Thursday, August 13, 2015

The 102 families of Iga & Koga Ninja

If you are wondering the 102 families are the 49 Iga families and the 53 Koka/Koga families. Actually, there are less then 102 families, since some of the Iga & Koga families are the same, According to the Bansenshukai the Iga & Koga, translation by Anthony Cummins & Yoshie Minami The Book of the Ninja page 25; "The people of Iga & Koka had never had a shugo governor and each clan was self-governing; they constructed small castles in each estate independently and had free rein. As having no shugo or a lord. there was not a governor to oversee them. There were numerous instances of them fighting 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. They would search for a gap within each other, send shinobi to infiltrate and set fire on each other's castles, get inside information on the enemy, interfere with the enemy's plans of alliance by disinformation, carry out raids or night attacks, and conduct strategy with innumerable changes to catch the enemy of guard."

Clearly, this destroys the myth of the Iga being a republic of freedom and defines Iga & Koka as a lawless land of chaos and constant warfare. It is comparable in modern terms to living in Afghanistan or Syria, or Yugoslavia between the years 1989 to 1992. Being in the eastern Ukraine right now or for my survivalist & prepper mates the US when society breakdowns happens.

This provides a great deal of understanding into where it was created and what ninjutsu is. In fact, the translation from The Book of the Ninja goes on to say starting on page 25 and ending on page 26: "Therefore, the result was that they thought that, in order to defeat the enemy's greater forces by using a small number of people and defeating the heard and strong, it is best to use the flexible and supple, and nothing is better than the use of the shinobi to do this. Therefore, they had every samurai hone himself with the skill of the shinobi and the lower people or genin [kanji] learn in-nin or 'stealth' techniques."

A footnote on page 26 says that " appears that high-ranking people performed predominantly yo-nin as it required a high level of education; however, it is difficult to assess how much of each discipline the different classes learned."

In Volume Eight, titled Yo-Nin (Page 100 of Book of the Ninja) the Bansenshukai says "Shinobi no jutsu consists of yo-jutsu and in-jutsu. Yo-jutsu in to infiltrate the enemy in plain sight with elaborate plans of ingenuity, while  in-jutsu is to 'steal in,' hiding yourself from people's eyes. In this volume are written the techniques to infiltrate by inventing innumerable plans which should be ever changing according to the situation, and finding and taking advantage of any gap within the enemy while you are in plain sight - that is why it is titled yo-nin."

So we know now that Yo-nin and yo-jutsu are the same things, its just logical to assume (correctly so) that in-nin and injutsu are the same. What is of great importance is in understanding the text I've cited on a deeper level. When you hear about "high-ranking" and "low-ranking" here they are talking about social status. The genin were therefore criminals or other low-ranking people in society. So even if one was a high-ranking member of society they were required to know certain things like burglary, pick pocketing, forgery and so on.

Even when discussing "low-people" in modern society, a modern shinobi should be aware of and/or experienced with the methods of criminals and other unsavory types in "the gutter." However, yo-nin is what I wish to focus on, the to infiltrate the enemy in plain sight with elaborate plans of ingenuity. There are a list of skills and methods for doing so both within the Bansenshukai and within Black Dragon Ninjitsu. It is unknown if the Iga and Koga shinobi had different schools and traditions with a variation of ninjutsu techniques but clearly Fujibayashi who compiled the information in the first place traced ninjutsu back to one point. So we are found with a quote from Fujibayashi that he attributes to the Dialog of Tai-Zong, in which Li Ting says:
"Zhang Liang learned the Six Secret Strategic Teaching and the Three Strategies of Huang Shigong written by Jiang Ziya. Also, Han Xin learned Sima Rangju and Sun Tzu."

However, Fujibabashi goes on to state "However, it was limited to the Three Focuses and the Four Schools. One of these three focuses is about ninjutsu." on page 24 of The Book of the Ninja.

Well first off Sun Tzu (the most well know eastern strategy doctrine in the West) was not as widely available then at it is now. In fact, many people who had access to the information did not openly share it. Some of those who who had it had incomplete copies of the iconic text. Also, only when one has studied the text multiple times and in depth does one find those brief passages repeat a theme within the text. These general themes are never openly explained and are therefore considered "secret" because you have to read, study and meditate on the text to understand these themes.

But, Fujibayashi is not speaking of Sun Tzu instead his is speaking of the Chinese treatise on civil and military matters title the Six Secret Teaching by Jiang Ziya but also connects the strategic principles to Sun Tzu. The Six Secret Teachings is important because it is the only one of the seven military classics that is written from a revolutionary prospective.

