my Ninjutsu research: The facts are super stealthy!
Hello all, this is my first post and like most Ninjutsu people who post here I have noticed a lot of heated words exchanged between bujinkan practitioners and those who practice other arts. Now, this is probably the point where you expect me to write a million words saying that all you guys are mean and nasty, and you should just shut up and do your own thing...but actually, I want to open up a civil and open-minded discussion. Little kids call names and make things up...respectable adults usually should not.
I have a fairly diverse martial arts background. My profile goes into it at length, but I will just sum up and say that I have studied Shotokan, Kodokan, JKD, BJJ, TKD, and more recently, I have been fortunate enough to study two different kinds of Bujinkan martial arts.
Yes, you read that correctly. There are two kinds of Bujinkan arts. In only 3 months of practicing this art, I have sampled them both. The two kinds are:
the OLD way and the NEW way. To put it simply, the old way was hard and dangerous. Sparring and Randori were not uncommon, while training injuries, on the other hand, were quite common. The toughness of Hatsumi's early students was noticed by all who trained with them, and this certainly contributed to Hatsumi-sensei's reputation as a good teacher. Anyone who has researched Bujinkan has surely noticed the numerous references to the fact that the training changed at some point to the "new" way, which is mostly based on forms, soft 1-on-1 drilling, and an over-emphasis on Takagi Yoshin Ryu (the Koryu Jujutsu style which is part of the Bujinkan system). I have noticed a lot of the people who practice the "new" way are fat, slow, and do not move like fighters or ninja. I have taught Karate to a few people before, mostly in an informal way, mixing in other things I have picked up, and I remember looking at one Bujinkan student and thinking: "Man, if that guy was one of my students, I'd tell him to lose that big fat gut and that arrogant attitude or I wouldn't teach him a thing." This is why I honestly understand why you guys make fun of Bujinkan so much. With fluffbunnies like that out there, giving us all a bad name, it's no wonder some people think our style is weak.
That being said, there are exceptions. Some teachers do it the old way and some do it the new way. In his book "the grandmaster's book of ninja training", Hatsumi admits that the training was softened down a bit, saying that he felt people could learn quicker if they didn't have to spend time recovering from injuries. Although I can see his logic, I believe he made a mistake.
Before this gets brought up, let me go ahead and say that debates regarding the historical legitimacy of Ninjutsu styles are pointless. This is because Ninjutsu has almost always existed as a secret style. How could anyone ever prove or disprove the closely guarded family secrets of centuries ago? It's not possible. Everyone tells a different story and we have no way to investigate thoroughly.This is why Ninjutsu has been used by con artists like Ashida Kim and Robert Bussey (the guy who trained scott morris and steve jennum) and let's not forget christa jacobsen. Me, I'm willing to take it on a little bit of faith because Hatsumi's version of the whole ninja history seems much more plausible to me. Most people present the ninja as having been assassins and mercenaries. Hatsumi says that the original ninja were the defenders of Japan's Buddhist temples, and their arts evolved from the temple arts of fighting monks. He says that the ninja were basically survivalists, living in a time of great chaos and near-constant war, and so they developed skills to work their will without being known. I don't believe the old "cadre of assassins" line because that's what the "legitimate" histories say. Well, who do you think wrote those so-called "legit" histories? the people who were in charge at the time, of course! and that means the Samurai. Now really, if you published something good about Ninjas in feudal japan, how long do you think it would be before some guy in a topknot showed up and beheaded you?
At one time, there were over 100 ryu of Ninjutsu known to exist in Japan. That much is fact. For all we know, they might all have survived in secret to this day, but we have no way to know. The point is that the people who have taught ninjutsu to the public are the exception, not the rule. When it has been taught to the public, it has often been watered down. If you want to understand the art, you first need to understand this.