The History of Ninjutsu
Ninjutsu began more than 800 years ago among the ninja people living in Japan. The warrior class which ruled Japan at the
time were called the Samurai. They controlled the land and it's people. Their lord, the Shogun, was the only person the Samurai
was answerable to.
The ordinary peasant served the warriors every whim. A peasant could never strike a Samurai. If he did, it would mean his life.
The ninja would not serve the Samurai, and fled to the barren, cold, mountainous regions of Iga and Koga. There they trained in the arts of war. It is said that their art is based upon a great Chinese military text written by a general named Sun Tzu, The
Art of War.
Over the centuries the ninja (word meaning 'stealers-in') trained from the cradle to the grave in every known martial art. Their forte was espionage and assassination, by any means possible. But their training also taught them to reach spiritual heights, by
pushing their bodies and minds to limits far beyond that of normal human endurance.
Training for a ninja began almost as soon as he could walk. Childhood games were designed to inculcate expertise in unarmed combat, swordwork, weaponry, camouflage, escape and evasion. In time, the ninja warriors came to be feared throughout
Japan. Even the mighty Samaurai looked over his shoulder if a ninja was known to be in the area.
Over the centuries, while ninjutsu was being practiced in secrecy, no one knew anything about the art except the ninjas themselves. When Japan emerged into the modern era, and feudalism collapsed, the ninja were absorbed into Japan's secret
service and special services groups.
The martial arts boom of the 1970's saw two men searching for something different. Doron Navon and Stephen Hayes found a ninjutsu headmaster living in Japan who came from an unbroken line of ninja instructors dating back almost 800 years. The art
was then brought to the western World.
When speaking of Ninja, the image of a black clad assassin disappearing in a cloud of smoke is what comes to mind. This distortion has nothing to do with the reality of studying Ninjutsu, or 'Ninpo' in its highest order. Ninpo is a traditional Japanese
bujutsu martial art with a rich and viable history that stretches back over ten centuries. Developed as a highly illegal counterculture to the ruling samurai warrior class, Ninpo still flourishes today under the direct guidance of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi,34th grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu tradition and eight other budo traditions. Dr. Hatsumi is the last
variable true Ninja grandmaster having a direct line of decent from feudal Japan. The instructors at the BBD Newark Ninjutsu Club are directly affiliated with Hatsumi Sensei and his international Bujinkan Dojo.
Ninpo is a more global title for the nine ryu (families) related. Po is Japanese for 'principle way'.
The History of
Hatsumi Soke tells us: There are many theories as to the beginnings of what we know as the art of ninjutsu today. Each japanese historian has his or her own set of facts and beliefs, and it is difficult pinpointing a specific place, person, time, or set of circumstances that would be acceptable to all as the birth of the art. In all truthfulness, ninjutsu did not come into being as a specific well-defined art in the first place, and many centuries passed before ninjutsu was established as an independant system of knowledge in its own right. The people who were later referred to as ninja did not originally use that label for themselves. They considered themselves to be merely practitioners of political, religious, and military strategies that were cultural opposites of the conventional outlooks of the times. Ninjutsu developed as a highly illegal counter culture to the ruling samurai elite, and for this reason alone, the origins of the art were shrouded by centuries of mystery, concealment, and deliberate confusion of history.
In the legends of the founding of Japan's imperial family, passed on by word of mouth through the generations before recorded history, two ninja-like characters are credited with assisting the first emperor, Jimmu, in attaining a decisive victory. Jimmu was in combat against the troops of Iso castle, and the battle was going against him. One night in a dream, the future emperor had a vision in which he was told to take the clay from Mt. Amakaga and mold it into a sacred vessel. Mt. Amakaga was a holy mountain that lay in the middle of the territory held by the Iso forces. Obtaining the raw clay became the symbol of Jimmu's intention and resolve towards succeeding in the conquest of Iso Castle. Shinetsuhiko and Otokashi served their lord Jimmu by disguising themselves as an old peasant and his wife, and the two successfully slipped into the enemy territory, packed the clay, and returned safely. Jimmu then molded and fired a platter and bowl set from clay, offered them to the gods of fortune, and went on to attain the victory he so strongly believed to be his destiny. The skills of ninjutsu were said to have been passed thereafter to Tennin Nichimei, Okume Mei, and Otomo Uji for further development and expansion.
Among the ancient ninjutsu documents that [Hatsumi Soke] inherited from [his] teacher are several scrolls that tell of Chinese ex-patriots who feld their native land to seek sanctuary in the islands of Japan. Chinese warriors, scholars, and monks alike made the journey to find new lives in the wilderness of Ise and Kii south of the capitals in Nara and then Kyoto. Taoist sages like Gamon, Garyu, Kain, and Unryu, and generals from T'ang China such as Cho Gyokko, Ikai, and Cho Busho brought with them the knowledge that had accumulated over the centuries in their native land. Military strategies, religious philosophies, folklore, cultural concepts, medical practices, and a generally wide scope of perspective that blended the wisdom of China with that of India, Tibet, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia were their gifts to their newly-found followers in Japan. Remote and far flung from the Emperor's court in the capital, the cultural ancestors of the ninja lived their lives as naturalists and mystics, while the mainstream of society became increasingly structured, ranked, stylized, and eventually tightly controlled.
As the passage of time contunued to unfold the fabric of Japan's history, the ninja and their ways of accomplishment, known as ninjutsu, were always present behind the scenes working subtly with the events of all the eras to ensure the survival and independance of their families and lands. In the regions of Iga and Koga, ninjutsu became a special skill, refined and perfected by over seventy families, each with their own unique methods, motivations, and ideals. >> *1
Takamatsu Sensei tells us: In the age of gods, Emperor Jinmu placed Okume no mikoto in charge of shinobu ho or the art of stealth. Okume no mikoto left one of his retainers in Kishu to make him take an active role in the services of shinobu ho. I hear this retainer initiated warrior-ascetics visiting Kumano in Kishu into the art of stealth. Everyone knows the story of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto who, by utilizing shinobu ho, put down a rebellion of Kumaso, disguising himself as a woman. Shotoku Taishi, or the Crown Prince Shotoku (574-622 A.D.), is said to have used shinobi or ninja, too, when establishing the state.
There are other records left referring to the ninja. The monk Dokyo (?-772 A.D.) was condemned to exile by Okuma Wake no Kiyomaro, a very lotal servant of the Crown, who stood in his way. Dokyo dispatched fifteen assassins to kill Kiyomaro on his way to Okuma. However, Kiyomaro's bodyguards - Otomo brothers called Komaro and Takemaro - who were masters of ninjutsu, kenpo, and bojutsu, killed all the assassins. >> *2
Notes on the Philosophy of the Ninja
Hatsumi sensei tells us: What I would like you to keep in mind here is the fact that there is a Zen wind blowing in the martial arts. Without this human spirit, no martial artist can ever attain the kanjin-kaname vital secret of ninjutsu. The kanjin-kaname is the 'mind and eyes of kami' (which usually reads shin-i-shingan but can also be read kanjin-kaname phonetically). A master martial artist should, through training in martial arts and ninjutsu, have a sense of human touch. Conciousness evaporated from this sense of human touch becomes the mind and eyes of kami. This evaporation opens one's true eyes to happiness by placing one under the protection of kami. In other words, to attain the kanjin-kaname is to comprehend heavenly justice.
Takamatsu sensei always told me that the ninja should dedicate themselves to sincerity and justice. Sincerity is also interpreted as 'trust'. Trust or shin in Japanese has many meanings. It can be understood as 'advent' or 'coming', which may be the advent of the mind and eyes of kami or communication between human beings and kami. It also means 'faithfulness' or 'being unsuspicious'. When I trained under Takamatsu sensei's guidance, doubt assailed me every once in a while. When I began to doubt I tried to stick to his teachings.
Nothing is so uncertain as one's own common sense or knowledge. Regardless of one's fragile knowledge one must singlemindedly devote oneself to training, especially in times of doubt. It is of utmost importance to immerse and enjoy oneself in the world of nothingness. In this world of nothingness, one must see through to the essence of common sense, or knowledge, or divine conciousness, make a decision, and translate it into action. This is the one way to enlightenment. This is also the key to cultivating the sixth sense required of martial artists and ninja.
Maintaining human touch and immersing oneself in heaven simultaneously is a necessity. The give natural elements of moku (wood), ka (fire), do (earth), kin (metal), and sui (water) cannot exist without earth. Likewise, the four season of spring, summer, fall, and winter cannot be clearly seperated without the doyo season or dog days. The four seasons without the doyo season or the five natural elements without earth are of no signifigance.
A person, when being righteous and sincere, is in accordance with heavenly justice. When a person attains understanding of heavenly justice, he serves the will of kami. This is why I referred to the 'mind and eyes of kami'. Therefore, the ninja is a person aware of justice.
