is the third Ninja boom coming?


The first boom was in Japan during the 1960’s, they produced a lot of ninja movies then. The producers asked Takamatsu Sensei and Hatsumi Soke for advice and help. The first “Shinobi no mono” movie had Hatsumi Soke as advicor, it turned out to be really cool movie, they made eight movies between 1962-1968. There was also many other ninja movies.


Then in the beginning of the 1980’s the second Ninja boom cam, and it became really big in the west. The Swedish “Ninja Mission” hit big in the US, it was more popular than the new Clint Eastwood movie at the time. It had Bo Munthe who then was a 4′th Dan in Bujinkan (the highest ranked in Europe at this time), and many of his students did stunt work.

There was also plenty of ninja movies and TV series from Hollywood at the time. People came from everywhere and wanted to study this mysterious art Ninjutsu. In Stockholm the dojo had several hundred meters of people lining up to start training. In other countries which hadn’t so well established Bujinkan dojo’s there was charlatans who saw the opportunity to make money. The choice of American filmproducers how they displayed the art was not in favour for true Ninjutsu practitioners. It was often kung fu, tae kwon do, karate, kendo practitioners who got the stunt cordinator job for these movies, the biggest star of this era was probably Sho Kosugi.

He claims he learned Ninjutsu from a “strange neighbour” when he was 7 years old. I believe the neighbour was strange, but I don’t think he knew much about Ninjutsu. How the film industry portaited the Ninja was not good! I wish they (Hollywood industry) spent more time on research than listen to someone who was taught Ninjutsu by a crazy guy when he was seven years old.

Now 54 years later Kosugi still have too much influence in Hollywood, who apparently decided that there will be a third Ninja boom to cash in money on. They still prove they are too lazy to do proper resarch. The forth coming Ninja Movies (see below) this summer and autumn of 2009 will probably not be as successfull as in the 80’s, but they will certainly enforce the stereotype of what a Ninja and Ninjutsu is, which is not true at all.

Ninja Assassin (2009) by James McTeigue

He previously worked with films such as Matrix, V for Vendetta, and is currently working on the new X-Men to be released in 2011. In this movie the old star Sho Kosugi is playing Lor Ozunu. The main character Raizo in this movie is played by Rain, who is a big pop star in Asia.

Ninja (2009) by Isaac Florentine

The film stars Scott Adkins as a westerner named Casey, who is studying Ninjutsu in Japan when he’s asked by the Sensei to return to New York to protect the legendary Yoroi Bitsu, an armored chest that contains the weapons of the last Koga Ninja. Somehow, cops, the mob, and a rival ninja enter the picture. Much death, sword slashing, and ninja ass kicking ensue.

The Warrior’s Way (2009) previously The Laundry Warrior

G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra by Stephen Sommers

Not exactly a ninja movie, but there will be ninjas in it.

Kamui gaiden (2009) by Yoichi Sai

A Japanese Ninja movie, the ninja movie boom never really went away in Japan.

Recommended reading

If you as an practitioner or teacher in Bujinkan Dojo is getting interviewed by journalists, this article “Ninjutsu and the media” by Mike Hennessy is really good.

For people who doesn’t know much about Ninjas and Ninjutsu apart from what is portrayed on movies, comic books, and games, there is a few things you should know.

There was a Ninja master who died in the 60’s, his name was Seiko Fujita. He wrote books about Ninjutsu (only available in Japanese, and if you are lucky). There is many people who claims that they was taught by him. As far as I know they are all lying. Fujita died without a successor. Basically everyone that claims to teach from the Koga-ryu are all fakes, so please be careful about who to trust.

There was another Ninja master called Takamatsu Toshitsugu had many students in his life time, but at the end when he died in 1972 he only had one true student, and this was Hatsumi Masaaki. Before the first Ninja boom in the early 1960’s there was no other known master of Ninjutsu other than Seiko Fujita (who died without a successor), Takamatsu Toshitsugu and his student Hatsumi Masaaki (Yoshiaki at the time).

Hatsumi Soke is still alive today, he has many, many students all over the world. Hatsumi Soke is the last true Ninja…

Hatsumi Soke had two older students that only once met Takamatsu Sensei that broke off and formed their own organizations, namely Genbukan and Jinenkan. Hatsumi Soke still have students that still trains with him weekly in Honbu Dojo that also meet Takamatsu sensei on the same occasion. Anyone else living than Hatsumi Soke claiming to have been a direct student to Takamatsu Sensei is not telling the truth at all. Unfortunately there is people claiming this.

Organisations that is more or less still teaching Ninjutsu is the following…
- Bujinkan Dojo (headed by Hatsumi Masaaki)
- Genbukan (headed by mr. Tanemura Shoto formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)
- Jinenkan (headed by mr. Manaka Unsui, formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)
- Toshindo (headed by mr. Stephen Hayes, formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)

Unfortunately there is bad examples everywhere, so please don’t judge a whole martial art based on a few rotten apples. Keep an open mind.

