Ninja: Unmasking the Myth By Stephen Turnbull

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Yes, I have read Turnbull and know his version but I have spent 15 years by Soke’s side hearing the wisdom that our art has brought us.

It reverberates deeply. It is not academic.

We are not looking to prove a direct lineage. At least I am not.

I am trying to explore the origin story of the Toda family’s art. I don’t care how old it really is. If the art was created in the Edo period by a bunch of Onmitsu and Oniwaban agents, then so be it.

To me, it is like the Masons picking up where the Templars left off. The Toda family were no doubt Takasho which have a strong connection to the Onmitsu and Oniwaban. I have continuously found records that prove the Toda family have worked as Torimi/Onmitsu agents and can prove that they came from the Iga-Shu sharpshooters.

The evidence is mounting high very quickly. It is just a matter of putting a label on it. Toda Sensei felt it should be called Togakure Ryu. Maybe it is just a remnant of the Iga Ryu giving credit to the story of Togakushi. Whatever, I am just interested in the ride through history that this origin story has provided us because without it I never would have had this personal adventure of discovery and excitement.

Seriously, every day I find more and more than just line up with Takamatsu’s story. I think we are just still stuck on what we do and do not call ninja and ninjutsu.

And I for one still prefer my Japanese resources. As great as a researcher as he is, I do not think he is the one to draw the line as to what is and what is not the truth about a very secretive Japanese art.

Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
9/7/2018

The BKR Interview  –   Part 1

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Originally, this was going to be a short essay that was going to discuss different aspects of a long discussion I had with some Bujinkan practitioners some time ago. However, after spending several hours just talking about Budo and my experiences in Japan and China with these students, it became evident that a simple essay would not be enough. To this end, a magazine series detailing different aspects of the discussion, along with additional material concerning the Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo (BKR), of which I created, seemed more appropriate. Hence, this series was born.

 
My experience in the Bujinkan
 
I am often asked, “How long have you been studying Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu?”. My answer is complex because in the early days of the art in the USA there were not many schools or teachers. I first met our 34th Grandmaster Hatsumi Sensei in 1986 at the World Ninja Summit in Ohio. But for about two years before that, I was training with a man I will call JK. He was a Kyu a ranked student under Stephen K. Hayes when I first met him in 1984. By the time I had met Hatsumi Sensei, JK had earned his Shodan or “black belt” but he soon stopped his training shortly afterward for personal reasons.
 So another friend of mine, Chris Nardi, and I continued the local group in the Albany NY area until I left for Japan to go to University and continue my training with Hatsumi
SokeAs JK had stopped training and teaching, from 1986 onward I also trained with Jack Hoban, BudMalmstrom and Stephen K. Hayes. It was always seminar training events only; I was not a member of their dojos.
The only person I trained with regularly from 1986 to 1989 was Jack Hoban, and
that was on a monthly basis in neighboring New Jersey. I pretty much got my driver’s license as soon as I turned 16 just so I could drive the trip myself from NY to NJ and back, and not rely on others. Then, at the 1989 Tai Kai, I met Hatsumi Sensei for the second time, and I really began to take my training much more seriously.
This is also when I met the well-known American instructor, RalphSevere. I started flying down to Dallas Texas to train with Ralph, and my group and I brought him up to NY a couple of times for seminars as well. So that’s how it started for me, and how I moved to Japan in 1991 after my first trip in 1990.

