Monday, May 25, 2015

Ninjutsu: The Selling of a Warrior Fantasy...

Now I have apologized to a friend about being a dick when it comes to calling out his Martial Art as a modern creation of Takamatsu but I feel the way I feel regardless. Of course the reality is only two of the nine schools exist outside of the claims of Takamatsu. Takagi Yoshin Ryu which Takamatsu was named Soke of and, Kukishinden Ryu which is a splinter school of Kukishin Ryu started by Takamatsu who only held a Menkyo Kaiden (a master teaching license) which means one ha gained a total transmission of the art. So if you know me, I don't dispute that Takamatsu was capable martial artist, I doubt his claims to ninjutsu... as well as his many other claims to martial arts lineage.

In the Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki (Book of Heaven, Earth and Man Strategy) later republished as Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu by the American Bujinkan Dojo has a section entitled Shinden Gokui in which Hatsumi talks about learning and understanding martial arts, he refers to art with a vague term of " this Ryu" but doesn't specify which of the nine. Now at the time of Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki publishing (1964) Hatsumi refered to his art not as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu but as Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu. This is important because only Togakure Ryu is mentioned in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten of the nine schools. However, Hatsumi in the Shinden Gokui chapter says that according to Takamatsu "It was against the previous master of this ryu to put the ryu to pen and paper."

In good Bujinkan tradition they go back and change things in an attempt to alter history and claims. However, the Jigoku Dojo does include a version of the Shinden Gokui found in the Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki which states very plainly...
"On the occasion of publishing this book, I introduce for your information the part of the book which Takamatsu Sensei had taught me. As a rule of this Ryu, writing down is forbidden."

You can find the whole article at and a screen shot above, at a later date I will include images of the Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki text in the original Japanese and the American Bujinkan Dojo's English translation. But it is clear that before Takamatsu compiled the Togakure Ryu Densho no documentation of the Ryu existed.

So the Densho originate with Takamatsu, no record exists before Takamatsu and unless one wishes to say Hatsumi is mistaken or a lying no densho will ever be produced. More importantly, of the Nine Schools three were merged into Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu prior to Takamatsu, if one believes Takamatsu's lineage, meaning that Koto Ryu, Gyokko Ryu & Togakure Ryu are all one art from 3 different roots. So from the Akban Wiki at as "Myth describes Cho Gyokko as the teacher who brought the school to Japan from China during the Tang dynasty. It was handed down from generation to generation. Sakagami Taro Kunishige organized Gyokko Ryū shitojutsu; in the Tenmon period (1532 - 1550), he taught it to Toda Sakyo Isshinsai who created Gyokko Ryū kosshijutsu. Its sister school is the Koto Ryū, also created by Toda. Both Gyokko Ryū and the aforementioned Koto Ryū were taught by Toda to Momochi Sandayu, who carried on the traditions within Iga Ryū until the late Tokugawa period (mid (19th Century). Techniques from Gyokko Ryū and Koto Ryū became the foundation for techniques of Togakure Ryū."
Using a different source of information from the Jinenkan Ottawa Dojo at Paragraph 4, which states a little more clearly "Within the Jinenkan, the accepted history of Koto Ryu acknowledges Toda Sakyo Isshinsai as the founder: he received the traditions of both Gyokko-Ryu Shito-jutsu and Koto-Ryu Koppojutsu in the Tenmon period (1532-1550). Though the Shitojutsu apparently already existed, it is unclear to what level the Koppojutsu was organized, formalized, or even named. However it seems that Toda passed them to Momochi Sandayu as Gyokko-Ryu Kosshijutsu and Koto-Ryu Koppojutsu; this suggests that as he had received them as separate traditions, he saw value in keeping them distinct from each other, as opposed to amalgamating them. Through Momochi the traditions were maintained by the Iga Ryu; at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (1870s) they reached Toda Shinryu-ken, and entered the Togakure Ryu."