There is also a few Japanese Ninja Museum’s, some of them also have coreographed demonstrations (rarely with no authentic Ninjutsu training at all). Please keep in mind these are Museums, and they are not Martial Artists!

The Rope Joint

The reason I can do the technique this way is that I’m using my spine as if it were a rope.
– Hatsumi Sensei

Last week Sensei spoke again of the importance of connection, using the examples of the joints in the body. The body has many joints which both connect all the parts together and allow it to move smoothly. The fewer joints, or connections, we have, the less smooth our movement will be. Demonstrating a technique, he said that he could do it this way because he was using all of the joints in his spine together, as if it were a rope.

The rope is an important tool in this years’ training theme as it demonstrates the connectedness of things. Sensei also mentioned that the rope is like one big joint working as a whole – it has no links or joints in it, such as a chain does for example, so it can be used in a supple and fluid manner. Perhaps another way of looking at it is viewing the rope as being composed of a billion tiny joints which have been amalgamated into one thing which works as a single unit. All of the separate parts have been united to create a new thing – and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as they say.

The word for joint in Japanese is ‘kansetsu’ (関節), and it is also interesting that the word for ‘indirectness’ is also pronounced ‘kansetsu’ (官設). I certainly felt both aspects of this when he allowed me to feel the technique. He was controlling me so lightly that it felt like I was being held in place by a single sheet of paper. It was the indirect manner in which he responded to my punch that allowed him to do it.


才能魂器 sainou tamashi utsuwa

This years theme is taijutsu with the feeling of rope, and also a little sword. It is still early to tell how the year will continue, I was there the first two weeks and it will of course change. It is stupid to think you can get the whole thing in just two weeks. As soke so often says, “nothing is decided.” We should go along with what is given by the gods or spirits, not steal techniques or take something that is not given. If you train slowly and correct you should be able to sense what uke is giving you, if you go to fast your ego is directing you and you will not be able to see and use what is given to you.

Enlightenment can be found in three places. Under your feet, up in the space (heaven), and written on your eyelids. It is as simple as that. In our case that study Bujinkan it is as simple as Soke says. Go to japan and train with him, and train with those that do to keep yourself on the right path. So simple!

To become a master you need three things. Ability (what you are born with), soul (how much you put into the training), and openness (being open enough to take in all that is taught). There is also other words that can explain the kanji in other words, maybe even different. Look them up in a dictionary and read what others already explained on blogs and forums.

I wrote this in January already and just discovered it waiting to be posted. Sorry, but better late than never.

Join the Bujinkan SETI team!

Almost 10 years ago I joined the SETI by installing the “screensaver”. I discovered that you could create teams and work together. It was fun and exciting to see how we did together, then somehow I forgot about it until now. I went back to see if our team was active and to my surprise it still was! My account was still there, so I had to log in, download the new program and fire it up again and contribute to the Bujinkan SETI team.

On Wednesday November 19′th 2008 it was 2 active members, at top team no 3548,  723 recent credits (with a total of 424,647 credits) and ranked as 7,562. If you click on the links above you will see that we are climbing up rapidly.

I think it would be fun if you also joined the Bujinkan SETI team in search for extra terrestrial life. If you think this is silly, there is several other organisations you can help by lending your CPU when not in use to.

Click here for the official Bujinkan SETI web site http://kesshi.com/seti/

Please spread the word!

Ayase Report (080422)

Class started out tonight with a demonstration of one of the first techniques of Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu by Noguchi Sensei. Soke then did his spin-off thing and soon had the full class in a state of confusion. Nothing unusual about tonight in that regard. :-)

We did a lot of work with “fist changing” tonight – using multiple strikes against the opponent, changing the strike from one form into another along the way. From a shishinken to a boshiken to a shutoken for example, 3 consecutive strikes with the same hand. It wasn’t as if we were just standing there hitting the other guy repeatedly with one hand though. Sensei stressed the necessity of *walking* through the technique. With every step, a strike would be applied. A step was used to power every strike. Sensei often uses the term “juppo sessho” (’10 ways of interacting’ is one rendering of that phrase) in relation to this “fist changing.” The number 10 represents infinity and circularity, continuous, never-ending change. The martial *artist* must be able to continually adapt his attacks and strategies to best fit continually-changing circumstances, “changing as change is necessary” to accomplish that which [s]he wills to do.

From the number 10, Sensei went on to talk about the “bugei juhappan”, 18 martial skills to be learnt by the common Japanese warrior (bushi). (“Ninjutsu practitioners also study Bugei Juhappan alongside with Ninja Juhakkei (the 18 Ninjutsu fighting art skills).”) Sensei said that by adding this extra dimension, we arrive at the number 36, which is a significant number in ‘fuusui’ (風水, pronounced ‘feng-shui’ in Chinese). He didn’t elaborate, leaving it up to the listener to figure out for themselves. (I could turn it into a ‘93′ by turning it around, but…) He did leave a hint though by stressing the *simplicity* of the concept, stating that its simply a continual circulation in two (or more) directions at the same time, much like the simultaneous circulation of blood through both the arteries and veins through the body. Once again we were left with the teaching that budo is simple, but its simple on a grand scale.