Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Last "Last Ninja:" The Fraud of the Ninjutsu Lineage Arguements

If you have spent any time on martial arts forums or facebook you notice that the issue with ninjutsu is lineage. So lets discuss lineage...

Before we get further let me say that I would like the thank Antony Cummings & the Historical Ninjutsu Research Team for translating the Densho and Historical Ninjutsu Research Group for helping to throw some ideas around on Facebook. So thank you all.

Now then let me start by addressing the ninja lineage issue in itself, as such... There is no verifiable ninja lineage proven to exist in the 20th Century and therefor none in the 21st Century. That's right my lineage is basically someone told me "this is ninjutsu" and I've told my students "this is ninjutsu" then Antony Cummings pops up with translated scrolls and says "This is Ninjutsu!"

So we know what ninjutsu is and what it isn't. Imagine a coin; this coin is warfare. On one side is the heads; the public image of combat skills, strategy, tactics etc. On the other side is the tails; except our tails is just a blank space because the tails is invisible and unseen. Ninjutsu is not the art of invisibility but the invisible (unseen) art, its practice is not in stealth killing or hiding but in gathering information, infiltration and investigation. Or as explained by others ninjutsu is Espionage, Sabotage & Assassination; though the use of assassination is more geared toward enemy agents who themselves are seeking to gather information and subvert your side's own operations then killing enemy leaders and politicians.

Oddly enough the first "Last Ninja" was Fujita Seiko who never stated if had or hadn't passed on his ninjutsu lineage and while it is assumed he didn't it is of little consequence at this point. The fact remains (again thanks to the efforts of Anthony Cummings while in Japan) a copy of the Nakano Espionage Course revealed Fujita Seiko did teach ninjutsu at the famed Nakano Espionage School in Japan during WW2 and that he taught from the Bansenshukai. Two distinct versions of this text exist, one for Koga (Koka) Shinobi and another for Iga Shinobi. Both are basically the same text with only a slight difference in how things are compiled. So for a "fraudulent ninja" with no proven lineage Fujita Seiko had a hand in training modern Japanese Espionage Agents during WW2. To be honest, that's pretty **Bleeping** Ninja!

Now to consider the issue of whether Fujita Seiko actually passed on his ninjutsu to someone else? We don't know, if ninjutsu is meant to be an invisible art then would even have passed it on to a new Soke? He never stated he wished to let the art die. Of course he never stated he wished to see it kept alive either. The fact remains ninjutsu is not a martial art and is separate from the combat methods of soldiers. It does not mean the Shinobi/Ninja is not trained as a soldier/warrior but that the combat training and soldiering skills are separate from the espionage skills, trained differently and hidden from the eyes of regular soldiers.

Volume Index & Contents
Volume 1: Jo
Preface & InterductionPhilosophy of Successful Warfare & StrategyHistorical Examples of Successful Warfare & StrategyIndex of the Volumes
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Volume 2: Seishin
Sincerity, Motivation & Moral Strength of Intention
Correct approach to Life & Death

Volume 3: Shochi
Methods For Managing a Ninja Organization
Using Ninja Successfully
Conditions for Stopping Enemy Agents
Methods for Infiltrating An Enemy's Base

Volume 4: Yo-Nin
Various Methods For Observing The Enemy's Intentions:
*Continuous observation through agents placed during peaceful times
*Location of agents after war breaks out
*Observation of the geographical layout of the enemy's territory
*Observation of the enemy's force numbers, capabilities and other strenghts
*Observation of the enemy's strategy and positioning
*Nokisaru: (The Eaves Monkey) Agents who specilize in watching and listening (Ancient Application of using Audio-Video Bugs and Wiretaps)

Volumes 5, 6 & 7: In-Nin
Shinobi Yochi- Ninja Night Attack/Raid Techniques
Goto- Mugging & Assailent Techniques
Methods Of:
*Confusion Tactics
*Surprise Attacks & Ambushes
*Sneaking In & Burglary
*Capturing Enemys
*Individual Fighting
*Group Hit & Scatter Tactics