The above-mentioned principles are the foremost requirements of the ninja. Neither the power of invisibility nor superhuman actions are the first consideration. The ninja are not members of a circus. Nor are the ninja robbers, assassins, or betrayers. The ninja are none other than persons of perseverance or endurance. Togakure ryu ninpo is the very evidence that the ninja have lived and protected their happy lives over a thousand years. >> *2
Hatsumi soke tells us: Whenever I face difficulties, I am struck with admiration for the way that ninpo has survived all the trials and hardships through the years. There are five precepts for ninja that are quite simple but most significant to me. When I am sad, unhappy, sick, injured, or desperate, I always encourage myself by remembering them.
First, forget your sadness, anger, grudges, and hatred. Let them pass like smoke caught in a breeze. Do not indulge yourself in such feelings.
Second, you should not deviate from the path of righteousness; you should lead a life worthy of a man. This simple philosophy is exactly what hundreds of sages have repeated through the ages. Some people believe that I am a great man. But I always tell them that I am just an ordinary man. Presence of mind consists in a very simple life, not a special or great life - I am recently confident of that.
Third, don't be possessed by greed, luxury, or your ego. If you learn martial arts purely for self-interest and always try to depend on someone else just because it is easier, you will be controlled by these three desires - even if you have already reached a high level in the martial arts. These three desires will distrort not only martial arts but humanity itself.
When people are dying, there are two directions toward death: joy and suffering. Joy here means in a heavenly sense, and does not include pleasures or pastimes. Once this stage in life is reached, one will know one's real mission in life.
Fourth, you should accept sorrows, sadness, or hatred as they are and consider them a chance for trial given by kami. It is the most noble spirit in ninpo to take everything as a blessing given by Nature. When you are trying to carry through something, your goodwill is sometimes considered malicious by some people who are obsessed by their own egotism. They might throw a stone at you. I try to interpret that as a blessing stone thrown to me by kami for my own sake. Even Nichiren, a great buddhist priest, was stoned by the people during his advocacy in various cities.
Fifth, have both your time and mind fully engaged in budo and have your mind deeply set on bujutsu. >> *2
Because the ninja is dealing freely with the concepts of truth and falsehood, fluidly bending one into the other, he must be well grounded in his own concept of reality. To prevent becoming lost, misguided, or swallowed up by his own deception or awareness altering, the ninja must maintain seishin, or purity of heart. In this sense, the word pure means 'complete' or 'total'. The ninja carries the truth in his heart, though he may appear in many psychological guises to others. His intentions remain resolute, though others may have no idea what those commitments entail. Because he is totally honest with himself at all levels of introspection, he can venture into the realm of falsehood and untruth without defiling himself or his spirit. He can willingly plunge into the cold darkness, knowing full well that he has the power to create his own light from the brightness he carries in his heart. >> *1
The 9 Ryuha of Bujinkan
Togakure Ryu Ninpo
The Hidden Door School
Mount Hei-zan is where the Enryakuji (headquarters) of Tendai monastery is
sited. So-o was a monk at this place, but left to live for three years in a
cave as an ascetic. It was after a dream that he formed the Tendai Shugendo
sect of Buddhism. These monks today still exist and some are still engaged in
the Kaihogyo (the proper name for the thing which everyone is refering to as
Shugendo). And it was within this sect in a small village called Togakure (now
Togakushi) in the prefecture of Nagano (close to the Nagano/Gunma-ken border) in Jyoshinsetsu National Park in approximately 1165
Daisuke Nishina was born, a Samurai. It is within the Tendai sect that 750
years later the 33rd Soke of the Ryu is supposed to become 'an
Abbot', on Mount Hei-zan.
Daisuke was on the losing side of a battle in the 1180s and was forced to flee
into Iga. Here he was found by Kain Doshi (possible known as Kagakure Doshi).
He adopted Doshi's warrior teachings to his own Shugendo and the beginnings of
Togakure Ryu where formed. Togakure Ryu never had a
official founding as some martial arts, just Daisuke and Shima who was also
alive at the same time and worked with Daisuke. Goro Togakure is recognized as
being the person who officially formed the family of Togakure into the Ninjutsu
system that we learn today. Of the first 8 generations, 5 had the name of
Togakure, as with most martial traditions it possibly passed from father to
son. It is said that it continued in this way until the 1600s (?). When the
immediate family died out, the chief branch of the clan Toda took over
leadership. The 33rd Soke Takamatsu, was the last
member of the Toda line. It was interesting to note that the 11, 12 and 13th
Soke of the Ryu are named after the main town of Iga, Ueno. It was the
tradition in those days to be named after the town or village that one came
The 2nd Soke of the Ryu, Shima Kosanta Minamoto No Kanesada was a Samurai
retainer having the rank of Kosho, for one of the most powerful Samurai
generals Kiso Yoshinaka, who was a general in the Minamoto army. The Minamoto where in time (1185) to become the first hereditary
Shoguns. When he was 16, Shima fought against the Tiara family, the
rivals of the Minamoto family. That battle took place at Awazu,
Yoshinaka was on the losing side. It is thought that Shima was wounded in the
battle, and fled to one of the nearby mountainous areas near to the battle
site. Shima only did this at the request of Yoshinaka.
Kagakure Doshi, a Ninja of the Hakuun Ryu found Shima and together they fled to
Iga. Kagakure was also one of the teachers of Daisuke Togakure, who later on
took Shima into his care. The Hakuun Ryu of Ninjutsu was founded by Garyu Doji,
but was later completed by Hakuun Doji who later gave the Ryu its name.
32nd Soke of Togakure Ryu, Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda was also a master in the
Bikenshin Ryu and was the sword instructor for the Tokugawa Shogunate in the
mid 19th century.
Togakure Ryu Ninpo includes various punching, throwing and levering techniques.
It is known by low and wide stances and also by very strong punches, which are
mostly directed towards oponent's eyes, ears and diaphragms. Along with
Taijutsu, this school includes the arts of Ken jutsu (sword), So jutsu (spear),
Naginata jutsu (helbard), Bo jutsu (sticks), Jutte jutsu (multiple bladed
dagger), Tessen jutsu (fan), Ka jutsu (fire), Sui jutsu (water), Onshin jutsu
(invisibility) and three school secrets, named Sanpo Hiden, which are Shuko
(hand claws), Senban Shuriken (throwing daggers), and Shinodake (bamboo tube
for breathing under water).
Togakure (Nishina), Daisuke Oho circa 1161
Minamoto no Kanesada, Shima Kosanta 1180
Togakure, Goro 1200
Toda, Nobutsuna Seiryu Kwanyei circa 1624 - 1644
Toda, Nobuchika Fudo Manji circa 1658 - 1681
Toda, Kangoro Nobuyasu Tenna circa 1681 - 1704
Toda, Eisaburo Nobumasa Hoyei circa 1704 - 1711
Toda, Shinbei Masachika Shotoku circa 1711 - 1736
Toda, Shingoro Masayoshi Gembun circa 1736 - 1764
Toda, Daigoro Chikahide Meiwa circa 1764 - 1804
Toda, Daisaburo Chikashige Bunkwa circa 1804 - ?
Toda, Shinryuken Masamitsu ? - 1909 (b.1824 - d.1909)
Toshitsugu Uoh 1907 - 1972 (b.1887 - d.1972)
Hatsumi, Masaaki (Yoshiaki) 1968 - (b.1931)
Schools of the Bujinkan
GrandMaster Masaaki Hatsumi
Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo Hiken
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken
Shinden Fudo Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken
Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu Happo Hiken
Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Hiken
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken
The Jeweled (or pearl)
Tiger School of 'bone finger art'
Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu techniques were brought to Japan
during the Tang Dynasty by a Chinese monk called Cho Gyokko or Yo Gyokko. The
ryu was passed down from generation to generation and was repeated until it was
given to Sakagami Taro Kunishige. He organized the ryu and served as head from
1532 to 1555. The ryu was then passed to Momochi Sandayu. The Momochi family
then passed the ryu to the Toda family and to Toshitsugu Takamatsu. Once, when Takamatsu was training
with Shinryuken Toda, he was told that the most important thing for him to learn, was the eight fundamental techniques. These are the
foundation stone for Hatsumi Sensei's Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu and are the
foundation stone of all martial arts. These techniques are called Kihon Happo. Takamatsu then taught
these techniques to Masaaki Hatsumi, they are also the foundation of Gyokko
Kihon Happo is made up of the basic pieces of the Gyokko ryu kata. Gyokko ryu
is roughly divided into three sections: unarmed vs unarmed, unarmed vs knife,
unarmed vs sword.
Muto Waza are unarmed against either sword or spear and are the most advanced
and difficult techniques of the Ryu. The basic movements are that of a spinning
top. If a lock is placed on a joint, the joint is held still by the body, while
the feet move one's body around the joint. Because footwork takes time, nerve
strikes are applied before and during the motion. The movement in Gyokko ryu is
also around an opponent's fixed point of balance.
