Ninjutsu help

That-a-Way

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I've been reading about Ninjutsu and so far, the way I understand it, it's like a hybrid art (Taijutsu) with weapons and some parkour-like stuff, and a bunch of other things probably not taught no more . Or at least it used to be.

I know it depends on the school, but is it still like it? And would you practice it?
 

Tony Dismukes

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Depends on what you mean by "Ninjutsu." I'll repeat what I wrote in an earlier thread:

Let's see if I can summarize this in a somewhat simplified fashion...

When you see a reference to "ninjutsu", there are basically three categories it might fall into.

The first is a sub-category of historical Japanese military methods, perhaps roughly analogous to todays espionage and military intelligence operations. There are remnants of these methods contained within a few Japanese koryu ("old school") traditions. However those methods are not the primary focus in any of these arts and the arts in question are not very widely practiced.

The second category is modern arts created (mostly in the West), by people who got their ideas about ninjutsu from books and movies, then hand-rolled their own systems based on whatever prior martial arts experience they may have had (perhaps some karate or aikido), plus their own imagination. This wouldn't be so bad if most of them didn't claim to have been taught by a mysterious master of an ancient ninja clan.

The third category is the Takamatsuden arts, so-called because they trace back to a Japanese gentleman named Toshitsugu Takamatasu. Takamatsu is known for sure to have been a licensed master instructor in three documented historical Japanese martial arts. None of those arts is a Ninjutsu system. Takamatsu also claimed to be the inheritor of six more historical martial arts, three of which were systems of Ninjutsu. None of those arts have been historically documented as existing prior to Takamatsu and it is certain that at least some of the claimed history has at least been exaggerated. Perhaps they really were obscure historical traditions that were passed down to Takamatsu, perhaps Takamatsu invented them or reconstructed them from older documents, perhaps he had a teacher who invented or reconstructed some or all of those six arts. We'll probably never know for sure.

Takamatsu passed "grandmaster" (soke) status in these arts down to his student Masaaki Hatsumi. Hatsumi founded an organization he called the Bujinkan and worked to spread his particular blend of the nine arts he learned from Takamatsu around the world. In the early days, he leaned heavily on the "ninjutsu" label to market the Bujinkan amalgamation of arts, even though most of what was (and is) taught in the Bujinkan does not come from the three purported ninjutsu systems. Mostly what is taught is a combination of unarmed and armed fighting methods. These days the Bujinkan curriculum is more commonly referred to as "Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu", but many people who started training back in the day still refer to it as ninjutsu.

As time went on, various Bujinkan practitioners splintered off and formed their own organizations (Jinenkan. Genbukan, Toshindo, etc) . Some of them continued to teach the Takamatsuden arts as they had been taught, while others used the Bujinkan concepts as the foundation of their own systems.

The Parkour kind of stuff can occasionally be found in schools in the second and third categories, but it's not especially prevalent or advanced or historically based. If you want to learn Parkour, go to an actual practitioner of Parkour.

I did train in the Bujinkan for the better part of a decade. I got some value from it, but have no interest in going back for a number of reasons.
 
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That-a-Way

That-a-Way

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Depends on what you mean by "Ninjutsu." I'll repeat what I wrote in an earlier thread:

Let's see if I can summarize this in a somewhat simplified fashion...

When you see a reference to "ninjutsu", there are basically three categories it might fall into.

The first is a sub-category of historical Japanese military methods, perhaps roughly analogous to todays espionage and military intelligence operations. There are remnants of these methods contained within a few Japanese koryu ("old school") traditions. However those methods are not the primary focus in any of these arts and the arts in question are not very widely practiced.

The second category is modern arts created (mostly in the West), by people who got their ideas about ninjutsu from books and movies, then hand-rolled their own systems based on whatever prior martial arts experience they may have had (perhaps some karate or aikido), plus their own imagination. This wouldn't be so bad if most of them didn't claim to have been taught by a mysterious master of an ancient ninja clan.

The third category is the Takamatsuden arts, so-called because they trace back to a Japanese gentleman named Toshitsugu Takamatasu. Takamatsu is known for sure to have been a licensed master instructor in three documented historical Japanese martial arts. None of those arts is a Ninjutsu system. Takamatsu also claimed to be the inheritor of six more historical martial arts, three of which were systems of Ninjutsu. None of those arts have been historically documented as existing prior to Takamatsu and it is certain that at least some of the claimed history has at least been exaggerated. Perhaps they really were obscure historical traditions that were passed down to Takamatsu, perhaps Takamatsu invented them or reconstructed them from older documents, perhaps he had a teacher who invented or reconstructed some or all of those six arts. We'll probably never know for sure.

