These Articles have been provided by Yugen Dojo of Ann Arbor Michigan. Please see Yugen Dojo website for more info on their dojo! http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mza/ninpo.html
OVERVIEW. The following Articles have been translated from Japanese into English. An effort to keep the essence of the Japanese meanings was attempted. However, to truly understand the depth and meaning of the following words, one should strive to read them in their original form. Please do not hesitate to contact us if their is an alternate or mistake in the following articles.
03/01/1999: Translation: “Nagase Togakure Ryu Ninpo Dojo”
07/01/2000: Translation: “Budo No Tetsugaku”
08/01/2000: Translation: “Training Philosophy”
10/24/2000: Translation: “Self-Cultivation Through Ninja Art”
03/04/2001: Translation: “Let’s Ask This Person” (Hatsumi M.)
10/17/2001: Translation: “Ninjutsu To Wa” (Ninjutsu Is…) 1st Excerpt from Ninja/Ninpo Gaho.
01/23/2002: Translation: “Ninjutsu Discussion” 2nd Excerpt from Ninja/Ninpo Gaho.
02/04/2003: Translation: “Heisei Ninja in Noda”
03/23/2003: Translation: “Bujinkan Listings in the “Bugei Ryu Ha Daijiten”
11/15/2005: Translation: “Yatagarasu & Kumano-Go’O-Ho-In“
09/08/2006: Translation: “Togakure Ryu Ninpo Enbu”
Nagase Hiroshi sensei, Bujinkan 15th Dan Shihan, has recently announced the opening of his new Togakure Ryu Ninpo Dojo in Kitasenju (Tokyo) Japan. The training will be held at the Yomiuri Japan Television Cultural Center in Kitasenju on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month, beginning in April 2000. If you have a Japanese equipped browser please follow this link for more information. The new tentative schedule is:
Dates (2005): Second and Fourth Sundays of Every Month
Time and Place: 1530-1730 Yomiuri Japan Television Cultural Center, Kitasenju Station Building (Lumine) 9th Floor.
Translation by Sayo Owada and Michael Asuncion with special assistance from Benjamin Cole.
When one speaks on a grand scale, the purpose of budo is to protect one’s country, and on a smaller scale it is a path in which to protect its citizens and oneself. If one was to say that in budo there is the use of the sword, even though it can be said that there are techniques of striking, if you leave it up to the eye, the hand, and strength then one would have to say that chopping firewood is also bujutsu. Studying the way (reason) of striking is kenjutsu, and simply knowing how and what to do is called firewood chopping.
It is artful for a person to use waza (technique). The heart is true art. If that is so, then art originates from the heart. If your heart is not pure, no matter how hard one tries, he will not improve. Without the proper heart one will be ill informed if his reasoning is incorrect.
True victory exists for the enemy and not yourself. Providing the situation that would make the enemy naturally think that they will win is the most dangerous for them. One should not seek victory – it should be natural. It is like the creation of fire when rock and metal (flint and steel) come together.
Even if you are an 8th dan expert, it proves nothing. One should appreciate its existence with a deeper understanding. It is a subtle and delicate art.
If you think that something is there it is not. It will be there if you stop searching and assume that is no longer there. Heart,Spirit, and Sword coming together as one comprise the roots of budo.
Tenchijin 天地人: The idea of heaven, earth, and man as the three basic elements of the entire cosmos.
- The first “ten” (of tenchijin) is called “kurai dori” and uses the variations of the weather and weather conditions, and aims at knowing things from an advantageous position.
- As for the second, when using a sword, you add the advantages of the land’s uneven trees, buildings, and geography and topography to one’s self.
- The third is extremely important – more than technique, it is said that one must have courage (dokyo) and composure (ochitsuki). It means to nurture the power of the spirit that unifies the three principles of not doubting, not losing one’s way, and not being fearful.
More than just the search for technique, of the principles that the budoka attaches his morals with great importance, ethics are the highest required subject.
Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo: Kami, sincerity, compassion, naturally devoting oneself to obeying nature – by continually searching for all of these a great light (daikomyo) can appear.