What is the Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo?
It is not really different at all. The BKR is simply an association of teachers who all train under the same syllabus up to the 4th Dan, after that the student becomes a student of the headmaster inJapan under the guidance of their BKR instructor. The only real difference between us and your average Bujinkan Dojo is that we strongly encourage cross training with other systems and allow students to compete in various types of tournaments should they decide to do so. This is about the only thing different about my organization. We are a subset to the mainstream Bujinkan.
The training is not really different than training in with a Shihan in Japan, it’s basically the same, other than that I heavily incorporate the attitude, training techniques and fighting spirit that I received from my competition coach, Enson Inoue. I do make the training more “hard”– I like to make the training a physical workout. In my opinion, the BKR is like training the old way, before the way it is now. Hatsumi Sensei has often said that to get to his level, you have to train the way he did when he was younger. I also include a lot of Kosen Judo and MMA training as I feel they are great companions to our “Bujinkan skill set.”
If you look at the old purple Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu Book by Hatsumi Sensei, (handing it to one of the students to look at) at the beginning of the book he writes about proper diet, which Sensei takes very seriously. He discusses stretching, which you rarely see anybody does properly anymore. There are many dojos that don’t even stretch at the beginning of class. Sadly, they feel it is a “waste of dojo time”. So with the BKR, I try to cover all of this old material. I try to instill the basics.
This old book of sensei is said to be the required material up through the rank of Godan or the 5th-degree black belt (flipping through the pages of the book). I incorporate all of this, such as the Junan Taiso, which in some ways is very much like yoga. None of the stretchings is quick or fast, it is all slow and relaxed. As I mentioned above, another difference between my dojo and some Bujinkan dojo is the inclusion of contact sparring and competition in the 1960’s & 1970’s.
Hatsumi, Sensei incorporated sparring in the Bujinkan dojo training, it was called
yakusoku randori-geiko.
Anthony Netzler, my first roommate in Japan, and I had the chance to do this kind of training with Hatsumi Sensei in the park on many occasions. We were allowed to freely attack at Sensei it bonded us to him in a way. I strongly feel that this should be part of the training that I pass on to my students.”
  
Now that he is older, he does not do this so much anymore. Us few Tokyo and
 Noda-City residents at that time were very lucky, for by the time I arrived in Japan,
Sensei was already slowing down with this type of training. It usually happened spontaneously when we would help with walks with the dogs he had at the time. We would pass a park or an empty field and he would tie the dogs up and just start throwing us around. If it wasn’t for Anthony, I never would have had these opportunities. He always had a special relationship with Sensei and he got my foot in the door with him very early. I am ever grateful.
As for competition in the BKR, we consider it tradition…, Takamatsu Sensei
(our 33rd Grandmaster or Soke) was well known in the Japanese Martial Arts community in pre-WW2 Shanghai China as the “Moko no Tora” or the Mongolian Tiger. It is said he had over 100 competitive matches and never lost. Hatsumi Sensei was a competitive Judo player as well and has stated that his training in competitive Judo is what made him so strong and get him to the level of even being introduced to Takamatsu Soke.
Therefore, in the BKR the opportunity for competition is there for those who wish to pursue it with Bujinkan heart. There is resistance training and controlled sparring in all BKR session to develop each student’s ability to apply the techniques in actual situations. But there is no requirement to compete.
In my own opinion and experience, a lot of people who train in the Bujinkan may train for a year or two and earn their black belt. The problem is that they do not even know the Kihon Happoproperly. They don’t know what a proper omote gyaku is. They don’t really know what they should know. This is mainly because of Hatsumi Sensei judges a person’s rank based on “heart” and“feeling”, which is fine, that’s great.  But… if you get your Sandan in Bujinkan, then you should know that, “
Sensei sees in me that I am worth aSandan……someday.” They have to admit to themselves that they don’t know the techniques properly yet.  
In this case, Hatsumi Sensei says to go back and find a Shihan that will teach you because he is no longer teaching the basics and that’s what the BKR is really for. There are many 15th Danin the Bujinkan, but some have only been training for five or so years. It because Sensei sees in their heart that they are good people and he gives them these ranks prematurely because of their good heart. But their skill in Taijutsu
is still lacking. 
I am not Hatsumi Sensei and do not grade based on heart or feeling. If I give a student a BKR Shodan, that person will know everything that is required in the
Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki2, which Sensei wrote for Shodan.
They will know the material, they can do the material, and they can apply the material. That’s all it really is. It’s no different than what Sensei has taught me in my
over 15 years in Japan.” When I first went to Japan after high school in 1990, there were only a few hundred Godan in the world. Within 20 years, there were several thousand. Who knows how many there are now. Let’s just say Sensei has definitely sped up the process. 
Sensei always says that he is not really teaching, that he doesn’t like to teach, and doesn’t want to teach. He says these things about himself and then he says that Takamatsu Sensei was the same way. He says that for a person to learn this art, they have to steal it from him. You have to watch him, pick it up, go home, and practice it. He
won’t teach it to you, you have to figure it out yourself. That’s why I wrote the article jibun denarai (to learn on your own). I interviewed [Hatsumi] Sensei for that article.”
I do believe that it was different back in the early days. The original students are like family to Hatsumi Sensei, he loves them as his own.
So, I believe he taught them all with lots of love and care. Then it was time for him to continue with his job and grow the organization into the international group it has become. From that point on everyone needed to see the Shihan to learn the basics…
 but we had to go to Soke to learn the art. This may be a difficult thing to understand for some beginners.  In the BKR we also train with weapons quite frequently and I am often asked what I think is the correct phase to incorporate weapons into training. Once a student has learned how to do ukemishoshin or gogyo, and the Kihon Happo – 
 or once they get to a basic level, they should start right away with
bokken, and hanbo, and things like that.