The Six Secret Teachings is organized into six chapters:
  1. The Civil Strategy: Is focused on organizing the state to support military action and the importance of alliances and diplomacy. 
  2. The Military Strategy: Is a continuation of the concept of using alliances and diplomacy, as well as the focus on what we call "winning hearts and minds" today. A concept that historically allowed us to win every battle but lose the war in Vietnam.
  3. The Dragon Strategy: Is a chapter focused on core basic military matters ranging from general maintaining military moral, order and discipline, to basic tactics and use of unorthodox thinking and flexibility between commanders and leaders "on the ground."
  4. The Tiger Strategy: Focuses on tactical principles and military equipment. Tactical principles are focused around ambush and withdraw under assault, favoring speed, maneuverability and  misdirection.
  5. The Leopard Strategy: Is focused on using terrain to one's advantage, use of strategic forces and tactical thinking deployed against a stronger force by targeting strategic weaknesses.
  6. The Dog Strategy: The dog strategy contains a lot of miscellaneous material, for the other chapters on weakness to exploit within the enemy, the use of selecting soldiers for elite infantry units for special missions, training those soldiers, as well as detecting enemy moral and a warning against attacking when moral is high.
This is a huge difference in how strategy is view by Jiang Ziya and as it is presented in the Bansenshukai is that Iga and Koga. Fujibayashi's statement about clans (families) of Iga & Koka being without a Lord and so engaging in various and constant internal conflicts shows were ninjutsu moved into specifically Japanese context. These internal struggles would require an indirect method of using small teams of soldiers as opposed to sending whole armies (which would very small compared to a formal armies under shugo made up of several clans) to commit to direct battle.

The Chinese states that influenced ninjutsu were in many cases the size of Japan's main island or, larger then Japan's main island of, Honshu. So they had more resources and larger forces, they could expend the waste of man power in open war. Even then much of Chinese thought was conserving resources more so then throwing resources at the enemy recklessly. The Three Strategies of Huang Shigong are an extension of Jiang Ziya's original Six Strategies. Jiang Ziya is credited with being the first person to write a doctrine on military strategy in China, predating Sun Tzu and believed to have been studied by Sun Tzu as well... 

In the 3 Strategies of Huang Shigong, we taught that the 3 strategies are fixed to each of the three styles of government, the importance of Generals being unquestionable once they assume command & that attacks are to be swift and deceive guided by strategic goals. More so, the principles are laid out that should be mastered are;
  1. To alternate between hard and soft approaches, with a leader being both awe-inspiring and  benevolent as the situations calls for it.
  2. Act according to situation and avoid habits, patterns, similarities to other events or one's desires. Judge each situation with perception, observation and be willing to adapt. 
  3. Offers insight into others, and warns to use only the capable.

Han Xin, is a historical figure in ancient China (birth date unknown but died 196BC) who was a brilliant military leader. Sima Rangju, a powerful general and author of The Methods of Sima, another of the seven Chinese military classics.

"Zhang Liang learned the Six Secret Strategic Teaching and the Three Strategies of Huang Shigong written by Jiang Ziya. Also, Han Xin learned Sima Rangju and Sun Tzu."

When Fujibashi goes on to state "However, it was limited to the Three Focuses and the Four Schools. One of these three focuses is about ninjutsu." we are left with an unclear understanding of the Three Focuses (without studying said Chinese Military Classics), which Anthony's notes at the bottom of page 24 that explains what these three focuses are; Strategy, Troops and Resources. The matter of four schools Anthony cites as "Strategy & Tactics," "Circumstances & Developments," "Yin and Yang" and "Techniques and Craft." According to Fujibashi only one of these skills focuses on ninjutsu.

Allow me to show you were this all going...

The above graph is hopefully able to get you to understand where ninjutsu fits into the world of warfare, in the Asian mindset. The four schools, are schools of thought concerning assessing & evaluating the situation, while 3 focuses are the foundations of directing forces; strategic goals, man power and supplies. Ninjitsu is not only the methods of psychological manipulation, strategy and tactics, infiltration and disguise but it heavily tied to the study of military strategy at all levels. The 49 Iga families/clans and 53 Koka families/clans applied strategy to "Economy of Force" (to borrow a martial arts term) with a lawless land of social chaos and constant infighting.

Note: Anthony's translation said Yin & Yang and I don't know if the Bansenshukai originally said this but, assuming it does, anyone familiar with Taoist philosophy know that Yin and Yang are two halves of the Tao. The Tao is a reflection of balance and acceptance of positive and negative, give and taken, loss and gain. A manifestation of the polar opposites that presents an ebb and flow to existence.

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