Ninjutsu is not a martial art.

dunc

Purple Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2006
Messages
386
Reaction score
257
I'd be amazed if it was, other than through some contact Takamatsu may have had. Baguazhang is a relatively young art; it was created/taught by Dong Haichuan around the Beijing area in the late 1800s.
This I never heard
There are a couple of westerners in Japan who also train in Ba Gua and sometimes highlight similarities between that and taijutsu, but to my eyes these similarities are no different from that youd see by looking across many other styles
 

Oily Dragon

Master of Arts
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
1,778
Reaction score
794
Bagua didn't come out of thin air, it was synthesized from older Daoist training like circle walking meditation.

That stuff goes way back to sects like Loong Men and Quan Zhen and probably further. At least 1200 years.

There has been a lot of time for cultural mixing, which may be why some things (meditation) are common to these arts, and others like literal names and descriptions are different or totally alien.

 

BrendanF

Purple Belt
Joined
Feb 26, 2017
Messages
348
Reaction score
134
Bagua didn't come out of thin air, it was synthesized from older Daoist training like circle walking meditation.

Obviously it didn't come out of thin air, it did however come about in the second half of the nineteenth century. While I personally think Kang Ge Wu's theories are plausible, the history is in no way a settled topic. I've seen others forward the Bapanzhang origin story with as much certainty.
 

jks9199

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2006
Messages
22,740
Reaction score
2,982
Location
Northern VA
Very few arts came out of nowhere -- except for Sinanju, and even that came from the Sun Source to the Great Wang.

Most arts developed as a couple of guys shared what worked with each other. Eventually, they got systemized. Then people started monkeying with them, and we get the mess of today...
 

Chris Parker

Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
6,226
Reaction score
1,053
Location
Melbourne, Australia
i'm not surprised either, this is exactly what i hoped to find, and yes it has been (and will continue to be) an informative read.

No problem.

i am coming across like a fantasy fan, i see that. actually i have tried to stay as far away from 'claiming' Ninpo, or any martial art (the only one i earned a black belt in was Tang Soo Do), and instead have focused purely on relevant self defense(as i see it). privately, i have always held everything i've learned against the lessons i gleaned from the Bujinkan and other practioners, because i always felt that it aligned most specifically with my intention, part of that being to 'not look like a fight' and avoid calling attention to myself in this way.and there are techniques i learned from Ninpo practioners that i have never seen anywhere else, probably because they are too nasty for most modern schools. also some of the things i often see( in Aikido for instance) lack certain elements that would make them more realistic, the use of distancing, using the body to pin an arm rather than grabbing the wrist, subtle things that were related to me by observing Hatsumi"s Budo Taijutsu and I valued that instruction.

Hmm... without a more involved history in the art, the best I would suggest is that you've developed your own perception of what things like Hatsumi's art are about, and contain... and I don't know that it's particularly accurate. That doesn't mean it's not valuable to you, just that your take on things might not actually match the reality of them. Just something to be aware of.

when i was a kid i knew every dinosaur, because there were only like 12 of them. when my daughter was into them, few of those even existed anymore and there were 2000 new ones, this is kinda like that. there was very little to go on, last time i was looking. but so many hilarious fakes, i watched their videos too( we actually had to buy the VHS tape back then). amazing how much you can learn about what not to do, that can be useful too. i'm bummed that Hatsumi is not taken seriously though, but that video is undefendable, even though i want to, i can't.

Honestly, and this is one of the most important take-aways here, I don't think Hatsumi would care less what people think of his art, his performances, his techniques, or anything else. He has his audience, and plays to them... and, so long as they are appreciative, what does it matter what anyone else thinks? Same with the members of the Bujinkan. I'm under no illusion that my comments here will change the minds of any Bujinkan membership... it may get one or two to think about things a slightly different way, but that's about it. It's more about my being true to the reality of the situation as I see it... which has taken me to a perception that, understandably, can be a bit confronting for Hatsumi's supporters and fans... students of his or not.

And, really, it doesn't matter. Hatsumi will do what Hatsumi does, and his students will either follow it, or not. If they do, my words won't change their mind, and if they don't, then they stop being his students... it would be neither the first, nor the last time that would happen.

There was another school you mentioned earlier but not in this last post, the Kumogakure Ryu. I always liked what I saw of it's approach, i wonder now if it was legitimate in any way. is it true the the Kumogakre Ryu was related to Ba Gua?

Ah, Kumogakure Ryu... this is quite an intriguing topic... yeah, I left it off, and there are, of course, reasons for that...

Kumogakure Ryu has a fairly unique position in the Bujinkan ryu-ha... it's one of the three "ninjutsu" arts, along with Togakure Ryu and Gyokushin Ryu, and it's claimed history basically says that it was an off-shoot of Togakure, being founded around 1532 by one Iga Heinaizaemon Ienaga, so the idea of it being related to Ba Gua is... well, I honestly don't know where that idea even comes from. In fact, Kumogakure Ryu is quite contradictory in terms of information about it's technical and informational make-up...

