Friday, August 7, 2015

Investigating Fujita Seiko leads to more Takamatsu conflicts with his Ninjutsu/Ninpo claims

This was brought up in a forum and I'm going to put the information right here to be saved for future reference. This whole affair started off as a debate as to whether Fujita Seiko was the Soke of all Koga Ryu Ninjutsu or just Koga Ryu Wada-ha Ninjutsu/Wada Ryu Bujutsu. Now this came about from a translation of Fujita Seiko's autobiography by Don Roley...

Anyone who knows Don Roley knows he has an agenda of trying to push the Bujinkan and the Takamatsu-den arts as the only legitimate sources of ninjutsu. Mr. Roley is also a high ranked Bujinkan member, or so he claims. Now if might come as a surprise but the portion of the translation by Don Roley I don't really have any problems with except at two minor points which have been brought by fellow "ninja-geeks". The image of origional Japanese is below...

And this is what Mr. Roley stated...
Ok, so I have been told that there are accusations against me regarding my translation of Fujita Seiko's biography. People are trying to say I am making stuff up and that Fujita never said that he was the last, etc.
Well, here is a picture of the page from his book in Japanese, along with my translation. I do tend to edit things so the story flows better without need to keep checking footnotes to understand things, but those who can read both languages can tell that the information about the history is intact.
Here is the English translation. Parts in brackets are from the prior page.
("My family founder, Wada Iga-no-kami.
Today we know of the Iga ryu and Ko)ga ryu, but these were not names used for the schools originally. The birthplaces of ninjutsu are Koga in Shiga prefecture and nearby Iga in Mie prefecture. The area is composed of sharply rising mountain ranges and in their narrow valleys are the remains of fortresses and strong points cover about 1000 meters. While trying to continue their lifestyle, they kept themselves sharp, preparing for conflict and searching out any piece of information they could on possible enemy moves. Thus, in their precarious position, they were well placed to put great importance and research into developing the skills of espionage and scouting.
And, in 1487 when the Ashikaga Shogun Yoshihiki attacked Sasaki Kourou the Iga and Koga served him a defeat so spectacular that their name and the skill they possessed became known and sought after among the various warlords in the nation and the Iga and Koga traditions were born.
In the times that followed, with the nation plunged into war the skills of the ninja became more and more into demand and the traditions extended into schools such as the Akutagawa ryu, Negoro ryu, Mafuu ryu, Ninkou ryu, Kouyou ryu, Kishu ryu and others. About 25 schools of ninjutsu came into being.
But, all these schools came from the two main sources of the Iga and Koga. And even when talking about the Iga, they themselves were composed of 49 traditions while the Koga had 53 families passing down their skills.
My family was one of those 53, and more specifically part of the 6 families of Minamiyama, also known as the six great names of Koga. From Wada Iga-no-kami 14 generations passed down. In olden days this was how important ninjutsu was, but today it has all but died out and I am the last."

Now the issues my "ninja geek" friends addressed was that
a) Mr. Roley's translation refers to 49 Iga traditions. Anyone who knows Japanese history Iga ninjutsu was traced to 49 families of kokujin or Ji-Samurai (country samurai) and Koga ninjutsu is traced back to the 53 families of Kokujin. So their arguement is that Mr. Roley is in fact suggesting/implying that the 49 families of Iga were in fact a seperate tradition  and the 53 families of Koga had only one tradition.
b) That Mr. Roley was excusing his implied difference in the tradition/family by posting the origional Japanese when he said "Ok, so I have been told that there are accusations against me regarding my translation of Fujita Seiko's biography. People are trying to say I am making stuff up and that Fujita never said that he was the last, etc."

The issue is simple, anyone who is seeking to do legitimate historical research on ninjutsu doesn't discount that Seiko Fujita said he was the last. The big debate comes over whether Fujita Seiko (proper Japanese, with the Surname first) was the last of the Wada line or all of Koga Ryu.

Now the issue rests on this matter, Fujita Seiko had no proof he was Soke of Koga Ryu Wada Ha ninjutsu. As Fujita clearly states in the translation provided by Mr. Roley, his family was one of the 53 families and his line began with Wada Iga no Kami. You'll notice first that Seiko states that "Today we know of the Iga ryu and Koga ryu, but these were not names used for the schools originally. The birthplaces of ninjutsu are Koga in Shiga prefecture and nearby Iga in Mie prefecture."

Now to any ninjutsu researcher, we understand that Fujita Seiko was explaining that Iga Ryu & Koga Ryu is a blanket term for schools arising from those areas. And many feel that Don Roley is translating the text to account for why there are multiple ninjutsu schools in the Bujinkan that would be referred to as Iga Ryu: Togakure Ryu, Gyokushin Ryu & Kumogakure Ryu. However, Koga Ryu in Japan only goes so far as Fujita Seiko's Wada Ryu.

