Souji (掃除)

Attention to cleanliness or cleaning is called Souji (掃除) in Japanese. Maintaining constant attention to your, training space, clothing and equipment will bring harmony and balance.

Why Souji Matters?

In Japanese culture cleaning is not some mundane task that must be undertaken for health reasons alone. It is often considered a way of “cleansing the mind and spirit”. In other words, ‘by cleansing my home – I cleanse myself’. 

Back in the Edo period when most Japanese houses had hearths and fire stoves, the house would rather get dirty by the end of the year. Edo Castle started to be cleaned in December, and people started to believe that the December cleaning was not merely a matter of cleaning the house, but also as a purification ritual in preparation for greeting the New Year God, Toshigami-sama.

The Dojo is a place to cultivate the three essentials, body, mind and spirit. Therefore The act of Souji embodies the physics, mental & spiritual actions of cleansing.

Everyone should feel welcome to participate in Osouji whether they have never trained before, are active members of the dojo.

In our Dojo,there are 2 types of Souji. Daily cleaning or Niten Souji (日天掃除) and Yewr end cleaning or Osouji (大掃除).

The most important part of o-souji, known as susuharai (煤払い, dust cleaning), is the act of cleaning your home and workplace from dust and dirt. While doing susuharai, we also give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and we clean to purify the spaces for the year to come.

Deshi Iri

Teachers are indispensablel notjust for warriors.  If you find a magnificent mentor and train diligently, you will be able tobecome a marvelous warrior, but if you follow a martial merchant, it is highly questionable whether you will be enlightened as to the true martial arts.  In the old days there were two forms of Deshi-iri: those who entered into the martial arts in search of a good teacher (the “questing “type), and those who were discovered by a teacher as they trained in the mountains, unaware (  the “sudden” type).  In each case, the teacher would judge whether or not this person was fit to be a martial artist.  Those applying for Deshi-iri in the old days would first be given duties such as chopping wood or cleaning.  They would chop wood and clean earnestly from dawn to dusk, for several years.  The teacher would be examining the pupil’s potential as martial artist material throughout this period, by discerning whether he had a straightforward nature and sufficient guts to be able to persevere with the martial arts.  Then, picking his moment, he would initiate the next stage: “Come to the Dójó, I’Il give you some training”.  As the fierce training continued remorselessly day after day, the pupil would learn to appreciate his teacher, learn the depth of his affection, and mature into a true student.  Nowadays, the people who come and ask to be my student are quite varied. Some are of a frail type, weak in both body and mind and desiring to become strong; some are of an intellectual type, desired to make their spirit strong; some are of  a combative type who simply wantto be strong in the martial arts- ー but they are all part of the “mood “set, in that they all have an intense longing for Budó.  I tell such people quite unreservedly:

“If you want to forge your spirit, train in religion or the like-in martial arts you learn the top techniques of murderers. You want to strengthen your body? Go for walks, do body building and eat plenty of vegetables.  you hope to achieve by being strong in the martial arts? You can’t win any trophies, and you won’t make a fortune either! “As I say this, Iwatch the aspirant’s reaction.  The reason is that few people, once allowed to enter the gate, will actually be able to persevere with the training.  There are all too few people stupid enough to keep going to the end, following their intentions through and not caring what is said about them or to them.  Takamatsu Sensei accepted one idiot one me-as his student by reciting the following poem: “in Ten’ei Gannen [1110], the martial winds blew, There was an adept of Koppó-jutsu, Intrepid and gallant, felled wild beasts with one blow  , Yet normally as peaceful as a flower or bamboo, Fearless in confrontation with a myriad of foes, Is there none to follow where this warrior did go? The waiting is over, at last he has come, From the land of the gods comes the chosen one”

This is not pride, nor am I boasting.  People who cannot become fools will fail at whatever they do (cf. Edward Phelps: “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything, tis precisely the stylists, who pursue nothing other than “looking good”, who leave everything only half .