 Volume 8: TenjiTentoki {Heaven Time} Tenmon {Heaven's Gate}
Methods For Interpreting The Coditions InThe Enviroment:
*Weather Forcasting
*Tide Tables
*Moon Phases
*Determination Of Direction & Location By Observing The Stars
*Predicting Future Trends & Happenings

Volume 9: Nin-ki
Toki- Climbing Gear
Suiki- Water Gear
Kaiki- Entering Gear
Physical Dimensions & Specifications of Equipment

Volume 10:
Kaki- Fire Gear:
*Explosives *Smoke Bombs
Sleeping Potions

While the Bansenshukai deals with a selective concern of small teams tactics (considered skirmish tactics in their time) it has nothing on ninjutsu as a martial arts system teaching either joint manipulation or striking, nothing to hold a sword or shoot a bow and arrow. These are soldier skills and a special forces unit does not shoot a gun any different then an infantry soldier fresh out of basic, except that the Special Forces soldier trains more and has more experience.

So what does this have to do with the Last Ninja or Last Ninjas that seem to be popping up? Quite simply, while Fujita Seiko may or may not have been a Soke of a tradition, he was an instructor for the Nakano Espionage School training spies and commandos during World War 2.

The Last Ninja title is now claimed by Hatsumi, who has no connection to ninjutsu or a proven lineage; except that claims a higher order of Ninjutsu called Ninpo & he learned it from Takamatsu. In fact much of Takamatsu-den lineage claims to be false. Lets examine it and then why.

Toshitsugu (Chosui) Takamatsu claims to have inherited several schools from Toda Shinryuken, these schools are;
  • Gyokko-ryū/Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu
  • Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu
  • Shinden Fudo Ryu/Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentaijutsu
  • Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
  • Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo
  • Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo

  • As Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu is listen in Volume 1 of the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as having died 4 years before Tokamatsu's birth, however this was not fixed until the 3rd edition of the Encyclopedia of Martial Arts; the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, after being addressed in the 2nd edition. And the existence of fictional characters the equal of Robinhood and King Arthur in the west was stated in the first volume and corrected by Takamatsu other questions require answering.

    How come as a military man and sword instructor no record of Toda Shinryuken exists?
    How come as a bone setter no tax records exist?
    How come Takamatsu placed his death 4 years before his own birth?

    The reality Takamatsu seems to have made up Toda Shinryuken after being forbidden from teaching claiming a ninjutsu lineage through the Kuki family. You see the Amatsu Tatara claims a direct transmission from Babylon via a Chaldean King who brought a great library of knowledge to tribal Japan. While Takamatsu claims this knowledge was in the Kuki Family's possession and has a creditable lineage to the Kuki Family, the Family denies the existence of the Amatsu Tatara before Takamatsu "discovered it" and disputes Takamatsu's claim to destroyed scrolls and his own copies of the documents.

    So automatically six of the nine traditions are proven false, looking at the issues with Takamatsu's story more so then his lineage and his habit of making grandiose claims; such as hiss letter detailing his "secret spy missions" in China during World War 2; Takamatsu had bragged that a busted ear drum (a training injury) prevented him from joining the military during that time. More so, as proven by the Kuki family the destroyed scroll claim is false due to the Densho being held in wood cases that protected them; while their are missing scrolls these have been lost to time and while their was a fire several scrolls which were "burned" merely had their wooden cases scorched while the scrolls inside where protected from the damage.

    Many Bujinkan "scholars" point to Shindenfudo Ryu Daikentaijutsu as being proof of Toda Shinryuken's existence. This is relatively true except that the Shindenfudo Ryu studied by Kuki Takei from the Kuki family of Kukishin Ryu and a Senior student of Jugaro Kano the founder of Judo was not a student of Toda Shinryuken. In fact their is a style of Shinden Fudo Ryu Jujutsu with a completely different lineage and no connection to the Bujinkan or Takamatsu except that it was studied by Kuki Takei. This lineage of Shinden Fudo Ryu Jujutsu and Judo are the sources of Baritsu; an English Self-Defense System created by  Edward William Barton-Wright in 1898. Barton was an Engineer who spent several years in Japan.