Other specialties of this school are Koshi jutsu (attack on muscle and nerve
points), Shito jutsu (use of thumb and other fingers), Ken jutsu (sword), Ko
Dachi (short sword), Yari jutsu (spear), and Bo jutsu (various sticks).
The Nine Demon
School of 'eight
secret weapons arts'
This school is belived to have roots in China and is also said to be
founded in the 12th century. Its founder is Izumo Koshiro Terunobu, who learned
from Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru, who is written as the first Soke. The word Kuki in
the name of the school was obtained after the event, when the master of thi school saved the tsar Go-Daigo, who told him, that he
was fighting like Kuki - nine demons. Kukishinden ryu warriors used to wear
Yoroi battle armors, therefore strong and direct attacks in certain unarmed
points are used. This school also uses Bo Ryaku (special kind of strategy), Sui
Ren in Ka Ren (use of water and fire), Onshin jutsu (disquise) and weapons as
Hanbo (90 cm stick), Rokushaku Bo (180 cm stick), Kaginawa (rope with a hook),
Kusari Gama (sickle with chain), Bisento (heavy weapon similar to helbard) and
Daisharin (axle with two wheels). It is also written, that Kukishinden warriors
used masttops for fighting. This system was used as a naval art, and
consequently the movements are designed to be used on a ship that is slippery
The Jeweled (or
pearl) Heart School
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo was founded in the mid 1500 by Sasaki Goeman Teruyoshi.
This school is partially directed towards Cho Ho (spying). The head
characteristics of this school are said to be Sutemi Nage (sacrificing
throwing). This school prefered spying rather then combat, but it is known that
many forms of Nage Waza (throws) were used.
The Tiger Knocking
Down School of Bone Structure Art
The exact origin of Koto Ryu is unknown, but it was probably brought to Japan from what today is Korea by a person named Chan Buso
in the 16th Century. There went several generations before the system was
organized by Sakagami Taro Kunishige. It was took two
generations more until Toda Sakyo Ishinsai formally formed Koto Ryo Koppojutsu
as a Ryu. Sakagami Taro Kunishige was considered as the first Soke in Koto Ryu,
but Bando Kotaro Minamoto Masahide, the one that was to be the 2nd Soke died in
battle 1542. Instead the Ryu went to Sougyoku Kan Ritsushi who also was the
Soke of Gyokko Ryu. There after the Koto Ryu was following the same family line
as Gyokko Ryu. The difference as apposed to Gyokko Ryu was that Koto Ryu was
only taught to the person that would become the next Soke. Koppojutsu means to
destroy the bone structure on the attacker. What specializes the Koto Ryu
techniques is that distance is created by moving along with
the attack, then moving forward with a strike and then move quickly out
to a safe distance again. This is done to come in with a strike at exactly 90
degrees against the bone structure of the attacker to do the most damage. To do this demands good timing and rhythm in the defensive attack,
often done with Yoko Aruki (moving with the legs crossing each other).
Another important part of the footwork is to hit the attackers toki (the top of
the foot), by kicking or stepping on it to control his balance.
It should also be noted that the starting distance should be really big from
the start, the attacker must take one big step or
several steps to reach the defender. This states clearly that Koto Ryu was
developed for the battlefield or out doors in general, and not inside a house
or narrowed places. The Koto Ryu stylist should be looking right between the
attackers eyebrows, so that the attacker cannot read the intentions through his
eyes. The attacker will also believe that he has eye contact,
wich will be confusing for him. Other typical methods of Koto Ryu are the use
of Metsubushi, different ways of blinding the attacker or attacking the eyes
directly. Metsubushi could be powder thrown at the attackers
eyes, but also reflections at the eyes from the sword or other metal blades.
For example when it rains the Koto Ryu stylist will stand in Mangetsu No Kamae
(similar to Hoko No Kamae with the blade in the left hand) and collect water in
the hi of the blade and then throw the water at the enemies eyes before the
sword slashes down.
Because of the hard character of the Koto Ryu techniques it demands hard
discipline training to harden the body. Takamatsu Toshitsugu started his
training in Koto Ryu when he was nine years old, and was considered a Koto Ryu
master when he was 13 years old. In his self biography he has written that he
got hard fingers and toes by hitting stone and gravel until the blood came
through the finger and toenails. Shako Ken (claw hand) is one of the strikes
that is used in Koto Ryu. There are story's
about Takamatsu Sensei in the 1960's when he convinced Koizume Shizuo, a
journalist from the Tokyo Sport Newspaper, by literally drilling five holes
through the bark of a tree with his Shako Ken finger strike. Koto Ryu also has
an unusual way of using the katana. Koto Ryu is one of the very few Ryu that
sometimes changes the grip of the sword by holding it with the left hand near
the tsuka. This gives multiple ways of holding the sword with crossed arms that
would totally confuse the attacker, and sometimes convince him that the stylist
was an amateur and an easy opponent.
The High Tree and
Awakened Heart School
This school was organized by Takagi Oriemon Shigenobu in the beginning of 1600.
He learned this art from a monk named Unryu, who was a master of Amatsu Tatara
Rinpo Hiden ryu. Oriemon added to his master's teachings some techniques of
Jujutsu from Takanchi ryu and he thereby created a perfect combat system. Along
with Jujutsu, this school also uses Dakentai jutsu (punching techniques), which
are applied without any strength. Techniques are fast and directed to short
combat distance, and they are based on such methods that they do not allow the
opponent to escape with rolls. Weapons used in this school are Bo (stick), Yari
(spear), Kodachi (short sword), Shuriken (throwing blades), and Tanto (knife).
The Immovable Heart School
of 'hard weapon body art'
One of the secret attributes of Shinden Fudo ryu is the 'Principle of
nature'. The ryu originated by Genpachiro Temeyoshi in the mid 12th
century. It is traced back to Kosshijutsu wich was introduced by Izumo Kanja
Yoshitero. Kuki Takei from the Kuki family of Kukishin ryu was also from the
Shinden Fudo ryu. Takenaka Tetsunoke, senior student of Jigoro Kano (the
founder of Judo) was at one time a student at the Shinden Fudo ryu Dojo. Kuden
says that Yari was taught to Izumo (the founder) by Tengu (demons), and these
techniques still remain a secret today. The school uses several different types
of Yari, Ono (war axes), O-tsuchi (war hammers), and Naginata (halberd).
Hojojutsu (the art of tying someone with a rope) is used along side the
Taijutsu, to help restrain the opponent. The school is specialized on Jujutsu
and Iainuki (fast sword drawing). The Taijutsu of this school bases on Jutai
jutsu (levers, controls and throws) and on Dakentai jutsu (punching
The Hiding in the Clouds School
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpowas founded
in the 16th century by Heinaisaemon Ienaga Iga, who was said to have learned
his arts from Sarutobi Sasuke. The taijutsu of this school is very similar to
the taijutsu of Togakure ryu. The main differences are, that
in Komugakure ryu jumps as well as multiple blockings are used. The
speciality of this school was Kamayari (sickled spear), which was also used for
slombing on the ships. The special weapon, used by warriors of this school was
also Ippon Sugi Noburi, which was made of a 25cm long metal tube with three
spikes, and through which a long chain with hooks at its ends was laid. This
weapon was considered for combat as well as for climbing.
Loyalty, and Justice School of Bone Structure Art
The Gikan school is almost unknown, as it was never publicly tought. The founder of this martial art system was Uryu Hangan Gikanbo, who lived in Erioku period. He learned his skills from the master named Akimoto Kanai Moriyoshi. Gikanbo was a Koppojutsu (bone breaking), Hichojutsu (jumping) and Senban Nage (blade throwing) specialist. Those are also known characteristics of Gikan ryu. The school is supposed to consist of five traditional levels, which are: Shoden Gata, Chuden Gata, Okuden Gata, Kaiden Gata and Menkyo Kaiden.
<< The Togakure ryu, established approximately eight hundred years ago, is now in its thirty-fourth generation. The ryu exists today as an organization dedicated to teaching effective methods of self-protection and promoting the self-development and awareness of its members. Due to the stabilized nature of contemporary Japanese government and judicial systems, the Togakure ninja ryu no longer involves itself directly in combat or espionage work. Pervious to the unificiation of Japan during the 16th century, however, it was necessary for the Togakure ninja to operate out of south central Iga Province. At the height of the historical ninja period, the clan's ninja operatives were trained in eighteen fundamental areas of expertise, beginning with this 'psychic purity' and progressing through a vast range of physical and mental skills. The eighteen levels of training were as follows:
1. Seishin Teki Kyoyo
The Togakure ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate knowledge of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. The ninja had to be very clear about his intentions, his commitments, and his personal motivations in life. Personality traits could often mean the difference between life and death in his line of work. Exercises in mental endurance, ways of looking at things, and proper perspective when evlatuating things, were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By evolving into a mystic's understanding of the universal process, the historical Togakure ryu ninja became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love or reverance, and not by the mere thrill of violent danger or need of money.