A very in depth article on Koga Ryu Ninjutsu by the Shuto Karate Club, the article notes that there is a mention of 3 Wada schools in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, a listing for Koga Ryu Wada Ha on page 273, a mention of Wada Ryu on page 921 & a mention of another school called "Wada To" on page 273. Watatani Kiyoshi stated in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten he believed Fujita Seiko was only expertise extended only to Koga Ryu Wada Ha. Meaning it is possible for other Koga Ryu Ninjutsu lines to exist...

Now as a person associated with Frank Dux and Ashida Kim, both claiming Koga Ryu lineages what I feel about Fujita Seiko being the last of the Wada line and last Soke of Wada Ryu could be seen as my own bias. But, what about Watatani Kiyoshi who has nothing invested in any such systems? More so, it is my belief as an amateur researcher & "ninja geek" that Fujita Seiko may have been the last ninja period... end of story. We all know I think Takamatsu made up his ninjutsu and when I got into researching Fujita I found some interesting facts...

1. Fujita Seiko's first book on ninjutsu in 1936, during Japan's own Ninja Boom (50 years before America's 1980s Ninja Boom) in pop-culture.

2. That Takamatsu's claims in China cannot be verified, most of his claims in Japan cannot be verified. However, Takamatsu's autobiography states on interesting things.

First, that Takamatsu wrote this brief autobiography in 1955, nearly 20 years before his death...
Second, that Takamatsu claims to have learn ninjutsu from both Ishitani and Toda Shinryuken. However, Takamatsu only lists Ishintani Matsutaro Takekage as him teaching Kuki Happo Biken no Jutsu (this is a reference to the Kuki family's art of Kukishin Happo Biken Jutsu). He attributes Toda to teaching him Koto Ryu and Togakure Ryu and Koshijutsu. With no mention of the other schools...

This is mainly irrelevant except when you look at the claim to Takamatsu learning ninjutsu from both men. Why is this important? Because Takamatsu was never known for ninjutsu in his early days. Takamatsu had a hand in creating a Japanese Martial Arts Organization known as the Minoku Seinen Botoku-kai but he was known as a master of Jujutsu & Bojutsu not Ninjutsu...

Now according to Takamatsu's Autobiography which can also be found here & here... He didn't open his private dojo: Sukisha Dojo until after he came back from China. The Biography at states Takamatsu spent 10 years in China & left when he was 20. So lets assume he was 29, for a man born in 1887 + 20 years... is 1907 and 10 years in China would put his return at 1917. A Genbukan site states Takamatsu returned from China in 1919 but says he started his personal school in May of 1950. Which means Takamatsu would have been 63. It is important to note that Takamatsu's ninjutsu legacy rests mostly with Masaki Hatsumi as Takamatsu was not known for ninjutsu previously... His first published article on ninjutsu was in the later 1960s and the article on Fujita cites his displeasure at Hatsumi and Takamatsu for openly teaching ninjutsu, but this was in 1967.

Now let us compare dates... Hatsumi and Takamatsu hold public demonstrations in the 1960s, I'll even offer the 1950 date. Takamatsu's first private Dojo (Sukisha Dojo) was opened in 1950 & before this he was know as a Jujutsu and Bojutsu master. His first, written article came in the later 1960s (1967 perhaps?).

The Historical Ninjutsu texts of the Bansenshukai, Ninpiden and Shoninki were translated in the later 1930s, Fujita Seiko had already written 3 books on ninjutsu by the time Takamatsu made his first appearance and already stated he was the last of the Wada line of Koga Ryu Ninjutsu.
Ninjutsu Hiroku 1939
Ninjutsu Kara Spy Sen He 1942
Saigo no Ninja 1954
Plus the entries in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as earily as 1963 (1st Edition)...

Fujita Seiko was ninjutsu researcher and known as the "last ninja" 11 years before Takamatsu formulated his own scrolls and claimed to have learned Ninjutsu. With the historical text being translated in the later 1920s and early 1930s, Japan's pop culture ninja boom occurring in the 1930s, Takamatsu's claim is suspect. This doesn't account for the pattern of behavior concerning his "theft" of the  Kuki families art and lineage or other claims which cannot be proven that sound very much unlikely and grandiose.

The problem with legitimately researching history, is that you have to work with the facts and not try to present facts to protect your own bias & opinion. The fact remains, no evidence of an existing ninjutsu school from history being in existence today exists. At best they are all modern creations, except where proven Koryu schools such as Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu have it as part of their kuden (verbal teachings) usually only passed down to from Soke to Soke.

So my addressing the information about Takamatsu I seemed to ruffled some feathers. As it turned out I was arguing with Don Roley's troll account Simon Edwards. Who (being Don Roley and Bujinkan member) was trying to declare all Koga Ryu extinct because Fujita Seiko was the last know practicer to come forward, apparently Don does not count Americans who claim Koga Ryu or Kawakami Jinichi. I was waiting on Don to make a few more argument before addressing a final trump card I had been holding.

You see there are 2 distinct points I chose to withhold both come from an older article written by Don Roley entitled: History of the Koga Ryu...
First someone letting it slip Simon Edwards is Don Roley:

Now comes the important points that reinforce my earlier statements concern the issue of Mr. Roley's translation. In Mr. Roley's article using the same material he translated from Japanese to English to argue that all Koga Ryu died off with Fujita Seiko, Don Roley explains Fujita Seiko own worlds stating that Iga & Koga Ryu were not part of a formal ryu or school like classical Koryu martial arts where.

