Monday, June 29, 2015

Interview with Ashida Kim

This was an interview conducted with Grandmaster Ashida Kim conducted via e-mail. This is probably the most thorough interview about Ashida Kim's background ever conducted, perhaps due to my friendship with him & wealth of personal knowledge. There will always be those who question Ashida Kim's past or say that he is hiding something. I think Ashida Kim was pretty open and honest about his past. However, I wanted to address elements about his philosophy & training methodology.

There has been a lot of questions asked about your background as of late, I want to start there... Where did you learn Ninjitsu?
My answer would have to be, "on the fly." Never really had a specific Ninja Dojo per se, just a lot of good teachers that I met along the Way. The first one was at university, but he only hinted at what could be done. The next real instructor of what I consider the Art, was in the Army. He explained that, like the 36th Chamber of Shaolin, "the world is your school."

But I'm sure people are very curious as to how you were "picked" (assuming picked is the right word) to learn Ninjitsu? I'm sure you have to answer questions like this all the time, so please I'm apologize if I seem to be pushing you.
Well, what happened was, someone found out about me being in the BDFS from Chicago. So they asked if I could break a brick with my bare hand because they knew Count Dante taught that. Next day, he had a brick for me and a witness. I was able to break the brick for them. They took that as a sign I had some real martial arts training. Because I was not really a very good follower, they decided to train me in Ninjitsu to keep me out of trouble and to be used as a private agent.

What was your training in Ninjitsu like?
Mostly like hunting with my father. Many of the stealth techniques can be practiced that way. Because I was already skilled in some of these things, learning Ninjitsu was much easier for me than for many others. The trick is to learn to be quiet. Then you can hear things, like the sound of one hand clapping or the breathing of a hidden enemy. That's why they call it the Silent Way. Then you can begin to see a pattern to the nature of things, and understand your Self and your place in it all.

In Forbidden Fighting Techniques of Ninja, your mentioned teacher Shendai. Would care to tell us a little more about him?
Shendai was the "club name" of my Sensei. He told me it meant "spirit body" and was awarded him by his teacher because of his ability to "act invisibly" and leave no trace. He didn't really want me as a student, but was told to train me because his master had seen me break a brick with a Sword-hand one time. We did eventually get along quite well and became good friends.

Also come on, you can give us some more information on Shendai & what your training was like?
Lots of memory exercises, like the Game of Stones, flash cards, some art history type classes to learn to see details. Yoga and Qi Gong exercises that I didn't appreciate at the time as being the real basis of the Art. Some stealth practice, playing hide-and-seek, tips on vital and fatal pressure points, invisibility practice. Like learning to move quietly without attracting attention through a crowd; or how to move swiftly through the crowd through tiny openings most people don't see. It is a "river exercise." The crowd is a river of people, you can go with the flow, or against the flow, or let the flow go by you."

For example what kind of Club did you publicly attend to learn Ninjitsu?
Didn't really attend a club or dojo for any length of time. Just trained here and there with good teachers. That is the real key, finding good teachers. My Sensei was one who had trained in many places all over the world, tried many styles and systems and settled on the one that he liked best.

The big question is people want to know what connection your ninjitsu has to Japan?
My understanding of the history of the system I was taught, is that the Kimitake clan was one of those wiped out in the "sword hunt" massacres or the medieval Shogun. But, of course, there are always a few survivors. These made their way to the feudal cities and joined forces with the local Yakuza for protection and to fight back against the warlords. Their special skill was invisibility. Some say this was because they were trained in Chinese Pa-Kua Chang, which is called by Grandmaster Sin The Kwang of Kentucky, one of GM Day's teachers, "the disappearing art." The principle is to "turn the opponent's corner" and get behind him so you can "ride the tiger's back" and not be killed. The main principle is to throw sand in the enemy's eyes so you can run away and hide. Of course, once you are invisible due to his temporary blindness, you can easily pick up a brick and bash him if you choose. So, with one simple trick, you have the power of life and death in your hands. I have tried to reference the clan online, the only mention I can find of it is in Yukio Mushima's biography as the host of a winter Ninja camp he attended.

In Secrets of the Ninja, at the end you mention a Philosophy or Philosophic principle you call Mugei Mumei no Jutsu (No name, no art) and you also discussed the "Game of Stones" you mentioned in Ninja Secrets of Invisibility. I would talk about those, you mentioned your Sensei trained in different places and different styles is that key to the Mugei Mumei no Jutsu philosophy?
Mugei Mumei no Jitsu , means, "no name, no art." It is one of the code words for Ninjitsu when it was forbidden to speak the word in Japan. Part of that is having a style that is hard to boast about. "I know kung fu, I know karate, what's your style?" No style. Part of diminishing the ego, like wearing the mask. The game of stones is still used by the Boy Scouts as a memory exercise. A shallow basket is filled with stones and small articles and covered. The student is allowed to look at the display for a few moments. The it is covered again. The student is asked to name how many of each stone or artifact there is. Of course, since he didn't know he was going to be asked this, he must do it from visual memory. It is a test and an exercise.