There is no real “rank” point where it starts. 
With the BKR, there are no formal requirements for weapons until after Shodan. Sword katabo-kata,
etc. are in the ranks above Shodan. We train with weapons at every level, but it is not a required item on the syllabus until after Shodan.
In 2001 Hatsumi Sensei knew I had made the decision to move back home to the USA for a few years before returning to Japan, and we had discussed my training because of this. He said that I should go and teach the Ju-Godan the basics! That’s how the BKR got started. He endorsed my syllabus because he wanted me to teach. 
Sensei wants the world to know that he gives rank out based on heart, and nobility. The BKR is more about the ability. I don’t have the eyes to see everyone’s heart that’s what Hatsumi Sensei does. Once I got the feeling that I was going to be leaving Japan, I started to put together all of my notes – I have tons and tons of notes from the day I started training in Japan until the day I left – so I started to organize things together, making sure that I knew the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki, and to make sure everything else that all of the teachers had taught me was together. My goal was not to create an organization where you pay money or anything like that, I don’t charge a fee to become
a member, there is no such thing.
When this magazine comes out, there will be a fee for that, but there is no fee to be a member. If you are a Sandan in the Bujinkan, and you want to have the BKR certification, there is no charge for the certification.
You just have to pass the tests.

1. The kihon happo, or “infinite basics”, along with the movements of the San Shin no Kata, are considered the basic techniques and movements of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

2. The Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki, or “The Outline Scrolls of Heaven, Earth, & Man”, is considered the first training curriculum Hatsumi Sensei prepared for his students.


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Togakure Ryu and Kukishin Ryu deeper

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Is the link between the Togakure Ryu and Kukishin Ryu deeper than we thought???

In the middle ages, there was a very serious samurai practice to take written vows when undertaking the study of a military science, especially when the pupil is from outside of the family.

In the case of the Kukishin Ryu, the Kuki family to this day still preserves a document from 1532 CE that has been continuously added to until modern times. The document is the 2nd scroll in a set of two titled “Seiyakusho” (誓約書). It is a written oath that pupils sign upon formally entering the school or “Ryu”. It is a promise to uphold the true meaning and spirit of the martial arts (military arts) and that one promises to cultivate a great sense of justice. The signature is traditionally accompanied by a thumbprint in blood, vowing they will never reveal what they have been taught to others without the master’s permission.

In the book Kukishinden Zensho by Ago Kiyotaka in 1983 he writes that he could hold in his own hands and examine this original 1532 CE document carefully. He notes that the more recent portion of the document leading up to the modern times was re-written by Kuki Takaharu in 1904.

