"Shinobi Soldiers" Anthony Cummings-"Togakure is probably not real" ....

Kichigai-no-Okami

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Hey, all. Not out to "stir the bucket o' poop", but I had recently come across this vid on youtube. This Gentleman goes by the name of Anthony Cummings, and is a Historian on the art of Ninjutsu. He has several vids on "the Tube" that go on to debunk the myths, LARPing and general BS that is associated with Ninjutsu.

Good views, as I can agree with most of what he says. Was a little taken back by the comments that were made concerning Hatsumi Soke and Takamatsu Soke, and the validity of the Togakure ryu ( Takamatsu Soke, in particular). Would love for you to watch, and provide feedback as to what you think. Does anything he says have any validity ? Again, not trying to "start something", just would like feedback.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYjJVtWuS4E&feature=related

Thanks.
 

Bruno@MT

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this topic has come up several times already.
Please read this
http://blog.bushinbooks.com/archives/4
For an explanation of the Togakure ryu / Takamatsu sensei controversy and what I think of it. Note: I didn't write this, I just think it's a very good summary of the status as it exists today.

Fwiw, I think the youtube guy has an overinflated ego, because he keeps talking about how we don't get it, how the world of ninjutsu is going to revolutionize because of his book, etc. He may be sitting on a stack of books, but I know of other scholars who are either Japanese or have lived in Japan for over a decade and are fluent in Japanese. So far none of them found anything new or shocking to settle the argument one way or another. So I doubt that this guy has.

Ninjutsu itself is not a MA. Most people who are seriously interested know that much already. We already know that the hollywood ninja did not exist, and we know that what most people outside Japan are taught contains very little ninjutsu. It contains a martial arts angle, but even Hatsumi sensei has said that if a ninja had to fight, he had failed already. Sabotage, espionage, hide and seek, ... these made up most of what is called ninjutsu.
 

Tez3

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I'm curious so am going to ask, not to stir! How important is it to practitioners that the history is 'real' or is what you train in more important?
Obviously I don't do ninjutsu so it may seem a heretical queston if so I apologise but I have a huge interest in all arts. The subject of 'lineage' seems far more important in some countries that others, in the UK it's rarely mentioned in any style as what you are learning is more important than who your instructor's instructor was. On MT I see Americans consider it very important.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Hi Tez3. Hatsumi learned from Takamatsu. Takamatsu was a well known martial arts teacher in Japan and had the right to pass on the arts he did. Really that is the end of the story. Hatsumi is fantastic and I for one believe that he was taught and is teaching as Takamatsu wanted him to and as is his right as the Soke of the Bujinkan. As for the gentleman in the clip well I think that he is trying to push his agenda unfortunately it is one that involves trying to tear down someone else which is some thing that I personally do not believe in doing. :ultracool
 

Bruno@MT

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I'm curious so am going to ask, not to stir! How important is it to practitioners that the history is 'real' or is what you train in more important?
Obviously I don't do ninjutsu so it may seem a heretical queston if so I apologise but I have a huge interest in all arts. The subject of 'lineage' seems far more important in some countries that others, in the UK it's rarely mentioned in any style as what you are learning is more important than who your instructor's instructor was. On MT I see Americans consider it very important.

Where do I start.... :)

There are several angles. Chris would no doubt be much more eloquent and verbose than I am going to be, but let's see what I can come up with.

First of all, traditional Japanese arts encompass a set of techniques and guiding principles. It would take quite some time before you got to learn the 'good stuff' so to speak, with the advanced teachings reserved for a handful of disciples who would receive menkyo kaiden (mastership license) as proof of that. Only someone with that license is considered to have received a full transmission and complete understanding.

As long as your lineage goes towards an unbroken line of menkyo kaiden holders, you have a guarantee that you are learning the real thing. Plenty of people drop out halfway, or get kicked out, and set up shop someplace else and claim to teach their original art without having the license. But because of not having that license, it is a guarantee that they will not teach the complete art, or even the art in a correct way.

Second, if someone is claiming to teach 'ninjutsu', he should be able to prove the lineage. Because without it, it is a certainty that he has not received a transmission of the original art, but either teaches an incomplete art, or something altogether made up. Apart form the things I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, this also means that the person making the claims is likely a fraud. And personally I wouldn't want to learn from a person like that. Keep in mind here that we are not talking about the fighting prowess of the teacher or the students, not about the effectiveness of the teachings. This point is solely about completeness of the system as originally passed down, and the integrity of the teacher.

I don't mind people who created their own ninjutsu system. For personal reasons I think it's ridiculous to use a Japanese word with a specific historical context to describe a modern system that bears little resemblance (let alone fit the cultural context) of the original. But people are free to choose whatever name they want. Many of them are open about this, and more power to them. But claiming to teach the original while it is a lie... that is a low thing to do.

But let me reiterate the main point: in traditional JMA, lineage is important because it guarantees the completeness and correctness of the system. In modern arts, lineage is far less important because it doesn't matter if you change things, as long as they are effective. I've also practice modern jujutsu, and lineage was barely mentioned at all, because that was unimportant. The name jujutsu was simply used to describe a system that had Japanese roots, and got things tacked on from different sides. all that mattered were the results.
 