2. Tai Jutsu
Skills of daken-taijutsu or striking, kicking, and blocking; jutai-jutsu or grappling, choking and escaping the holds of others, and taihenjutsu or silent movement, rolling, leaping, and tumbling asisted the Togakure ninja in life-threatening, defensive situations.
3. Ninja Ken
The ninja's sword hada short straight single edged blade, and was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required of the ninja. 'Fast Draw' techniques centered around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous action. 'Fencing' skills used the drawn sword in technique clashes with armed attackers.
(Stick and Staff Fighting)
The Japanese stick fighting art, practiced by samurai and peasants alike, was also a strong skill of the ninja. Togakure ninja were taught to use the bo long staff (six feet) and hanbo 'half-staff' cane (three feet), as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed shinobi-zue or ninja canes were designed to look like the normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be used against an enemy.
Throwing blades were carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Togakure ryu used a special four-pointed throwing star called a senban shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The blade was thrown with a flat spinning motion and hit its target with a sawing effect. Bo shuriken or straight shaft darts and spikes were also constructed for throwing.
Togakure ryu ninja agents were taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as middle-range fighting weapons. Spears and lances were used for stabbing and piercing attacks, and rarely ever thrown in normal combat. The togakure ryu also used a unique spear weapon called a kami-yari, or 'sickle lance', which consisted of a spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The lance point could be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point could be used to snag and pull the opponent or his weapon.
Virtually a short blade mounted on a long handle, the Japanese halberd was used for cutting and slashing attacks against adversaries at medium range. Togakure ryu ninja warriors were also proficient with the bisen-to, a huge heavy-bladed version of the naginata halberd. Based on a chinese war tool, the broad-bladed weapon was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armor, and ground the horses of mounted samurai.
(Chain and Sickle Weapon)
The Japanese chain and sickle weapon was adopted into the arsenal of the Togakure ryu ninja. A chain, six to nine feet in length and weighted at one end, was attached to the handle of the traditional grain cutting tool. The chain could be used to block or ensnare the enemy's weapon, and the blade then used to finish off the attacker. The kyoketsu-shoge, a weapon similar to the chain and sickle, was favored by the togakure ryu. The weapon consisted of a straight hand-held dagger blade with a secondary blade hooking out from the hilt, attached to a fifteen foot resilient cord usually made from women's or horse's hair. A large steel ring was attached to the free end of the cord.
(Fire and Explosives)
Ninja were experts in the effective placement, timing, and rigging of explosive devices for demolition and distraction. In later years, the use of black powders and other explosives was suplimented with knowledge of firearms and their strategic applications.
(Disguise and Impersonation)
Essential to the ninja's espeionage work was his ability to assume false identites and move undetected through his area of operation. More than merely just putting on a costume, ninjutsu's disguise system involved thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. Personality traits, areas of knowledge, and body dynamics of the identity assumed were ingrained into the nijna's way of thinking and reacting. He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman, or wandering entertainer.
(Stealth and Entering Methods)
The ninja's techniques of silent movement, breaking and entering, and gaining access to inaccessible areas became legends in feudal Japan. Togakure ryu ninja learned special walking and running methods for covering long distances, passing over floors silently, and for staying in the shadows while moving, in order to facilitate entry and escape.
Togakure ryu ninja were taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills.
Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross over water, and underwater combat techniques were taught to Togakure ryu ninja.
Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots, and advantageous timing for use of current events were used by Togakure ryu ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the enemy around to doing what the ninja wanted him to do, ninja were able to work their will without drawing undue attention to themselves.
15. Cho Ho
Methods of successful espionage were perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and served as a guide for using espionage agents most effectively.
(Escape and Concealment)
Ninja were experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to 'dissapear' at will. The goton-po five elements of escape were based on a working familiarity with the creative use of earth, water, fire, metal, and wood aspects of nature and the environment.
Forecasting and taking advantage of weather and seasonal phenomena was an important part of any battle consideration. Ninja were trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to predict weather conditions.
Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain were crucial skills in the historical art of ninjutsu. >> *1
The Elemental Approach
Taijutsu, the ninja self-protection method, takes an elemental approach based on the Go-dai 'five-elements'.
Chi Earth stability, the attitude of confidence and strength.
The confrontation is won before it has started. You stop
them in their tracks. You are immovable as a majestic
mountain or a mighty oak tree.
Sui Water responsiveness, the attitude of fade and strike.
You withdraw from your aggressor's attack, and respond
with a blast of power. You are as a wave in the surf
rising back and then crashing on the shore.
Ka Fire expansiveness, the attitude of foresight. You
perceive the potential for attack and are committed to
stopping the aggression the moment you perceive it. You
are as a fireball hurling forward.
Fu The attitude of intellect. You are free moving and
skillful enough to know exactly where you need to be
in order to take control of the aggression, positioning
yourself to take advantage of your momentum. You are like
a cloud of smoke that one tries to grasp as you slip and
curl from between his fingers and out of his grip.
Ku The void, the source of all elements. You use your
skill to face unknown attacks and acquire the appropriate
attitude in response.
Guidelines for stealth walking
1. Maintain balance control by allowing your body weight to sink and be carried by deeply flexed knees.
2. Remember to breathe along with your movement. Unconsciously holding your breath can unknowingly produce unneeded muscle tension, and could result in gasping release of breathe if you are startled or accidentally unbalanced.
3. Stay alert to the entire scene. Do not become so engrossed in watching your feet that you do not notice other people an elements entering the surroundings.
4. Use all joints for movement, emphasizing fluidity through the engagement of the ankles, knees, and hips for stepping. Avoid the lazy and dangerous habit of stiffening knees and swinging the entire leg from the hip.
5. Maintain your weight and balance on your grounded leg while you move the other leg into position to bear the weight. When absolute silence is a must, avoid distributing your weight over both legs at the same time.
6. If practical, allow your hands to float lightly in front of and beside your torso, one arm higher and one arm lower, to detect possible obstructions before your committed body weight encounters them.
7. Pause and hold your position if you feel that you have accidentally caused too much noise. Listen for signs that you were heard, such as the movement of others or the immediate silencing of background noise following your slip. Sink a little lower on your knees to physically relax that could normally jump into your body with alarm. Take a deep breathe and release it slowly to further relax. Continue your pause for as long as you feel is necessary to regain composure and allow possible listeners to decide they did not hear anything after all.
8. Be as patient as possible. If speed of travel is not important, take as much time as you can. Impatience and the resultant hasty movement that it encourages are the greatest dangers to the person who must move silently without detection.
9. Keep your movement appropriate to your surroundings. Do not go to greater lengths than necessary to conceal your movement, while at the same being aware of what others entering the area may see if they cannot hear. Total silence may not be needed when moving through wooded or densely populated areas where scattered noise is a natural part of the environment. Also be aware that low profile crawling or sliding ma be the only way to move silently without being seen in some locations.
Excerpt from 'The Mystic Arts of the Ninja' by Stephen K. Hayes
Training for physical Balance
by John Avery
In ninjutsu, as in any other martial art, it is important to maintain a
balanced training program, both physical- and technique-wise.
Training the body physically should consist of more than just the practicing
of technique and kata. All classes should start with a thorough warm-up and
stretching session (15 minutes minimum - although longer is recomended). The
routine should be similar each lesson, but some variety is necessary. Two
sample routines, taken from my class, are shown below.
Sample 1 - Light Sample 2 - Heavy
Jumping on the spot - 3 minutes Jumping on the spot - 3 minutes
Light jog - 2 minutes Light jog - 5 minutes
Push-ups - 20 Push-ups - 50
Sit-ups - 30 Chinese Push-ups - 20
REST* Sit-ups - 50
Groin stretch - 30 seconds Leg-ups - 50
Leg stretches - 2 minutes Groin Stretch - 30 seconds
Back stretches - 2 minutes Leg Stretches - 2 minutes
Chinese push-ups - 10 Squat to front kick# - 20
Leg-ups - 30 Sideways leaps - 20
Hip stretches - 1 minute REST*
Arm rotationes - 2 minutes Arm rotations - 3 minutes
Arm stretches - 1 minute Squating hand stand - 1 minute
Neck stretches - 2 minutes Neck stretches - 1 minute
Head stand - 1 minute
Hand stand - 1 minute
* RESTS last about 30 seconds Arm stretches - 1 minute
# Deep knee squats should be Neck stretches - 1 minute
used only sparringly.
Both routines warm the body-up before stretching, this leads to a more effective
stretch. During the rests students should meditate, this quickly refreshes
The content of the class depends on the martial art, the teacher and the level
of the students. I recommend that some variety be used within the class,it keeps
interest as well is giving a more balanced training program.