    It is therefore easy to assume in light of the other falsehoods that either;
    a) Takamatsu invented the Kuki Takei connection to Shindenfudo Ryu or
    b) Takamatsu added Shinden Fudo Ryu to the list of arts taught to him by Toda Shinryuken (a man yet unproven to exist) to make the fictitious Toda seem more real by adding a legitimate martial art to the fictional arts passed down to him by a fictional master.

    So no argument stands as none of these six ryu ha have been proven and the man Takamatsu claims as the source seems non-existent.

    This leaves only Kukishinden Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu & Gikan Ryu.
    *Kukishinden is a splinter from the Kuki family's Kukishin Ryu formed by Takamatsu. While the Kuki family doesn't wish to speak of Takamatsu save for clarifying the destruction story to be a falsehood & to label the Amatsu Tatara as the work of Takamatsu not much else is gleamed. Whether Takamatsu broke away from the Kukishin Ryu and founded his own ryu-ha Kukishinden to become Soke of own traditional is debated. The fact is Kukishinden Ryu is a verifiable and traceable system to the Kukishin family.
    *Takagi Yoshin Ryu under Mizuta Yoshitaro is also not disputed and Takamatsu was in possession of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu Densho to validate his claim.
    *Gikan Ryu has some dispute as there are two different lineages claiming Takamatsu inherited/learned from both Mitzuta Yoshitaro and Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage; yet no proof exists for Ishitani's existence and a supposedly claimed grave site with the name doesn't prove this person knew, taught  or inherited a lineage to pass on to Takamatsu.

    So we see 2 and half (I give Gikan Ryu a half value) lineages that are proven under Takamatsu and none of them are ninjutsu or have anything to do with ninjutsu except that Takamatsu experienced the Ninja Boom of Japan in the 1930s and 50 years later Hatsumi a student of Takamatsu mass marketed the ninja image during that time.

    In 1969, Donn Draeger wrote in Comprihensive Asian Fighting Arts "The late Fujita Seiko was the last of the living ninja, having served in assignments for the Imperial Government during the Taisho and Showa eras. No ninja exist today. Modern authorities such as T. Hatsumi are responsible for most research being done on ninjutsu."

    Fujita was also called the last true ninja in his obituary in 1966 published in a tourist magazine in Japan. Despite claims that Fujita didn't teach ninjutsu at Nakano has been disproved by historical research done by Antony Cummings, however is was only a 8 hour course of study.

    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/CZV1YtII4w8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    The Iga Ninja Museum (a tourist attraction and not an academic institution) claims the "last ninja" is their honorary directer Jinichi Kawakami; however he claims only to be the Soke of Koga Ban family Ninjutsu both Iga and Koka Ryu arts.

    Hatsumi claims title of "last ninja" from Takamatsu whom Hatsumi believed was divine (yes they worship him in the Shinto sense of paying homage to spirits) and named his Bujinkan Dojo after Takamatsu; Bu: War or pretaining to War, Jin: God or Divine Spirit & Kan: Hall or Domain. Bujinkan literally translates to Hall of the Warrior God or War God's Hall.

    In his 2006 book Takamatsu Toshitsugu: The Last Shinobi Wolfgang Ettig refers to Takamatsu as the "last shinobi" citing unproven and fanciful tells of Takamatsu fighting death matches in China and similar unproven tells. Such as his self-established Moko no Tora (Tiger of Monogolia) title. Surely a famed fighter of several "death matches" who carried out espionage activies for the Japanese government and known by such a name to his enemies would have some proof?

    Consider that (picking on Hanshi Frank Dux) a "notorious ninja fraud" Frank W. Dux is often reputed by his enemies as having been proven to have lied about the whole Blood Sport Kumite fighting event; had taken Soldier of Fortune Magazine in court and proved they used unverified claims and never investigated the facts. Consider that an alleged fraud who sued Jean Claude Van Dam actually attended the Iran-Contra hearings as a witness, whose claims to being an (untrained) agent for the CIA was verified by an assistant director for the CIA, a Naval Intelligence Officer and a former Soviet Officer who defected to the US. Oh and those alleged sugared glass bottles he broke in Bierce France and the alleged fake bullet proof glass is listed as real in the Genius Book of Records.

