Ninjutsu Description

The Ninjutsu | What is Ninjutsu | Ninjutsu Description | History of Ninjutsu | Who is a Ninja | Traditional Ninjutsu | The Ninja | Art of Ninjutsu | Ninjutsu Weapons | Ninja Silent Assassins | Ninja’s Mikkyo Mind | Bujinkan Ninjutsu | Rules of the Bujinkan | Ninjutsu and Koryu Bujutsu | Ninjutsu Arts Strategy

Ninjutsu was developed by groups of people mainly from the Iga Province of Japan. Throughout history the shinobi have been seen as assassins for hire, and have been associated in the public imagination with other activities which are considered criminal by modern standards.

Although thought to have come from Chinese expatriates ninjutsu is believed by its adherents to be of Japanese origin. It is believed to be strongly influenced by the strategic principles of Sun Tzu. Throughout history many different schools (or ryu) were developed which taught their unique version of ninjutsu.

An example of these is the Togakure-ryu. This ryu was developed after a defeated samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure escaped to the region of Iga. Later he came in contact with the warrior-monk Kain Doshi who taught him a new way of viewing life and the means of survival (ninjutsu).

Ninjutsu was developed as a collection of fundamental survivalist techniques in the warring state of feudal Japan. The ninja clans used their art to ensure their survival in a time of violent political turmoil. It also included methods of gathering information, non-detection, avoidance, and misdirection techniques. Ninjutsu can also involve training in disguise, escape, concealment, archery, medicine, explosives, and poisons.

Although the popular view is that ninjutsu is the art of secrecy or stealth, actual practitioners consider it to mean the art of enduring – enduring all of life’s hardships. The word nin carries both these meanings. To avoid misunderstandings, “ninjutsu” should just refer to a specific branch of Japanese martial arts, unless it is being used in a historical sense.

18 Ninjutsu Skills (Ninja Juhakkei): According to Bujinkan members, the eighteen disciplines (juhakkei < juhachi-kei) were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure-ryu and they became definitive for all ninjutsu schools, providing a complete training of the warrior in various fighting arts and complementary disciplines.Ninja juhakkei was often studied along with Bugei JÅ«happan (the “18 samurai fighting art skills”). Though some of them are the same, the techniques of each discipline were used with different approaches by both samurai and ninja.

The 18 disciplines are:

  1. Seishin Teki Kyoyo (spiritual refinement)
  2. Taijutsu (unarmed combat, using one’s body as the only weapon)
  3. Kenjutsu (sword fighting)
  4. Bojutsu (stick and staff fighting)
  5. Shurikenjutsu (throwing shuriken)
  6. Sojutsu (spear fighting)
  7. Naginatajutsu (naginata fighting)
  8. Kusarigamajutsu (kusarigama fighting)
  9. Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics and explosives)
  10. Hensojutsu (disguise and impersonation)
  11. Shinobi-iri (stealth and entering methods)
  12. Bajutsu (horsemanship)
  13. Sui-ren (water training)
  14. Boryaku (military strategy)
  15. Choho (espionage)
  16. Intonjutsu (escaping and concealment)
  17. Tenmon (meteorology)
  18. Chi-mon (geography)

In recent times the espionage techniques of ninjutsu are rarely focused on, since they serve little purpose to the bulk of modern populations, and tend to attract negative publicity and students with unrealistic expectations.

Schools of Ninjutsu:

