A Secret 九字 Kuji for Defeating 100 Enemies

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

Hidden Alcove at 戸定邸 Tojō-tei. photo by Michael Glenn
Within the 九法の力 Kyū-hō no chikara, or the power of the 9 methods, there is a kuji that holds the 秘技 higi or secret technique to overcoming a hundred enemies:

「護攻虚変争精神不動」GoKoKyoHenSeiShinFudo

This kuji, or gokui, repels any method of capture or defeat. You protect yourself by changing the attack itself with an immovable spirit. This is the time to do or die. You are prepared for death, but you’d rather do the enemy in.

How do you do instead of die? In that single moment of life and death you remain unmoved in the middle. That middle place is the key to ninjutsu.

On a very hot day in June, I learned about this. The air was loud with the harmonic drone of 蝉 semi (cicadas). But we were training anyway. Hatsumi Sensei told us to train in accordance with the temperature.

Two opponents attacked and Soke slipped behind the first attacker. He did this while trapping the second guy in his own attack. Then Hatsumi asked the uke to give his impression of what just happened. The confused student described his inability to get a fix on Hatsumi Sensei as a target.

Soke replied that this is not the movement of sports or the “so called” martial arts. This is something far above that.  This is true ninjutsu. Make your techniques transparent. Make them see through.

Hatsumi Sensei told us not to just punch on the surface, but to strike through the body. He said when your arm goes through their spine it makes the sign of the cross.

Soke gave us a warning
「九字を許すも十字を許すな」kuji are permitted but not juji.
If you go beyond kuji and allow juji then you have “crossed the line.” Maybe you cross the line of life and death. You could end up facing 十王 Jū-ō  the ten judges of the dead.

In Buddhism, there are nine states from Hell to Bodhisattva. The highest level, the tenth level, is becoming Buddha. But the 仏 hotoke (Boddhisatvas) are the souls of the dead, to be commemorated by their descendants.

I toweled the sweat away and scribbled my notes after training. What did I learn that day?
  • Make yourself and your technique transparent;
  • Go to the line but don’t cross it;
  • Remain unmoved by life or death in that spot. 
This is the secret to 心中を突く也 Shinjū o tsuku nari,  piercing the heart of the enemy.

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.


Let’s know in the comments. Please, if like what we are doing, click “Like,” “Fellow”, give us “Feedback” “comments,“ and get a notification about a new post.

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…

Legends of the Bujinkan…

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

Towards the end of the Edo Period from about 1839 to 1841, there was a suppression of scholars of Western Studies called the “Bansha no Goku” (蛮社の獄, “The Indictment of the society for western (or barbarian) study”). The Edo Shogunate government of Japan was beginning its expulsions of all things western and foreign.

Master Yagi Ikugoro Hisayohi (八木幾五郎久喜), the 13th Soke of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu, at the time was a samurai of the Akō Domain (赤穂藩 Akō Han) located in Harima or today’s Hyōgo Prefecture. He was a Jujutsu master at Akō Castle. This castle is famous for being the home of the Daimyo Asano Naganori known for his attempt to kill Kira Yoshinaka at Edo Castle in 1701. Naganori was ordered to commit suicide and his samurai later became rōnin. You may know a group of them as the Forty-seven rōnin. The domain later was ruled by the Mori family for twelve generations until the abolition of the fiefdom system in 1871.

Being interested in the outside world, Master Yagi had regular correspondence with members of the Shoushikai (尚歯会), a group of Japanese scholars that studied European arts and technologies through the Dutch. He is said to have been close to Watanabe Kazan. But unfortunately, due to the ongoing suppression of those open to western influences, this caused him to get expelled from the Akō Domain and his clan in 1841. Now in need of a new occupation to survive in the rapidly changing times, he opened a Jujutsu Dojo at the base of Akashi castle.

It is interesting to note that Akashi castle, from 1633 to 1639, was the home to Toda (Matsudaira) Yasunao and Toda (Matsudaira) Mitsushige. Both lords came from the Toda family of the Matsumoto domain in Shinano near Togakushi Mountain. This branch of the Toda family was entitled to use the family name of the Shogun, Matsudaira.

So now we have the same Toda family that has ties to Togakure Ryu ninjutsu serving the Shogunate and lording over Matsumoto castle and Akashi castle at the beginning of the Edo period.

Keep in mind this is the same Toda family that sent:
Toda Hisasuke
Toda Gosuke I
Toda Gosuke II
Toda Hisajiro
to work for the Shogun in Edo as Takasho (falconers).

This connection to Akashi castle could be why our Toda Shinryuken (Hisajiro) ended up residing in Akashi city (Kobe) after leaving his position at the Military Academy in Edo (Tokyo) as a sword instructor.

One of the stories about Master Yagi in the Takagi Yoshin Ryu (Ishitani-Den) scrolls says that he was so skilled in martial arts that he once held off a giant wild dog that was attacking some travelers on a country road with only a small wooden skewer for boiling snack foods.

Bujinkan Dojo lineage for Takagi Yoshi Ryu
1.Takagi Oriemon Shigetoshi
2.Takagi Umannosuke Shigesada
3.Takagi Gennoshin Hideshige
4.Ohkuni Kihei Shigenobu
5.Ohkuni Yakuburo Nobutoshi
6.Ohkuni Tarodayu Tadanobu
7.Ohkuni Kihei Yoshisada
8.Ohkuni Yozaemon Yoshisada
9.Nakayama Jinnai Sadahide
10.Ohkuni Takezaemon Hidenobu
11.Nakayama Kaemon Sadasaka
12.Ohkuni, Kamahura Hidetoshi
13.Yagi Ikugoro Hisayashi
14.Fujita Fujigoro Hisayoshi
15.Mizuta Yoshitaro Tadefusa
16.Takamatsu Toshitsugu
17.Hatsumi Masaaki

Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
5/11/2018H


Let’s know in the comments. Please, if like what we are doing, click “Like,” “Fellow”, give us “Feedback” “comments,“ and get a notification about a new post.