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3/11/2007 3:21am,
I found a thread over on E-budo about the historical legitimacy of the bujinkan, in particular it's "ninjitsu" roots. The opening poster quoted something Meik Skoss has said in an email, which was:

"Anybody who has a connection to Hatsumi and the Bujinkan or other MIB (aka ninjacompoops) needs a reality check, in my opinion. End of story."

What was amusing is that one of the defenders said that he didn't consider Meik Skoss a credible authority on the subject of ninjitsu and that he:

I can understand why some would attach importance to his opinion. But I tend to put more importance on people who can read Japanese with thier native fluency, have studied ninjutsu history and have published books and such on the subject. And several of these people have looked at Hatsumi and said they believe him and the facts. So some can look to the opinions of people who study other arts to back up what they want to believe, and others can look to Japanese historians of ninjutsu.

The smackdown was laid with the awesome post by Ron Beaubien:

By the way, the correct spelling of his name is "Meik Skoss" and he has clarified even here on E-Budo about the sources of information on which he based his opinion. I think it is only right that we should take that into consideration as well:

"The problem is, except for a handful of koryu, where it's a part of a larger comprehensive curriculum, ninjutsu just doesn't exist anymore. Certainly not as an independent ryu-ha. What is commonly taught as ninjutsu, in Japan and elsewhere, is nothing more than a rather disparate collection of unarmed and weapons arts. This, according to the people with whom I've spoken (people who are either professors of martial studies at Tsukuba University, the International Budo University, and Chukyo University, or headmasters and senior exponents in the classical martial arts), is something that's not very clearly understood by the general public. That's not to say these arts are not technically valid or that they don't have historical provenance. What they aren't, however, is the art of ninjutsu per se."

From: The Good Stuff: Some Great Books You Really Oughta Read by Meik Skoss. ( http://www.koryubooks.com/library/mskoss5.html ) The article first appeared in Aikido Journal , vol. 22, no. 4, 1995.

I believe that the names of academic institutions of higher learning such as Tsukuba University, International Budo University, and Chukyo University can stand on their own merits. All of the above do have departments which specialize in the study of budo and its history.

In addition, Meik has also specifically named a few of the budo scholars and headmasters who he talked to on the subject of ninjutsu.

Unfortunately, the original message by Meik Skoss no longer exists here on E-Budo as it was apparently lost in the big crash. However, it was reposted in whole at ( http://www.budoseek.net/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=135600&postcount=115 ) by Alex Courtney on November 11th, 2005 and I'll quote here in part:

"When it comes to the question of the 'legitimacy' (or not) of that stuff that's now being referred to as 'Takamatsu-den' and/or the historical veracity of these arts as dyed-in-the-wool arts for MIB, I have to go with what I've learned by reading, observing, talking with the top budo and bujutsu exponents in the world. They do not place any credence in the crap that's been written since, say, the 1970s and the "Ninja Boom" and they've shown me why. It is enough for me when people like Muto S., Watanabe S., Irie S., and a number of others, exponents AND scholars, all look at me as though I'd a very large hole in my head for asking such goofy questions about stuff that's so patently false."

For those who don't recognize the names mentioned in the post quoted above written by Meik, I can provide a bit more information.

The late Muto Masao sensei was the soke of Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu and the Otsubo line of Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. He was on the board of directors of the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai and also a member of the Nihon Kobudo Kyokai. Muto sensei also had what was probably the largest private collection of old makimono and densho in the world.

Watanabe Ichiro sensei is professor emeritus of budo studies at Tsukuba University, one of the main academic research centers of budo studies, and author of numerous tomes on the subject. He is the most famous scholarly researcher of Japanese martial arts and held in high esteem. He is also listed as an advisor of the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai and assists them with historical matters. Even Dr. Karl Friday has referred to Watanabe sensei as "the premier scholar of bugei texts in Japan" ( http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0008&L=iaido-l&P=R12796&I=-3 ).

Irie Kohei sensei is Watanabe sensei's successor and currently in charge of budo studies at Tsukuba University. He is, of course, also heavily involved in the research of budo studies and a high ranking teacher of kyudo, which he also teaches at the university.

All three of the above were members of the "Kinyobikai," a small group of budo researchers who would regularly meet in Kanda on Fridays, hence the name of the group, to discuss their findings and thoughts about the martial arts. They are also certainly, as Don Roley says, "people who can read Japanese with thier [sic] native fluency, have studied ninjutsu history and have published books and such on the subject."

In addition to Ellis Amdur that Don Roley also mentioned above, lets not also forget Dr. Karl Friday, Ph.D. in history from Stanford University who is now teaching at the University of Georgia. Karl Friday also holds the rank of menkyo kaiden in Kashima Shin-ryu and had the following to say on the subject of ninjutsu:

"In any event, there is NO extant documentation for ninjutsu ryuha (including the documents that Hatsumi Masaaki claims to possess) that independent experts (historians or authorities on diplomatics) have been able to authenticate as dating from prior to the late 19th century."

From: Friday, Karl Dr. "Re: Ninja" on the Japanese Sword Art Mailing List. May 17th, 1999. ( http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9905&L=iaido-l&D=0&I=-3&P=10048 )

Dr. Friday then went on to clarify in another message a few days later:

"But there is none--as I noted earlier, no document for the Togakure-ryu that predates the Meiji period (or rather, none that survived the scrutiny of independent experts). Moreover, the geneologies claimed by Hatsumi (and by his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu) are highly suspect."