Over the decades, realistically, the Bujinkan has taught using kata and methods from only 6 of the 9 schools, being Togakure, Gyokko, Koto, Shinden Fudo (Dakentaijutsu), Kukishinden, and Takagi Yoshin Ryu. The other three, Gikan, Gyokushin, and Kumogakure, have never really been officially revealed... there are a number of videos of Hatsumi and others teaching things that are claimed/referenced as these arts, however they are often contradictory to other sources claiming to be the same arts... combined with reports that Gyokushin and Kumogakure Ryu have no actual techniques or technical methods at all. So, you'll get one report stating some basic principles and technical traits of a school, then someone will show specific techniques (that contradict the first report), then someone will also say that Hatsumi told them there are no techniques... followed by someone else saying that Hatsumi has shown them techniques from it. So, yeah... in a real way, these arts might as well not exist practically.

Okay, so that's one side of things... the lack of material, and claimed history. We have that with three schools, so why did I say that Kumogakure is unique? Because it wasn't there originally.

In the 70's, Hatsumi was presenting himself as the soke of 8 ryu, not 9... being Togakure Ryu, Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Kukishinden Happo Biken (note: not Kukishinden Ryu... there are reasons, but I'm not getting into that here... at least, not yet...), Shinden Fudo Ryu, Gikan Ryu (another interesting case... the dispute over proper sokeship came up in a court case involving Hatsumi and Tanemura... and Tanemura was recognised as having the legitimate claim...), and Gyokushin Ryu. This was how he described himself in his letter to the Kuki family, when he was presenting himself as the 28th Soke of Kukishinden Happo Biken, and they were asking about his connection to their school, and how it differed, considering his teacher was their former Shihan. Then, a few years after Takamatsu died, he announced he was also the soke of Kumogakure Ryu, with a lineage presented having it travel through the Toda family to Takamatsu, then to Hatsumi. It is interesting to note, however, that in no older records are there any mention of Kumogakure Ryu coming via Toda to Takamatsu... nor of Takamatsu mentioning it that I have found... for instance, there is no mention of it in Andy Adams' "Ninja: The Invisible Assassins", one of the earliest properly researched books in English from the 60's... although most of the other schools are (Shinden Fudo Ryu is just referred to as Fudo Ryu, Kukishinden is called Kukishin, Takagi Yoshin is just Takagi, Gyokko, Koto, and Togakure are all named as well... Gikan and Gyokushin are also missing, for the record).

So, is it true that Kumogakure Ryu is related to Ba Gua? Let's safety say... no.

Chris, thanks for clarifying the "Hatsumi Kensei" thing. I was shocked to hear that. It didn't sound right, but so much about Ninjutsu never does.

Oh, read on... there's a bit of clarification below that you may find interesting...

On the "suffering" translation you're right, I could have been more clear. I didn't mean literal pain suffering, but as you said the endurance of it. From Chinese Ren fa/Jan fat.

Which is the central idea I think of when I think of ninpo, the ability to withstand. That's where I see overlap with the concept of kung fu, since both imply a willingness to train to overcome obstacles, hardship, whatever. I know Ren Fa is also found in Shaolin scripture, I'll try to find where I read that.

Does that make more sense? I won't be able to finish reading your posts until after the holidays, but they sure look informative from space.

Hope you get something out of them.

@tim po Youll find that folks on here hold differing views on Hatsumi, his skill and the veracity of the traditions he teaches
As with every human endeavour folks align themselves into a particular tribe or group and work hard to provide arguments to reinforce their tribes position
Sports martial artists have an issue with his assertion that certain techniques cant be sparred and the lack of sparring in the general Bujinkan community
Koryu practitioners have an issue with his assertion that the traditions need to continually evolve in order to survive and that this is part of the tradition
Independents tend to look for gaps in what he teaches and illustrate how they have filled those gaps with their own training/research in order to differentiate themselves
I have an agenda because Ive been deeply involved in the Bujinkan for over 30 years
and so on

Youll have to make up your own mind

Hmm... cautioning against bias is perfectly valid, however I would say to be careful trying to generalise such bias'. For example, I have not heard of any koryu practitioner or teacher having any issue with Hatsumi's assertions about "evolving"... we do say that his approach is not koryu, which it isn't... but to attribute a value to that is to misunderstand the statement. Additionally, to say that "independents tend to look for gaps in what (Hatsumi) teaches..." again, flagrantly misrepresents the situation.

Speaking for myself, who is both independent Takamatsuden and koryu, both statements are thoroughly inaccurate. As koryu, we don't care what Hatsumi does or believes about how his martial arts should be done, or what should happen with his schools... they're his, and it's up to him. We do care when Bujinkan practitioners make out that what they're doing is koryu, and more so when they try to explain koryu or koryu mentality to us. Speaking as an independent, we don't look for anything in what Hatsumi does, especially not "gaps"... we do, however, aim to be true to our understanding and values... and that is what leads to separation in the main.

This is the thing about not being Bujinkan... we don't really care what the Bujinkan does. I know I don't. I care about the arts themselves, and, frankly, don't see them in the Bujinkan at all.

The other point is that having a particular vantage point does not necessarily mean that the perception is invalid... having a different perspective doesn't mean it's not a correct, or valuable one. But rarely does it go to the idea of "reinforcing their tribe's position"... that, really, is more cult-speak than anything else. Koryu aren't a "tribe". Independents aren't a "tribe". Sports practitioners aren't a "tribe". None of these groups agree even with each other, so none are reinforcing the ideas or positions of some imaginary group-mind. Nor is any of this necessarily rising to the level of "agenda".