Takamatsu passed "grandmaster" (soke) status in these arts down to his student Masaaki Hatsumi. Hatsumi founded an organization he called the Bujinkan and worked to spread his particular blend of the nine arts he learned from Takamatsu around the world. In the early days, he leaned heavily on the "ninjutsu" label to market the Bujinkan amalgamation of arts, even though most of what was (and is) taught in the Bujinkan does not come from the three purported ninjutsu systems. Mostly what is taught is a combination of unarmed and armed fighting methods. These days the Bujinkan curriculum is more commonly referred to as "Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu", but many people who started training back in the day still refer to it as ninjutsu.

As time went on, various Bujinkan practitioners splintered off and formed their own organizations (Jinenkan. Genbukan, Toshindo, etc) . Some of them continued to teach the Takamatsuden arts as they had been taught, while others used the Bujinkan concepts as the foundation of their own systems.

The Parkour kind of stuff can occasionally be found in schools in the second and third categories, but it's not especially prevalent or advanced or historically based. If you want to learn Parkour, go to an actual practitioner of Parkour.

I did train in the Bujinkan for the better part of a decade. I got some value from it, but have no interest in going back for a number of reasons.

That is very helpful. May I ask where you got that from? It's not that I don't trust you, I'm interested in reading myself and maybe finding out a thing or two more about it.

There are a few things not too clear. I'm asking mostly about the third kind you described, since there aren't most schools here, and probably the ones that exist teach that kind:

1- Does it include weapon training?
2- Does it base it's hand combat on Taijutsu or Aikido, Karate, Jiu-jitsu, Judo, etc., separately?
3- When you practiced, did you practice any Parkour-like concepts at all?
4- Does it include throwing weapons training (like Shurikens)?
5- Is it considered a hybrid art?

Thanks for the information.
 

oaktree

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Yes to weapons
Taijutsu is based on the different ryuha
Parkour and what is found in the x kans differ.
Shuriken is taught depending on your teacher.
Hybrid depends what you define it as.
 

Tony Dismukes

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May I ask where you got that from?
Good question. Never accept anything blindly, especially from some random person you don't know on the internet.

As I said, I trained in the Bujinkan for just under a decade. After that I retained an academic interest in the Bujinkan and historical Japanese arts in general. Over the years I've talked to and read a lot of material by various individuals - Bujinkan members, former Bujinkan members, and experts in historical Japanese (koryu) arts. This led to my realization that the official history of the Takamatsuden arts as presented by Hatsumi and his students was not all that accurate. (For example, one of the ninjutsu systems in the Bujinkan is Togakure Ryu, which is supposedly over 800 years old. Since the Ryu system in Japanese arts doesn't go back nearly that far in Japanese history, this is clearly an exaggeration at best.)

@Chris Parker is a forum member here who trains in a Bujinkan offshoot and is also a student of Japanese history and Japense historical arts. He's a good source for this sort of thing.

1- Does it include weapon training?
Yep. When I was training, the progression began with shorter weapons (hanbo, tanto, kusarifundo) and progressed to longer weapons (bo, katana, kyoketsu shoge).

2- Does it base it's hand combat on Taijutsu or Aikido, Karate, Jiu-jitsu, Judo, etc., separately?
Karate, Judo, and Aikido are not part of the Takamatsuden arts. The unarmed combat aspect is called Taijutsu.

3- When you practiced, did you practice any Parkour-like concepts at all?
A little bit, but none of the instructors I worked with had any real expertise in that area. It was pretty much LARPing.

4- Does it include throwing weapons training (like Shurikens)?
Yep.

5- Is it considered a hybrid art?
This depends somewhat on the school and instructor. Hatsumi inherited 9 arts from Takamatsu. Much of what gets taught in the Bujinkan is Hatsumi's personal blend of those different systems, commonly referred to these days as "Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu." However some instructors (both in the Bujinkan and its offshoots) teach the arts as separate curriculums.
 
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That-a-Way

That-a-Way

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Yep. When I was training, the progression began with shorter weapons (hanbo, tanto, kusarifundo) and progressed to longer weapons (bo, katana, kyoketsu shoge).

Awesome.