    So Frank Dux isn't a fraud? You decide my opinion is, no. Nor does he claim to be the "Last Ninja" or such nonsense. The fact remains the Last Ninja title has a very specific point to it. Money...

    Let us examine Shidoshi Richard Van Donk's site advertising a video ninjutsu course, that takes you up to shodan; though fine print says training requires direct testing for shodan. But the second image is priceless; it lists other courses...
    * Nidan Course for you second degree black belt
    * Sandan Course for your third degree black belt
    * A Shidoshi-Ho Course teaching you to be an instructor
    * A Ninja Masters Course teaching you to go from beginning to Godan (5th degree black belt) requiring you to test in Japan before Hatsumi in Japan.

    Shihan Van Donk isn't the only one doing this;

    That's right more mail order black belts offering authentic ninjutsu; this is little different then video self-defense courses & I don't believe these courses are without merit as a tool for learning. They are marketed towards a single end goal. Offering an instant "bad ass certificate" that proves you are a "bad ass" without having to put yourself at risk. Much like the Military Hand-to-Hand combat courses and Civilian Self-Defense Courses they offer you a good feeling and little chance to exercise those skills; to prove them in a training or real world situation.

    The problem comes from lack of usage or experience with these skills; its been covered ninjutsu is not fighting arts & these courses do not offer anything in regards to espionage or intelligence operations.

    Instead they offer a Hollywood image of being a deadly ninja assassin with black suit and sword, not very in line with the Bansenshukai is it?

    More so looking at the Ninja Master Courses and Shidoshi-Ho courses we see a present trend of "home schooled martial artists" becoming instructors. Claiming a legitimate and authentic system, which isn't in any way related to historical ninjutsu and, many spending their time on the Internet attacking "fraudulent ninja practicers" to boost their own self-importance.
     Looks like I'm buying a Sham Wow!
    with Ninjas... 
    The fact remains several shidoshi-ho (godan ranked instructors) are listed in the Success Stories section who have used this course and are now instructors operating Dojos, some with websites listed.
    Then your "home schooled ninja master" becomes a home schooled instructor and teaches your kids the "secrets of the ninja." I think I mentioned Sham & Wow at some point (joking by the way). While this has value as a learning tool; something I don't discount and in all honesty most instructors from creditable arts, lineages and organization often have little real world experience. I myself was a student of McDojo baby sitting service and except for a few school yard fights and teenage stupidity (ok a lot of teenage stupidity) had to get experience the hard way. It is honestly better to be untested then to have to test yourself when you are unprepared from academic learning, my personal experiences and observations after the experiences had ended.
    Looking at the Ninjutsu IBDA Course Curriculum; this course who's subject matter is martial arts and fighting techniques; nothing concerning ninjutsu as listed in the Bansenshukai or other historically research materials.

    All the way up to judan (10th Degree Blackbelt) ninjutsu is not covered and while a passing glance does uncover the mention of Togakure Ryu we have the problem; excluding the lineage issues, that Togakure Ryu is mostly weapons with little unarmed "taijutsu" and hardly any espionage mentioned or taught.
    How does this compare the "frauds" like Frank Dux and Ashida Kim; well Hanshi Dux was a private contractor contracted to operate as a spy; an espionage agent. I don't have much concerning frame work for teaching as Hanshi Dux desires to keep it a secret of he and his students. Grandmaster Ashida Kim (Admittedly a Stage/Ring Name); allegedly Radford Davis Jr and Christopher Hunter, seems to follow the course of what is historically accurate.
    Looking first at Secrets of the Ninja, we see a contents page; with the first subject after the preface on Ninjutsu History speaks of espionage as a weapon, followed by a basic coverage of ninjutsu dealing with meditation for inner strength and kuji kiri. This compares with the spirit of the Bansenshukai Volumes 1 & 2, which is considered by many historical researchers the "Bible of Ninjutsu."
    The rest deals with In-nin/inpo and tonin/tonpo which also follows along the lines of Volumes 5, 6 & 7 of the Bansenshukai but also takes elements from Volumes3 & 9 in spirit.