This list is a veritable all-star list of Japanese military commanders and master swordsmen. Including Yamamoto Kansuke (Red Star on pic), known to have studied Togakure Ryu ninjutsu from Fujibayashi Nagato no Kami. The list also includes Sanada Masayuki (Green Star), the father of Sanada Yukimura. Both men are recorded as hiring local shugenja from the Togakure and Iizuna regions as shinobi and “Kamari” commandos in their forces.

Takamatsu Toshitsugu (Yellow star), our current Soke’s master also signed this list in 1899, vowing his allegiance to the emperor and the nation and to protect the teachings of the Kukishin Ryu. His “Kohai” or junior training partner Iwami Nangaku signed the list in 1922.

As Kuki Takahiro (隆博) died in WWII he was the last signature on the list as the Kuki family has taken vows of peace and no longer are involved in the martial arts. They now run several successful businesses and corporations all over the country and still administrate the Kumano Grand Shrine.

The original document list begins in 1532 with the vows and signatures/stamps of;

Kuki Yagoro, 1532 CE

Yamamoto Kansuke, 1534 CE

Kuki Moritaka, 1573 CE

Kuki Yoshitaka, 1574 CE (Formed the Kuki Navy from various bands of pirates from the Shima region)

1 name omitted

Sanada Masayuki, 1577 CE (Father of the famous Sanada Yukimura who used Shinobi from Togakure)

Bessho Nagaharu, 1576 CE

2 names omitted

Itō Ittōsai, 1573 CE (Famous master swordsman, 2nd to only Miyamoto Musashi, 33 matches, no losses)

Kuki Shigetaka, 1576 CE (Son of Kuki Yoshitaka)

Kuki Takasue, 1597 CE (Son of Kuki Moritaka)

Miyamoto Musashi (Black star), 1494 CE (Here we have an enigma, the date is exactly 100 years too early but it is for the famous swordsman, the Kuki family claims that it is the same Miyamoto Musashi who wrote the book of 5 Rings and fought over 60 duels with only one loss, I think the date may be a typo and should read 1594 putting Musashi at around 10 years old, the normal age of taking these vows)

Chōsokabe Motochika, 1595 (Daimyo of the Chōsokabe Clan)

Takagi Oriemon (Blue star), 1616 CE (Founder of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu)

Kuki Takayuki, 1648 CE (Daimyo of the Tanba Ayabe Domain)

1 name omitted

Kuki Takanao, 1662 CE (3rd Daimyo of the Tanba Ayabe Domain, brought Kito Ryu into the Kuki family)

Kuki Takahide, 1683 CE (Son of Kuki Takanao)

Shibukawa Bangoro, 1625 CE (Founder of Shibukawa Ryu Jujutsu)

Kimura Ittosai, 1649 CE (no information on him at this time)

Kuki Takashin, 1712 CE (Founder of the Shima branch of the Kuki family)

Kuki Taka??, 1743 CE (no information at this time)

Kuki Takanori, 1773 CE (8th Daimyo Lord of the Tanba Ayabe Domain)

3 names omitted

Ishitani Matsutaro, 1868 CE (Takamatsu Sensei’s 2nd master)

Takamatsu Toshitsugu, 1899 CE (Hatsumi Sensei’s master)

Iwami Nangaku, 1921 CE (Takamatsu Sensei’s Kohai under Ishitani Sensei)

9 names omitted

Shiozaki Katsuo, 1923 CE (Student of Iwami Nangaku)

Essay by Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
9/6/2018



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Kukishin Ryu

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Recently a few people had read my posts about the Kuki family and noticed that I mentioned that the Kuki family for many generations had separated themselves from their family’s martial art of Kukishin Ryu.

For reasons unknown at this time, the great Daimyo Lord Kuki Takanao (九鬼 隆直), broke with the Kuki family tradition and studied the Kito Ryu school of Jujutsu (起倒流柔術) with 4th generation master Takino Yugen (滝野遊軒).