And I will reference a third source, the Adelaide Bujinkan Ninjitsu Dojo at which states this about the three ryu-ha Koto Ryu, Gyokko Ryu and Togakure Ryu:

Gyokko Ryu: "Kosshijutsu means "to knock down the enemy with one finger". Koshi could also mean "Backbone", as if the Kosshijutsu is the backbone of martial arts. Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu, is a distant branch of the Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu."

Togakure Ryu: "The oldest of the nine traditions, the techniques and skills of the Togakure Ryu form much of the basis for the Ninjutsu techniques taught in the Bujinkan.
The Togakure Ryu Ninja were required to master 18 forms of Bujutsu (Martial arts) including various punching, throwing and levering techniques making up taijutsu (unarmed combat) along with the arts of Kenpo (swordsmanship), Yari (spear), Naginata (halberd), Bojutsu (staff fighting), and three school secrets, named Sanpo Hiden, which are Shuko (hand claws), Senban Shuriken (throwing daggers), and Shinodake (bamboo tube for breathing under water).
“To Hide is the Defence”
 ”Violence is to be avoided, and Ninpo is Bujutsu”

Koto Ryu: "The name 'Koto Ryu' (Tiger knocking down) means, to knock down the Tiger (opponent) with the tips of the fingers.
The basic movements in the Koto Ryu, include large exaggerated blocking movements. As you progress through the levels, these movements are reduced, according to your skill. The Kihon movement is the same as the kata 'Ichimonji no kamae', from the Gyokko Ryu Ki Gata (Moto gata). The Koto Ryu has an emphasis on using the opponent’s bone structure and skeleton to defeat him."

So the same man created two different Ryu and merged them with a third Ryu or passed them on to a third to be merged with a third Ryu. Certainly Koto Ryu & Gyokko Ryu have similar techniquesand share same movement forms. The problem is no Densho for these schools existed prior to Takamatsu. Ah but wait, according to Adelaide Bujinkan Ninjutsu Dojo, Gyokushin Ryu & Kumogakure Ryu were also blended into Togakure Ryu prior to it being passed down to Takamatsu.

Gyokushin Ryu: "The Gyokushin Ryu was taught in the Kishu, and Takeda Fiefs. This possibly happened in the 1600's, and it was then that it came into contact with the Togakure Ryu. It is not known in the west as to what the fighting techniques of the Gyokushin Ryu are except that it uses Sutemi (sacrifice) throws."

Kumogakure Ryu: "The third of the ninja ryus, it uses similar taijutsu as Togakure Ryu, and is also known for double blocks and strikes. The taijutsu of this school is very similar to the taijutsu of Togakure ryu. The main differences are that in Kumogakure ryu jumps as well as multiple blockings are used."

So this inspires me to research Gyokushin & Kumogakure Ryu more in depth, what found when seraching for Gyokushin Ryu was and this statement "It is believed that Gyokushin Ryu's founder Sasaki Goemon was originally from the Gyokko Ryu or that the techniques of the Gyokushin Ryu were based on the Gyokko Ryu." and includes this quote "It is a faction of kosshijutsu and was founded by Sasaki Orouemon Akiyari" from Hiden Ninja Submission by Hatsumi. Furthermore, says this about Kumogakure Ryu "It has been said that this ryu was really created by the Toda family, in the 1600's as a Ninjutsu school of thought, centering its techniques on the non-violent side of Ninjutsu. The Togakure Ryu teaches that violence is to be avoided. This would also explain why the school's taijutsu is similar to the Togakure Ryu, as the Toda were also Sokes of the Togakure Ryu."
Gyokushin Ryu can be found  at:

Kumogakure Ryu can be found at:

What we find is the claim of a very long lineage going back to a series of interconnected Ryuha that remained somehow independent of each other. These claims raises the questions of how and why? What is more interesting is that Takamatsu claimed they were all graphed and apart of Togakure Ryu. How are they apart of Togakure Ryu and somehow not part of Togakure Ryu?

Now I will not claim to know the answers to these questions, I do not... however, it is at all impossible for anyone to apply the standard used by the Bujinkan to attack other ninjutsu schools and say "no proof" is "proof" of fraudulent claims. This means that these schools are the product of Takamatsu's own mind, in an attempt to make his claims seem legitimate he invented a very detailed mythology for a lineage. At this point we find not three ryuha in one but five in one. This of course caused me to examine the other Ryuha but I will deal with them later, this will do for now.