Translated by Sayo Owada and Michael Asuncion
Located in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture is the Bujinkan “Ninjutsu” Dojo. This dojo teaches Japanese bujutsu that has been passed on for over a thousand years. Though it has not gained so much popularity with the Japanese people, it is very popular among many foreigners. When you visit their dojo, you will notice the following of traditional Japanese customs and the diverse atmosphere blending together as one.
When the reporter asked Hatsumi Sensei how many students he has over the phone prior to the interview, he replied, ” I don’t know. There is no point in counting how many students I have…People who want to come and learn will come and those who not will leave. Either way, it is their choice and it does not matter to me.”
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi (69) is the “soke” of Bujinkan Dojo. The Bujinkan Dojo teaches traditional Japanese kobujutsu and Dr. Hatsumi started the dojo over 40 years ago. Born into a budo family, Dr. Hatsumi has trained and mastered many fields including Togakure Ryu Ninpo, Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo, and 7 other schools, making him a master of 9 different schools. Within the schools there are ones that have been passed along from the Kamakura period, making him a real “ninja” of our time.
Honestly, because of what he had told us over the phone about not knowing the number of students in his dojo, we were a bit skeptical; does he have deshi that study under him – or does he not? However, when we stepped into the Tokyo Budokan in Adachi-ku where the weekly training takes place, we were taken by surprise.
In a large room with tatami floor, there were 32 students (more then 70% being foreigners mostly in their 20′s and 30′s) all wearing black dogi. There was one female. Because it was the beginning of the new year, there were not that many students as normally, when about 60 students usually train here. Surrounded by students that are easily over 6 feet tall, Hatsumi Sensei teaches the waza one after the other.
Hatsumi Sensei will say everything in Japanese and then it will be followed by an English translation, “you have to make them flow up, using the weight shift of your body.” The American student who is there usually volunteers to translate. All of the student’s expressions are very serious and both the Japanese and the foreigners are well-mannered and disciplined.
When Hatsumi Sensei says, “Go play”, the students usually form a pair and practice the waza on each other. Compared to judoand karate, there are no loud vocal sounds made and even when they are doing the “ukemi”. They roll around in a way so that it does not hurt them, while making it not as loud as compared to other martial arts. Even though many of the people there are well-built and tall, it is surprising how quiet they are; the only sound that you can hear is the sound of dogi being rubbed against the tatami floor.
A Very Diverse Training Atmosphere
The nationalities of the foreign students are quite diverse, as are their backgrounds; they range anywhere from the navy, secret police agents, to college professors.
“I encourage all my students to study Japanese, for there are many terms in budo that cannot be explained in other languages,” says Hatsumi Sensei. However, it is quite difficult to understand everything that Hatsumi Sensei is saying in Japanese. Therefore, students who are fluent in Japanese take turns translating while Hatsumi Sensei is teaching. At times it is said that there are up to three or four people translating what Hatsumi Sensei is saying (in Spanish, French, and English).
However, we could not stop wondering why there are so many foreigners studying Bujinkan Budo. Is it because the word “ninja” is something very traditional and exotic about the Japanese culture that attracts foreigners? Hatsumi Sensei replies, “I think that it may be that non-Japanese people have a purer appreciation to learn what is truly high quality.”
Hatsumi sensei is very well known in many countries other than Japan. He has been invited to the FBI, CIA, and the LAPD to teach. There are many Bujinkan branches in such places as the United States and Europe; a total of 33 different countries. All of his students add up to tens of thousands. He has finally started to become recognized in Japan. In November of 1999, he was awarded with an International Cultural Award by the Japanese Cultural Association.
Ever since he came to Japan three years ago, Tim Bathrust (30) has been training directly with Hatsumi sensei. When he lived in Australia (where he grew up), he studied and mastered karate, aikido, iaido, and traveled throughout Spain and many other Asian countries. He says, “You can’t help yourself by karate and aikido in real trouble. Fortunately, you don’t really have street fights in Japan, but this is not common in other countries.”