    So elements in the section on tonpo would follow along with the spirit of sections on Yonin and using ninja successfully.
    Looking at the contents from Ninja Hands of Death; three things immediately jump at the reader...
    1) The Breakdown of sections Kata Dante, Submission Holds, Ninjutsu & Post Script...
    Ashida Kim did not consider ninjutsu a martial art in itself but separated it from martial arts techniques. This book copy written in 1985 comes before Historical Ninjutsu Researcher Anthony Cummings addressed this very element in the modern image of ninjutsu.
    2) That Ashida Kim refers to Nine Methods of Prevailing...
    What are these nine methods of prevailing that are different then Kata Dante; a striking and trapping form or grappling skills? They are over views of strategic principles of social infiltration and manipulation. I would suggest one reads the book for details; http://www.amazon.com/Ninja-Hands-Death-Ashida-Kim/product-reviews/0873643224
    3) A post script titled the World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets...
    While this seems mostly geared toward combat on the title alone, one cannot discount the words of the post script. That is that all warfare whether personal combat or fielding armies is a matter strategy and Ashida Kim offers methods of attacking by strategy in this post script.
    So why is there such a competition fueled by people trying to validate themselves through Internet attacks on business competitors, empty titles of the "Last Ninja" and learn at home mastery courses? Well because this is America. Because some people want to feel good as opposed to doing good works and because quite simply its a desire to validate one's self and one's choices. Many times we are unaware that their are no good or bad, right or wrong choices. Our opinions and actions are so irrelevant to all but ourselves we cannot see how unimportant they are.
    In the end its whats we do with what we have. I don't want to be the "Last Ninja" nor would I care to learn an 800 year old tradition. I'm to focused on being the First Ninja; the first to design a thermal blocking shinobi gi, the first to develop a sniper course and add modern firearms to the curriculum, the first to teach strategy, intelligence warfare and espionage tactics openly to the public. If my lineage is a fraud; so what my methods (methods I discussed on this blog) have worked for me and a real life or death situation. I can't be accused of giving away national security secrets concerning espionage training if my ninjutsu is real or fake and I make no claim to being a CIA or otherwise operative.
    In the end things are what you make them and you get out what you put in, if you work hard those courses might benefit you. But, if you spend all your time validating choices you made and not working hard to achieve results, you gain only the illusion of progress.


    1. I studied in the bujinkan and all of this fighting about who is right and who is wrong and who got what from where is totally irrelevant. If something someone learned from a bujinkan or a genbukan or where ever the hell they learned it works and it stops muggers, murders or rapist from hurting you or someone you love then great learn some more and if that crap don't work then don't do it. Remember what Bruce Lee said" take what is useful, discard what isn't".

    2. Very good text sensei Ron Collins... i like the Black Dragon Society and respect you and your teachers: grandmaster ashida kim, sensei stoffel van Yurren, Sensei Arie van den Akker, sensei Titus Jansen, frank dux, John Keehan, and all the others. Ashida Kim his organisation has good martial arts.

    3. Dude I really enjoy all the info. But to say Fujita Seiko didn't say he taught anybody!!!!!! He specified 2 people that he awarded the Menkyo certificate to. Inoue Motokatsu and Iwata Manzo!!!!!! Neither are Soke but they were given permission to teach :)

    4. I have up to the yondan course, and it seems real basic. I think their's a lot missing,and I think people would be a lot better than shown on his vidios. Now I have no ninjutsu studios around here, but I really want to learn ninjutsu

      1. Well I created my own home study course for Black Dragon Ninjitsu. I am up to the 6th Kyu Material which I am working on now... Now I have to warn you, this is nothing like the Bujinkan Ninjutsu Course or anyone else's I've seen so far.