The reality is simple; we all speak from our own experience and understanding. That's all. Can those experiences and that understanding be skewed, or off? Certainly. Can they be imbalanced, or unnecessarily inaccurate? Sure. That's why you take all the information you can get, and weight it against your own experience and understanding... but, and this is the important point in all of this, not all experience and understanding is equal. The opinions of someone with only one viewpoint contrasted with one with multiple cannot be equally assessed... by the same token, the more emotionally invested cannot be deemed equivalent to the measured. As you say, it's up to the reader to try to figure which is which...

You can probably google my post about the living cultural treasure ( J贖y Mukei Bunkazai Hojisha) and reach your own conclusions

Say, there's a good idea...

List of all (ALL) recipients of the Juyo Mukei Bunkazai Hojisha award (performing arts), and the categories they were given it in:

Again, there is no category for martial arts. There is no martial artist who has EVER been given such an award. None.

And, as already explained, Hatsumi was not given this award... he was given an award for the promotion of Japanese culture, which is an award from the royal family (but not the Emperor)... I mean, you can continue to argue against the facts, but it's not going to help your cause.

My comment about the sword association was based on my personal experience (hence I dont know the exact details), but probably it will be googleable. Basically when he was teaching sword these old dudes turned up to training in the Ayase Budokan taking notes and having long discussions with Soke and the shihan. I was there. After a while folks shared that hed earned the highest award as a sword master from this group, and he has the certificate on his office wall (along with all the other stuff like that) for all to see

Okay, this took a bit more digging... again, as stated, there is no such thing as a "kensei" award, nor is anyone in any position to give one... but I did find what you're talking about.

Hatsumi was given an award labeled "Todo Hanshi" from a group called the Zen Nippon Todo Renmei, and it's then-president, Nakazawa Toshi. The award name basically means "model teacher of the path of the sword"... not quite the "Master Teacher of the Way of the Sword" as many Bujinkan pages put it... but there's quite a bit to unpack.

Firstly, the only record/account of this award is purely in relation to Hatsumi. It was awarded in February, 1995... which is some 6 years after the Zen Nippon Todo Renmei was formed. So, naturally, the question has to be, who is this group? Basically, they're a bit of an odd grouping, and a very small association (with a handful of members). They were formed in 1989, when a few former members of a Battodo Renmei decided to form their own association (haven't found the reason, but, it could be almost anything, from being kicked out, to being refused promotion, to, well, just wanting to do their own thing). They were headed by Nakazawa Satoshi (all the Bujinkan pages seem to get his name a bit wrong, for the record), who acted as the first chairman... and set about creating their own set of techniques.

What they focus on, though, isn't so much sword as martial artists would view it... its tate (stage fighting). The "head instructor", Hayashi Kunihiro, teaches stage fighting, focused on sword combat, and, well, that's what they do. He has also since created his own "ninjutsu" system, Hayashi-den Ninja Taijutsu... although what it's based on is another question.

So, what we have is a small, minor organisation of little relevance, with little credibility in terms of sword arts (stage fighting, tv and movie choreography, maybe... but that's all they actually do), who turned up at Hatsumi's class, and, without any real authority other than their own self-appointed one (and, to be clear, absolutely no authority over or credibility in assessing any other arts that are not part of their association), who decided (for their own reasons) to give Hatsumi an award, based on.... something?

To be honest, it looks like they were seeking to add to their own credibility by associating with Hatsumi, hence the new "ninja" art they also created... but their seal of approval is, bluntly, meaningless. You might as well say that he got the super Naruto award for the purplest hair... and, again, I can't see any legitimate sword association awarding Hatsumi anything for any purpose other than political reasons. Speaking purely as a sword practitioner of a range of schools, Hatsumi's sword is... terrible. Hey, if you like it, great... but that's a preference question, not a quality one.

There are several students of Hatsumi who also train in Koryu arts. One western Japan resident is Mark Lithgow. Ive only heard that their teachers treat Hatsumi sensei with respect, but probably there are some Japanese Koryu practitioners who feel differently

Yeah... the Japanese will twist themselves into knots to avoid creating an uncomfortable situation... so speaking of him respectfully, considering his position, is almost expected, really... that's very different from thinking he has much to offer, or has genuine credibility.

A friend of mine here teaches an art he learnt from his father... who inherited the school from my friends godfather, the founder of the school in the UK. This founder spun some interesting stories about where the various aspects of the school came from (including claiming some Katori, some Takenouchi, and so on), however, it's patently obvious to anyone who knows these schools (or classical Japanese arts) that, no, what we have is a modern mash-up of some basic Judo, Karate, Aikido (well, not really, but they have some spinny-twisty locks that bear a superficial resemblance), largely Okinawan weapons (and Japanese weapons used in an Okinawan fashion), along with a lot of aping and coping (without understanding or insight) of some genuine schools. Still, my friend is convinced that, because his father and godfather taught the school, and there's no way they'd lie to him, it must be genuine... so, each year (at least, up to the global situation), he would go to Japan to try to research and retrace his godfathers' path, finding the origins of his art. It's a futile task, as he'll never find what isn't there, but he's developed a good network of Japanese martial arts teachers, and puts on demonstrations at a few Budokans in front of them... they all nod approvingly, thank him, and praise his efforts and skills... tell him how good his arts are... because that's the Japanese way.

I'm not saying that that's definitely what Mark's teachers are doing, but it would be completely within the Japanese approach... and, really, the majority of koryu teachers around, especially if you get them speaking candidly, may be diplomatic in their language, but will not be overly complimentary of him.