Any Advice you'd like offer for the prospective ninja students out there?
Learn more ways to preserve rather than destroy, Avoid rather than check, check rather than strike, strike rather than kill, kill only in self defense. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced. Remember, the Koga region and Koka City from whence this Art came has always been known as the "City of Medicine" because they grew mugwort for moxibustion and knew acupuncture and massage healing methods. They didn't want to hurt anybody. That is why our form of Ninjitsu is the ONLY non-violent martial art known to man. It is not about fighting, it is about invisibility, about healing and helping others.

Have you read Stephen Turnbull's thesis on Ninjutsu, he makes the argument that Ninjutsu as a set of skills was a made tradition. Examining the historical records of battles he found that anyone who did scouting missions was referred to as being a scout but that they "shinobi" into an area. So he believes the term shinobi was originally used to mean something someone did "one sneaks in" and later came to be used to denote a special class of warrior "one who sneaks in." Following this samurai tried to reclaim the glories of the past by repeating the actions of their ancestors and codifying the skills as the art of "ninjutsu." An interesting read, I was wanting to get your thoughts on this?
Every army has its special units, the Rangers, the SEALs, etc. Some people are better hunters than others and work better alone or in small teams rather than on the battlefield. To me, Ninjitsu is a martial art because it is codified and has a historical lineage just like all the others, like Shotokan, for example. Teaching people sport karate in the form of Shotokan was a great way of looking for new recruits. People who did well and became good fighters could be given the chance to learn special skills that they had shown an aptitude for. Just like a radio man or medic in the modern army.

Also I have to ask, even though I already know the answer, but some people have the impression you are Haha Lung, are you?
No, Ha Ha Lung is a corruption of Hai Lung Ryu or Black Dragon School. When I broke with my former publishers because I caught them stealing my royalties, my books like Mind Control were so popular they tried to capitalize on them by having a "house writer," a salaried employee who would get no royalties, assume a similar name and write a bunch of lame books about how to manipulate people through neuro-linguistic-programming, a pseudo-psychological fad that only lasted a few years because it was ineffective.

So what is the difference between your Ninja Mind Control methods and Haha Lungs?
The techniques of my system teach you how to control your own mind, so that you can be silent and listen to the wind and hear the music of the spheres. They you have no need of conflict or controlling the minds of others.

Now you mentioned those who "imagine other people's motives" so I'm guessing (I'm really not guessing because we talked about this in 2010 at the Fort Walton Beach event) you are opposed to Haha Lung's Ninja Mind Control methods using NLP?
Yes, because like many who demonstrate Dim Mak without really understanding that it is medicine and not for show, trying his method can lead to harm, to yourself and others. Hypnosis is not a power given to just anyone. It is a tremendous responsibility.

I am sad to say Grandmaster Lawrence Day passed away some time ago, he is still missed by many. I had the pleasure of meeting his son Brandon at the Fort Walton Beach seminar. I'd like to ask if the many great things the IFAA/BDFS is currently doing would approve with Grandmaster Day's vision of the organization?
Yes, I think he would be pleased. He was the one who brought us all back together for a higher purpose. To unite martial artists of all styles and systems, because even the worst has some value. To stop all the bickering over whose master was best and just respect the individuals and what they learned. To have a system based on merit and skill, not prejudice or fear.

The IFAA/BDFS is hosting a Karate Tournament in Chicago this October, so how does it feel to be back in Chicago with the BDFS?
Feels great! Think it will be a wonderful Homecoming event. First Gathering where we have had Kumite, not many people up for that level of competition. Always fun to see old friends and take care of business, LOL We always have a nice dinner and awards ceremony and lots of dynamic seminars. Lots of guests coming in from out of town and country for this one.

Having lived through the Civil Rights riots and protests of the 60s, even took part in the Democratic National Convention of 1968 with the BDFS, what is your opinion of race relations today in the US? Do have any personal experiences or insights you'd like to share?
We have come a long way. The recent tragic events in Charleston that have led to a reunification of the nation in a humble and Christian way, is proof that we can live out Dr. King's ideals in peace. God bless the UNITED States of America.

Which gets us to this question, do you think the issue of race is being use to divide us (the American people)? If so why do think that is?
There are those who capitalize and profit from unrest who will never admit any progress has been made. They fuel the flames of hatred and distrust. Then there is the media, they insist on the narrative that America is a racist nation that must be punished. There is plenty of proof to the contrary, but "If you tell a lie often enough, people, even if they don't believe it, will pretty much go along with it."

The IFAA/BDFS has recently started an Anti-Bullying Program, what can you tell us about that?
Yes, in cooperation with GM Jay Blanton, to promote his book Prevailing Against Bullies, My Life Story, that is now in production to be a movie. Dojo Press helped him put it together and the IFAA/BDFS is helping to promote the program because bullying has become a major cultural problem lately. Hearing some of the things he went through and learning some of the martial arts techniques he used to free himself is an important step for lots of youngsters.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Thanks for posting! I really enjoyed it! Grandmaster Ashida Kim is a unique martial artist.