Tuesday, 26 June 2018

An Autobiography of Takamatsu Sōke

the last ninja
Takamatsu Toshitsugu - The Last Shinobi
(Cover of the book by Wolfgang Ettig)
Disclaimer: The translation and wordings contained in this article, except this statement, does not belong to me and I do not take credit for them.

"My age will be 68, this year the 4lst year of Showa (1955). Until two or three years ago I had no idea of what my age was. This is simply because I did not want to know, however I do know that I was born in the 23rd year (note: possibly 22nd year) of Meiji (1889). I am bewildered by the appearance of my face as it looks now but the reason for this is: I have not looked at myself in the mirror in some thirty years. Even with this bedraggled look I am still what most people would consider an energetic man. If most people were to go for a walk for an hour they would usually cover about four miles - I usually cover that in about half of one hour. I like to walk and do so naturally with my dogs. We walk together everyday. I am very bad for time, but every day I am punctually in bed at 9 o'clock with my pet cat whom I have appointed the name of Jiro. I awake at half past six in the morning and take a cold friction wash. This is something that I have not missed in the past forty years and is why I have never been sick in bed; this is not to say cold washes alone stop you from being sick.

I enjoy painting very much and even now I continue painting as a form of play. I am not very skilful but I enjoy it, for me it's a pleasure. No one possesses the knowledge concerning the events of tomorrow; this means we do not know when our life will cease. Due to the impetuousness of youth I made lots of errors regarding my life; this was until the age of forty. I learned my mistakes and now take my cold washes and go for a walk with my dog every morning. After this I dedicate some time to writing and painting, as this is also balance. Exercise, rest, study and pleasure.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Introduction to Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu

Bujinkan Grandmaster Hatsumi Masaaki
   Previously, I had given you a short introduction to Bujinkan in my post Introduction: Bujinkan at the start of my blog. Indeed that was just for a total beginner or novice to let him/her understand what Bujinkan is and it was also my intention to define the purpose of this blog. Now going more towards the actual business, I am going to post in detail about the structure of the system of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu i.e its fields, levels, ranks and training methods.
   'Bujinkan' consists of three sub-words: 'Bu' meaning 'warrior'; 'Jin' meaning 'Godly/divine' and 'Kan' meaning 'hall', hence it gives the complete meaning roughly as 'Divine Warriors' Hall'. Similarly in 'Budō', 'Bu' means warrior while 'dō' means 'way', hence, Budō simply means 'way of warrior' or 'martial way'; and in 'Taijutsu', 'Tai' roughly means 'free body' while 'Jutsu' means 'technique', hence, Taijutsu means 'free body techniques'. Now going further into the details, 'Bujinkan' is the name of the system or organization that has collected the arts of ninpō and bujutsu into one curriculum; 'Budō' is the name of martial system(s) in general, while, 'Taijutsu' is a branch or part of it which deals mostly with unarmed combat.
   So Bujinkan as a combination of arts from three ninpō ryū-ha and six bujutsu ryu-ha consists of 9 sub-systems, each from the specific ryū-ha. These are:

Friday, 21 October 2016

Ninjutsu and Islam

Dervish Warrior
   Ninjutsu made its origin earlier than Islam and is heavily influenced by the teachings from Bhuddism, Taoism and Confucianism. Islam is a Way of Virtue (and not only a religion) just like Bushido and it contains rulings on the proper behavior of the people who follow this way while ninjutsu is a set of deceptive techniques, from a general look. Thus it seems natural for analysts to assume that it (ninpō) may contain such teachings which are against the Shari'ah of Islam and thus practicing or performing ninjutsu may be Haraam (Unlawful) in Islam, especially when it contains such elements as Spying, Deception, Assassinations, Fighting, Spirituality aimed at gaining supernatural powers, Magic, Divination, Astronomy and Astrology. On the other hand, some ignorant will say that Islam allows everything in war. Both Islam and ninjutsu are heavily misunderstood not only by the 'outsiders' but also by the 'insiders' of them. Some of the misconceptions commonly found about ninjutsu have been already discussed in the post The 12 Misconceptions About Ninja & Ninjutsu. Clearing misconceptions about Islam and Jihad are out of the scope of this site.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Iga vs Koga Shinobi