Karate, Judo, and Aikido are not part of the Takamatsuden arts. The unarmed combat aspect is called Taijutsu.

Yeah, my bad. I misread the Wikipedia article about Taijutsu.

A little bit, but none of the instructors I worked with had any real expertise in that area. It was pretty much LARPing.

Yeah i guess that's expected. If I truly like it I can always learn Parkour alone. Thanks for the information. [emoji106]

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Chris Parker

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I've been reading about Ninjutsu and so far, the way I understand it, it's like a hybrid art (Taijutsu)

No, it's not. And Taijutsu is not a "hybrid art".

with weapons

There are weaponry systems taught within the modern "ninjutsu" organisations, but not the way you're implying specifically.

and some parkour-like stuff,

Really not like parkour in anything other than simple superficiality.

and a bunch of other things probably not taught no more
.

Still taught, if you are in the right place at the right time...

Or at least it used to be.

Can you define "used to be"?

I know it depends on the school, but is it still like it? And would you practice it?

Well, it wasn't ever as you describe, so no, it's not "still like it"... and would I practice it? I have for nigh-onto 25 years.... so... probably.

That is very helpful. May I ask where you got that from? It's not that I don't trust you, I'm interested in reading myself and maybe finding out a thing or two more about it.

I like the way Tony put things... I'd express things a bit differently, with a somewhat different emphasis (for example, I wouldn't even bother classing his second group as actually being defined as "ninjutsu", anymore than I'd define a Chihuahua as a breed of wolf), but it was fairly on the money. Of course, you will get different responses from people more invested in the claimed histories of the systems for a different perspective... but if you remember that "this is the way the school gives it's history" is different from "this is the genuine, accurate historical account", you'll be okay...

There are a few things not too clear. I'm asking mostly about the third kind you described, since there aren't most schools here, and probably the ones that exist teach that kind:

1- Does it include weapon training?

Yes.

The make-up of the Bujinkan arts is 9 separate ryu-ha, as Tony mentioned, and one of those is Kukishin Ryu. The Kukishin Ryu contains, among it's teachings, kata (techniques) for sword, short sword, jutte, six foot staff, four foot staff, three foot staff, naginata, bisento, and spear. In addition, there are a range of specialist tools pressed into service as weaponry within the Togakure Ryu, such as senban shuriken, shi-no-dake, shuko, metsubishi, and so on... and a whole array of weaponry not which do not have formal kata, but are taught as part of the teachings, through principles, henka, and more of a "free expression" form of training, such as kusari-fundo, kusari-gama, nagamaki, hojo, kunai, kyoketsu-shoge, kama-yari, tanbo, te-giri bo, and more. Many Bujinkan instructors also supplement their teachings with any of an array of other skills, such as firearms, gun disarms, knife (most typically modern, rather than traditional Japanese knife work), improvised weapons, and more.

2- Does it base it's hand combat on Taijutsu or Aikido, Karate, Jiu-jitsu, Judo, etc., separately?

No.

As Tony said, the taijutsu of the Bujinkan (and other groups) is not based on any of those arts, but are instead based on the principles and mechanics of the various ryu-ha taught. For the Bujinkan, this includes Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu (providing much of the kihon [fundamental] aspects of the training), Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, (Hontai) Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu, Kukishin Ryu Dakentaijutsu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, and Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu. In addition, Hatsumi also learnt a number of other systems, which sometimes are taught explicitly, or are "hidden" in what is being shown, such as Asayama Ichiden Ryu Taijutsu, Bokuden Ryu Koshi no Mawari, Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu, and one or two others.

The Genbukan organisation, under Tanemura Shoto (Tsunehisa) also includes a line of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, a line of Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, a second Kukishin Ryu (Jujutsu), an alternate line of Hontai Yoshin Ryu Takagi Ryu Jujutsu, as well as formally including Bokuden Ryu, Asayama Ichiden Ryu, and the Taijutsu (Jutaijutsu) form of Shinden Fudo Ryu.

3- When you practiced, did you practice any Parkour-like concepts at all?

No.

There are a number of aspects that can appear superficially similar, specifically the ukemi and nigemi skills, but the reason, mentality, reality, and emphasis is completely different.

4- Does it include throwing weapons training (like Shurikens)?

Yes.

The Togakure Ryu features the usage of a particular form of shuriken, known as a senban shuriken (a squarish flat plate with a square hole in the centre), Koto Ryu uses teppan (flat plates with no hole), Kukishin Ryu uses a form of bo-shuriken (a throwing spike... actually more common than the movie-typical "star-shaped" items), and other ryu have them either explicit or implied in a number of techniques.