I agree with folks that the ground work in the Bujinkan is nonexistent and the only video where he shows anything like that is the one posted on this thread. If you look carefully at the clips hes showing variations of trap and roll, but his partners dont have a clue what theyre doing on the ground so he has no need to move in a big way and can mess around with catching them with early unexpected stuff which he likes to do (because hes old and likes to be creative)

Yeah... look, Dunc, this smacks of the apologetic speech that is sadly all too common. Yes, there's basically no ne-waza in the Bujinkan's arts... there is a little bit (albeit nothing like the context of BJJ), but the issue isn't whether you can find some kind of connection to more commonly found techniques, it's how much understanding of the environment and context is present. That's what Hanzou is talking about. And, for context, it's what I see when I see Hatsumi's sword work as well (hence the above comments).

I get the creative bent that Hatsumi has... I get the appeal it has as well... and, if that's what you're after, or what you value, great! More power to you! But when that creative bent takes him into areas that he is less skilled or insightful in, making apologies for him, and making out that what he's doing is valid, or worse, excellent (not saying that's what you're doing, but it is far from uncommon in the Bujinkan), simply adds to the issues of reputation that the Bujinkan already has.
 

dunc

Purple Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2006
Messages
386
Reaction score
257
Thanks @Chris Parker for correcting me on the Juyo Mukei Bunkazai Hojisha (Performing Arts) award - I think we are talking across purposes and I probably quoted the wrong one in haste. I was under the impression that he had been awarded the status of a Living National Treasure and that the award was given to folk from all sorts of different traditions - based on things like this Living National Treasure (Japan) (Tesoro_Nacional_Viviente_(Jap籀n)) - wikipe.wiki

Im not sure if the sword association thing is the same as you quote, my memory was that it was later than 1995, but memory is a fickle thing and perhaps this is what I was referring to

On the koryu teachers views on him: Im suggesting that its not as simple as taking the word of a westerner who lives outside Japan and hasnt really spent much time there. Perhaps the situation is more nuanced than that. And I base this on the experience of long term Japan residents (and a Japanese friend) who also train koryu
In my experience Japanese are more than capable of making their feelings known so I dont buy the well Japanese cant say what they really think argument

My observation is that you spend a huge amount of time criticising the Bujinkan and you asset that a) you have a better way of performing the techniques from schools that are only taught by people who have learnt under Hatsumi-sensei than he does and b) that techniques from Kukishinden, Takagi Yoshin Ryu etc passed on within the Bujinkan are incorrect. In other words you know better than Hatsumi on these matters are teaching something more authentic. Hence my comment that you as an independent are filling in gaps (as you see them) in the Bujinkan with your own stuff and thats why you wish to remain an independent

On the newaza - I think youre making the point that Hatsumi doesnt understand newaza, but still teaches it and this is analogous to what he does in other areas. Reinforcing your point that, in your view, he hasnt got a clue about sword or presumably other similarly old school things. And presumably that you know better
He is a 4th dan in Kodokan Judo and he learnt his trade during the 60s. There is plenty of newaza in that education system
Again, as someone with some newaza experience myself, my assessment is that the principles and structure of the base technique is OK. eg If person in mounts head is to one side (albeit easily achieved by Hatsumi with a bit of pain etc) then control an arm and bridge and roll in that direction
 

Chris Parker

Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 18, 2008
Messages
6,226
Reaction score
1,053
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Hi Dunc,

Thanks @Chris Parker for correcting me on the Juyo Mukei Bunkazai Hojisha (Performing Arts) award - I think we are talking across purposes and I probably quoted the wrong one in haste. I was under the impression that he had been awarded the status of a Living National Treasure and that the award was given to folk from all sorts of different traditions - based on things like this Living National Treasure (Japan) (Tesoro_Nacional_Viviente_(Jap籀n)) - wikipe.wiki

Hmm... not really "crossed purposes"... you made a claim, which was wrong. I corrected it, and you said we could "google it to check for ourselves" (a tacit doubling down, really). So I repeated the correction, providing a link to back up my correction, and repeating the actual award Hatsumi had gotten.

This is, I feel, a bit indicative of how this is going... I post objective facts, or observations and conclusions backed up by a fair bit of supporting material, and you're taking that as my being "critical", or attacking Hatsumi and the Bujinkan. It's not. A statement of fact is not an attack, a correction is not a criticism... but we'll get to that as well.
https://www.wikibook.wiki/wiki/es/Tesoro_Nacional_Viviente_(Jap籀n)
Im not sure if the sword association thing is the same as you quote, my memory was that it was later than 1995, but memory is a fickle thing and perhaps this is what I was referring to

It's referenced on a fair few Bujinkan pages, listing both the name of the citation, and the group (including the person involved), with a few giving the dates (one dates it specifically as February 18th, 1995). To contrast it with your claim, which was, and I quote, "(Hatsumi) was awarded the level of 'sword saint' (or similar translation) from the national association for preserving the methods of kenjutsu."

No, he wasn't. He was given a presentation of a, frankly, meaningless "title" from an external organisation that has nothing to do with the Bujinkan, is barely a national organisation, and is not involved in the preservation of anything. Instead, they are a small group of stage (movie and tv) sword combat enthusiasts, one of whom has created his own fight choreography "ninja" martial art, which is the only occasion found of them awarding any such title at all... seemingly to gain some credibility via Hatsumi.

Donald Trump recently got an honorary TKD 9th Dan. It has the same credibility.