        For one thing there is a weekly testing requirement which means 4 times a month you are required to send in "testing videos" so I can judge your progress and help you work on your strengths and weaknesses. Secondly, after 5th Kyu we start focusing on Stealth, Survival & similar subjects. So it's not just taijutsu and katana.
        Third, to earn a shodan requires a 3 day (sparring intensive) "boot camp" here in West Virginia that ends with a 24 hour survival-evasion-infiltration course.
        Fourth, once you get the Shodan you can teach and rank up to 1st Kyu and students must come and get the boot camp but, once one has the Hakkyu Material under their belts they can have 4 friends to enroll in the same course and use the same material, no need to buy extra courses just pay the program dues and rank promotion fees ($25 monthly program due & $50 rank promotion fee) however as the senior member of the group this means one is responsible for organizing the group to practice training as a group. This is because sparring is suggested element of training and a mandatory part of Shodan Boot Camp training.
        Finally, this program is a bridge to another end goal. An open Ninja Competition where Shodan Satellite Schools can compete with other satellite schools & any school which wants to compete to learn and practice the skills one has been learning. The focus point of this event will be a "Ninja War Game" between 2 teams from each school where 10 man/woman teams compete in a paramilitary war game (basically ninja themed capture the flag-paintball) each with a specific "mission goal" 5 defenders and 5 infiltrators. A martial arts, jujitsu/taijitsu competition, self-defense drills competition, obstacle/infiltration courses and even sweapon sparring competitions. Its an open event, so any style can compete, tactical schools can compete and anyone can pick any event... However Black Dragon Ninjitsu Satellite Schools, Schools and Affiliated schools have to compete in the War Game and Jujutsu Competitions at minimum.

        So with this course you can get some friends together and train and develop your own Ninjutsu studio in the Process. Once you get a Sandan you can promote to Shodan & even Nidan. At Godan, you can promote to Godan which is full transmission of the Art.

        It can be found at http://shadowwarriorpress.com/t/dvd--video if you are interested.

    5. You condemn Bujinkan guys (who are wrong) for doing home study courses which is bs.Then run off and do a home study course talk about the pot calling the kettle black.Smh

    6. Wrong Justin, I don't condemn the video course. I don't like certain elements for how it is arranged. Such as "testing" for rank every 3 months. In fact, I even mildly supported to potential of the courses when I said "In the end things are what you make them and you get out what you put in, if you work hard those courses might benefit you. But, if you spend all your time validating choices you made and not working hard to achieve results, you gain only the illusion of progress."

      Ultimately, its not the course but what you put into getting out of it. You take classes in person but, if you don't put work into it you won't get benefits from it.

      To that end I also said "While this has value as a learning tool; something I don't discount and in all honesty most instructors from creditable arts, lineages and organization often have little real world experience." & "I don't believe these courses are without merit as a tool for learning. They are marketed towards a single end goal. Offering an instant "bad ass certificate" that proves you are a "bad ass" without having to put yourself at risk. Much like the Military Hand-to-Hand combat courses and Civilian Self-Defense Courses they offer you a good feeling and little chance to exercise those skills; to prove them in a training or real world situation.

      The problem comes from lack of usage or experience with these skills; its been covered ninjutsu is not fighting arts & these courses do not offer anything in regards to espionage or intelligence operations."

      My problem is not the course, the existence of the courses but, the lack of Ninjutsu. The claim to legitimacy and nothing that appears to be legitimate historical ninjutsu. I stated this plainly when I said "Looking at the Ninjutsu IBDA Course Curriculum; this course who's subject matter is martial arts and fighting techniques; nothing concerning ninjutsu as listed in the Bansenshukai or other historically research materials."

      Claiming legitimacy to a Koryu system that is allegedly the root of all ninjutsu and claiming to be the "Last Ninja" is an issue when it doesn't match proven historical texts. When historical texts aren't even addressed or several claims don't match up within the lineage claims.

    7. what do you think about Jinichi Kawakami?
      in my opinion he is the last living Ninja

      1. Kawakami is easily the most legitimate Ninja Master in Japan and the world. He often cites historical texts and is himself admittedly on the Ninjutsu is not a martial art bandwagon.

        Kawakami has only one issue, that he lacks paperwork (densho) to back it up... However, as I already said Kawakami is easily the most legitimate Ninja Master in Japan and the world. Even if his Koga Ban was something he invented from studying historical texts, he is historically accurate & the most openly knowledgeable.

        I do disagree with him about, Ninjutsu not being applicable to the modern era... As it has a lot of SERE school type stuff. Regardless I would love to train with him.