Certainly Bujinkan techniques are skills for real fighting, but unlike martial arts that have turned into fighting sports games, the Bujinkan teaches skills that you can really use to defend yourself, like the “koppojutsu” that Hatsumi Sensei was teaching the day we went for the interview. For example, they use strong attacks that aim at the opponent’s “kyusho,” places like the groin, throat, and eyes. Therefore, it unlikely to see overly exaggerated moves that you might see in other marital arts to please the crowd or audience.
“It is better if you don’t have the opportunity to actually use these kinds of skills,” explains Hatsumi Sensei about the bujutsu that he teaches.
“Budo is for protecting yourself, your country, and the ones that you love. That is why I do not train train people with the wrong mindset or attitude. If they cause any problems they will immediately be kicked out.”
In joining the Bujinkan, you are questioned about your criminal history and your mental health. That is one of the things that are required before one is accepted to the Bujinkan. On the other hand, if you have the right moral and attitude, anyone can participate. There is even a student who is in a wheel chair with a physical handicap.
Hatsumi sensei added, “It is also not appropriate to show off that you are strong in your everyday life. Someone who is truly strong blends in with the people and you should not be able to tell them apart.”
International Relations Through Budo
Yuchi Ooguri (57) is one of the few Japanese people training at the Bujinkan. He has been training for over 35 years now. “Initially when I started training, I was attracted to bujutsu because it gives the same opportunity regardless of your body size.” Now Ooguri san says that studying at the Bujinkan also gave him an opportunity to meet people and make friends from all over the world. “I can only speak a little bit of English, but when I am training, I can understand what they are trying to say through their body language. Also, you learn to understand people as individuals who are there for the same purpose which is to learn budo, therefore the nationality of that person does not matter anymore.” He mentions that there are some foreigners that come all the way to Japan just to study budo and looking at their serious expressions during training motivates him and all the other students there as well. Nagase Hiroshi (39) also says that through the pursuit (of budo) he was able to make friends from all over the world.
Benjamin Cole (29) works for Toyota’s marketing division and has been in Japan for eight years. He is fluent in Japanese and often translates for Hatsumi Sensei during training. He used to study karate but his joints were injured during practice, and so he searched for martial arts that enabled him to utilize what he had, despite the weakness of his injury. He started training in the Bujinkan five years ago. Cole says that it may be a good idea for Japanese people to learn kobujutsu as well as something in the Japanese culture in which to be proud. Cole says, “Karate and judo have completely changed from their original forms with time and have become popular sporting events. But the truly wonderful culture existed before the changes took place.”
Cole also mentioned that he was able to gain self-confidence through training and not become easily bothered emotionally. He explains the effects of budo and says that studying the ancient art of “ninjutsu” together with foreigners can serve as a unique means to improving international relations.
The following are excerpts from various editions of the Bugei Ryu Ha Daijiten (“Great Dictionary of Bugei Schools”) – which some people believe to be the foremost and most exhaustive work on Japanese koryu bujutsu ever published. However, the information it contains should never be taken as 100% correct, especially when it comes to describing the Bujinkan ryu ha. The entries change from edition to edition. Although it has been suggested that Takamatsu Sensei and Watatani Kiyoshi (the primary author) were “friends” – and “confidence between friends” justifies Watatani’s portrayal of the ninpo ryu ha as “fabrications” (see below), this cannot be the case. Watatani had his own agenda; the fact that he did not believe in the legitimacy of the ninpo ryu ha is evident in his writings, especially the earlier editions. However, even though a ryu ha is not favorably mentioned in these books, this does not mean that the martial art is not legitimate – only that someone uninvolved in the tradition believed it not to be true. In the Bujinkan, the secret teachings were never written in detail with brush and paper, only transmitted vaguely in cryptic words and by kuden (oral tradition) that only the soke may truly understand. These translations are provided for reference only. – MZA
Translated by Michael Asuncion
Togakure Ryu (Nin) 戸隠流 – 1969 Edition
After the Taisho (Era), Takamatsu Toshitsugu utilized the fad of ninjutsu reading materials and organized a new genealogy. It is said that the densho was according to Toda Shinryuken’s kuden. Toda Shinryuken (Isshinsai) passed away in Meiji 30 at the age of 73 years. Takamatsu was born 4 years later. If you take this genealogy, a person named Iin introduced it, and it split from the Hakuun Ryu of Hakuun Doshi (Yowa Era) and becameIga and Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. It passed through the lineage of Momochi Sandayu and then joined the Kishuhan Natori Ryu. After Toda Nobutsuna it was transmitted to the Toda family. However, because it is referenced from various transmittances such as oral material and kuden, the genealogy is embellished; the people that are in fact included in the references also record their era as older than actuality. And so it is painstaking work (to find accurate information).
