What is Ninjutsu

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 (忍術), also called shinobi-jutsu (忍び術), is a collection of techniques originally practiced for espionage purposes. It includes methods of gathering information, nondetection, avoidance, and misdirection techniques. Ninjutsu can also involve training in disguise, escape, concealment, archery, medicine, and explosives.

Practitioners of ninjutsu 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. Even though it was influenced by Chinese spying techniques, ninjutsu is believed by its adherents to be of Japanese origin.

It is properly distinguished from ninpō (忍法) which has its roots in Shintoism and is concerned more with the realms of the mind (noosphere) and spirit.

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 character nin carries both these meanings.

Schools of Ninjutsu: The Bujinkan Dojo headed by Masaaki Hatsumi is one of three organisations generally accepted as teaching ninjutsu. Hatsumi’s Bujinkan Dōjō consists of nine separate schools of allegedly traditional Japanese martial arts, several of which contain ninjutsu teachings.

There are two other organisations teaching similar martial arts. These are the Genbukan headed by Shoto Tanemura, ex-student of Hatsumi, and the Jinenkan headed by Fumio Manaka, also ex-student of Hatsumi.

Other extant traditional martial arts such as the Katori Shinto-ryu contain some aspects of ninjutsu in their curriculum, but are not ninjutsu schools per se.

The espionage techniques and the like of ninjutsu are rarely focused on these days, since they are strongly bound with the circumstances and culture of feudal Japan.

Ninjutsu The Art of Invisibility

It must be noted that Mr Hatsumi’s credentials, seriousness and the quality of his teaching have come under attack by various sources – most of the vocal and vicious attacks coming from people that claim to be practitioners of ninjutsu traditions that cannot be found in Japan. Some express doubt of his really having been a student to Takamatsu sensei – despite the certificates he has from Takamatsu, the interview Takamatsu did for Tokyo Sports News naming Hatsumi as his successor and the full DVD of them training together that is available.

Others claim it is impossible that Takamatsu would seriously have managed to become sōke to nine different schools, even though most of the schools are closely related and had been transmitted together for generations. More point out the fact that Hatsumi seems overly generous with high ranking titles: he did grant a tenth degree black belt to Stephen K. Hayes after the latter had studied under him for barely 18 years.

However, traditional martial arts do not use the dan grading system, and there are accounts of people being granted certificates of full mastery in arts within a few months. The debate is largely conducted overseas. Inside Japan the subject of his authenticity is rarely talked about. Masaaki Hatsumi was invited to join the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai and Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai but he declined. However he is a frequent subject of martial arts articles, books, documentaries and has received a prestigious cultural award from the Imperial Household Agency.

Other Schools: Several other schools of Ninjutsu exist, some of which can be traced back to legitimate Japanese origins. Stephen K. Hayes studied under Masaaki Hatsumi but teaches an americanized system, To-Shin Do, in his Quest Centers.

In Israel, one of the first places where Bujinkan ninjutsu was practiced outside Japan, the A.K.B.A.N organization uses the Bujinkan curriculum the way it was used when Doron Navon, the first foreign Bujinkan shihan, practiced under Hatsumi sensei.

Based in Scotland, the Bujinkan Brian Dôjô is an organization formed and directed by Brian McCarthy. However, there are several persons and organizations claiming to teach “ninjutsu” whose validity and lineage have come under question. Such arts may still be “effective,” but many hold that they should not accurately be named ninjutsu.

For example, Ashida Kim is an American who claims the specifics concerning his teacher (whom he calls Shendai) must remain secret. Another self-proclaimed grandmaster whose authenticity is questioned is Frank Dux.

Other schools, which may or may not directly relate to the genuine Japanese ninja traditions, have different paths. For example, the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon, which teaches Saito Ninjitsu (and defines ninjitsu as something very similar but different from ninjutsu), follows the Wu Shan Fa or “Five Mountain Principle” (a Chinese name). However, there is no independently verifiable proof to back up the claims of the man who suddenly announced he was a master of this system in America. As with many of these schools, there is no documentation in Japan to back up their claims, and no proof of the existence of their instructors has been provided. As with the Temple of the Full Autumn Moon, many of their claims cause people knowledgeable in matters Japanese to raise their eyebrows.

It should also be noted that some historians do not believe that any ninjutsu ryūha that can verify their lineage back to feudal Japan exist today, but not all agree with this view. The fact remains that of all the schools available overseas or mentioned on the internet, the only styles (Bujinkan, Jinenkan, and Genbukan) to be known and practiced or able to show a link to Japan are the systems tracing back to Takamatsu Toshitsugu.