  • Bujinkan Organization headed by Sōke Masaaki Hatsumi is one organizations frequently accepted as teaching mainstream ninjutsu. However Hatsumi has stated that he has modified the art of traditional ninjutsu to better suit modern ways. Hatsumi’s Bujinkan Dōjō consists of nine separate schools of allegedly traditional Japanese martial arts, only three of which contain ninjutsu teachings. According to the Bujinkan, Hatsumi is the inheritor of nine ryu (schools) some of which are Ninjutsu. He is considered by many to be the foremost authority on Ninjutsu, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, and Shinkentaijutsu. He also claims to hold the Densho (scrolls) of the ancient schools and can trace his lineage 34 generations however the authenticity of his claims have often been called into question. Hatsumi learned a variety of martial arts skills from Toshitsugu Takamatsu.
  • Genbukan World Ninpo Bugei Federation headed by Sōke Shoto Tanemura, who stopped training with Hatsumi in 1984 after achieveing Menkyo Kaidenin Bujinkan. He created the organization inorder to maintain the ancient Ninja tradition that is changing rapidly to adapt to the modern world.
  • Jinenkan Organization headed by Sōke Fumio Manaka, In 1996 he achieved Menkyo kaiden in Bujinkan and founded Jinenkan. The Art focuses in harmonizing oneself with the natural flow of the elements.
  • The AKBAN Organization uses the Bujinkan curriculum the way it was used when Doron Navon, the first foreign Bujinkan shihan, studied under Hatsumi. Israel was one of the first places where Bujinkan ninjutsu was practiced outside Japan, with Doron Navon pioneering it there in 1974. Doron Navon no longer practices Bujinkan ninjutsu.
  • The Quest Centers headed by Sōke Stephen K. Hayes who studied under Masaaki Hatsumi and is the person who first brought ninjutsu to America, founding the first ninjutsu dojo in the Western Hemisphere in Atlanta, Georgia, in the mid-70s. Mr. Hayes relocated to Ohio around 1980, where he continued to teach the art for a number of years. He now teaches a Westernized system, To-Shin Do.
  • The Jizaikan organization headed by Thomas “Jotoshi” Maienza who studied under the Bujinkan Ninjutsu tradition with many influencual practitioners of the art and was also head of the Quest Centers for a time and producer of many of Mr. Hayes works. He also trained in Daitō-ryÅ« Aiki-jÅ«jutsu amongst other disciplines. His schools study under both ninja and samurai martial arts traditions creating a unique martial art branch of ninjutsu called Jizaikan Aiki Ninjutsu.
  • Some smaller schools claim to have survived as well. One example, The Fuma Ryu, claims to date back from as far as the Sengoku period and that it is much more traditional in its teachings. These claims are highly skeptical and doubted by many. This school is headed by Harunaka Hoshino.
  • Koka Ninjutsu is carried on by the head of the Koka Ban family Kawakami, Jinichi Sensei and his student Kiyomoto, Yasushi Sensei in Fukui and Sagamihara-shi, Japan.

Other extant traditional martial arts such as the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shintō-ryū contain some aspects of ninjutsu in their curriculum, but are not ninjutsu schools per se. Also several other schools of ninjutsu purportedly exist, some of which claim to be traced back to Japanese origins.

Other Important People: The following is a list of key figures that have contributed to the development of the art of ninjutsu.

  • Carey “Bud” Malmstrom holds a Shidoshi rank and is currently a student under Soke Hatsumi, as well as a prominent instructor of Ninjutsu world wide. He was the headmaster of the Bujinkan Atlanta Dojo in Georgia for many years, taking over after Stephen Hayes moved to Ohio. Mr. Malmstrom has retired from active teaching, and has passed on the responsibility for the first ninjutsu dojo in the west to Roy Wilkinson, Judan Kugyo, who is one of the senior-most, non-Japanese practitioners of the art.
  • Jack Hoban is a prominent instructor of Shihan rank, and a current student of Hatsumi. He is also the founder of the Warrior Information Network (WIN).
  • Phil Legare-Shihan (15th Dan), Founder of Bujinkan Taka-Seigi Dojo, is one of the senior-most, non-Japanese students of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi-Soke. Through the Shinkentaijutsu website, up-to-date training is offered from Hatsumi-Soke (Grandmaster).

Unverified Origins: There are several persons and organizations that teach martial arts which they identify as ninjutsu but who lack a clear lineage to Japanese teachers. While such arts may still be effective, they lack proof of Japanese origin.

  • Ashida Kim is an American martial artist who has made unverified claims of cross training into ninjutsu, as well as unsubstantiated claims of being the last grandmaster.
  • Frank Dux is a martial artist whose claims of origins are unverified.
  • Dr. Haha Lung is a writer of over a dozen books about mind control and ninjutsu but his authority on the subject is unverified.
  • Robert Law is a Canadian martial artist who claims to be the 119th grandmaster of the Geijin Ryu and 29th grandmaster of the Yoshin Miji Ryu, as well as being head of over 20 sub-group clans.
  • Ronald Duncan is an American martial artist who runs the Way of the Winds Martial Arts System and claims to be the Father of American Ninjutsu.
  • Harunaka Hoshino is an American martial artist who runs the San Francisco Ninja Society.

Neo-ninja is a term that refers to modern martial arts schools which claim to teach elements of the historic ninja of Japan, or base their school’s philosophy upon traits attributed to the historic ninja of Japan.

Some people believe Koga-ryu Ninjutsu to have survived into the mid-20th century, purportedly having been passed to Fujita Seiko by his own grandfather. Seiko had students, but did not pass on this legacy. Any actual direct lineage of the Koga-ryu that might have existed, ended with the death of Fujita Seiko on January 14, 1966. Koga-ryu arts are generally considered to have been similar to the Iga-ryu arts.