From: Friday, Karl Dr. "Re: Ninja and Ninjato" on the Japanese Sword Art Mailing List. May 19th, 1999. ( http://listserv.uoguelph.ca/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9905&L=iaido-l&P=R6422&I=-3 )

What is clear is that Meik Skoss did not just form his opinion based solely on his own personal feelings, but instead Meik actively searched out and asked independent experts, both academic and the highest ranking practitioners of various koryu bujutsu arts, specifically about the various histories, lineages, and techniques that were passed down to Hatsumi Masaaki from Takamatsu Toshitsugu. Their replies were very clear on the matter and therefore Meik Skoss shares the same opinion. Likewise, Dr. Karl Friday has also repeatedly pointed out the lack of any reliable historical records showing otherwise.

Despite what has been propagated through popular English-language sources in the West, and although this may come as a big shock to some people, the idea of any historical ninjutsu ryuha surviving to the present day is a non issue according to Japanese academia and not even a topic worthy of serious study. This is not to say that the techniques that are currently being taught are bad, ineffective, or anything of the sort. Many people follow the teachings of Hatsumi Masaaki, find them of use, and will certainly continue to do so.

I hope that helps.


Ron Beaubien
Reply With Quote

He just won that thread.

Thread here: http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36669&page=1&pp=15

3/11/2007 4:42am,

thanks for posting that, Virus.

I can't seem to get that Budoseek link to work though. Does it work for you? I want to read the whole of Skoss' post.

3/11/2007 9:39am,
No, it doesn't work for me. Presents me with a login page.

Of course the standard response from the "ninjacompoops" is:

* Prove we aren't fake.

* It works, who cares if it's a fake linegae.

* I'm too honorable to steep to discussion on trifling questions about my martial art being made up.

* Hatsumi isn't a fraud because he believes it himself.

* You know, historical lineage is really a murky issue.


Uri Shatil
3/12/2007 9:13pm,
Historical descendance is mostly immaterial. Tokagure-Ryu Ninjutsu is the art which I practice, and having read several of Hatsumi-sensei's books (as well as other readings), I have to say that whether or not we are truly practicing the same techniques as the ancient Ninja is a completely irrelevant. I think the classic example is found in the Kyoketsu Shoge, a weapon that is a predecessesor to the kusarigama (chain and sickle). It is a small dagger with an additional curved blade coming out of the side, all of which is connected by a long rope (often thirteen feet, made of horse hair) to a large metal ring (usually three inches in diameter).

There is no formal technique for the kyoketsu-shoge. They were lost somewhere hundreds of years ago. However, the weapon has been studied and effective techniques have been developed.

The use of this weapon is not descendent from the ancient ninja. Does that mean it is not ninjutsu? No. The teachings of ninjutsu are being used to utilize the weapon. Hatsumi-sensei is renound for his development of firearms techniques in ninjutsu. The art evolves, and some things are lost and others are gained.

And blood lineage? Disregarding the fact that that Hatsumi-sensei is probably descendant from Daisuke Togakure, that's still a huge load of bullshit.

3/12/2007 9:51pm,
It is also posted on MAP will some Koryu Guys and Ben Cole both posting

3/13/2007 12:44am,
I know there isn't anything in the original sign on agreement, etc. but I've got to tell you cannibalizing other forums just seems lame. It might make for some funny filler on YMAS but I thought this and the other Trad subforums were looking to be low filler/high content.

3/13/2007 12:59am,
Ninjew can move it to YMAS if he wants.

3/13/2007 3:33am,
No, it doesn't work for me. Presents me with a login page.


never mind. it's up on that MAP thread.

3/13/2007 5:10am,
never mind. it's up on that MAP thread.

Where they censored the word "ninjacompoops".

3/28/2007 4:55am,
You can't just lay claim to being the 34th soke of a ninjitsu school and then say "It doesn't matter" when called on it. If it doesn't matter then he should come clean and say he or takamatsu made it up.

3/28/2007 6:33am,
. The techniques and teachings are the same because they all relate to the same subject matter, namely the human body.

Disagree totally. Sorry.

Are you saying that kung fu and Brazillian jujitsu are the same because they are just using the human body?

How about baseball and cricket? Are they the same because the human body is the same?

Even though human bodies haven't changed that much, the fact is that the world's martial arts are all very very different. Different countries had different envirnments and cultures and that affects their martial arts enormously. You can (or you should be able to) easily tell at a glance if a martial art comes from Japan, China or the Phillipines.

3/28/2007 7:22am,
The rule in feudal japan was that if you owned the scrolls/densho (whether aquired by force, conquest, competition or trade) you became the master of that school. .

Who on earth told you that?

3/28/2007 9:38am,
Yeah, I really doubt that was the case.

An example you might find interesting: Hatsumi actually has scrolls in his possession from old schools including Araki Ryu. But he never claims to be the master of that style.

5/03/2007 6:07am,
i heard a story once..forget the art and name of the person...but

there was a grandmaster who had a student that wanted a menkyo kaiden...the grandmaster i guess gave his other 2 students a menkyo kaiden..just not this on guy, so the student tries sneak up and kill the grandmaster, of course the grandmaster throws him or something...then sits down and writes him a menkyo kaiden...

the scrolls are worthless without kuden and actually being taught it.

8/22/2007 5:16pm,
Well dispite that dumb e-mail ive seen about Ninjutsu, that guy forgets that Takamatsu learned from Toda witch was a Ninja. So my point is that the guy said Ninjutsu doesn't exist
anymore. it does exist there may not be any clans left but it doe's exist. The only problem i have is Tokagure-Ryu i dont know if that is real our not but Tokagure-Ryu doe's have same moves as Gyoko ryu.

soyez efficaces
8/22/2007 6:36pm,
"This is not to say that the techniques that are currently being taught are bad, ineffective, or anything of the sort. Many people follow the teachings of Hatsumi Masaaki, find them of use, and will certainly continue to do so."

I think this point pretty much concludes this recurring debate best.