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Bruno@MT

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Hi Tez3. Hatsumi learned from Takamatsu. Takamatsu was a well known martial arts teacher in Japan and had the right to pass on the arts he did. Really that is the end of the story.

For several of the schools, you are correct.
The controverse surrounding Takamatsu sensei, especially regarding Togakure ryu, is that he was the first to write a scroll. Now, like you I understand that this is not conclusive one way or the other, because it is a ninjutsu ryuha, and there are other examples that involve solely oral transmission. And because it was a ninjutsu ryuha, it also makes sense that little will be known about it in official records.

Personally, I am fairly certain that Togakure ryu is legit, for the reasons stated above as well as the sum of everything I read while researching this. But it is certainly not a given, and I can understand why there are sceptics. There is no proof either way.
 

Xue Sheng

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As for the gentleman in the clip well I think that he is trying to push his agenda unfortunately it is one that involves trying to tear down someone else which is some thing that I personally do not believe in doing. :ultracool

I have no stake in this but after watchng the clip I have to agree...it basically appears to come down to..."Buy my book"
 

yorkshirelad

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I'm waiting for the translation from Yorkshirish into English.

e bi gum!! Al du one fo thi lad.
icon12.gif
 

Bruno@MT

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I have no stake in this but after watchng the clip I have to agree...it basically appears to come down to..."Buy my book"

And apparently he doesn't know Japanese himself, which makes me wonder if he understands Japanese culture enough to form an accurate opinion.
 

Tez3

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And apparently he doesn't know Japanese himself, which makes me wonder if he understands Japanese culture enough to form an accurate opinion.

I would have thought that to research something so very Japanese one would have to be able to understand Japanese. As I said this is an art I know very little about so to be able to pontificate about it enough to write a book I would certainly have to do some very indepth research which I imagine would involve considerable work in Japanese and probably in Japan too.


I have noticed that martial arts does tend to throw up a great many 'experts' :)
 

Chris Parker

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It really comes down to the emic versus etic research methods; Anthony is entirely etic, which in many cases can be good, but when it comes to things as jealously guarded as these systems, it becomes impossible to be anywhere near an expert without being emic in your research. This, of course is not limited to Ninjutsu systems, but pretty much all older Japanese martial arts (as well as those from other cultures). Otherwise it's like writing about the inner workings of the CIA after watching Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series.
 

Tez3

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I wonder if it's ever possible to get to the heart of something so specific to a country. Bill Bryson has lived in the UK a long time and has written some really good stuff about the UK and it's people but there's still stuff he's 'off' and hasn't quite got a handle on. We're not a particularly 'private/secretative' society either but I think sometimes there's 'open' secrets, things everyone has known all their lives so don't talk about but to outsiders are a mystery. I often think katas/patterns/forms are like that.
 

Chris Parker

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Possible? Yes. But it takes the right set of circumstances, the right people (on both sides), the right environment, the right degree of maturity and immersion in the subject itself. And in a very real way a "secret" group can be easier to get an understanding of than a more "open" one, in that the open group won't think about many things that are simply assumed to be common knowledge to all around (if you live in London, it's simple knowledge where all the train stations are, and aspects of particular vernaculars, histories, and more) are simply "there" for all to see... and therefore not highlighted at all. A "secret" group, on the other hand, if you are lucky enough to be let into it, will be far more aware of what knowledge, teachings, aspects, customs, traditions, and more, are particular to them, and therefore when you gain access, such things are highlighted (as you go along in your journey).

There are actually some Koryu systems (the epitome of a "secret" group in the martial arts) whose upper eschelons are made up exclusively of Westerners (aside from the soke, that is), such as Toda-ha Buko Ryu Naginatajutsu. The only acknowledged Shihan of that Ryu are Westerners, including Ellis Amdur and Liam Keeley (here in Melbourne, actually!). There are very notable members of Koryu, such as the late, great Donn Draeger, Phil Relnick (both of Shinto Muso Ryu and Katori Shinto Ryu), Meik and Diane Skoss (Shinto Muso Ryu and Toda-ha Buko Ryu), Colin Hyakutake Watkins (Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu and Kage Ryu), and many many more. So, yes, it's possible. Just not from an etic (outsiders) point of observation.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Mr. Cummings has become a hot topic this last week on Martial Arts Planet. If you're interested in reading more, here is the link:

http://www.martialartsplanet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=92529

Mr. Cummings even took it upon himself to respond to some of the questions and inquiries, and if you can wade through all the posts you can see what he has to say for himself.


That was one long painful read! :(

It was interesting to see his reactions to criticism and his attacks on MAP membership. The problem we have is someone not qualified to do the research then lecturing the rest of us on what is! The truth usually comes out and if one trained and researched well then they will have some credibility. Take Kacem Zoughari many people do not like his new book and have complained that it is less than they expected from a PH.D. Still while they are disapointed in the book they understand that he has credibility due to his manner of research, background the ability to read and speak Japanese plus his doctoral studies! ;) That is not an endorsement from me as I will not be buying his book but instead he has some credentials. Don Roley has credentials as well living in Japan and training with the Shihan regularly as well as Hatsumi Sensei. Plus again he speaks and reads the language. I have also read some of his translation and it is great in my opinion. Those are very essential skills that particularly in the study of the Ninjutsu would be very, very important! Remember folks this was an oral tradition and research is difficult in the extreme leave it to the very qualified!
 
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