Ninja History Book

adpatterson

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Hey there,

Quick question. Ive read some of the forums here but sometimes its hard to see through all the bickering. Im a non martial artist, who enjoys watching martial arts. I am looking for a book to read that would give me the background of the ninja, their beliefs, purpose, rituals, martial arts, etc. etc. Looking for something extremely basic for the uneducated joe without any exposure to the Japanese arts. I'm like most westerners I assume, just simply fascinated with the "ninja appeal". Just wanted a book that I could get my feet wet on and learn a little factual information about these ancient warriors. Thanks much ahead of time!!!!

Aaron
 

oaktree

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I would recommend books written by hatsumi, tanemura, don roley, carsten, kacem. I also recommend books by Karl Friday, the skoss to get history about Japanese budo in general.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Please look at books written by Hatsumi Sensei.

Essence of Ninjutsu might be a good start.

I would also recommend History of the Schools of the Bujinkan
written by Paul Richardson.
 
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adpatterson

adpatterson

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Thank you for the responses, I think I'll try the Essence of Ninjutsu first. I also found someone in the Charlotte, NC teaching Bujinkan so I'm going to give it a try next Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed I don't break a hip :)

Aaron
 

gpseymour

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Thank you for the responses, I think I'll try the Essence of Ninjutsu first. I also found someone in the Charlotte, NC teaching Bujinkan so I'm going to give it a try next Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed I don't break a hip :)

Aaron
Are you in the Charlotte area? I'm only a couple of hours from there, just south of Asheville. If you're ever out this way, give me a holler. You're more than welcome to come and observe a class, or even step on the mats and play for the day.
 
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adpatterson

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That would be great, I'd love to come try it out. I grew up in Kings Mountain, NC. So I'm only about 1:20 from you in Hendersonville!
 

gpseymour

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That would be great, I'd love to come try it out. I grew up in Kings Mountain, NC. So I'm only about 1:20 from you in Hendersonville!
I lived in Kings Mountain for about 7 years, on Piedmont Highway, just outside of what passes for downtown there. I miss my barber.

Just so we're on the same page, since your original post was about ninjutsu - I don't teach that art. However, from what I've seen of the principles they operate on, NGA has a lot of similarities, so it might be fun for you. Mostly, I just like to invite folks to come visit.
 

Chris Parker

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Hey there,

Hi, Aaron.

Quick question. Ive read some of the forums here but sometimes its hard to see through all the bickering. Im a non martial artist, who enjoys watching martial arts.

Okay... so this is more just general interest for you, then? Cool.

I am looking for a book to read that would give me the background of the ninja, their beliefs, purpose, rituals, martial arts, etc. etc. Looking for something extremely basic for the uneducated joe without any exposure to the Japanese arts. I'm like most westerners I assume, just simply fascinated with the "ninja appeal". Just wanted a book that I could get my feet wet on and learn a little factual information about these ancient warriors. Thanks much ahead of time!!!!

Aaron

Ah... this is... more complicated... and won't be particularly easy to get across... but we'll try.

To begin with, your idea of there being "ninja" in the first place isn't really accurate, historically... While certain areas (Iga, Koga) were highly associated with the concept of Shinobi/Ninja, most of what would be classed as "ninja" were simply anyone, warrior or not, employed or used in the gaining and gathering of information. As a result, there were no one set of beliefs, purpose, no particular or unique rituals, martial arts, or anything else. So looking for something that lists them, or describes them, is going to be a rather futile search.

That said, there are some traditions that maintain a link to what are thought to be the historical areas associated with such persons, Iga and Koga. A number of these are found in the Takamatsuden, a collection of arts taught in the Bujinkan, and a number of off-shoot organisations, as well as in a few related groups (Kaginawa Shigemi's group, currently headed by Kai Kuniyuki, for example... or Tanaka Fumon's... even the Daiwado group). And each of those traditions will have their own take on their individual rituals, beliefs, martial methods, and so on. As a result, looking to the books based around those organisations, such as have been recommended by others, is a way to get some insight... but it should be looked at as if looking in a single window of a large house... or mansion.... you can see part of what's in that room, perhaps, but not the entire thing. And, of course, until you start looking at many windows, as well as looking out from them, you'll only be getting a small look at the small area that system looks at.

To give some examples, there are a number of extant classical systems who maintain aspects of "ninjutsu" in their teachings... but these are not "ninjutsu" systems, and don't teach "ninja", or how to be one. These systems include arts such as Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, Tatsumi Ryu, and many others. These arts gives some insight into the way that the skills of ninjutsu were viewed in the more "mainstream" (such as it were) military and martial systems of the day.

One thing to be highly cautious of, though is treating any of it as "factual"... much of what is presented is folklore, historically indeterminate stories and claims, and so on. Additionally, many books are rather skewed to a particular interpretation, or individual belief about how things were... and aren't always open to much contradictory information.

I would recommend books written by hatsumi, tanemura, don roley, carsten, kacem.

These would be the ones I was referring to in the above paragraph... there is certainly good information in many, however there is a lot of less-than-accurate representations of historical "facts"... I have my personal preferences, as well as issues, with these authors and their texts (in part or in whole), but provided you keep an eye on the context they come from, it makes it much easier to hone your filter for what's being said, and why...

I also recommend books by Karl Friday, the skoss to get history about Japanese budo in general.

Friday is very good, albeit a bit academic and dry for some, the Skoss' books (Koryu.com) are great introduction to Classical Japanese arts... but won't really deal much positively with this area. To add to them in education about arts that are historically contemporary to the claims of the ninjutsu schools, I'd also look to Old School from Ellis Amdur (and his other works to a slightly lesser degree, Hidden in Plain Sight, and Duelling with O'Sensei... both of which feature some very relevant information, as well as discussion of more modern arts... which is more appropriate than many may choose to accept...), and books such as Dave Lowry's In The Dojo for a very interesting overview of a lot of aspects of training in Japanese traditional arts (I don't agree with all of it... but it is an incredibly interesting book which has helped me to re-examine a number of aspects of my own training).
 

BujinBos

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Hello Aaron,

How did you like your first class? I grew up with George and we both started training back in the 80's together with Don. I can say that George is very hard working at our budo and has made the effort to go the Japan and many seminars with our seniors. Plus he's just a fun guy to hang with, though I am biased, lol.

Let us know how it goes.
 
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