[Genealogy]: Not Yet Translated
Togakure Ryu (Ninpo) 戸隠流 – 1978 Edition
Takamatsu Toshitsugu organized its genealogy. It is said that it was taken from the densho according to Toda Shinryuken’skuden. Toda Shinryuken (Isshinsai) passed away in Meiji 41 at the age of 90 years. According to the genealogy, a person named Ikai introduced it, and it split from the Hakuun Ryu of Hakuun Doshi (Yowa Era) and became Iga and Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. It passed through the lineage of Momochi Sandayu and then joined the Kishuhan Natori Ryu. After Toda Nobutsuna it was transmitted to the Toda family. Because it is referenced from various transmittances such as kuden, the genealogy is embellished; it is thought that the (genealogical) period is older than the actual people and conditions as presented in the literature (sources).
[Genealogy]: Not Yet Translated
Gyokko Ryu (Koshijutsu, Shitojutsu, Ninpo) 玉虎流 – 1978 Edition
Toda Sankyo Isshin is its ancestor. In the year of Tenbun (1532-1555) Sakagami Taro Kunishige received the Gyokko Ryu Shitojutsu tradition. Toda Sakyo Isshinsai established the Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu as well as the Koto Ryu Koppojutsu and taught it to Momochi Sandayu. (Momochi) taught it within the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu and it lead to Toda Shinryuken (in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate). Shinryuken Masamitsu passed away in Meiji 40 at the age of 90 years. Please consult the (listing for)Koto Ryu Koppojutsu.
[Genealogy]: Tozawa Hakuunsai – Tozawa Shosuke – Suzuki Saburo Shigeyoshi…(Six Generations of Suzuki Line Omitted)…Sakagami Goro Katsushige – Sakagami Taro Kunishige (Gyokko Shitojutsu) – Sakagami Kotaro Masahide – Sogyokan – [Sasaki Gendayu Sadayasu (Kishu) – Sasaki Goemon Teruyoshi (Gyokushin Ninpo)] and [Suzuki Taizen Zentaro Chikamasa (Hon Tai Gyokushin Ryu)…(Three Generations Omitted)…Fukao Kakuma Shigeyoshi (Izumo Ryu Koppo)] and [Akimoto Kawauchi Moriyoshi – Uryu Hangan Gikanbo (Gikan Ryu Koppo)…Akimoto Taro Yoshihide] and Toda Sakyo Isshinsai (Koshijutsu, Koppo) – Momochi Sandayu (Tenbun) – Second Generation Momochi Sandayu (Tensho) – Momochi Tanba Yasumitsu (Keicho) – Momochi Taro Saemon…(Four Generations Omitted)…Toda Seiryu Nobutsuna (Kannei) – Toda Fudo Nobuchika (Manji) – Toda Kangoro Nobuyasu (Kanbun) – Toda Eisaburu Nobumasa – Toda Shingoro Masayoshi (Genbun) – Toda Daigoro Chikahide (Meiwa) – Toda Daisaburo Chikashige – Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu – Takamatsu Toshitsugu – Hatsumi Yoshiaki.
Koto Ryu (Koppo) 虎倒流 – 1978 Edition
It is said that the origin of koppo comes from ancient China, and that Cho Busho taught it to our country. Afterwards the tradition went to the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu. It said that its restoration occurred in the Tenbun Era (1532-1555) as Toda Sankyu Isshinsai taught Momochi Sandayu (according to Toda Shinryuken’s kuden). Furthermore, consult the kyoho article as well as the (listing for) Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu.
