterall your master is secretive (he was a REAL ninja, of course you can't find evidence he existed!). Lack of evidence becomes convincing evidence to those that want to believe. They hijack an martial tradition because of it's reputation and fill it with whatever they feel it needs, with whatever meets their uncertainty. I mean, if you would want to create a school of fighting or grapling you could call it that, if you would want to include some weapon training, fine: call it a school of close combat or something. Choosing call it "ninja"simply because you train in black or hide in trees is just awkward for any other reason than the desire to hijack the reputation and mythical aura of the archetypical ninja. So actually, it's a compliment to be imitated, and it's reassuring when it's done poorly. It means koryu still has something to offer.

    Training in something because of the flashiness of the weaponstraining, the whirling nunchucks and other assorted turtleweapons often betrays a great need to placate or feed an uncertain ego. Bushido is not just about not fearing death (if even that), it's also about not being worried by who watches you train, not being afraid to make mistakes, not being afraid to try again...

    In fact, it's quite simple really.

    Don't worry about how you look: just train. Don't worry about your friends watching: just train. Don't worry about the possibility you might not be able to do a technique correctly: just stop whining and train. But perhaps we are also all to often tempted to spend time getting annoyed with other organisations, persons or groups in stead of focussing on what we really should be doing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  13. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    I would just point out that any ideals or images of anonymity, power, deadliness etc have been utterly destroyed via youtube, and largely by genuine practitioners, even without the help of the charlatans and frauds.

    There is no longer any prestige in studying 'ninjutsu', no one is going to be impressed, everyone knows that the fat and skinny talky talky talkers would die in seconds against an MMA fighter, and we are more likely to be ashamed of what we do and call it jujutsu instead in case we get laughed at, and anyone who is so thick skinned that they don't care are probably among the deluded who still think their floppy fantasy compliant larping would stand up against a real fighter and have not been hit in the head for real in their entire life.

    And the awful movies of late won't help either, i.e. Ninja and Ninja Assassin. We're just not out there demonstrating that we do actually have a fantastic effective art, and that is because most of us haven't, even though we pay our fees and turn up week after week for 'training'.
     
  14. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    Regardless, it's what you and I choose to do. I for one find it most fulfilling and sincerely hope the same for you.

    In case you were being sarcastic, I'm unfortunatly oblivious to sarcasm after midnight.
     
  15. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    Well, I'm comfortable with what I train in. I question it daily, as I should, and perhaps some day my oppinion will change (wouldn't be the first time).

    But like I've said before, martial arts/religions, and all that. How many times have you been asked what you train in, regardless of what it is, and the asker trains in something else, giving the response: "Oh, you take that? That's not really (insert adjective here). You should try (insert asker's MA here)."

    Meh, I love martial arts (all of 'em), love discussing them, learning new things, but at the end of the day, I still go to my dojo.

    But, to switch the topic, most ninja movies (especially recently) blow hard.

    Anyone know of any movies with ninjutsu that don't blow? Maybe it portrays the art well, or perhaps is acceptable and just a kick butt movie to watch? Any documentaries that are worth a spin?
     
  16. EWBell

    EWBell Orange Belt

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    Shinobi no Mono is pretty good.
     
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  17. Archangel M

    Archangel M Senior Master

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  18. ElfTengu

    ElfTengu Blue Belt

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    Anyone old enough to grow facial hair should know better.

    He deserves everything he gets. And more.
     
  19. blink13

    blink13 Green Belt

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    That tree never stood a chance.
     
  20. EWBell

    EWBell Orange Belt

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    I love the toy bows they're using. I used to bow hunt, and my drawstring pull was right at 80 lbs...they look like they're pulling about 10. :)

    Takamatsu Sensei must be rolling over in his grave.123
     

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