How/why did you first get involved in ninjutsu?

Highland Ninja

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In an effort to generate more friendly threads, I figured I'd start one about how and/or why we all got involved in ninjutsu. I'll go first.

I was always interested in martial arts as a kid. Bruce Lee movies were always amongst my favorites, and I always wanted to learn "karate" (my generic term for "martial arts" back then). One day I was at the neighborhood library and found a book called Asian Fighting Arts by Donn Draeger. In it, I saw for the first time a picture of a historical ninja (it's where I got my avatar scanned from). I was both fascinated and intrigued by what I read there, and I don't know how to word it, but it somehow felt familiar - as if I had found something I had been looking for but did not yet know what that "something" was.

Shortly after that, I saw the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, and I had my heart set on learning ninjutsu. Unfortunately, there was no ninjutsu training in America at the time. So I studied karate and eventually met people like Dan Inosanto, Bob Duggan, etc and studied other martial arts.

I then came across a book called Ninja: Invisible Assassin by Andrew Adams, and I was even more enthused about ninjutsu. Still, there was no training to be found.

Shortly after that I heard the name Stephen K. Hayes and discovered that he had not only trained with Soke Hatsumi in Japan, but was back in America teaching. He had a few seminars at the Degerberg Academy in Chicago and I attended. During the second seminar he conducted, I ran into some other guys my age who had a similar introduction to ninjutsu and they in turn ran into a man named Rick Hansen from Highland Indiana. Rick had a very tiny group that had just started studying ninjutsu at the time (outside of his hapkido classes), but they had also met Stephen Hayes and were looking for more regular training. Suddenly the group had 4 or 5 new members (me, my brother, the other guys who joined) and Rick asked Steve for a regular teacher. We got lucky, because Steve had Roger Stebelton sponsor us. So Roger was our full time teacher.

We ended up spending all day on Saturdays driving from Chicago into Highland and training (after the "official class" was over, the core group did additional training). We soon met some other guys from Evanston and the group grew. Tuesday nights were special outdoor training in stealth, tracking, and other useful skills (emergency medical training, rappelling, etc). Eventually I met Soke Hatsumi, Shihan Nagato, and others at the Ninja Festivals or at various special training events that took place in and around Dayton. We'd often drive into Germantown, Ohio to visit (read: train with) Roger and sometimes Larry Turner or Dan Johnson.

That was in the early through late 80's. I then travelled all over the country and long story short, I am back in training and looking forward to finally visiting Japan. Funny how finding that tiny picture and few pages of info all those long years ago would one day lead me to Japan.

So, who's next? :)
 

newtothe dark

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I grew up a teen of the 80s and lived the NINJA craze. I owned the stars, claws, outfit, blowgun, and the sword. Me and my friends snuck around at night and climbed anything we could. So in a way I can say that I am studying Ninjutsu to live out my childhood dream, but that is the easy answer.
The real answer is much more complex and would fill a lot more than one page so I will be brief. Much of my life has been about martial arts, it is what I have based much of who I am around. I started at the age of 5 and have tried just about every art I could get access to. I found my home in the Chinese arts in the mid 80s and have spent most of the years since studying and teaching that. I love it, it has been a major focus of my adult life. My wife trains with me and this is one of the greatest joys of my life. The last decade has been a very emotional one for me, I added the love of my life my wife, a son, lost my father, grandmother, and some very close friends. This led me to do some deep inner searching. In that search I found that the core of my inner being still unfulfilled. I spent some time researching the arts I had not studied for one that could not only give me a few new skills but for one that could help me to evolve into the kind of father and teacher I wanted to be. When I saw that I could begin the training with Ninjutsu via a modern method I was overjoyed. I contacted one of my best friends Tom Keen and presented it to him. We then really took a long look at the art and at the high level instructors. What we saw blew us away. The instructors like Shihan Van Donk, Bud Malmstrom, Steve Hayes, Jack Hoban and of course Soke Hatsumi were beyond impressive. They also showed the kind of inner peace and happiness that I wanted to be able to show my son as a way of life. I want him to see that the world isnt all bad and that through training and study each of us can achieve a level of balance with nature that will give us the joy of life many seek but few find. It is through the harmony with nature instead of a constant struggle against it that a true warrior is molded. The art of Ninjutsu is the path I hope to take to achieve this.
So in conclusion I guess I am studying Ninjutsu for a couple of reasons. The first to help me find and strengthen my soul. Second to find the joy and harmony with nature that I have not found yet in my life. Finally I am studying Ninjutsu for my son, so I can show him by example how great this life can be if we try.
 

amishman

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I
So in conclusion I guess I am studying Ninjutsu for a couple of reasons. The first to help me find and strengthen my soul. Second to find the joy and harmony with nature that I have not found yet in my life. Finally I am studying Ninjutsu for my son, so I can show him by example how great this life can be if we try.

I am a bit more curious about the finding more joy and harmony with nature that you mentioned. Are you meaning animals in nature? Maybe you can elaborate. I too am searching for a martial arts path that will help guide me down a more nature path but also more spiritual and making the art I study a dominant focus of my live to help achieve these joys. I just started in Ninjutsu and trained for a whole month before damaging my groin so have refrained from training for the last month in hopes I can get back soon without re-damaging it. I am not sure if Ninjutsu really has a more religious or spiritual aspect but hoping it does.

tj
 

chrisa

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new to the dark, that was a great post, keep it up and I hope you find what you are searching for.
 
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