[Genealogy]: Not Yet Translated
Translated by Sayo Owada
It is not something as easy as being laid off; people now are living in an age where they are being “thinned out”.
Budo is something that you do in order to survive in a crisis situation. It is not just for self-protection or for fighting but also for world protection. Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is everything that is necessary to fight to live. To win, to protect, and even running after you lose is protection.
Generally speaking, when one thinks of budo, judo, or kendo, it gives a feeling of “sport” – but budo is completely different. Historically, unlike the peaceful world that we live in now, parents have killed their children and children have killed their parents to gain power. There is no theory or reasoning behind all of this, but it is not unusual for something like this to happen when there is an increase of people who desire power.
When I look at the world today, I see that reasoning does not work and people cannot live as a group. We are starting to see “natural providence” (“the law of nature”) – the way we see the animals of Africa living in our society. There was a period a long time ago where children were thinned out to survive; however, now adults are being thinned out. It is not something as easy as being laid off.
One who is in position to have to protect tradition should not use tradition as a tool to make money.
When I go abroad, I notice that countries that have rich tradition seem to be happier. They say that French people have strong characteristics but speaking of tradition and arts there is a lot left to appreciate. France is a country that is self-sufficient and therefore the country blossoms itself. At the rate that we are going, a small island country like Japan will have a scarcity of food soon I think. I don’t think that we currently have the environment in which to preserve tradition and culture. Supplying food that blossoms the country, as farmers and farms do so are important. The land policy that we have now which enables us to use our land for farms is not right. Although Japan is a small country, I think that rebuilding of Japan starts by making good use of the land that we have.
With economic policies, if you put the changing economy as you first priority you will with out a doubt fail. You should always put the economy as your second priority. It is the same with budo. I have no intentions on making my ryu ha any bigger than it is now. Writing books and lecturing is my main source of income, however I have no intentions on making money out of that. One who is in position to have to protect tradition should not use tradition as a tool to make money.
What is Budo? I would like people to understand the real value of what budo is.
I travel all over the world to speak about Budo but I do not intend spread or expand budo. I just want people to know what it is about.
International exchange is the same as knowing your next-door neighbor. Japan is known as a country of “appreciation” but at the same time there are very few that know what “appreciation” really means. You never have a deep relationship with people.
I do not think that the person who takes my place will necessarily be Japanese. It will have to be someone who is also financially stable as well so that they will not use Budo to make money. Even a single sword can cost up to hundreds and thousands of dollars. Someone who can separate his or her work from budo and take care of budo (is necessary).
Even though Japan is a budo country, Japanese people do not know the answer to “What is budo?” They also do not know the value of budo. My dream is to build a budo museum. That is one of the reasons that I make so many videos.
To protect and teach the tradition of budo, I would like to have people understand the true value of budo.
Translated by Michael Asuncion (Note: All errors are the sole fault of the translator.)
Ninjutsu To Wa (“Ninjutsu Is…”)
Around the time when your mother and father were children, it was thought that ninjutsuentailed such things as kuji and chanting jumon, and then changing into a large toad…or smoke appearing to conceal one’s form. However, this is not ninjutsu.
Ninjutsu (the skills of shinobi) utilizes every science. It uses such things as the spirit of humans, physics, astronomy, geology, and psychology to investigate the state of the enemy or to disturb the enemy’s position. It is a skill to defeat the enemy.
By no means was ninjutsu used only in wartime.
Tokugawa Ieyasu wiped out the Toyotomi Clan and seized the entire country – and afterwards there was peace within Japan that continued for 300 years. However, most of the Tokugawa Shogun utilized people known as “onmitsu” and they were directed to watch the entire country. If there were people who were planning to rise up against the Shogun they were quickly caught.
“But is this the story of the Tokugawa Era? In today’s age with the growth of science to jump to the moon in a rocket, how isninjutsu useful?”