The bigger problems with both of these cases are that Hatsumi is happy to accept pretty much anything anyone wants to give him, and the Bujinkan faithful are more than happy to repeat (and often exaggerate) what these awards are... for instance, it's sometimes cited that Hatsumi has a Knighthood from the German National Historical Culture Federation... except Germany did away with aristocracy in the early 20th Century, and hasn't used things like Knighthoods since 1918... some 13 years before Hatsumi was born. And a historical society is absolutely powerless to offer or confer anything like a title of nobility, unless Hatsumi is secretly a member of the SCA? Come to think of it, that would explain the "Todo Hanshi" title as well...

Oh, but, for the record, here are a few of the pages where this is cited:

Oh, and about the group themselves (ZNTR):
The bujinkan scrolls: Authentic or not (see "eyebeams'" post, third from the top)
What is Zen Nippon Todo Renmei? Ninja Fraud and Cult

The point is that I would caution against tauting the various accolades that Hatsumi has amassed over the years... many aren't anywhere near as impressive or meaningful as they're made out to be, and there is a lot of exaggeration (if not outright invented claims) involved.

On the koryu teachers views on him: Im suggesting that its not as simple as taking the word of a westerner who lives outside Japan and hasnt really spent much time there. Perhaps the situation is more nuanced than that. And I base this on the experience of long term Japan residents (and a Japanese friend) who also train koryu
In my experience Japanese are more than capable of making their feelings known so I dont buy the well Japanese cant say what they really think argument

Ooh, touche...

Yeah, absolutely it's a lot more nuanced... mind you, I'm basing my comments on conversations with senior and experienced practitioners that have a hell of a lot more time in these areas then both of us do combined... and are far more neutral. And you're right, Japanese are very capable of saying what they really think... they just tend not to when the comments are public... or could upset someone. After all, do you really think Mark's teachers would say "Oh, that other teacher of yours... you don't think that's good, do you?". Koryu are based on relationships, so, by accepting Mark in (and knowing his training with the Bujinkan), breaking that relationship by belittling Hatsumi to him is just... not done. Well... maybe when they're drunk.

Okay, the next part I'm going to break up into very small parts... please feel free to go back to the original quote to ensure the context isn't put aside... but there's things to deal with almost every couple of words...

My observation

Thing is, it's not an observation, it's a perception. And the reason I can say that is that, well, for it to be an observation, it would need to be present in the first place to be observed. What's happening, though, is that you're reading value judgements into a lot of the things I say... which, combined with your own emotional investment, leads you to the perception you have.

is that you spend a huge amount of time criticising the Bujinkan

Well, first off, is the Bujinkan above criticism? Is Hatsumi? If your answer is yes, how do you justify that? If no, what's the problem with it, then?

More to the point, I really don't spend much time at all actually criticising Hatsumi or the Bujinkan... you and I simply tend to only engage on these kind of topics, so you get a very disproportionate sense of just how much energy I put into anything of the kind. I also really wouldn't consider any of this really criticism... anymore than I'd suggest stating that the menu of KFC isn't the healthiest food to eat every day constitutes a criticism. Okay, maybe some of the sword comments...

What I do, though, is to look critically at the material and teaching methodologies... that's not the same as criticising, of course. By doing that, I am aiming to understand the arts themselves better... which naturally highlights differences and discrepancies, which, combined with my understanding of what constitutes a ryu (and how it manifests in it's technical and other expressions), has given me a particular view of what the Bujinkan (and Hatsumi) does, and what that implies.

and you asset

Assert?

that a) you have a better way of performing the techniques

No. I've said this to you before, but you're applying a value judgement where it doesn't actually exist. I don't think I have a "better" way of performing the techniques, other than in that I feel they're more accurate to the actual schools themselves. Whether that's a "better" approach is up to the individual, and what they're wanting out of their study. If you want to follow the Bujinkan approach, where there is a more consistent base, and a lot of variation and "flow", then it's not. If you want to get a better sense of how the school itself operates, then it is.

You're assuming I am claiming it's "better" because it's what I choose to explore... it's only "better" for me. If you think that you're following path two when you're following path one, of course, that's where the conflict comes into it...

from schools that are only taught by people who have learnt under Hatsumi-sensei

Er... no, they're not. We covered this before as well. Besides the mainline Takagi and Kukishin (Kukamishin) lines, there are other lines of Koto and Kijin Chosui Ryu (Kukishin Daken) stemming from Ueno Takashi, who received them from Takamatsu before he even met Hatsumi... where the expression is quite different, and not conforming to the Bujinkan approach at all. That's at least half the unarmed, before we even get to the versions and expressions found in the Genbukan (where, let's not forget, the only ryu that relies on Hatsumi for Tanemura's licences and ranks is Gyokko Ryu... everything else comes from other Takamatsu students... mind you, the Genbukan has the same homogenisation, albeit in a slightly different way).

But, really, it's because there are these non-Hatsumi groups and related lines that we can do a comparison, and begin to get to the heart of them... that's how I've come to this appreciation of the schools.

than he does

Well, no... not really. Hatsumi has taken the material he has, and teaches it a way that he feels is best (or makes the most sense), or in the only way that he can see them. Now, the question (and it's not one we can definitively answer, but there are some logical assumptions we can make) is exactly what Hatsumi learnt in the first place... did he learn them as a homogenised approach? Or did he change them all to that later himself? Indeed, how much of the schools did he actually learn directly in person? We covered the amount of material in an earlier post, and that's not including a fair bit as well, so it's pretty obvious there's a lot of material... Hatsumi has said that he would travel by train to study with Takamatsu on the weekends for 15 years... but the length of time he spent learning these arts was the first 10, not all 15... this is backed up in Andy Adams' book, where, when asked how long it takes to master these arts, Hatsumi states: "10 years"... the length of time he studied with Takamatsu...