In-class training should be complimented by an out-of-class training routine. A
10 minute run or obstacle course each day, as well as technique practice and a
weekly weight training session takes little time but can make a world of
difference to endurance and strength.
Soke, Iga Ryu Karate, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu
'Ninjutsu is not something which should be used for
personal desires. It is something which should be used when no other choice
is available, for the sake of one's country, for the sake of one's lord, or
to escape personal danger. If one deliberately uses it for the sake of
personal desires, the techniques will indeed fail totally.'
Shinryu Masamitsu Toda
32nd Grandmaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
New Years message of 1891
- Know the wisdom of being
patient during times of inactivity.
- Choose the course of
justice as the path of your life.
- Do not allow your heart
to be controlled by the demands of desire, pleasure, or dependence.
- Sorrow, pain, and
resentment are natural qualities to be found in life; therefore, work to
cultivate an immovable spirit.
- Hold in your heart the
importance of respect for your seniors, and pursue the literary and
martial arts with balanced determination
O Sensei Takamatsu
33rd GrandMaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
33rd GrandMaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
34rd GrandMaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
33rd GrandMaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
33rd Soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
'The last living true Ninja'
O'Sensei Takamatsu (as we at
ABD call him) was born in the 23rd year of Meiji (10th March 1887), in Akashi, Hyogo province. His given name was
Hisatsugu but he later changed the name (using the same kanji characters but
different pronunciation) to Toshitsugu.
was one of the greatest martial artists to ever live. He not only practiced his
art . he lived it
and victoriously fought many to the death battles from challengers.
He began his training at an early age. His grandfather,
Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu, had a bone clinic, and a Budo Dojo in Kobe. In this Dojo he was
a Soke of a fighting system known as Shindenfudo Ryu. Toda was of Samurai rank,
and originally came from Iga province. Some of Takamatsu's family had come from Takao, a
mountainous part of Iga. Above the door of the dojo was a plaque that read
'Shindenfudo Ryu Jutaijutsu'. Toda also taught Shinden Koto Ryu
Karate (later changed to Koto Ryu Koppojutsu), Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu,
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo, Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo, and the Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu.
Grandfather Toda was also a senior instructor in Bikenshin Ryu Kenjutsu, a
school that taught the Tokugawa shoguns and he taught at a military academy in
When he was 13 years old Takamatsu had mastered the techniques of the
school. This meant that he was to become a licensee of the school, which was a
common practice in the past. After he learned Shindenfudo Ryu, Toda taught him
the Koto Ryu and then the Togakure Ryu. He found the Koto Ryu to be
'fun', but he had little interest in the Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
training. Koto Ryu training involved hitting small pebbles with the
finger tips. The nails and fingers would run with blood, and cause great pain.
As the student progressed he would later move on to rocks etc.
In the spring of the same year he was 13 years old (1900),
O'Sensei Takamatsu left high school to go to English School and the Chinese
School of Classics in his home town of Kobe. It was while he was here that he
entered the Takagi Yoshin Ryu where Mizuta Yoshitaro Tadafusa was the 15th
Soke. He practiced at this Dojo everyday, and when he was 17 years old, Mizuta
gave him the Menkyo Kaiden to the Takagi Yoshin Ryu.
When O'Sensei Takamatsu was 17 years old, an old man by the
name of Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage came to the match factory owned by Takamatsu's father.
Ishitani was famous all over Japan
for his martial arts. He was using an old oak bokken for a walking stick. Takamatsu's father gave
Ishitani a job as security guard, and Ishitani was also given a small area of
the factory to use as a Dojo. Takamatsu leapt at the chance to study under the old man. From
him he learned the 'Kuki Happo Biken no Jutsu'. Ishitani also trained
in various aspects of Ninjutsu and taught young Takamatsu aspects from several other schools
of which he was also Soke. These were Hon Tai Takagi Yoshin Ryu (from which Takamatsu was already
studying with Mizuta), Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu, and Shinden Muso Ryu.
On one occasion the sleeping area for the match factory
workers caught on fire. As everyone ran around screaming, Takamatsu was observed to be smoking a cigar,
watching the fire. He then got one of the thick gi training jackets, soaked it
in water and put the jacket on. He grabbed a hanbo (3ft stick) and running into
the burning area, started to knock down the sliding walls with the hanbo. The
collapsing walls helped extinguish the flames, saving the rest of the factory.
Ishitani is reputed to have watched Takamatsu as he ran about knocking down the
walls and commented that he was truly a great martial artist. Ishitani died a
few years later, just moments after passing the scrolls on to O'Sensei
Takamatsu. It is said that he died with his head in O'Sensei Takamatsu's
Takamatsu received his Menkyo Kaiden from Toda in 1909 when he was
22 years old. Toda died that same year on the 6th December, 1909. Toda once told Takamatsu, 'Even when
you are faced with death, die laughing'. Other pieces of advice he had
given him were:
1. Even when you are standing in front of defeat, do
2. Never talk about your knowledge, it might make it disappear.
A short time after this Takamatsu
left for China.
One of the reasons he gave was that he wished to test his training and this was
no longer possible in Japan.
On his first trip to China Takamatsu went via Korea,
and studied there under Kim Kei-mei. He later mastered up to eighteen Chinese
and Korean martial arts.
While in China
he fought in several battles. In one of these battles a mounted soldier was
charging at him. Takamatsu
was at this point not armed, but a sword lay on the ground before him. As the
horseman started to draw a pistol intending to shoot, Takamatsu ran forward, did a dive roll,
picked up the sword, and sprang into the air cutting off the man's head. He
later told his students that it is of the greatest importance to be able to
roll correctly in as many different ways as possible.
To survive in China,
Takamatsu taught martial arts. He told Hatsumi that at one
point when he was at an English school he had over 1000 students. Many senior
martial artists came to fight him. In the past you had to accept challenges from others - accepting was the only way to keep
up your credibility as a martial artist and as a teacher. He fought every
challenger and never lost a single fight, although some were declared draws. Takamatsu's diary states
that he fought 12 fights to the death, and 7 competition matches. The death
fights were results of challenges. All of these things had occurred by the time
he had attained the grand old age of 30.
Takamatsu returned to Japan in 1919. It was sometime
after this that he went to the Tendai temple on Mt.
Hiei in Kyoto, and was ordained a priest. Later he
became one of the abbots of this temple. Though he said that he was not a
religious person, he was very much attuned to spirit and it is possible that he
was ordained in a total of three different religions.
Some other known facts regarding his life are that his wife
was called Tane and she was born on 28th June Meiji 30 (1896) on the river side
of Yodo-gawa, in the area called Hirakata.
Also we know that he was an adviser on the movie 'Shinobi no mono'
which was made by Daiei. He taught Bojutsu to some of the actors in the movie.
And, in his later life, Takamatsu ran a small
tea house and hotel in Kashiwara, Nara,
Japan. It was
here that he taught a few students Ninjutsu.
In the 1950's, Takamatsu
took on a new student, called Hatsumi Yoshiaki, a young man in his 20's.
Hatsumi traveled 15 hours almost every weekend for 15 years to study with
O'Sensei. Hatsumi said that when he first met Takamatsu he was frightened of him, that he
was a powerful and frightening teacher.
Takamatsu said to his other students, 'I decided to leave
everything in the hands of Hatsumi. I think he is the most suitable person in
martial arts. I am now able to repay Toda Sensei, Ishitani Sensei, and Mizuta
Sensei for their kindness. I intend to continue my studies into the secrets of
nature.' One year before his death, Takamatsu
told Hatsumi that he had taught him everything that he knew. Later, when
training with Takamatsu,
Hatsumi saw him stumble and fall onto one knee. Hatsumi Sensei said that it was then that he realized that perhaps Takamatsu's life was
drawing to an end. Hatsumi took several students to meet and train with Takamatsu.
died on 2nd April 1972,
aged 85. Though he stopped training at the age of 80, he had still continued to
oversee Hatsumi's personal training. O'Sensei is buried in the Kumedra cemetery
near Nara, Japan.
Two things O'Sensei really enjoyed were walking and
painting. He liked to walk every day for approximately one hour (he said that
he was a very bad time keeper), covering approximately 8 miles. He would
usually take his dogs (he had 20 Spitzes) with him on his walks. Just for his
own pleasure he would paint everyday, simply because he enjoyed it and found it
He will be remembered always..
once sent Hatsumi a poem. It reads like this.
Long ago I was an
accomplished warrior of the Koppojutsu tradition.
I was courageous,
and as intense as a flame,
Even in battle against
I have a heart
that is like the wild flowers of the meadow,
yet as straight and true as the bamboo.
Not even ten
thousand enemies can cause me fear.
Who is there in
the world who can keep alive this will of the warrior's heart?
There you are.