A little before you were born, during the Second World War, as may be expected ninjutsu (spying) was very active. The American spies’ knowing of the Japanese navy’s strategies was the origin of Japan’s loss at the naval battle of Midway. Still, in the present after the war, sometimes the story of a foreign spy slipping into Japan is written about in the newspaper.
Yet ninjutsu is not meant only for investigating conditions in each others’ countries. Today, contemporaries who do the same work in peer companies frequently employ “industrial espionage” as they search for new products to sell. Moreover, as an example close to all of you, it is [like] an advertising war between stores – trying to sell goods cheaper than the rival’s store is a variety of ninjutsu.
The outlook “all of you are using ninjutsu when you do not know!” may surprise you. One may say, “I do not even know two words of ninjutsu. Therefore I don’t know if I use it.”
But you properly use it.
Going to catch cicadas and dragonflies in the summer is an example. When you find cicadas and dragonflies, you get closer to them with ninja steps – when you want to put them in the net, right? This allows one to hide the sound of his footsteps. Quietly getting close to the cicadas and dragonflies is a wonderful type of ninjutsu. However, even if you get close in this way, most of the cicadas and dragonflies quickly notice and escape.
This is so because you do not study the cicada and dragonfly well enough. It seems that the cicada can see mostly forward and towards its [own] back. Yet the dragonfly with its compound eyes can even see backwards. Consequently if you always put these things into your head and research the blind spots of the cicada and dragonfly, it might become that you can snatch them. If you research this then it can be said that (from now) you have advanced one step to becoming a ninja.
When you think about these types of things, even though science has advanced today, it can be said that ninjutsu is (still) living splendidly [even now].
Translated by Michael Asuncion (Note: All errors are the sole fault of the translator.)
Ninjutsu Discussion – Everything Concerning the Ninja Part I: The popular Onmitsu Kenshi (Mr. Oose Kouichi) and Kiri No Tonbei (Mr. Maki Yuukichi) talk to the Living Ninja (Mr. Hatsumi Yoshiaki). A conversation for child fans of the ninja!!!
“Ninjutsu Was Born Like This”
Maki: Because it is also my profession, I have read ninjutsu books and researched it but I do not clearly understand when ninjutsu generally started.
Hatsumi: There are many theories to that [question]. In olden times, the gyosha (ascetics) of shugendo – the yamabushi(mountain priests) – adopted the sonshi no heiho (strategies of Sun Tzu) which was transmitted from China. They perfected theyamabushi no heiho.
Oose: Is that the origin of ninjutsu?
Hatsumi: It is said that this is the beginning.
Maki: The onmitsu kenshi (spy swordsmen) and the Negoro ninja disguised themselves as yamabushi – but as expected it is because the yamabushi and the ninja have a relationship, right?
Hatsumi: A person who exemplified the yamabushi heiho was En No Gyoja Ozuno. It is said that Ozuno was the first ninja but as expected it cannot be said that he was a ninja. The ninjutsu that I speak of was born after the Kamakura Period.
Oose: I read in some book that during this period military commanders that were defeated in battle escaped to the Iga and Koga localities. And it was there that ninjutsu was born?
Hatsumi: That is exactly correct. The defeated soldiers (ochimusha) became the jisamurai, but at that time the hunts for defeated soldiers by the bakafu (military government) were severe – and before long the day threatened by the noise of thebakafu army’s men and horses would arrive. If it happened like this, the jisamurai had no option but to develop martial skills to protect themselves. It is said that the martial skills that were developed in turn – the invention of ningu, the incorporation ofkajutsu – and moreover the reading of Chinese texts – were systematized into ninjutsu and ninpo was devised. Therefore it can be said that ninjutsu is a skill for escaping.
Oose: The ninja that appear in my books…the color of their eyes change color and then they come to kill me but…[they fail]. (Laughter)
Hatsumi: They are worthless as ninja. (Laughter)
Maki: But if they didn’t attack the onmitsu kenshi, then Mr. Tonbei couldn’t be an author right? (Laughing)
Oose: About how many ninjutsu ryu ha are there?
