Modern Schools of Ninjutsu
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Modern schools of ninjutsu are schools which offer instruction in martial arts. To a larger or smaller degree, the curriculum is derived from the practice of ninjutsu, the arts of the ninja covert agents or assassins of feudal Japan.
One of the earliest modern schools to be established was the Bujinkan Organization in 1978 by martial artist Masaaki Hatsumi. The organization teaches nine different martial arts styles, three of which are named after and claim to be descended from historical ninjutsu styles. Stephen K. Hayes, a student of Hatsumi, took what he learned to the United States in the 1970s, starting his own group of organizations called Quest Centers and his own martial arts style, To-Shin Do. Several other schools of ninjutsu also were created during the 1970s, including the Dux Ryu Ninjutsu school in 1975 and the Nindo Ryu Bujutsu Kai federation in 1979.
During the 1980s, several other schools of ninjutsu also began to be developed across the world, with the Genbukan being founded in 1984 in Japan by Shoto Tanemura, a former friend and student of Hatsumi, and the AKBAN school being developed in Israel in 1986 by Doron Navon's student, Yossi Sherriff, as an offshoot of the Bujinkan Organization. The Banke Shinobinoden school, which claims a long history, began teaching Koga and Iga ninjutsu more popularly with the opening of the Iga-ryū Ninja Museum by Jinichi Kawakami.
Some of the historical claims of these modern schools have been questioned in regards to whether they truly qualify as Koryū. A number of people in the general martial arts community deny the existence of any true ninjutsu being taught today because of these concerns.
- 1 1970s
- 2 1980s
- 3 1990 to present
- 4 Controversy and opposition
- 5 References
Shadows of Iga Society
Stephen K. Hayes founded the "Shadows of Iga Society" to promote ninjutsu studies in North America. He studied with Shoto Tanemura and then with Masaaki Hatsumi. Hayes introduced the concepts of ninjutsu to North America. He founded a ninjutsu dojo in the mid-1970s, in Atlanta, Georgia. In about 1980, Hayes moved to Dayton, Ohio where he continued to teach.
Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū
Nindo Ryu Bujutsu Kai
The "Nindo Ryu Bujutsu Kai" is a martial arts federation founded in 1979. It has a gendai ninjutsu division under the direction of Carlos R. Febres. Febres was a former student of Shoto Tanemura and T. Higushi and studies with of Ronald Duncan & Bo Munthe. "Nindo Ryu Gendai Ninjutsu" uses modern application and interpretation of the takamatsuden, koga (koka) & eclectic schools of ninjutsu.
During the 1980s, several schools of ninjutsu were developed both in and outside Japan.
"Genbukan" (玄武館) was founded in 1984 by Shoto Tanemura. Tanemura studied under Toshitsugu Takamatsu, Masaaki Hatsumi, and others. (Tanemura left Hatsumi's tutelage after a disagreement). The Genbukan organization includes over 100 dojos in approximately 30 countries and 20 states in the USA. The organization, Genbukan Ninpo Bugei (玄武館忍法武芸) has 36 divisions called "ninja sanjurokkei". The schools teach taijutsu, bikenjutsu and keishinteki kyoyo as well as bō jutsu, yumi, naginata, yari, jutte, kusari-gama, and shuriken. The Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei (international organization) also teaches traditional Japanese Jujutsu techniques. and self-defense techniques such as goshinjutsu, 'koryu karate' and 'chugoku kenpo'.
In 1986, in Israel, Yossi Sheriff founded Akban. The school's curriculum is based on that which was taught to Doron Navon (Sheriff's teacher). Navon was the first foreign Bujinkan shihan. He studied with Tanemura and then with Hatsumi.
The Banke Shinobinoden school began teaching koga and iga ninjutsu when these martial arts became more popular after the opening of the Iga-ryū Ninja Museum. The founder, Jinichi Kawakami, studied with Masazo Ishida. Thomas Dillon wrote,
Kawakami is the 21st head of the "Koga Ban" clan and the honorary director of the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum. Kawakami operates a dojo in Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture, but no longer accepts new students. Kawakami's student, Yasushi Kiyomoto, is also a teacher of this school.
1990 to present
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (October 2011)|
Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan
This school was founded by Fumio Manaka in 1996. Manaka was a student of Masaaki Hatsumi and achieved menkyo kaiden in several styles of Bujinkan including togakure-ryu ninjutsu.