This one sent to
me by the Warrior Gods (Bujin).
I have been here
waiting for you through the ages.
Messages from Takamatsu Sensei
THE ESSENCE OF HAPPINESS
The way to experience ultimate happiness is to let go of all worries and
regrets and know that being happy is the most satisfying of life's
feelings. Reflect back on all the progress in
your life and allow the positive, creative and joyous thoughts to outshine and
overwhelm any sorrow or grief that may be lingering there in the recesses of
your mind. Knowing that disease and disaster are natural parts of life is
the key to overcoming adversity with a calm and happy spirit. Happiness
is waiting there in front of you. Only you can decide whether or not you choose
to experience it. Take this to heart
(33rd Grandmaster, Togakure Ryu)
Ninjutsu Hiketsu Bun
(Essence of the Ninja)
The essence of all martial arts and military strategies is self-protection and the prevention of danger. Ninjutsu epitomizes the fullest concept of self-protection of not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well. The way of the ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one. More than merely delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple out-witting of an enemy; ninjutsu is the way of attaining that which we need while making the world a better place. The skill of the ninja is the art of winning.
In the beginning study of any combative martial art, proper motivation is crucial. Without the proper frame of mind, continuous exposure to fighting techniques can lead to ruin instead of self-development. But this fact is not different from any other beneficial practice in life carried to extremes. Medical science is dedicated to the betterment of health and the relief of suffering, and yet the misuse of drugs and the exultation of the physician's skills can lead people to a state where an individual's health is no longer within his or her personal control. A nutritious well-balanced diet works to keep a person alive, vital, and healthy, but grossly over-eating, over-drinking, or taking in too many chemicals is a sure way to poison the body. Governments are established to oversee the harmonious interworking of all parts of society, but when the rulers become greedy, hungry for power, or lacking in wisdom, the country is subjected to needless wars, disorder, or civil and economic chaos. A religion, when based on faith developed through experience, a broad and questing mind, and an unflagging pursuit of universal understanding, is of inspiration and comfort to people. Once a religion loses its original focus, however, it becomes a deadly thing with which to deceive, control, and tax the people through the manipulation of their beliefs and fears. It is the same with the martial arts. The skills of self-protection, which should provide a feeling of inner peace and security for the marial artist, so often develop without a balance in the personality and lead the lesser martial artist into warped realms of unceasing conflict and competition which eventually consume him.
If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego's desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible - the attainment of the 'mind and eyes of the divine.' The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate. In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce. The vast universe, beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good and bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as surprise for the ninja.
<< Supernatural power is not a skill or trick. It exists in your heart, in your sincerity. Religion is the same, too. >> *2
<< Let us all gain happiness by expelling grief, sorrow, and distress from our hearts. Happiness is the supreme satisfaction that this life offers. Dispel dissatisfaction and sorrow, rethink the source to find happiness. >> *2
In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer, and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce.
- Toshitsugu Takamatsu
In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer, and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce.
- Toshitsugu Takamatsu
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster
Inheriting Soke of 9 Ninjutsu Traditions and
Founder of the Bujinkan Dojo
Born in Noda
City, Chiba Prefecture on
December 2, 1931.
Warrior names: Yoshikai, Tetzusan, Hisamune.
Started martial arts at about age 7.
Grandmaster Hatsumi is the founder and International
Director of the Bujinkan Dojo with its Hombu Dojo, the Bujinden (Divine
Palace), residing in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan and has an
administration office attached to his downtown home. He is married to his
lovely wife, Mariko, a famous Japanese dance teacher and 10th dan director of
women's training for the Bujinkan. Dr. Hatsumi is the inheritor of nine
Ninjutsu traditions from the late O'Sensei Toshitsugu Takamatsu (the last true
living Ninja) in the early 1970's just before Soke Takamatsu's passing in 1972.
It is said that Dr. Hatsumi was the only one receiving indepth training with
the great Takamatsu
during the last 15 years of his life.
He graduated from Meiji
University in Tokyo, with a major in theater studies, and
osteopathic medicine (bone doctor). Soon after graduation he opened a bone
clinic in his home town and his practice continued on a steady basis until
about 1990 when his travel and movie schedule seemed to take over all his
Grandmaster Hatsumi is the author of over a dozen books and
40+ video tapes on the art of Ninjutsu. He has been featured in almost every
magazine relating to this subject in Japan, and throughout the entire
world. He has authored countless magazine and newspaper articles on Ninjutsu
and on living a productive life. He wrote, directed
and acted in 50 episodes of a television series called 'Jiraya' which was the
number one watched kid's program in Japan. He is now what is called a
historiographer of martial arts for various plays and movies, acting as a
consultant to ensure that what is being portrayed is done correctly based on
He is a past President of the Writers Guild of Japan. He is
sought out as a speaker and television personality in Japan. He is an accomplished
musician and singer who plays guitar and yukelale. For
several years he played night clubs in a Hawaiian band as a singer and
musician. The walls of his 3 story brick home display an elaborate collection
of signed photos from presidents and leaders of many countries around the
world, along with awards, certificates, and honorary degrees from some of the
most elite organizations in the world. Among them are Honorary Doctorate
degrees from the USA in
Human Sciences and Philosophy, Honorary Texas Ranger, Title of Knighthood from Germany, Blackbelt Magazine's Instructor of the
Year, and Honorable Citizenship from the state of Texas
and cities of Los Angeles, California;
Dublin, Ireland; etc..
In 2000 Soke was awarded Japan's
highest honor, the Cultural Award, by the Emperor
of Japan for his worldwide martial arts contributions.The list is long and
grows every month as he travels around the world teaching at international Tai
Kai events hosted by senior Bujinkan students in their countries.
MARTIAL ARTS BACKGROUND
Young Hatsumi was 7 years old when he first held his father's wooden sword and
took up training in the martial ways. That Bokken training blade was made of biwa wood, and his father was very proud of it. That was in
the late 1930's and that day became the inspiration of his martial arts life.
As a young boy growing up he deeply involved himself in training in the martial
arts of Japan.
It was his love and passion. He studied everything he could, Judo, Kendo,
Karate, Aikido, Okinowan Karate (Zen-Bei Butokukai) and Jukendo (rifle and
bayonet combat). By the time he was 20 years old he had obtained the rank of
4th degree black belt in Judo. In 1951 this was a very high rank and rare for
such a young student of the arts. This proves his dedication and perseverance
since he tested against those much older and bigger than he. He found Judo to
be sport oriented.
After the war years he took a break from martial arts for
awhile. During his late teenage years he trained in western style boxing,
continued playing soccer, and worked hard at his academic studies. Missing the
dojo world of training he so loved and immersed himself into as a youth, he
again returned to martial arts. He kept looking for something; he was not sure
what it was but it seemed to be missing. Eventually he found himself at the
door step of a man who would change his life and someday renew the world of
martial arts, Master Toshigatsu Takamatsu, the last of the true Ninja. Master
Takamatsu took him under his wing for the last 15 years of his life, taught him
the Nine secret traditions and passed them on to him
as the sole heir. Today these studies have become what we know of as the
Bujinkan Dojo. Grandmaster Hatsumi has granted Shidoshi Van Donk full
permission and authority to represent his Ninjutsu / Budo Taijutsu art outside
Therefore the American Bujinkan Dojo was formed and now offers the teachings of
Grandmaster Hatsumi to the general public.
Soke Masaaki Hatsumi's Traditions:
Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken, 34th Grandmaster Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo
Hiken, 28th Grandmaster Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken, 18th Grandmaster
Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Taijutsu Happo Hiken, 26th Grandmaster Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu
Happo Hiken, 28th Grandmaster Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Hiken, 17th
Grandmaster Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken, 14th Grandmaster Gyokushin Ryu
Ninpo Happo Hiken, 21st Grandmaster Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken, 15th
Soke Hatsumi with the International Culture Award
Ninjutsu Masters Speak
NINPO - Words Of Wisdom
'Jutsu' means technique, but
also heart. Jutsu must come from the heart. Therefore your heart must be
straight and honest. If your heart is not clear and straight, your jutsu will
be lacking and you will not improve in the martial arts. Lust for victory will
not give you victory. You must receive the victory from your opponent. He has
no choice but to give it to you because he will sense your heart as better or
truer. Nature is your friend, it will help you to win.
Your enemy will have unnatural moves, therefore you
will be able to know what he is going to do before he does it. If you want to make only your mind/spirit strong practice religion,
not martial arts. Martial arts can kill. On the other hand if you only
are interested in making your body strong enough to kill or win honors, lift
weights, eat vegetables, and walk to become strong. Don't bother with martial
From Hiden no Togakure Ryu Ninpo
—by Soke Masaaki Hatsumi
(34th Grandmaster, Togakure Ryu)
The Essence of Ninjutsu
I believe that Ninpo, the highest order of Ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artist. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalized by Japan's ninja were in fact one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today's martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living. By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear of injury or death, and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations, the practitioner of Ninjutsu can gain the strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others, and contentment with the presence of peace in society.