In addition to this, in 1963, during an interview, Hatsumi stated that he was training on weekends with Takamatsu approximately every 3 months... so it's not even a case of every weekend for those 10 years... for at least a length of time, it was far more infrequent. If we start by saying that it was every 2 months for the first couple of years, then it increased, we're still looking at a total training time with Takamatsu of maybe 300 days total? Divide that by some 700 kata, plus kuden, kizu, various extraneous and supplementary materials, and it becomes apparent that there's no way Takamatsu could have taught, in detail, all the material in the schools that are present and taught now, in that time, no matter how talented Hatsumi was/is. So, it would make sense for there to be a more consistent base that was then applied to more written material style transmission (Hatsumi has often spoken about the many letters and teachings he received from Takamatsu in that format)... so, it's not inconceivable that much of the technical material Hatsumi received were simply descriptions of techniques written down... in that case, it's not surprising that each school would become "variations" of a theme, rather than the individual schools they were initially (or intended to be).

This is further supported by some of the stories regarding the old Quest videos... a senior US based Bujinkan practitioner, who lived and trained in Japan for a decade and a half, was asking one of the shihan who were involved in the making of the videos about them, asking if they received special training in schools and their methods before filming, as it was not really done that individual schools would be taught or studied... the answer was "No, sensei brought the densho, and we would read the technique, then film what we thought it was... we'd ask sensei if that was correct, and he'd say 'yes, that's fine'". In other words, it was the first time many of these shihan had seen these techniques, and they were just trying to interpret them in the moment... watching the videos, it's clear that Hatsumi then does his variations based on the basic form presented by the demonstrators (accurate or not), rather than variations based on the actual technique as it's meant to be done. This, again, naturally leads to the homogenised approach, with similar kamae, attacks, blocking methods, throws, and so on, regardless of school...

and b) that techniques from Kukishinden, Takagi Yoshin Ryu etc passed on within the Bujinkan are incorrect.

Only if looked at from the perspective of actually studying the schools. If you're wanting to do Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, how the school actually does them is rather irrelevant... but, for a good demonstration of that, the following video clips both show the Bujinkan and mainline Takagi Ryu kata from a range of sections of the school (with many of them showing the same kata). It's probably important to note that Tsutsui-sensei was a student of Kakuno, who was also a student of Ishitani with Takamatsu... in other words, Kakuno and Takamatsu had the same teacher, and these are their two students/successors... so we're not dealing with drift over a dozen generations or so...

Bujinkan Takagi Yoshin Ryu video:

Takagi Ryu Jujutsu video:

In other words you know better than Hatsumi on these matters are teaching something more authentic.

Know better than Hatsumi? No. Have a different emphasis and approach, with a different value, and a different set of priorities when it comes to the schools? Yes. And that's the point. I don't follow the Bujinkan methodology of approaching the schools, so I'm free to explore the schools in a wider context, by looking beyond the approach of the Bujinkan itself.

Hence my comment that you as an independent are filling in gaps (as you see them) in the Bujinkan with your own stuff and thats why you wish to remain an independent

Yeah... look, to be honest, I don't think you have the first clue about why I am an independent... or why I remain such. Or, really, even what that means. It's more about finding my own values in the arts, and exploring them in a way that matches my values, not about "finding gaps"... in fact, it's almost exactly opposite to that idea. I've dropped a hell of a lot more that is in the Bujinkan than I've added (in fact, I've added almost nothing... I've refined and re-framed, but not really added much at all, outside of a newer understanding and insight that is applied, and some formalised techniques for a couple of weapons that don't have any... just for better consistency in teaching those to my students).

For the record, what I've dropped is a lot of the weapons that don't actually have formal techniques (aside from one category that I've created my own for), I don't engage in the whole "henka" approach, and so on. Realistically, I teach what is formally written for the schools, and that's it.

On the newaza - I think youre making the point that Hatsumi doesnt understand newaza, but still teaches it and this is analogous to what he does in other areas. Reinforcing your point that, in your view, he hasnt got a clue about sword or presumably other similarly old school things. And presumably that you know better
He is a 4th dan in Kodokan Judo and he learnt his trade during the 60s. There is plenty of newaza in that education system
Again, as someone with some newaza experience myself, my assessment is that the principles and structure of the base technique is OK. eg If person in mounts head is to one side (albeit easily achieved by Hatsumi with a bit of pain etc) then control an arm and bridge and roll in that direction

Not quite... what we're saying is that the demonstration shows a lack of appreciation for much of the dynamics that exist in ne-waza... now, I know Hatsumi's judo background, but it's not really present in that clip... I think Hanzou's point is not that the idea of a bridge-and-roll is not valid, it's that the execution (from both sides, really... this isn't just Hatsumi here, but he isn't helped by his uke not knowing what they're doing... and it comes back to him in that, really, he should have been able to get them able to "attack" properly) is largely ineffective, and, for someone who has, what, 70+ years of training, including a Yondan in judo, should have a more solid demonstration on the principles and technical execution. After all, if the success relies on a badly positioned attacker, and then has to be explained, is it really a good example?