The reasons may have to do with the following…
Kuki Takanao was actually born as, the 11th son of Matsudaira Nobusada and later adopted by Kuki Takatsune to be his heir. So, by blood, he was not a true Kuki family member and most likely may have brought this tradition of Kito Ryu Jujutsu into the family with him when he was adopted in 1696 at approximately 9 years old. In 1698, just two years later, Takatsune dies and Takanao takes over his adoptive father’s position as Daimyo. When he was just 11 years old he started to rule the Tanba Ayabe domain as a man.

He continued to practice the Kito Ryu until his death and passed the school on within the Kuki family as a tradition from that point on. Even though he was a great lord, he also had great humility and became one of the top masters of the school.

Looking at the picture of the Kuki family headmaster lineage, the yellow boxes are the generations of Kuki family masters that did not practice Kukishin Ryu. They practiced Kito Ryu but from what I understand the Bojutsu and Hanbojutsu of the Kuki family had been retained and you can see its influence on the Kito Ryu’s traditional Bojutsu dancing called “Bo no Te”.
(Please see the video clips)

 

The red box is Kuki Takaharu, he was the first Kuki family member to try to bring back the traditional family martial arts of the Kukishin Ryu. He recruited Takamatsu Sensei to lead the group of Shihan that was teaching. Later Takamatsu Sensei was to walk away from the organization of his own accord.

The green box is Kuki Takahiro, Takaharu’s son who died very young in WW2 at approximately 22 years old. This was the end of the Kuki family’s involvement with the martial arts. Due to the great loss of their young Takahiro in WW2, the family vowed to work towards world peace and concentrate solely on the spiritual side of their family traditions, namely the administration of the grand Kumano Shrine.

Kitō-ryū (起倒流) is a traditional school of Japanese jujutsu. Its syllabus comprises atemi-waza (striking techniques), nage-waza (throwing techniques), kansetsu-waza (joint locking techniques) and shime-waza (choking techniques). The style is focused on throws and sweeps, and many of these techniques are designed to be performed while in full armor.

Kitō Ryū is translated as “the school of the rise and fall.” It uses principles such as “kuzushi no ri” or “breaking of balance” now associated with modern judo.

Jigoro Kano trained in Kitō-ryū and derived some of the principles that were to form the basis of modern judo from this style. Judo’s Koshiki-no-kata is based on Kitō-ryū and since Kano Jigoro received the Kitō-ryū densho from his Sensei, Judo is considered the current Kitō-ryū official successor.

I have also included the text of the Omote Gata of the Kito Ryu as it was passed on within the Kuki family.

Enjoy!

Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
9/5/2018



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Searching for Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

40387407_1732831433496398_4280024864259047424_oToda Gosuke is historically recorded as working in the Oniwaban intelligence agency as well as being a head falconer for the Shogun.

We can see his name alongside that of a Hattori family member in marriage and divorce cases held internally within the super-secret spy group.

The members of the Oniwaban were not allowed to intermingle with people outside of the group so records for things such as marriages, divorces, births, deaths, etc. were all handled internally within the Oniwaban. This is indisputable proof that Toda Gosuke was at least involved with known members of the Oniwaban.

These men (and women) of the Oniwaban were direct descendants of the Iga (Togakure), Koga and Kishu ninja. Positions in the Oniwaban and Onmitsu were almost always hereditary.

Toda Hisajiro (our Shinryuken), later took over the head falconer position for his father, Toda Gosuke, until the end of the Bakufu government.

Based on the records left behind by Katsu Kaishu, what we do know about Hisajiro for a fact is that he served as head falconer to the Shogun and he was also a swordsmanship professor at the Kobusho from the time that it opened until 1858 when he resigned for mysterious reasons. Reasons I will discuss in more detail in my upcoming book “Hidden Lineage”.