5- Is it considered a hybrid art?

No.

Particularly not in the modern sense of an "MMA" style system, taking bits and pieces purely as mechanical ranges. Instead, the training is more predicated on the study of principles, philosophical approaches, and strategic actions as part of a holistic approach.

Thanks for the information.

As in many forums, stickies can be your friend....
Ninjutsu/Budo Taijutsu & Related arts descriptions
 
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That-a-Way

That-a-Way

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No, it's not. And Taijutsu is not a "hybrid art".



There are weaponry systems taught within the modern "ninjutsu" organisations, but not the way you're implying specifically.



Really not like parkour in anything other than simple superficiality.

.

Still taught, if you are in the right place at the right time...



Can you define "used to be"?



Well, it wasn't ever as you describe, so no, it's not "still like it"... and would I practice it? I have for nigh-onto 25 years.... so... probably.



I like the way Tony put things... I'd express things a bit differently, with a somewhat different emphasis (for example, I wouldn't even bother classing his second group as actually being defined as "ninjutsu", anymore than I'd define a Chihuahua as a breed of wolf), but it was fairly on the money. Of course, you will get different responses from people more invested in the claimed histories of the systems for a different perspective... but if you remember that "this is the way the school gives it's history" is different from "this is the genuine, accurate historical account", you'll be okay...



Yes.

The make-up of the Bujinkan arts is 9 separate ryu-ha, as Tony mentioned, and one of those is Kukishin Ryu. The Kukishin Ryu contains, among it's teachings, kata (techniques) for sword, short sword, jutte, six foot staff, four foot staff, three foot staff, naginata, bisento, and spear. In addition, there are a range of specialist tools pressed into service as weaponry within the Togakure Ryu, such as senban shuriken, shi-no-dake, shuko, metsubishi, and so on... and a whole array of weaponry not which do not have formal kata, but are taught as part of the teachings, through principles, henka, and more of a "free expression" form of training, such as kusari-fundo, kusari-gama, nagamaki, hojo, kunai, kyoketsu-shoge, kama-yari, tanbo, te-giri bo, and more. Many Bujinkan instructors also supplement their teachings with any of an array of other skills, such as firearms, gun disarms, knife (most typically modern, rather than traditional Japanese knife work), improvised weapons, and more.



No.

As Tony said, the taijutsu of the Bujinkan (and other groups) is not based on any of those arts, but are instead based on the principles and mechanics of the various ryu-ha taught. For the Bujinkan, this includes Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu (providing much of the kihon [fundamental] aspects of the training), Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, (Hontai) Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu, Kukishin Ryu Dakentaijutsu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, and Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu. In addition, Hatsumi also learnt a number of other systems, which sometimes are taught explicitly, or are "hidden" in what is being shown, such as Asayama Ichiden Ryu Taijutsu, Bokuden Ryu Koshi no Mawari, Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu, and one or two others.

The Genbukan organisation, under Tanemura Shoto (Tsunehisa) also includes a line of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, a line of Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, a second Kukishin Ryu (Jujutsu), an alternate line of Hontai Yoshin Ryu Takagi Ryu Jujutsu, as well as formally including Bokuden Ryu, Asayama Ichiden Ryu, and the Taijutsu (Jutaijutsu) form of Shinden Fudo Ryu.



No.

There are a number of aspects that can appear superficially similar, specifically the ukemi and nigemi skills, but the reason, mentality, reality, and emphasis is completely different.



Yes.

The Togakure Ryu features the usage of a particular form of shuriken, known as a senban shuriken (a squarish flat plate with a square hole in the centre), Koto Ryu uses teppan (flat plates with no hole), Kukishin Ryu uses a form of bo-shuriken (a throwing spike... actually more common than the movie-typical "star-shaped" items), and other ryu have them either explicit or implied in a number of techniques.



No.

Particularly not in the modern sense of an "MMA" style system, taking bits and pieces purely as mechanical ranges. Instead, the training is more predicated on the study of principles, philosophical approaches, and strategic actions as part of a holistic approach.



As in many forums, stickies can be your friend....
Ninjutsu/Budo Taijutsu & Related arts descriptions

Ok. That's useful. Thanks!

Sorry about the sticky, didn't occur to me to look on that forum. I read ir already. Very useful too. Thank you!
 
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