What we find is a long and intricate history all connecting the teaching of Takamatsu with various points in the Japanese History. What interesting is that certain claims about Takamatsu are unproven and seem to be direct competition with the other Ninja of Modern Japan Fujita Seiko. Claims such as having instructed at Nakano and having been a spy while in China. Since very little documentation of Toda Shinryuken exist and previous editions of the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten states Takamatsu used fictional characters in his lineage and placed Toda's death before his birth one might look on things with a sense of scientism.

In fact, I will have to address those other ryuha now, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Gikan Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu and, Kukishinden Ryu.

Takagi Yoshin Ryu, practiced by the Bujinkan Takamatsu-den is different from an older art of Hontai Yoshin Takagi Ryu which had a close association to Kukishin Ryu. According to the Hontai Yosin Ryu homepage at Hontai Yoshin Ryu and Takagi Yoshin Ryu have the same founder Takagi Oriemon Sigetoshi, and the Hontai Yoshin Ryu is very limited in the information they give on their art but comparing it with lineage stated on the site at the lineage seems to diverge at Hontai Yoshin Ryu's 12th Master and  Takagi Yoshin Ryu's 13th Soke Yagi Ikugoro Hisayoshi. Why one of these schools lists the same man as the 12th Soke and the other as the 13th Soke is interesting in itself. However, Hontai Yoshin Ryu lineage notes that under the fourth Soke Okuni Kihei Shigenobu (same as Takagi Yoshin Ryu) the Hontai Yoshin Ryu Takagi Ryu was taught in association with Kukishin Ryu. This is o reinforced at ( This suggests that Fujita Fujigoro Hisayoshi either split of from Yagi Ikugoro Hisayoshi lineage and started his own school or Takamatsu learned elements of Honati Yoshin Ryu Takagi Ryu as elements were adopted by Kukishin Ryu & made a lineage for Takagi Yoshin Ryu. To be quite honest it is just as likely that someone who  studied a branch of this lineage in close association with the Kuki family taught this art to Takamatsu.

Gikan Ryu from ( says "The Makimono scrolls of Gikan Ryu have sections on the kata names, history, secret striking points (kyusho), and strategies used by the ryu, but research revealed that the makimono, when referring to techniques, only mention the names, and do not contain the step by step instructions as do some makimono. This was done in order to keep the teachings of the school secret in case the scrolls were stolen. From what we understand there are no densho in the Gikan Ryu. The whole range of kata for the ryu was taught orally." However, an unlisted fact is that Takamatsu's teacher Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage was a Security Guard in the match factory owned by Takamatsu's grandfather. Takamatsu did not mention Gikan Ryu or Ishitani until after Ishitani's death. Certainly the Gikan Ryu Makimono lacking any description of techniques is questionable?

Shinden Fudo Ryu is an interesting subject as it lists Izumo Kanja Yoshitero as it's second Soke it's founder is unknown, Izumo Kanja Yoshitero is also the founder of Kukishin Ryu. However, and interestingly so, Terajima Kunichiro (who is not part of the Bujinkan lineage for Shinden Fudo Ryu) taught E. W. Barton-Wright in Jujutsu and Mr. Barton-Wrights articles on self-defense prompted a Mr. Herman ten Kate (1858-1931) to write an article in a Dutch magazine De Gids in 1905. This information is found at and what makes it interesting is that this school exists outside the Bujinkan lineage. So following the 1905 article we know that Mr. Barton-Wright and Mr. Kate studied Shinden Fudo Ryu in Japan circa 1896.

