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, an early student of Shoto Tanemura and later 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 to have a long history, began teaching Koga and Iga ninjutsu more popularly with the opening of the Iga-ryū Ninja Museum by Jinichi Kawakami, and the Kuroryukan school, founded in 2004 by Nuno Santos, teaching Iga and Koga Ryu Ninjutsu.
The  Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei school (人影隆忍法武芸)  is a Gendai school (現代忍法 modern ninjutsu school) and was established and founded by sensei Roger Small, in or around 1993. The emphasis of the training in this particular school, is based upon pragmatic combat skills for our modern environment. The Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei school has no historical links or claims to being a Koryū school and as such is a pure Gendai[disambiguation needed] (現代 modern day) school.
- 1 1970s
- 2 1980s
- 3 1990 to present
- 4 Controversy and opposition
- 5 References
In 1979, Masaaki Hatsumi founded the Bujinkan organization. It uses the concepts of Ninjutsu in three of its nine schools though they have since steered away from the "Ninjutsu" moniker in order to avoid stereotypes and since the art, which contains 9 ryūha (or schools), only has 3 schools based on the ninja while the other 6 are based on samurai tactics.
Shadows of Iga Society
Stephen K. Hayes founded the "Shadows of Iga Society" in order 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.
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 Ron Duncan and 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.Such as 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.
"Genbukan" (玄武館?) was founded in 1984 by Soke Tanemura. Tanemura initially studied under Masaaki Hatsumi and then sought out all the remaining students of Takamatsu (Kimura Masaji, Sato Kinbei, Fukumoto Yoshio) as well as their successors (Kobayashi, Ueno Takashi's personal student), (Akimoto Koki) and others. He was also the Vice President of the Bujinkan Shidoshi Association. (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.
Nuno Santos Shihan started the project in 2004. Its main influence is the main learned from a master, Ruy San Mendoza (Bujinkan Shihan), and studying with masters Sergio Cives (Nindo) and Alejandro Ramirez (Tenshi Ryu Ninpo Kai Nishi).
1990 to present
Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei
In 1993 Roger J. Small founded the Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei School of "authentic combat ninjutsu" in order to meet the demands of practical self-protection in the 20th century. Roger Small is seldom mentioned in ninjutsu circles, but never the less has formidable skills and teaching capabilities, making him one of the best modern ninjutsu teachers in the world today. Mr Small's Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei school is an independent modern school and style of Ninjutsu with no affiliation with any of the mainstream organizations. Further information can be obtained from the following website; www.authenticcombatninjutsu.com
Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan
This school was founded by Fumio "Unsui" Manaka in 1996. Manaka was a personal student of Masaaki Hatsumi and achieved "Menkyo Kaiden" in several styles of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu; 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 of Shodan in the traditional Bujinkan Ninjutsu System.
Kage No Shinobu Shakai
The Shadow Shinobi Society (Kage no Shinobu Shakai) is an Elite Organization of Mercenaries dedicated in learning the arts of Ninjutsu, and stealth tactics. The Shadow Shinobi Society is an American organization located in the northwestern region of the United States. Founded by a group of Military Veterans with backgrounds in various martial arts in 2006. Ninjutsu became the main focus of study along with survival training. Originally the group was a Hunting Club/Airsoft Team. After receiving the proper qualifications in ninjutsu and firearms, the society evolved into a Security Company, along with Bodyguard and Bounty Hunter training.
Controversy and opposition
Concerns about modern schools of ninjutsu 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 stated that he had studied under Takashi Ueno from the age of 24 to 29. Hatsumi also said that he sometimes wrote letters to Ueno's teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu. However, the certificate which Takamatsu gave to Hatsumi, that named Hatsumi as the 34th Grand master of "Togakure ryu Ninjutsu tradition" is dated March 1958 and  furthermore, there is no documentation or evidence referring to the previous 33 holders of this title. There is however, old footage by way of black and white films of Hatsumi and Takamatsu training together over a period of several years. It is interesting to note, that Takamatsu confirmed that Hatsumi had only been training with him since 1958. In November 1963, Hatsumi said that he was training with Takamatsu sensei once every three months, but only on weekends. Kiyoshi Watatani (editor of the Bugeicyo magazine in 1963), suggested that Masaaki Hatsumi's lineage was not consistent with his claims, and therefore these claims were Hatsumi's notion alone and that he had no proof to back up these claims. A source regarding the history of ninjutsu is the Kakutogi No Rekishi (which lists the Bujinkan Ryuha - Hatsumi's organization) and also mentions the close personal friend of Hatsumi, Yumio Nawa. In 1972, Nawa confirmed the historical status of the 12th century tradition of the togakure ryu. In 1978, the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten said of the Takamatsu Togakure-ryu,
- " The genealogy of the Togakure-ryu includes embellishments, to the written traditions and documentation of the school which would suggest that these embellishments were created in order for the tradition 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 that he had trained under Toshitsugu Takamatsu's tutelage for 15 years and had become a master of 9 individual traditional Japanese schools/systems at the age 27. Masaaki Hatsumi has elected not to pass the system on to an heir.
The founder of Banke Shinobinoden school, Jinichi Kawakami, studied with Masazo Ishida. Thomas Dillon wrote,
- "No one knows anything about Ishida and therefore there is no evidence that Kawakami's claims are correct. How very ninja-like."
Jinichi Kawakami is supposedly the 21st Grand Master (Soke) of the "Koga Ban" clan, and the honorary director of the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum. Kawakami runs 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.
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."
Roger Small, is a seasoned martial artist with many years of experience in the art of ninjutsu and also various other far eastern fighting arts. From a ninjutsu perspective, Mr Small has never claimed that his "Jinkage-Ryu Ninpo Bugei" school is a Koryū school, which in itself is quite surprising considering that most ninjutsu practitioners try to make these claims in one way or another. Having researched this school in depth, it has to be said, that although the techniques and skills that are taught are performed from a modern perspective, the underlying principles and movement behind these techniques are unmistakably Ninpo-Taijutsu.
Radford Davis, a.k.a. Ashida Kim
No evidence is available recording where Ashida Kim's training took place, or who trained him. Ashida Kim is the author of a number of books about Ninjitsu including Secrets of the Ninja. 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 6,000-year-old Chinese school called the "Polestar school" which has been preserving knowledge since the fall of Atlantis.
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Fumio Manaka Sensei, who also goes by the martial name "Unsui", has over 50 years of experience in the Japanese arts of kobudo, having started training at the age of 14 as the first student of Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei. Unsui Sensei holds certificates of mastery (menkyo kaiden) in several martial schools and has formal training in many others. In 1996, Unsui Sensei founded the Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan.
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