Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is the Koga Ryu Ninjutsu Really Dead?

This is a fun little article because I'm going argue that Koga Ryu Ninjutsu (in some cases) has a better lineage then the Bujinkan & Takamatsu arts. I addressed the lineage of the Takamatsu schools, the Ninpo Ryu are all out due to Toda Shinryuken being an as yet (and always will be unverified character), Gikan Ryu is suspect because it has not documents & the person who instructed Takamatsu (a security guard at his grandfather's match factor was dead when Takamatsu claimed to learning this art so no proof), Kukishinden Ryu is based on a lie that all Kuki Family Densho were destroyed and that he had provided copies of the scrolls; yet on the old Kuki Family web site it was discussed as an open lie by Takamatsu as the wooden scroll cases were unharmed, though some were singed and other destroyed outright by age (leading me to believe; this is my personal belief, that Takamatsu made up Kukishinden Ryu to have a claimed link to Koryu Roots that he was head of the Tradition) & Takagi Yoshin Ryu which has a proven lineage and that's nothing to argue about.

The fact remains if the Takamatsu-den arts are what you're into you own no one any apologies; certainly not me, I'm stating facts not trying to discourage your practices or what you want to train in. Do as you do and do it well...

One of the Key components of Ninjutsu is history & I'm going to address history before I address the modern evolution of ninjutsu. There is no school of ninjutsu with a proven historical lineage to claim traditional roots. Because of that fact, many people invent lineage and offer to teach "ninjutsu" claiming a lineage that does not exist. I have learned to take all claims to historical ninjutsu with a "grain of salt" except the actual historical documents found in Japanese History Museums written by actual Shinobi-no-Mono (Men who Steal-In).

For those familiar with the man Fujita Seiko (as its a Japanese Name the Family name comes before the Individual name) was known as the "last ninja" this due to his claims of having inherited the Koga Ryu Wada-ha Tradition and for having been an instructor teaching Ninjutsu at the famed Nakano Espionage School in Japan during World War II.

The fact that Seiko Fujita was an interesting character in Japan & the fact that his obituary was published in a Tourist Magazine; as well as his life attracted the attention of Donn Dreager a noted Martial Artists & expert on Asian Martial Arts. As Fujita Seiko was known as an expert on ninja, and with stories by American G.I. of Ambushes and Surprise attacks by Japanese Soldier following World War II, ninjutsu began to spread to the US.

Many Japanese "Ninja Masters" began teaching "Ninjutsu" to soldiers willing to pay to learn. And Japan had its "ninja boom" (a sudden emergence of ninja & ninjutsu in Japanese pop culture) in the 1930s. Fujita Seiko's obituary in a tourist magazine is evidence of ninjutsu (particularly Koga Ryu Ninjutsu) being marketed to foreigners; particularly Americans. Regardless, the historical documents like the Shoninki & Banenshukai were translated into modern Japanese during the 1930s when Japanese interest in ninjutsu peeked.

A side not concerning Ashida Kim (I will discuss more on him later) his father was in the US Army about this time and he learned Ninjutsu from a Japanese Instructor who also taught Karate. Its completely possible that Ashida Kim learned Ninjutsu from a Karate Instructor who read the translated ninjutsu documents, his Karate Instructor was a former student of Nakano, just as its likely he made it all up or actually learned a ninjutsu tradition. Regardless it should be noted thanks to research from Antony Cummins (who translated the historical documents into english) that Fujita Seiko did in fact teach ninjutsu from the Bansenshukai.

Donn Dreager was also an instructor in Tenshi Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu the oldest school of traditional Japanese swords arts, but included among them the use of the spear (yari), halbred (Nagnana), and others. Oddly enough Tenshi Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu (a Samurai school) contains Ninjutsu. However, the ninjutsu contained is more counter-intelligence/counter-espionage then actual espionage (this was also due to Antony Cummins research), so allow me to add some supposition...

Having heard of Ninjutsu Mr. Dreager goes looking for ninjutsu, this does not lead straight to Takamatsu or Hatsumi but to Fujita Seiko the Last Ninja of Japan as well as a score of other people claiming to have a "ninja skills" or "ninja training." was US Military men & women in Japan was in the writings of Fujita Seiko and the infamous Koga Ryu.

The Tourist magazine obituary of Fujita Seiko testifies to this very fact, US Servicemen were exposed to the cultural adaptation of the ninja in mainstream Japanese culture; TV shows, movies, books, plays & advertisements. Koga Ryu ninjutsu (though only an 8 hour course from the Bansenshukai) was taught at Nakano Espionage School (A school that was open address as a war correspondence school but secretly trained Commando-Spies for Japan) by the Last Ninja Employed by the Japanese Government Fujita Seiko; who was a Naval Intelligence Officer.