Interestingly enough, Shinden Fudo Ryu was a popular school in Japan, the Bartonitsu site even notes that the Shinden Fudo Ryu studied is separate from the Shinden Fudo Ryu associated with the Bujinkan. According to the book The Secrets of Shin Den Fudo Ryu which includes many pictures of the Densho written by Izumo Kanja Yoshitero, this lineage is separate from the Lineage claimed by the Bujinkan. The Article Legends of Karate: Mabuni Kenwa (Found here: refers to Mabuni Kenwa as the Soke of Shinden Fudo Ryu Kenpo under Yata Onseisai Noriaki, where as the Bartitsu site quoted above cites Mr. Kate as learning under Terajima Kunichiro a student of  Yata Onseisai. The same Yata Onseisai who passed the Ryu onto Mabuni Kenwa. Further more the article Legends of Karate: Mabuni Kenwa cites the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as the source. This means whenever the Bujinkan points to Shinden Fudo Ryu in the Bugei Rayuha Daijiten they are in fact lying, claiming a lineage that is recognized and not associated with them. More interestingly so is the fact that according the  Bugei Rayuha Daijiten  in the article this branch of Shinden Fudo Ryu was originally called Shinden Jigan Ryu and then later renamed by Yata Noriyuki. However the citation also says the Ryu was founded by Yata Onseisai Noriaki. Which gets us back to the book; The Secrets of Shin Den Fudo Ryu, of which Izumo Kanja Yoshitero is not the author except of the Densho pictured there in, its lineage is separate from the Bujinkan Takamatsuden. Meaning that by all accounts lacking any substantial proof it seems Takamatsu invented this Ryu claiming himself Soke to an unknown branch of an estanblished Ryu.

This of course brings finally to Kukishinden Ryu, which is recognized as an of shoot of  Kukishin Ryu. However, Takamatsu did hold a Menkyo Kaiden (License of Full Transmission) in Kukishin Ryu but founded his own art of Kukishinden Ryu with a story about the Densho for Kukishin Ryu being burned up in a fire bombing of Japan during WW2. While there was a fire and some scroll cases were only singed the scrolls inside were not destroyed. Since the some of these densho were lost due to age but the scroll cases remained. More so, from the FAQ of the  Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho Website:

"Q:On the Soke of Kukishin Ryu
A:Apart from our "Kukishinden Tenshinhyoho," there are other lineages of Kukishin Ryu, such as "Kukishinden Happo Hikenjutsu," "Tenshinhyoho Kukishin Ryu" and "Soden Kukishin Ryu," all of which regard Yakushimaru Ryushin as the founder of the school. There is also Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu technique instructed in Takagi Ryu. With hundreds of years having passed after the establishment of the school, it is not too much to say that each individual school of Kukishin Ryu has become independent, and there is no reason that they, who are not the direct descent of the Kukis, should not claim the Soke-ship any longer. We, however, respect the will of teachers including Iwami Nangaku, who established "Kodosenyokai Shobukyoku"; there will be no changes in our stance that Kuki Munetaka, direct descendant of the founder of the school, incumbent head of the Kuki family, should be the "one and only Soke."
( the fifth question.)

Note: Kukishinden Happo Hikenjutsu is the Kukishinden of the Bujinkan lineage, and is not regarded as part of the true lineage of Kukishin Ryu. More so, the existence of the orgional Kuki scrolls is support by this statement (found at "Tanemura Shoto is the one who learned authentic Kukishin Ryu from Teacher Kimura in his late days and was awarded "Sodennomaki."" Shoden No Maki are densho that explain basic techniques of a school or style.

And what we find on the Kuki family site about Takamatsu is as follows.
"2. Variant texts of Tenshin-Hyoho-Shinken-Kakki-Ron, and Tenshin-Hyoho-Taijutsu-Kappo-Ron compiled by Takamatsu Chosui. Each text has two alternate versions. It is, however, hard to rule out the possibility that the compiler's own view is reflected on the content of the text, given that modern expressions are mostly used. We must add that all the manuscripts by him were transcribed on the premises of Kuki at Uenomaru in Akashi city in the Taisho period. In compliance with the wishes of Kuki Takaharu, Chosui compiled the documents and made a fair copy of them, and presented it to Takaharu (Amatsu-Tatara-Hibun-Kaidoku-Hen being one of the representative transcriptions). We respect for his credible achievement and great pains Chosui took, and there is no criticizing him for the possible alterations."
Note that, the Kuki family states that each densho has "Variant texts... compiled by Takamatsu Chosui. Each text has two alternate versions." thus without getting into specific detail we see that there were three densho created, one original and two alternative versions and goes on to add that "It is, however, hard to rule out the possibility that the compiler's own view is reflected on the content of the text, given that modern expressions are mostly used." So Takamatsu is noted to have used modern language and add some of his own views.