Hatsumi: 73 ryu – but then ninjutsu researchers talk about theories of 75 and 103 ryu.
Maki: Is it true that Nezumiko Zojirokichi was a ninja?
Hatsumi: The most important disposition for a ninja is a correct heart. Even though Nezumiko Zo was famous as a shinobi, it cannot be said that he was a ninja because he stole things. He was merely a thief.
Translated by Sayo Owada
Hatsumi Masaaki has the title of Knight in Germany. As soon as I heard that there was a remarkable bugeisha who lives in Noda and has several thousand students in thirty-some countries around the world, I hurried to request an interview. The interview took place at his home. Expecting to walk into a traditional Japanese type of home with mysterious hidden stairs, I was somewhat surprised to see a bright, western style house. Then appeared the Heisei ninja who was really very lucid…
Togakure Ryu Ninpo 34th Generation
Hatsumi Masaaki is the soke of nine “kobujutsu” including Togakure Ryu 34th Generation, Kukishinden Happo Hiken 28th Generation…etc. Currently he is the only one to succeed nine ryu ha. He is truly a real ninja. With many years of hard shugyo he has acquired well-honed five senses, a well-trained body, and self-control of the mind. On my way to visit him, I thought that Mr. Hatsumi would be filled with a heroically tragic aura, but to an ordinary person like myself, he seemed like a soft-spoken 65 year-old man. However, messages and memorable documents sent from famous people around the world fills the walls of his home – and this reminds me that he is an extraordinary person. The bugeisha who guides his students spread all over the world, who have been fighting face on with danger, can see through Japan and the Japanese people very easily. During our conversation, he threw many shuriken that stabbed my heart.
Beyond “Shugyo” is Being “Natural”
“The Japanese people speak of safety and yet they are so defenseless when it comes to violence. On the other hand, we hurt and attack others emotionally without even being conscious about it, not realizing that it is poor and brings unhappiness. Accessorizing with intellect, and with material things, the Japanese people are all so sad and tired. Although we say that we value morals, we are out of the loop of worldly information and have a skewed sense of what morals really are.” Listening to his words was painful. Through budo, Mr. Hatsumi tries to understand the essence of humanity and he is concerned about the Japanese, who are bred to be overly obedient. From now on, he is planning on staying in Japan to focus on activities that have others understand what he wants to master.
The Heisei ninja was a very natural person with true kindness who questions people’s way of life.
A three-legged crow was generally said to be an incarnation of the sun in East Asia – for example, it appeared in a Chinese tale and in a wall painting of an ancient Korean tomb.Yatagarasu, the messenger of the gods of Kumano, is painted on the talismans (omamori) given at the juyosho and the flag of this shrine, and its three legs are said to mean heaven, earth, and mankind (tenchijin). It is also used as the symbol mark of Japan Association Soccer. [Yatagarasuare also seen as the guardian deities of ninja.]
Go’O-Ho-In are talismans against evils given at shrines and temples everywhere. They are stuck on the door of a house or fastened on a bough in a rice field, nursery, etc. Characteristic of Kumano talismans are letters designed in the shape of crows. It was often used as a stamp for making holy vows in the middle and modern ages. It is given at all the Kumano Shrines including the three main shrines of Kumano.
Translated by Michael Asuncion
In light there is shadow. Indeed in the shadow of history were the forms of an unknown number of ninja. By no means did they reveal themselves to society and up until today they are hidden in mystery and darkness.
And so the true form of ninjutsu gradually disappeared, and now it has even been regarded as fabricated. However, as a single example, today’s modern army has taught true ninjutsu [techniques].
In the present day, ninjutsu, which was trying not to disappear into the shadows of the past, has been revived, and moreover it has become widespread on an international scale. Military operatives have set a personal example of recognizing the true worth of Japanese budo, and these people presently come to the Bujinkan Dojo!
To begin with, ninjutsu is thoroughly training the body, in addition utilizing every possible science, such as physics, chemistry, meteorology, and psychology. It is intelligence gathering, searching for the enemy, and military strategy.