The attainment of this enlightenment is characterized by the development of the jihi no kokoro, or 'benevolent heart.' Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that finds expression in the unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, the benevolent heart of Ninpo is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds.
After so many generations of obscurity in the shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which Ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so mankind may continue to grow and evolve into the next great plateau.
<< Recently, I am surprised to be able to keep my presence of mind even when I get very angry. I think this is because I have acquired what Takamatsu Sensei called on of the cool courages. Such being the case, I sometimes try to drive some of my disciples into a passion on purpose in order to give them a chance to see what cool courage is. But there are some who leave me without realizing it. >> *2
<< Through the teachings of Takamatsu sensei's martial arts, I found a life. And now I realize that the life has settled in my mind. A righteous life is more precious than a thousand-carat diamond. Once Takamatsu sensei said to me, 'Ninja should have the benevolence to protect men of justice since there are lots of good and respectable people in the world.' Now I have been enjoying two lives, one provided by Mother Nature and the other by Takamatsu sensei. Assuming man's life ends at fifty years, my life is already over. Then the rest of my life is the one provided by Takamatsu sensei. Thus, as a fortunate man who can take good care of his righteous life, I will live the rest of my life in sincerity. To fulfill this purpose, I will paint and enjoy music. Some worldlings may ask me, 'What's the good of you doing such things?' I reply, 'What I mean is just like the sennin or the hermit who lives on air. As the sennin lives on wonderful pictures of Mother Nature and makes the singing of birds and the sight of animals his mental food, so do the ninja.' >> *2
<< 'Strong' and 'weak' are common words on martial artist's lips. However, I make it a rule to advise my pupils that they should behave as squarly as possible, doing what the ninja ought to do. After all, a man must be a hero to understand a hero. I advise my pupils to try not to overcome the enemy but to become men who can live. The movements of ninpo taijutsu are not supposed to be seen as 'strong' or 'weak', but rather movements that bring one un or fortune. >> *2
<< Neither martial artists nor ninja like fighting or violence. Ninja in the true sense of the word are artists who love the beauties of nature and the human spirit. >> *2
<< The late grandmaster Takamatsu often mentioned winning and losing in nature, saying, 'What does 'victory' really mean? I would never have mastered taijutsu if I had clung to that concept.' Nothing is better in learning taijutsu than to give up the shallow concept of victory and defeat and to find the right way to live. >> *2
<< Children have amazing senses of vision and hearing and are even capable of making keen judgements sometimes. >> *2
<< When we speak about ninjutsu, we cannot give a thorough explanation just by focusing on the aspects of religion and the martial arts alone. More importantly, it cannot be understood if you are only to rely on your own senses of the adult world. We often tend to lose sight of things that are much more important because of this. So, let's try to search for new dimensions of light and sound through the eyes and ears of a child. >> *2
<< The perception, innosence, and ideas of a child as well as memories of one's childhood all serve the purpose of the martial arts and ninjutsu. >> *2
Gambatte (Keep Going!)
Forget your sadness, anger, grudges and hatred. Let them
pass like smoke caught in a breeze. You should not deviate from the path
of righteousness; you should lead a life worthy of a man. Don't be
possessed by greed, luxury, or your ego. You should accept sorrows,
sadness and hatred as they are, and consider them a chance for trial given to
you by the powersa blessing given by nature. Have both your mind and
your time fully engaged in budo, and have your mind deeply set on bujutsu.
I have trained myself and instructed others in Kihon Happo
(basic eight rules) and felt that those who have had previous training in
Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, and other fighting techniques tend to stay with
those forms and have trouble learning Budo Taijutsu from a 'blank
slate.' The fighting forms stay with the student even though he
starts the training of Budo Taijutsu. When do the previous learned
techniques disappear? I think it is up to a person's individual
talent. The phenomenon is just like a dialect disappearing after one lives in a different part of the country.
No matter how hard one tries, he will never be a
professional announcer if he speaks in dialect. The same can be said for
Budo. I also studied various martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Aikido,
old-style Budo, and Chinese Budo. In other words.
until I encountered Takamatsu Sensei, I was a Budoka
(martial artist) with many dialects. One day I began to wonder why and
when did I lose those 'dialects?' I realized that it was after
I lost all my muscle tone after five years of illness.
Discovery of your own dialect is one way of improving
Budo. When one reaches a certain degree of skill, he comes up against the
'wall,' something he has trouble overcoming. This is the
so-called dialect of Taijutsu (body technique).
I want to write about how to train yourself when you reach
a higher rank during Budo training. I would like to use a Cat Competition
as an example. I have had lots of experience in the competition because
my wife served as judge of the World Cat Club and I was also vice chairman of
Suppose five top cats are chosen out of hundreds of
cats. All of them are wonderful and beautiful, but that alone cannot be
judged. With no other way to judge which cat is more beautiful then
another, the judges start to look for faults. The one with the most
faults drops to fifth, the next, fourth, then third, and so on. The one
with the least faults becomes Grand Champion.
Bugei is the same way. If one reaches to a higher
rank, he need only eliminate his faults. It may sound easy, but
eliminating faults is very difficult to accomplish, because we tend to think we
are faultless. Faults can be translated into something different in
Budo. They can be suki (unguarded points), or carelessness,
presumption, arrogance, etc. - they all become our fault. No fault, zero
condition is the best. I am ZERO. I joke that the Soke
(GrandMaster) has no Dan. Zero, no fault - that is the target of Bufu
Ikkan (living through the martial winds).
Interview with Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura
By Allie Alberigo Sensei
On April 20, 1994, I had the privilege to be invied to Master Shoto
Tanemura's seminar at the Nokado/Madoka dojo in Kings Park, L.I., N.Y.
The dojo is run by Shihan John Olshlager. The seminar began at two
o'clock and lasted for two and one half hours. The training was grueling. In
the seminar we covered only nine basic techniques of Asayama Ryu JuJitsu
that are from Master Tanemura's family scrolls which date back 2000
After the seminar I was honored to join Shihan Olshlager, Sensei Thomas
Renner and Master Tanemura Sensei for dinner, during which I was
granted permission to interview the master for this issue of Circle of One
Quarterly. The interview took place in a quiet restaurant overlooking the
ocean with a view of Connecticut and the picturesque beach. Again, I was
honored to have spent some quality time with yet another great master of
the martial arts. I can only pray to be as good as the masters I have sat with
and hope that some of their divine spirit and energy can rub off on me. The
interview began over a seafood dinner. Master Tanemura explained how
the same meal in Japan was tremendously different in price. I then asked
the first question.
Q. At what time in your life did you start to train in the martial arts?
A. At the age of nine years old, 38 years ago.
Q. Who was your first instructor?
A. My father and my uncle were my first teachers. They were very strict with me. I learned kendo first, JuJitsu second and
Ninpo third. My father was very hard on me. I had many bruises and abrasions due to being hit on the head in Kendo practice.
I also remember having to train many times on the ground with bare feet, even in the cold of winter in the snow.
Q. Who was your teacher in Ninpo?
A. My teacher was Takamatsu Sensei.
I then went on to ask about the history of Ninjutsu and the people of the clans.
Q. What were the Ninja in Japan like?
A. The Ninja were the working class people, the farmers.
Q. I've heard the many things about the secret medicines and magic of the Ninja. Is this true?
A. Yes, there are medicines that are strictly taught from ancient scrolls. They originated in India and China, and were then
brought to Japan. Certain secret medicines could also be very dangerous if taught to the wrong people. Masters only, and
masters with a kind heart. The medicines were taught through direct teachings only.
Q. In Japan, do you teach the outside methods of training?
A. Yes, the running, climbing, hiding and camouflaging are taught. They are only taught to people at black belt instructor levels
and a certain select group of people.
Q. Have you been happy with the caliber of martial arts in the U.S.A. and abroad, outside of Japan?
A. Yes, very happy. I have been meeting honest people. Then want true martial arts. I came to the U.S. first in 1976. I was
sponsored by Stephen K. Hayes. When the Ninja boom began, many went the wrong way and into the wrong things. People
want true traditional martial arts. Tradition is very important. My style is from 2000 years ago. This has been proven in battle
for many years. It is the True Ninpo. Generations have fought to determine who was the best. Your training is as much the
mind control and spirit power as the physical. You must have religion and martial arts combined, both the physical and
spiritual. I am the 58th generation grandmaster. My spirit is the spirit and the bloodline of 58 generations of masters and their
bloodlines. Through my direct teaching you get direct spirit and direct learning, true spirit and pure teaching from a pure heart,
from all the masters before
Ninpo The higher order
Ninjutsu is best described as the collection of skills utilized by the Ninja while Ninpo, often referred to as 'the higher order of Ninjutsu, ' implies a philosophy for living based on the principles of Nin
Nin translates into patience, but can also imply perseverance, or stealth. The Japanese character for Nin consists of two parts or radicals. The upper radical is called yaiba which refers to the
cutting edge of a blade. The lower radical can be read either as kokoro or shin, both of which mean heart.