"With the contribution of Takamatsu Chosui and his master Ishitani Matsutaro who learned both schools of martial arts and gave support to the Soke Kuki before and after the War, the ties between Takagi Ryu and Kukishin Ryu have got much stronger..
Ishitani Matsutaro was born in Akashi, Hyogo prefecture. He was a son of Ishitani Takema Masatsugu, who was a teacher of Takagi Yoshin Ryu. Matsutaro left his house at the early stage of his life and studied under Iba Toyotaro, from whom he learned Kukishin Ryu. It goes without saying that he learned Takagi Ryu from his father. The techniques of Takagiyoshin Ryu were passed on to Sato Kinbei in Tokyo from Takamatsu Chosui, and now Tanemura Shoto instructs them in Tajima, Matsubushi cho, Kita Katsu gun, Saitama prefecture."

Now this is very important because it suggests that Takamatsu was a student of Ishitani Matsutaro came into association with the Kuki family and Kukishin Ryu through Ishitani Matsutaro. This of course legitimizes the Takamatsu-den claim to Takagi Yoshn Ryu but we don't know exactly were Takagi Yoshin Ryu split of from Honati Yoshin Ryu Takagi Ryu or if this is just an alternative name. It is my belief that Takagi Yoshin Ryu is a legitimate school.

"In addition to the Takagi Ryu of the Ishitani lineage, Teacher Tanemura learned several kinds of Takagi Ryu, among which is the Shitake lineage that is said to be the real techniques passed on by Yagi Ikugoro. Thus perfecting his techniques, we got an impression that Tanemura has learned virtually every aspect of the original form of Takagi Ryu.
For more information, Takagi Ryu has different lineages from the one mentioned above, such as the Takagi Ryu Takamatsu Chosui had learned from Mizuta Yoshitaro before Chosui learned from Ishitani Matsutara, and other Takagi Ryu handed down in Akou, Kobe regions."

This is an interesting statement because it addresses that Takamatsu learned different styles of Takagi Ryu from Mizuta Yoshitaro, Ishitani Matsutara and other schools in Akou, Kobe regions. This hints at the possibility that Takagi Yoshin Ryu is/was compiled by Takamatsu and is a modern school of Takamatsu's own devises. Perhaps of the multiple Takagi Ryu styles studied by Takamatsu (a more likely answer) he only became Soke of one such Ryu. This raises some interesting questions.

"According to Takamatsu Chosui, an anecdote regarding the relationship of Kukishin Ryu with Takagi Ryu goes as follows: "Because of the untimely death of Nagatonokami Moritaka's son Kuki Sadataka, who was supposed to be appointed head of Kukishin Ryu instead of the bed-ridden oldest son Yoshitaka, Kuki Kihei took over the position. Later on, he became a mountaineering ascetic and traveled across Japan. Kihei happened to meet Takagi Umanosuke's son Gennoshin in Akou, Hyogo prefecture and competed their skills. Takagi exceeded in Yawara(Taijutsu) and Kihei in Bojutsu. Jujutsu has been handed down as Takagi Ryu and Bojutsu, Spear, and Naginata techniques have been handed down as Kukishin Ryu."(Watatani Kiyoshi and Yamada Tadashi. Bugei Ryu-ha Daijiten Tokyo: Tokyo Copy )"

This is a quote of a quote, the Kuki family site quoting the Bugei Ryu-ha Daijiten, this is interesting as the Kuki family neither confirms nor denies the story of how Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishin Ryu are connected. They merely cite the Bugei Ryu-ha Daijiten which credits this relationship with Takamatsu. The Kuki family is very quiet on the subject of Takamatsu and has in the past been harassed by members of the Bujinkan concerning Takamatsu. Certainly, if Takamatsu invented Takagi Yoshin Ryu from three other Takagi Ryu-ha that he did study, claiming it to be part of the Kukishin Ryu through some long elaborate history would serve to imply a greater (older) lineage then just something he created.