Iga vs Koka Shinobi

   Shinobi existed throughout Japan but these two villages of Iga and Koka (now called Koga) gave birth to some of the history's most famous ninja including Hattori Hanzō, Fujibayashi Nagato, Momochi Sandayu, Fuma Kotaro and Natori Masatake. The reason noted is that the two regions were independent of the shogunate rule and didn't have a shugo (governor appointed by Shogun) to oversee them (if existed then only by name). Hence in these villages, respective clans formed alliance to have free rein and appoint their own leader by mutual consultation. Thus they were independent to form their own armies and strong fortresses as per way they wished.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Rokugu- The 6 Basic Shinobi Tools

A Good Example of the Use of Shinobi Tools
   Rokugu (lit. six tools) are the six basic Shinobi tools that are essential to the gear of ninja/shinobi. These are the tools that a shinobi must always carry on all of his/her missions, all of them. These tools help in many of the common situations a ninja faces. Although there exists variations and types between the tools of each school in their shape, color, material or extent, the basic form and use of them had been the same through all the schools and regions of shinobi like Iga, Koka, Togakure-ryu.
   Unfortunately, none of the weapons or tools, which are famously portrayed to be the essential gear of the ninja like ninja sword, shuriken, blow pipe, shinobi shozoku, smoke bombs e.t.c, makes it to this list of six essential shinobi tools other than the Kaginawa (hooked rope).

   The six basic shinobi tools (Rokugu) are:

1. Amigasa -straw hat: The amigasa is a straw hat used to cover face or to change appearance. Through it you can see other people but they can not see your face. When not using it, you can carry it on your back, however, it is more advisable to carry it on your chest.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Gokan- The 5 Types of Spies (Shinobi)


   Go (Jap.) means 'five', kan (Chin.) means 'spy' -Gokan: five (types of) spies, also called Tókan or Wujián. These are the five types of spies discussed by Sun Tzu in the 13th Chapter of his book Bingfa- Art of War and are supposedly defined so since the time of Huángdi -Yellow Emperor of China. Master Natori Masatake also describes these five types of spies in his book Shoninki.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Seishin- The Correct Mind

   Sei means 'Right'/'Correct'/'True' while Shin means 'inside'/'heart'/'mind'/'spirit'/'god'/'divine'. Thus it means 'Correct Spirit', 'Correct Heart' or 'Correct Mind' for its complete meaning in our context. It's the first and the most important principle of ninjutsu and hence the first step towards becoming a ninja is to develop 'Seishin' before you can go further.
   If you lack 'seishin', you differ no other than common people who can do similar tasks. All your techniques are useless if you don't have developed the 'Seishin' and you are not worthy of being called a ninja because all your techniques will then be for your personal purposes, desires and freewill.
   As Momochi Sandayu says, "Ninjutsu is not something which should be used for personal desires. It is something which should be used when no other choice is available, for the sake of one's country, for the sake of one's lord, or to escape personal danger.  If one deliberately uses it for the sake of personal desires, the techniques will indeed fail totally".

   Even if it's about escaping personal danger to save your life, you should do it so only because saving your own life may help you save ten more. If you save your own life at the cost of leaving ten more in danger then that is not some thing worth of a true shinobi, and a samurai.
   The practice of Seishin helps you be decisive and flexible in the most difficult times so you wouldn't have to think more on the situation. If you haven't kept your heart under the blade then you haven't fulfilled the true meaning of shinobi, which can be achieved by the use of Seishin and that's why it's so important. Not only in Shinobi traditions but the practice of Seishin first is the part of some Samurai Traditions too.