The character po, which implies natural law, is used rather than do (i.e.. judo, kendo, aikido,etc).
Referring to our art as Ninpo rather than Ninjutsu stresses training which is concerned with the internal development of the individual's character along with the technical skills of martial training. It
isn't enough just to know techniques, it is where your heart and spirit are as a person that is important. For this reason, Ninpo stresses philosophic and spiritual training in conjunction with the
physical training. This refinement of one's spirit is known in Japanese as seishinteki kyoyo.
Ninpo is concerned with the defense of the whole self, and recognizes that defense against a life-threat is dealt with by the spirit as much as with physical technique.
Class Training Book
we take a relaxed approach to the training, certain formalities (bowing, etc.)
are observed while actually involved in giving and receiving instruction. In
the children's class, adults are addressed as Mr. or Ms.; the teacher can also
be called Sensei.
the adults class, we do not use honorifics as a rule,
but they are not inappropriate. Geniality and respect between all training
members, student and teacher, is the rule and will be observed. Students should
also be aware of certain politenesses that will make them more comfortable if
there should be an opportunity to go to Japan and study or if a Japanese
instructor visits us.
your seniors with respect, your juniors with care. In Japan there is what is known as a
sempai/kohai or senior/ junior system. This system is not part of American
culture. However, due to the inherent danger in all real martial arts training,
more experienced members must ensure that new members are safe and feel so. It
is also their responsibility to make all new training members and guests feel
welcome in the dojo. New members must be observant and are encouraged to ask
questions of the more experienced.
classes are conducted in a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere with the
emphasis on safety. The reason for this is because, as mentioned, the
techniques are real and have not been adapted for use as a sport. They must be
practiced in a certain way or injury will result.
fight distancing is used at all times. Therefore the speed at which technique
exchanges occur must be appropriate for the level and ability of the
participants; training dynamics must be mutually agreed on in advance by
'attacker' and 'receiver.'
members train together when possible. There is no 'caste' system.
Rank and seniority bring more responsibility than p
begins with all members kneeling in seiza facing the front wall of the dojo.
The instructor intones the following motto:
'SHI-KIN HARA-MITSU DAI-KO-MYO'
phrase cannot be translated directly into English. One interpretation is:
'A moment of true interaction between mind and spirit may lead to
Enlightenment.' There are many others.]
clap twice, bow once, clap once, and bow again. The teacher turns to face the
class, and the senior student calls:
'SEN-SEI NI REI'
to the teacher]
and teacher bow to each other at the same time and say:
[Please assist me]
A-RI-GA-TO GO-ZAI-MAS' '(after training) [Thank you very much]
will find that most of our training is done in pairs. There is very little
'shadow- boxing.' You can do that at home. When working with a
training partner, it is customary to bow before and after a training segment.
Exchange names if you don't know each other we
Gun Take away
threatens you with gun
Hook sword(walking stick, etc)
behind attackers arm as you push the gun away
Pull the gun from attackers hand as you turn them and
kick to the stomach
Use the sword and your leg to bring attacker down
Stick or sword attack
squares off ready to strike you (with stick or sword)
to side of blow and position arms around striking arm
bar opponent causing them to drop weapon
body to ground to finish opponent
Sample from 'The Mystic Arts of
the Ninja: Hypnotism, Invisibility, and Weaponary' by Stephen K Hayes
Ken or Shinobigatana
<< The ninja ken, sometimes referred to as shinobigatana, or short sword
was an important tool in Japan's
historical art of ninjutsu. However, when compared with the beautiful tachi and
katana blades of the samurai, which were often masterpieces of swordmaking art,
the ninja sword appears to be little more than a utilitarian bush knife. The
ninja looked upon his sword as one of the many tools of his trade, and though
he respected its capabilities and value to his work, the ninja rarely afforded
his short sword the reverence or spiritual qualities with which the samurai
would regard his family treasure blade.
Ninja swords were much shorter than the samurai blades, in order to facilitate
fighting in close quarters and moving quickly and silently down narrow
corridors and crawl spaces. The blades were often straight slabs of steel with
a single ground edge, because many ninja either had no access to or could not
afford the work of expert swordmakers, and resorted to forging their own blades
in home shops. The important tsuba handguard, often a delicate and prized work
of art on samurai family swords, was also most often 'home made' on
ninja ken, and usually took the form of a hammered steel square without
ornamentation. The ninja sword's scabbard was often longer in length than the
blade itself, the extra space in the bottom end of the saya or sheath being
used to carry messages, blinding powders, or explosives.
The historical ninja did in fact regard his short sword as more of a tool than
an exclusive-use killing weapon. The blade was often used as a mean of cutting
through or prying open doors, hatches, or window frames. The extra-long sageo
or scabbard cord could be used to bind captured enemies, rig up trip wires in
front of doorways or along forest paths, or for a web seat for observation high
up in the branches of a tree. The wide tsuba or hand guard could beused as a
prying device, or by leaning the sword up against a wall, as a booster step for
Because the ninja ken was usually not as long nor as
refined a blade as that of the samurai warrior, the method of using the ninja
sword was different from that of conventional Japanese kenjutsu. The samurai
could rely on the razor edge of his sword to make effective cuts, and he could
thereby employ precise, sharp, graceful body movements to propel his sword. The
ninja, on the other hand, had to rely more on body weight in motion behind the
sword, in order to cut effectively. The less refined edge on his blade made the
ninja's sword fighting techniques rely more on slamming stabs and sawing
dragged-edge cuts, than the deft slashes that could be applied with the samurai
sword. >> *1
Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki
Heaven, Earth and Man Strategy Book
These techniques comprise the Kihon Kata of Bujinkan Budo
Taijutsu. Kata are taken from all the nine schools to compile this book, and
this forms the basis of instruction for all students. The Tenchijin Ryaku No
Maki was formulated by Masaaki Hatsumi, 34th Soke of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu and
founder of the Bujinkan.
Ten Ryaku No Maki -
'Heaven Strategy Book'
Bujin shoku to seikatsu
Junan Taiso to Kokyuho
Shiho Tenchi Tobi
Zenpo Ukemi Gata to Ryusui
Shinken Gata Taihenjutsu
Taihenjutsu Mutodori Gata
Hira no Kamae
Ichimonji no Kamae
Jumonji no Kamae
Ukemi no jutsu to Ankoku toshijutsu
Kamae to sono kata
Shoten no jutsu
Sanshin no Kata
Chi no Kata
Sui no Kata
Ka no Kata
Fu no Kata
Ku no Kata
Koshi Dai - Ippo - Dai - Sanpo
Ichimonji no Kata
Hicho no Kata
Jumonji no Kata
Torite Gata Dai Ippo - Dai Goho
Omote Gyaku Dori
Ura Gyaku Dori
Hon Gyaku Dori
Kyusho to Kiai
Koppojutsu Kinketsu Teisoku Kasho Meisho
Chi Ryaku No Maki -
'Earth Strategy Book'
Sokuyakuken Ten no Keri
Sokugyakuken Ten no Keri
Omote Sokugyakuken Ten
Naname Koho Tenchijin Geri
Kagi Koho Geri
Keri ni Taisuru Uke Kata
Kyoto (Takagi Yoshin ryu)
Keri no Tai Dori
Ken no Tsukai Kata, Inashi Gata
Itami Osae / Itami Dori
Ken Nagashi - Tedama Dori
Aite to Kumu Koko Kogamae
Oyo Goroshi - Ko Goroshi
Omote Take Ori
Ura Take Ori
Omote - Ura Oni Kudaki
O gyaku to Henka
Ryo Ude Jime
Do Jime - Kubi Jime
Katate Dori Kubi Jime
Kubi Ura Jime
Sei On Jime
O gyaku Jime
Jigoku, Gokuraku, Yume no Makura
Nage / Throws
Harai - Koshi & Harai - Otoshi
Gyaku Taki Otoshi
Kubi Dori Taki Otoshi
Osoto Nage to Hiki Otoshi
Uchi Mata & Uchi Gake
Itami Ken Nage
Nage ni Taisuku Waza
Ransetsu to Soto
Sutemi Nage - Tomoe Geri Kara Tawara Mawashi
Jin Ryaku No Maki -
'Man Strategy Book'
Ashirau Ippo - Yonho
Ko - Gyaku Otoshi
Josei Goshin jutsu
Ichi Tai Tasu
Shinken Shiraha Dome to Shira Dori
Muto Dori Kata
Tsubute & Kurumi
Ita Shuriken (Hira Shuriken)
Te no Naka