One might ask why would Takamatsu weave such an elaborate web of lies, if that is what they were, to not only invent one school but nine? Certainly, claiming Gyokko Ryu & Koto Ryu became part of Togakure Ryu would allow Takamatsu to pronounce various elements of his martial philosophy as separate schools of though entirely. Furthermore, we see the same thing with the three "ninjutsu ryu." By claiming that Gyokushin Ryu, as a Kishu domain art (the home of Natori Ryu) where it came in contact with Togakure Ryu, Takamatsu could use the Shoninki written in 1683 by Natori Masatake and claim it resembled the Kishu Ryu Ninjutsu style because it was connected to a Kishu Ryu style. Interestingly enough Gyokushin Ryu was founded by same man who founded Gyokko Ryu. Kumogakure Ryu uses the same Taijutsu as Togakure Ryu (which includes Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu & Gyokushin Ryu) Kumogakure Ryu is not even defined as a full school but as "It has been said that this ryu was really created by the Toda family, in the 1600's as a Ninjutsu school of thought, centering its techniques on the non-violent side of Ninjutsu. The Togakure Ryu teaches that violence is to be avoided. This would also explain why the school's taijutsu is similar to the Togakure Ryu, as the Toda were also Sokes of the Togakure Ryu." from So Kumogakure Ryu is an idea of the application of ninjutsu (following the School of Thought definition) tat stems off from Togakure Ryu. This in itself means that 5 schools/ryuha are in fact a single school Togakure Ryu.

Now if you are lying and spread you lie among 5 sources, with each one claiming to be unique & separate causes one seeking the truth to research several different areas and elements of history to find the truth. So that the answer to the question, why would Takamatsu weave such an elaborate web of lies? To better muddy the waters of truth conceal his falsehoods among scattered bits of truth found throughout history. This certainly seen with the Kuki family's statement about Kukishinden Ryu Happo Hikenjutsulisted among other off shoots of schools claiming a lineage to the Kuki family.

Add to this the Shinden Fudo Ryu Kenpo/Jujutsu art which claims its founder as  Izumo Kanja Yoshitero but maintains a completely separate lineage from the Bujinkan Takamatsu-den, this was an art that popular at the time and was taught openly (including non-Japanese such as Mr. Barton-Wright and Mr. Kate circa 1896.) With Takamatsu claiming to have learned Gikan Ryu from Ishitani Matsutaro after his death, with the Makimono containing only a technique list and claiming to be a secret art taught only orally. Ishitani Matsutaro who the Kuki family stated "Matsutaro left his house at the early stage of his life and studied under Iba Toyotaro, from whom he learned Kukishin Ryu. It goes without saying that he learned Takagi Ryu from his father." clearly the association of Kukishin and Takagi Yoshin Ryu comes from Ishitai Matsutaro and his training in Kukishin Ryu under Iba Toyotaro. So only Takagi Yoshin Ryu is supported by a third party independent of the Bujinkan to Takamatsu's credit, with the Kuki family awardig Takamatu a Menkyo Kaiden however they do not feel Takamatsu is heir to the Kuki family art and certainly not qualified to call himself a Soke of their name sake Ryu-ha.

Certainly Hatsumi and the Bujinkan has made a great deal of money off teaching Budo/Ninpo Taijutsu and claiming to have a combat proven koryu art form. This is a major marketing line here in the West but only 1 of the nine ryu-ha Takagi Yoshin Ryu has any kind of supporting evidence and verification by a third party independent of the Bujinkan. So I leave you to examine the evidence and decide for yourself, is the Bujinkan Takamatsu-den a legitimate collection of Koryu arts or a corporation selling Westerners a Warrior Ninja Fantasy? I'm betting the Latter but, that is me...

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