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/sh...&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/...&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/...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/...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.
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