Can you really wonder why there are so many Koga Ryu Schools in the US, with service men learning ninjutsu, kendo, kenjutsu, jujutsu, karate, judo & aikido coming home with stories of black clad ninja assassins? I'm sure quite a few never learned the art and was working off Japanese TV shows & movies.
With Antony Cummins translations of the Bansenshukai & Shoninki into modern English many modern Koga Ryu Dojos with no historical lineage are using the historical texts to gain authenticity. While Antony has an issue with this, I do not because it means the ninja who left those scrolls as teachings for the next generations should the need ever arise to need ninjutsu has succeeded in their goals. In the 1930s Japan fostered many Koga Ryu Ninjutsu Schools that catered to GIs in Japan teaching ninjutsu from the works of Fujita Seiko and the modern translations of historical ninjutsu texts.
Now I said I would speak more of Ashida Kim later on & so I will now. I said earlier I know there are fake schools of Koga Ryu Ninjutsu in the West. Ashida Kim may or may not be one of those and in truth I don't care. I like his material and as stated in The Last, Last Ninja blog it was what I had closest to legitimate historical ninjutsu with a focus on Espionage, Field Craft & Sabotage; I've even compared these subjects addressed in secrets of the ninja to the contents of the Bansenshukai.

I know more then I can say but will say what has already been stated concerning Ashida Kim (www.ashidakim.com);
  • Ashida Kim is not his real name...
  • Ashida Kim's father was in the US Army stationed in Hawaii, which gave Ashida Kim access to former Japanese citizens. Japanese-Americans & returning GI's with information in Ninjutsu...
  • Ashida Kim claims he learned ninjutsu from a Shotokan Instructor & Shotokan was taught to 2,000 to 2,500 Japanese soldiers in Nakano...
  • Fujita Seiko taught an 8 hour class on Ninjutsu from the Bansenshukai at Nakano (based on the evidence in the form of course credit hours for the Nakano School discovered by Antony Cummins)...
  • Shotokan was taught at Nakano as the hand-to-hand combat form & many Shotokan Instructors in the early days before the Ninja Boom were claiming to know ninjutsu in the 1960s &1970s...
  • Japan Experienced its first Ninja-Boom (explosion into popular culture) in 1930s with the translations of historical documents into modern Japanese, a 2nd Ninja-Boom in the 1950s with the antics and attention of men like Fujita Seiko & ending in the mid 1960s, during which time Ashida Kim was in Hawaii and would have had contact with the material, images and claims by others to knowing the art...
  • Ashida Kim claims his Ninjutsu comes from the Kimatake clan which is not listed as a historical ninjutsu school or family...
I could say more but won't and leave you to examine what you wish to believe. I know Ashida Kim as a personal friend and mentor in my life though as a true ninja I've only had physical contact with him and trained with him on two occasions. I have no loyalty to his style but I have loyalty to my friends. There is certainly the possibility of Ashida Kim having been trained by a member of Nakano, someone who read the translations of historical documents, having trained with a living breathing inheritor of a ninjutsu system or to have made it all up.

The question is, is the spirit of Koga Ryu dead or did it rise from the ashes like a phoenix when shinobi long ago committed their knowledge to text to preserve their secrets for the next generations. I doubt they envisioned the impact they have on the world today. No one has a proven lineage & I long abandoned the quest to prove such things or argue them with village idiots. Ninjutsu may be reborn because of the popular culture's interest in it, but its rebirth (true rebirth) lies in the knowledge left for us by the last of the Shinobi... and I'm not talking about Fujita Seiko.


  1. Well i think Koga Ryu Ninjutsu is the real deal. And my teacher sensei Titus Jansen and the Gin Ryu Dojo Musselkanaal is also the real deal. Sensei Jansen is an Ashida Kim Koga student.

    MY PHONE NUMBER IS 09034969862.

  3. Bonny I am not Ashida Kim but you may contact him at dojopress@aol.com &visit his site at http://www.ashidakim.com/ best of luck.

  4. lmao. Ashida Kim is fake.
    Fujita sensei didn't have students and expressed that he would not teach anyone and died with zero students.
    X-kans (although I am a member) Meh.

    There is no Koga ninjutsu. Probably no Iga as well. Get over it.

    1. Actually Fujita Seiko had a several students, his 8 hour course at Nakano came from the Bansenshukai, which he made a partial translation of...

      I don't credit anyone with being a "real ninja" ryu. In fact, Takamatsu basically tried to link his Togakure Ryu to the Yamabushi Temple in Togakoshi Japan. This was the same Yamabushi Temple Fujita ran to...

      The thing is this Judo and Karate were taught to US servicemen in Japan. Fujita classified Okinawan Karate and Kobudo above Japanese Koryu systems. And he wrote books containing translations of Historical Ninjutsu texts... Many servicemen were interested in "Ninjas" & many Karate and Judo Sensei used Ninjutsu learned from those books and translations to claim to teach those servicemen the secret "Koga Ryu Ninjutsu."

      Fujita Seiko may not have taught anyone directly, however the first two Soke of Shito Ryu Karate were students of Fujita and another famous Shito Ryu Karateka, all three claimed to have learned some elements from Fujita.

      Regardless, Fujita Seiko's research, translations and writing did pass portions of his knowledge on... Which was used by legitimate marital artists but, fraudulent ninja. This is why you have many "Koga Ryu" Ninjutsu schools... In the US and in Japan.

      Add to that, many frauds and fakers claiming the title of "Koga Ryu" to make up a system, that isn't based on the teachings of people using Fujita's research to make an extra buck of US Servicemen.

  5. Koga http://www.traditionalninjutsu.weebly.com