Now, Hanzou just picked the ground work clip because that's what he focuses on, so that's understandable... you have a BJJ background as well, as do I, so we can all see the same things... I'm curious if you can see many issues in the Takagi Yoshin Ryu video I posted above... is there anything in there (speaking particularly of Hatsumi's demonstrations) that you'd be critical of? Or is it all fine to your eyes? Either answer is fine, of course... I'm just a bit curious.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
20,640
Reaction score
6,100
Location
Covington, WA
Without getting into this two much, a couple of quick observations. First, you're getting on @dunc for his observations, which you correct to perceptions. You also make a very big deal about the circumspect nature of the Japanese. And then you asset (okay, assert) that you are sharing observations that you somehow gleaned secondhand (at best) from OTHER people who have observed... and then shared with you directly? That doesn't sound like "observation." It sounds like hearsay and gossip.

Lastly... you now have a "BJJ background?" Come on. Boxing, and now BJJ. When are you going to make your MMA debut?
 

Hanzou

Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
6,691
Reaction score
1,260
Again, as someone with some newaza experience myself, my assessment is that the principles and structure of the base technique is OK. eg If person in mounts head is to one side (albeit easily achieved by Hatsumi with a bit of pain etc) then control an arm and bridge and roll in that direction

Eh..... I would very much like to know what type of pain application one could use to "easily" make someone in mount become a limp noodle to the point where you can just roll over and they'll roll with you. Also I take issue with the idea that he was bridging. Yeah, I saw the subtitle where it said "bridge the body", but that guy wasn't bridging. He especially wasn't bridging enough to get his much larger person off of him. There was no trapping of the arm and foot/leg on the side you're rolling to either. You trap the arm and leg/foot in order to stop your opponent from basing out and stopping the roll. The trapping of the arm requires a 2 on 1 because you're in an inferior position. Not only did he improperly trap the hand, his partner purposely tucked his leg in as Hatsumi was rolling in order to assist in the escape.

I also need to stress the sheer silliness of what happens after the roll/escape. What you're supposed to do is roll into their guard. You're not supposed to roll to the point where you're both on your side and start hitting each other like grade school kids. In reality, that becomes a scramble, and if you're dealing with a stronger/more aggressive opponent, you're going to lose that scramble.

And that's just from the first 10 seconds. So yeah, I'm forced to disagree with the notion that any proper principles were taught here. I also take strong issue with the way he just flops down before each technique, as if being on the bottom of mount is no big deal, and is easy to escape from. Legs and arms flat, hips not engaged, elbows and hands not up. If you do something like that when someone is on top of you, your face is going to be turned into hamburger with a side of scrambled brains.
 

dunc

Purple Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2006
Messages
386
Reaction score
257
Eh..... I would very much like to know what type of pain application one could use to "easily" make someone in mount become a limp noodle to the point where you can just roll over and they'll roll with you. Also I take issue with the idea that he was bridging. Yeah, I saw the subtitle where it said "bridge the body", but that guy wasn't bridging. He especially wasn't bridging enough to get his much larger person off of him. There was no trapping of the arm and foot/leg on the side you're rolling to either. You trap the arm and leg/foot in order to stop your opponent from basing out and stopping the roll. The trapping of the arm requires a 2 on 1 because you're in an inferior position. Not only did he improperly trap the hand, his partner purposely tucked his leg in as Hatsumi was rolling in order to assist in the escape.

I also need to stress the sheer silliness of what happens after the roll/escape. What you're supposed to do is roll into their guard. You're not supposed to roll to the point where you're both on your side and start hitting each other like grade school kids. In reality, that becomes a scramble, and if you're dealing with a stronger/more aggressive opponent, you're going to lose that scramble.

And that's just from the first 10 seconds. So yeah, I'm forced to disagree with the notion that any proper principles were taught here. I also take strong issue with the way he just flops down before each technique, as if being on the bottom of mount is no big deal, and is easy to escape from. Legs and arms flat, hips not engaged, elbows and hands not up. If you do something like that when someone is on top of you, your face is going to be turned into hamburger with a side of scrambled brains.
Yeah I don't want to over play the value of that clip.....
As I said he does bridge and roll and he's controlling the hand with a (painful) thumb lock, but he doesn't need to move much because his opponent is so off balance and doesn't have a clue

All Hatsumi does is work with what he's given by his opponent minimising what he needs to do to beat them. He never has a plan other than to confuse his opponent early and capitalise on any mistakes. This is his method

Rightly or wrongly, he rarely corrects people directly which means that his attackers continue to make a lot of mistakes and give him an easy time. He's also a showman and enjoys playing around with ideas, which by its nature is a bit hit and miss
This dynamic is, in my view, what leads to a lot of his students doing any old crap and thinking that it'll work under pressure against someone who make less or smaller mistakes....

Personally I wish more people in the Bujinkan realised this. There is huge value in the method, but Hatsumi is only continuing to practice this method and keeping going in his 80s (now 90s) by being extremely economical with his movements
To really learn the foundational movements you needed to go to certain members of his next generation students, but of course very few people did that preferring to "be the student of the Main Man" instead
 

Hanzou

Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
6,691
Reaction score
1,260
Yeah I don't want to over play the value of that clip.....
As I said he does bridge and roll and he's controlling the hand with a (painful) thumb lock, but he doesn't need to move much because his opponent is so off balance and doesn't have a clue

The beauty of grappling is that theory is rather easy to apply in a safe manner. I would invite you to try that technique on a partner. Have them be on top of you and have them attack you as they believe an untrained attacker would attack someone. Don't tell them what you're trying to do, just let them go in, throwing strikes to your head and face, or choke you or whatever. Maybe you want to wear a pads and a mouthpiece to get a bigger sense of realism.