I have found quite a bit of evidence implicating that Hisajiro, Gosuke’s son, was also working closely with the Oniwaban and Onmistu secret service groups serving the Shogunate.
The most interesting thing is that after Hisajiro’s role at the Kobusho as sword instructor, his trail goes dead. Except for this (pic) from the Tokugawa Chronicles (續徳川實紀: 第4篇 経済雑誌社, 1906, P. 1038), This page records that on December 4th, 1861:

Toda Gosuke – GREEN BOX
(Head Falconer at the time and Hisajiro’s father)
Received 3 pieces of gold from the Shogun

Toda Hisajiro – YELLOW BOX
(Head Falconer’s apprentice, son of Gosuke)
Was issued 2 sets of Jifuku (時服) or clothing gifts from the Shogun in the summer and winter seasons.

Mukai Shogen – RED BOX
(Ship Captain at the time, Born as Toda Kinzaburo, Gosuke’s 2nd son and brother to Hisajiro, 23 years old at the time of this record)
Received 2 pieces of gold and issued 2 sets of Jifuku (時服) or clothing gifts from the Shogun in the summer and winter seasons.

This means that in 1861, almost 3 years after leaving the Kobusho as a swordsmanship professor, Toda Hisajiro was still serving the Shogun in Edo as the head falconer.

But soon after this a multi-year manhunt known as the Ansei Purge during which the Tokugawa shogunate imprisoned, executed, or exiled those who did not support its authority and foreign trade policies took place. This movement’s leader was Chief Elder Ii Naosuke, and his enforcer was no other than Matsudaira Noriyasu (Toda Hisajiro’s sponsor to the Kobusho).

In 1860 Ii Naosuke was assassinated for his role in the purge and his stance towards opening up Japan to trade.

From this time Noriyasu is said to have left Edo in fear of his life and laid low until his death. We never hear of Hisajiro again in the public record. Could this be the same reason that Toda laid low??? Out of fear of being assassinated like Ii Naosuke.

If Noriyasu was Naosuke’s Ansei Purge enforcer and Toda was serving Noriyasu…it seems logical to think he may have needed to hide.

Togakure Ryu oral tradition says that after leaving the Kobusho, Shinryuken never took up another official position in the government.

I believe Toda Hisajiro left Edo with the Kuki family when Kuki Takahiro resigned from the Kobusho as Director in 1861.

Immediately after this the Kuki family and the Ayabe Han (Along with the Toda) switched sides and supported the emperor and his new imperial army.

Due to the transition of power from the Shogun to the Emperor, on the 4th of July the following year, the Shogun’s Navy was officially dissolved.

Mukai Masayoshi (Toda Kinzaburo) was quickly recruited along with Katsu Kaishu to head up the Emperor’s newly opened Imperial Military Academy (軍艦操練所). This goes a long way to explain why Takamatsu Sensei said that Toda Shinryuken (Hisajiro) had a close relationship to Katsu Kaishu and the two others of the famous triad known as the “Bakumatsu no Sanshu” (幕末の三舟).

Over time Masayoshi left the Imperial Navy and joined the Imperial Army and served as an “Otsukaiban” (御使番) and as an infantry magistrate.

Katsu Kaishu went on to continue to run the training at the Imperial Military Academy.

The “Otsukaiban” were advance scouts and messengers on the battlefield so obviously, some ninja skills learned from father (Toda Gosuke II) would come in very useful here.

As an Imperial Infantry Magistrate, he is recorded as Mukai Buzen no Kami (向井豊前守), a title awarded to him in May of 1865. On October 23rd of 1867, he was again promoted and given the title and rank, Mukai Izunokami (向井伊豆守).

In 1868 he left the Army and conceded his family naval traditions over to his adoptive father’s 2nd eldest son, Mukai Masayasu (向井正養). As of April 1st, 1868, he became a regular citizen of modern Japan and again changed his name to Mukai Akimura (向井秋村).

He moved to Shizuoka and cleared some land to plant tea but it failed to cause him to move to the Port of Shimoda. There he taught students from Meiji Gakuin (University) swimming in the summer. From 1876 he spent the rest of his life as a substitute judge at the Shimoda courthouse.

Toda Kinzaburo died March 24th, 1906 at the age of 68.

Could Toda Hisajiro’s (Shinryuken) grave be near his brothers???…

Still digging for more…