At one time, the most necessary condition for the ninja was to master the “hachimon” of kiai, taijutsu, ken, yari, shuriken,kajutsu, yugei, and kyomon.
It is said that the origins of the ninja trace back long ago to the Age of the Gods (Mythological Age). The substantial techniques were developed in the middle of the Nara Period [710-1185 AD] when Kibi No Makibi brought the Tang Dynasty treatise on strategy, the Art of War, to Japan. The Art of War was consulted (mainly the sections concerning espionage) and revamped in the manner of shugendo asceticism. This created the yamabushi heiho (“strategy of mountain ascetics/mountain warriors”).
En No Gyoja Ozunu was a person famed for yamabushi heiho. Futhermore Minamoto Yoshitsune and Kusunoki Masashige also studied it. En No Gyoja and Yoshitsune are considered to be the first ninja by the people who applied these stratagems in battle.
However, the form of “ninjutsu” as used here was arranged after the start of the Muromachi Period. Warriors defeated in battle, such as those from the Genji and Heike Clans and the Southern and Northern Courts, fled to Iga and Koga, and as a means of self-defense systematized the yamabushi heiho, various bujutsu, and kajutsu. It can be thought [at this time] that these skills were united to form ninjutsu.
Consequently the general forms of bujutsu heiho have deviated from (the above mentioned) fundamentals.
It has been said that the [ninja] leader and founder Momochi Sandayu was also previously (known as) Kitabatake Chikafusa of the Nanboku Period (1336-1392). This led to the third generation Momochi Tanba Yasumitsu, who, because he boasted as being the most powerful in the southern part of Iga, was subdued by Oda Nobunaga in the famous “Tensho Iga No Ran.”
Well then, according to the kuden of the previous Togakure Ryu soke Takamatsu Toshitsugu, a Tang warrior named Ibou arrived in Japan during the Heian Period and taught the Chinese strategies to the Minamato Clan. Nishina Daisuke, who was a vassal of Kiso Yoshinaka and later called himself Togakure Daisuke, learned these strategies and was the founder of Togakure Ryu. Futhermore, two generations later Togakure Goro Kaneuji would (formally) call the tradition Togakure Ryu.
Afterwards, it was transmitted through the Toda Family starting with Toda Nobutsuna, and it was transmitted from his descendant Toda Shinryuken to the previous soke Takamatsu Toshitsugu. It is said that Toda Shinryuken was once an instructor of military training [for the shogunate]. Among the few anecdotes that remain, the general impression was that (Toda) resigned his position as instructor after the “Ansei Purge” (1858-1859) and afterwards journeyed throughout the Kinki Region of Japan. The reason why is not clear but Hatsumi soke proposes that it was an attempt not to get caught up in the whirling tides of the times.
Hatsumi soke says that the “nin” of “ninja” is to persevere in body, spirit, and consciousness. In the Ninjutsu Hiketsubun sent to Hatsumi soke, Takamatsu soke [writes]: “The strategy of budo is to protect the body. Furthermore the essence of self-protection is ninjutsu. Ninjutsu is also protecting the spirit. The ninja always smiles despite changes and is never surprised. This is the bufu of Togakure Ryu.”
In other words the foundation of ninjutsu is self-protection. At the time when danger draws near to one’s body, escape when there are no other means; one’s duty is to survive. Snatch away the opponent’s strength to fight using ningu such as shurikenand makibishi, and use them to break through the crisis.
A typical technique of this is the Togakure Ryu santotonko gata. In response to the enemy’s attack, evading the attack beforehand, and without a moment’s delay snatch away the opponent’s faculties to fight with metsubushi and shuriken. This is a technique to escape; escaping a crisis in the situation when surrounded first by one person, then by two, three, and finally five people.
Here it is applying taihenjutsu, polished from within taijutsu, to the maximum. Primarily this is using mokuton no jutsu to escape.
In other words, it is said that in reality it is the ultimate form of goshinjutsu and what ninjutsu as a strategy is about.