So here Don Roley explaining that there was no formal schools of ninjutsu and that they were all associated by families. Don Roley states they would have names like Iga Ryu (family name)-ha or Koga Ryu (family name)-ha but notes these names didn't exist until after the warring states (Sengoku) period.

This brings us to my points; first there was no formal school of ninjutsu and by Mr. Roley's own statements how does the Bujinkan claim three distinct Ninjutsu Ryu; Togakure Ryu, Kumogakure Ryu & Gyokushin Ryu?

Now why does Don Roley say this, you might ask but answer is because Fujita Seiko said as much and Roley was quoting Fujita. This is reinforced by Bansenshukai who Don Roley's troll account Simon Edwards refers to as a "notebook" and I feel down plays the historical text conceal information that conflicts with his claims (but thats just). On Page 25 of the Bansenshukai translation by Athony Cummins and Yoshie Minami title The Book Of The Ninja states "The people of Iga and Koka (alternate spelling of Koga) had never had a shugo governor and each clan was self-governing; they constructed small castles in each estate independently and had free rien. As having no shugo or a lord, there was not a governor to oversee them. There were numerous instances of them fighting with each other to take away the other's land. Therefore, their main concentration was set on battles each morning and every evening, and their life revolved around armament and defence."

The second issue, is with each of 49 Iga families having a tradition and each of the 53 Koga families having a tradition, Fujita Seiko was only one line. Now I will say he never had a proven lineage, yet in the case of Mr. Kawakami he was historically correct. A big glaring issue here is not only later time in the 1960s of Takamatsu claiming a ninjutsu lineage, he also claims "ninjutsu ryu." So our second issue is the huge hole in the information Don Roley is presenting. Remember Takamatsu's own friend Watatani Kiyoshi said Takamatsu made use of modern information availabel on ninjutsu at the time.

Finally, because I will be called a liar by some concerning Don Roley's gaps in information, here is the entire article, via screen shots from the article at beginning with a close up of Don Roley's name as the author of this work...

Fujita Seiko was the last Soke of Koga Ryu Wada-ha Ninjutsu, he left no successor to his art. However if he was the only/last of the Koga families to practice ninjutsu or if more survived, I do not know. If his grandfather lied to him or if he himself was lying, as Mr. Roley addresses in his article, I do not know. Fujita was sometimes called a mere researcher and other times a ninja. You can believe what you like, I am merely presenting evidence for my belief that Bujinkan members readily run about internet calling out others as frauds, real and imagined because their own art is fraudulent, the pot calling the kettle black kind of thing.

What I do know is that Fujita Seiko, was a researcher and an author, an instructor at spy school and had a hand in making a partial translation of the Bansenshukai. He was Soke of Taien Ryu Jojutsu (short staff art), Shingetsu Ryu Shueikenjutsu (throwing blade art), Ichiden Ryu Toritejutsu (restraining or escaping from restraint by an attacker art) & Naban Satto Ryu Kenpo (lit. "Foreign Killing School" Kenpo) in addition to Koga Ryu Wada Ha Ninjutsu.

Seiko Fujita was also taught at the following...
  • Kokumin Seishin Bunka Kenkyusho (Cultural Institute of National Spirit)
  • Kobo Kinmu-in Joseisho
  • The Nakano Gakko/Espionage School
  • Toyama Japanese Army Academy
  • Rikugun Shikan Gakko/Military Officers Academy
  • Instructor in Police Bujutsu at the Tokyo Headquarters of Regimented Military Police
  • Educational Facilities of the Japanese Navy (existed from 1888 to 1945)
  • Adviser to Nihon Kararte-do Kai
I'm ending my updated information here. I more then doubled the length of the origional blog post.


  1. "Le Karate -Do Shito-Ryu By,Kenei Mabuni"

    "Born the 13th of February 1918 at Shuri Okinawa the eldest son of Kenwa Mabuni I learnt during my infancy the different sorts of Karate naturally. It was my father who taught me karate and jujutsu and it was Master Konishi who taught me Kendo. I WAS ABLE TO HEAR FROM MASTER SEIKO FUJIATA THAT OF NINJUTSU and I also studied the other Classic Arts." Soke,Kenei goes on to state in the Shito Ryu Book "Essence of Budo that:He also learned from Fujita Seiko how to Throw a Throwing Star and that this Martial Arts comes from Koga-Ry Ninjutsu! In the same Book he mentions that Fujita Seiko Ninja mixed his styles in Shito-Ryu Karate. I have Validated throgh his son that he learned Koga Ryu Ninjutsu from Fujita Seiko and have record of our conversations. While Fujita Seiko taught the father Kenwa Mabuni the nanban satto-ryu that Kenwa Mabuni sent his son who all of Koga-Ryu Ninjutsu from Fujita Seiko (Ninja!)

  2. I'd love to see these books and hear any recordings you have? Just for my own research purposes...