Kage No Michi Ninjutsu
Kage No Michi Ninjutsu, which translates into The Way of the Shadow Ninjutsu, is a modern derivative of traditional ninjutsu. This style was founded by Tafan Hong in 2005 who holds rank in the tradiional Bujinkan Ninjutsu System and was inducted into the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2008. This modernized style is based on the principles of traditional ninjutsu, but are executed in a more modern style.
Controversy and opposition
Concerns about modern schools of ninjustsu relate to the schools' claims to authenticity (direct lines of tutelage from the ancient schools) and secondly, to claims of notability by those who operate them. For example, some ask whether modern schools of ninjutsu qualify as "Koryū".
The concerns about authenticity are voiced by historians of koryu arts and by representatives of the Iga Ninja Museum of Japan. Some have suggested there are no longer any true ninjutsu schools.
Controversial figures in modern ninjutsu
In August 1960, Masaaki Hatsumi said he had studied under Takashi Ueno from when he was 24 to 29 years of age. He said he sometimes wrote letters to Ueno's teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu. However, the certificate which Takamatsu gave to Hatsumi, that named Hatsumi the 34th head of "Togakure ryu" is dated March, 1958. Furthermore, there is no documentation of the previous 33 holders of this title. There are films of Hatsumi and Ueno training together over a long period of several years. Furthermore, Takamatsu confirmed that Hatsumi had been training with him since 1958. In November 1963, Hatsumi said he was training with Takamatsu once every three months, on weekends. Kiyoshi Watatani (editor of the Bugeicyo magazine in 1963), suggested Hatsumi's lineage was Hatsumi's notion alone and that Hatsumi had no proof of it. Sources of the history of ninjutsu are the Kakutogi No Rekishi (which lists Bujinkan Ryuha - Hatsumi's organization) and the historian and author, Yumio Nawa. In 1972, Nawa confirmed the historic status of the 12th century tradition, the togakure ryu. In 1978, the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten said of the Takamatsu togakure-ryu,
- " the genealogy includes embellishments, by referring to data and kuden about persons whose existence is based on written materials and traditions, in order to appear older than it actually is.". (The 1963 and 1969 versions of the Bugei include similar wording).[clarification needed]
In Shinobi no sengokushi (August, 2004) Hatsumi said he trained under Toshitsugu Takamatsu's tutelage for 15 years and became master of 9 systems at age 27. He has elected not to pass the system on to an heir.
The validity of Dux's claims which have been disputed include his martial arts credentials; his fighting in the "Kumite"; and his prior military service. In 1998, in the Los Angeles superior court, Dux and Jean Claude Van Damme were opposing litigants.[clarification needed] In 2004, Ralph Keyes (writer for the LA Times) wrote,
- "Like Wayland Clifton, Dux even forged a press account of his exploits. Research on these 'exploits' conducted by Los Angeles Times reporter, John Johnson, and phony-veteran unmasker, B.G. 'Jug' Burkett, revealed that Dux had been in the military for only a few months, didn't serve in Southeast Asia, and won no medals. His service record indicates that Dux had been referred for psychiatric evaluation due to 'flights of ideas and exaggerations." 
No evidence is available recording where Ashida Kim's training took place, or who trained him. Demonstrating his martial arts knowledge in a video interview released on YouTube, Kim says that the first five forms learned in Goju Ryu, Shotokan, Wado Ryu, Isshin Ryu, and "hard Korean martial arts" are all identical.[clarification needed] In 2003, Kim stated in an interview with The Believer magazine, that he has been associated with the Black Dragon Fighting Society (BDFS) since meeting its head, Count Dante, in 1968. In the same article he indicates that the BDFS is descended from a 6000 year old Chinese school called the "Polestar school" which has been preserving knowledge since the fall of Atlantis.
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-  Tanemura Talks, interview by Tsabar Erem
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- (Japanese) 伴家忍之傳研修所
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- "Shinsetsu Nihon Ninja Retsuden", Koyama Ryutaro, 1964, Arechi Shuppansha (publisher).
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- Ninjutsu no kenku, 1972, Ninchibo Shuppansha
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- Japan's ninjas heading for extinction
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- "Full Mental Jacket" (August 1996) and "Stolen Valor: Profiles of a Phony-Hunter" (November 1998), Soldier of Fortune
- Frank Dux v. Jean Claude Van Damme, U.S., SC 046395 (LA Superior Court 1998).
- Keyes (2004), p. 73.
- Interview with Ashida Kim, p. 1:40
-  Horowitz, Eli. "Kim and BDFS", "The Believer", May 2003.