Try to get a thumb lock off and get them to tap while they're in the mount, then try to get them off balance to the point where you can simply roll them over like Hatsumi did. If you can pull that off, I would be quite impressed.
 

dunc

Purple Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2006
Messages
386
Reaction score
257
The beauty of grappling is that theory is rather easy to apply in a safe manner. I would invite you to try that technique on a partner. Have them be on top of you and have them attack you as they believe an untrained attacker would attack someone. Don't tell them what you're trying to do, just let them go in, throwing strikes to your head and face, or choke you or whatever. Maybe you want to wear a pads and a mouthpiece to get a bigger sense of realism.

Try to get a thumb lock off and get them to tap while they're in the mount, then try to get them off balance to the point where you can simply roll them over like Hatsumi did. If you can pull that off, I would be quite impressed.
The first one from the choke is doable. Ive experimented with augmenting the basics with things like the thumb locks and they work really well as multipliers & balance disruptors. They are relatively easy to get from certain collar grips and combined with basic movements like bridge and roll they work excellently
With more experienced partners you need more defence and bigger movements. As I said earlier, he goes with what hes given and minimises the effort
Things like thumb locks are not taps from inferior positions and Hatsumi doesnt show them as that either
Ill try to remember to video in the New Year

The punching ones, Im not such a fan of as they rely on a very straight punch
 

Yamabushii

Yellow Belt
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
52
Reaction score
24
Location
Washington, D.C.
In the 80s, I definitely wanted to be a ninja. I settled for Wing Chun, because that's the school that was nearby. But if I had found a ninja school, i would definitely have signed up.

To be clear... this kind of ninja. I loved the show "The Master' with Lee Van Cleef:

61eZbXdndSL._SL1075_.jpg
That's hilarious. I went looking for Wing Chun but only found a Ninjutsu school nearby instead. I didn't even know what it was at the time.
 

Yamabushii

Yellow Belt
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
52
Reaction score
24
Location
Washington, D.C.
Aren't we at the point now where Ninjutsu practitioners don't even call themselves Ninjutsu practitioners or "Ninja" anymore?

That said, I see nothing wrong with what the OP is saying. A lot of "Ninjutsu" being peddled around (especially during the "Ninja craze" of the 80s and 90s) was simply a marketing gimmick.
This. I stopped telling the public I teach "Ninjutsu" or "Ninpo". Anytime someone asks me what we teach, I say Jujutsu because that's the truth. The overwhelming majority of what we teach is Jujutsu. I now tend to keep most of the Ninjutsu-related stuff for special classes/workshops/seminars, but always tell my students it's mostly strategy contrary to what the public tends to believe. I keep the name "Ninja" in my school because that's just a trendy name to use in general.
 

_Simon_

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 3, 2018
Messages
3,927
Reaction score
2,338
Location
Australia
This. I stopped telling the public I teach "Ninjutsu" or "Ninpo". Anytime someone asks me what we teach, I say Jujutsu because that's the truth. The overwhelming majority of what we teach is Jujutsu. I now tend to keep most of the Ninjutsu-related stuff for special classes/workshops/seminars, but always tell my students it's mostly strategy contrary to what the public tends to believe. I keep the name "Ninja" in my school because that's just a trendy name to use in general.
Awesome! You even cloak the very name Ninjitsu and keep it secret, like a true ninja! :p
 

drop bear

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
22,001
Reaction score
6,727
Again, as someone with some newaza experience myself, my assessment is that the principles and structure of the base technique is OK. eg If person in mounts head is to one side (albeit easily achieved by Hatsumi with a bit of pain etc) then control an arm and bridge and roll in that direction
No. That technique is not correct at any level where you should be showing that to anyone.

You are describing a white belt teaching white belts dilemma.

So the principles are not ok. And I don't see how that would work.

So this is about master Wong. But basically the same idea.
 
Last edited:

drop bear

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
22,001
Reaction score
6,727
As I said he does bridge and roll and he's controlling the hand with a (painful) thumb lock, but he doesn't need to move much because his opponent is so off balance and doesn't have a clue
Is the thumb more painful than being elbowed?
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
20,617
Reaction score
7,002
Location
Pueblo West, CO
Is the thumb more painful than being elbowed?
Sometimes, yes, depending on how it's applied. There is a pressure point behind the corner of the jaw. I use it a lot. A whole lot. And pushing on it has never failed to turn the persons head. Now, admittedly, if the other person is on top, they may be able to pull back and reduce the pressure. But having the person on top of you moving away instead of into you isn't a bad thing.
There's no one size fits all answer. But pressure on the right spot can absolutely be effective.
 

drop bear

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
22,001
Reaction score
6,727
Sometimes, yes, depending on how it's applied. There is a pressure point behind the corner of the jaw. I use it a lot. A whole lot. And pushing on it has never failed to turn the persons head. Now, admittedly, if the other person is on top, they may be able to pull back and reduce the pressure. But having the person on top of you moving away instead of into you isn't a bad thing.
There's no one size fits all answer. But pressure on the right spot can absolutely be effective.

They can for example place their fingers in your jaw. And dig that in with their entire body weight and just see who cracks first.
 
Top