What of the relationship between teacher and student? Both must have a feeling of respect for each other. I initially found it irritating, and rather incomprehensible, when my teacher Takamatsu Sensei addressed me as “Hatsumi Sensei”.  Nowatlast1 have become aware of this mutual respect, and again bow my head for the lesson.On the other hand, the teacher is the teacher.and the student is but a student.One should not neglect one’s attitude nor manners.Takamatsu Sensei taught me how  To make life worthwhile. From him I learned life itself. There is a saying in Japan, which I feel contains a great deal of truth: “The parent / child relationship is one lifetime; the husband / wife relationship is two; but the relationship between  teacher and student is three”.

A Moment in Time

Interview with Shihan Eduard Divantman 

I. Sensei Divantman, thank you for taking time of your busy schedule to allowFor this interview. My first question is what drew you into Budo initially.

E. You are most welcome… I always find time for individuals who take genuine interest in what I do. In regards to your question I started training at a very young age. Initially it was for the purpose of self defence, but looking back I think it was much deeper then that.

I. Can you elaborate on that?

E. As a child I never liked fighting and was always trying to avoid conflict as much  as I could. When someone insulted me I just persevered and moved on. So in essence I was naturally  practicing Ninpo before I even knew what it was. So there was an innate relationship that gravitated me towards the art. 

What was your initial training like?

initially I trained in modern Budo (Karate and Judo). They all served a purpose and taught me many important skills. After all both originated from old systems. However because of the socioeconomic and political influences at the start of the century they were forced to change so I felt that something was missing. When I first tried Ninpo I knew that I finally found what I was looking for. 

What was your transition like?

There was an excitement that is very deep and profound…. The minute I stepped on the mat I was hooked and never looked back. I trained 6 days a week up to 4 hours daily. I trained diligently and never missed a class. These habits remain with me today. 

What ranks and titles do you hold?

This is a common question Im asked a lot. I’ve achieved the highest Dan grade in the Bujinkan system (my source for Ninpo and Jujutsu training) directly from Masaaki Hatsumi, Grand Master of 9 systems that form the Bujinkan. I also hold 6th Dan Shihan Dai in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu from Kancho Michio Takase the sole inheritor of Maeda and Matsuda line. I have also received grades in modern Budo and Chogoku Kenpo. Having said that  I refer to mastery as a “journey” not an end goal. The certificate, even the highest, is a recognition of your potential and dedication. A kind of an encouragement to keep going and grow into the responsibility your masters have bestowed on you. So aside of being motivated to train harder and hoping one day to live up to the responsibility bestowed on me the grades and titles serve as a reminder that practice never ends. Not everyone sees it that way of course but if you we’re properly educated you are never satisfied so to speak.

I. That is very deep, I often hear people who reach black belt quit having reached their goal. What are your thoughts on that.?

E. First of all we have a saying when you quit you severe the link so it is if you never trained at all. This is very sad. 

I. How so?

E.  People spend a lot of time, money and effort to reach a black belt only to quit. A black belt means you have achieved a certain proficiency in the basics and are ready to embark on more advanced training. So in essence it’s like getting a promotion at work after working so hard for several years to only turn around and resign. Does that makes sense?

I. No it doesn’t, hence why I raise my eyebrows when I hear these statements. 

E. Yes that is very odd, there are all kinds of people with funny ideas about grades… in most cases it’s a sign of their maturity or lack off. What we teach at my Dojo is different…. it’s not something that can be grasped in words.. It has to be experienced through sweat and tears. For example the common phrase for practicing Budo in Japanese is keiko (稽古). However Keiko does not translates as practice instead it translates, to consider the old in order to acquire knowledge. In this lies a fundamental difference that can not be ignored.

I. Very interesting, are you referring to the practice being something deeper the the mere physical aspect?

E. Yes, you can even take this a step further…. for example I spoke about Keiko which is a common term and denotes one level of practice. However in Ninpo we often user the term Renshu (練習) instead of Keiko. Renshu means to polish, specifically to polish ones character through rigour training. Imagine a diamond as an analogy, when it’s first mined it looks very similar to a regular stone. It is then taken to a polisher who  polishes the diamond until it shines and becomes the final product. Because of its uniqueness It then becomes precious and highly sought after. Just ask my wife LOL. The same holds true for human beings. By practicing correctly you work towards shining like a diamond. So as you improve physically you naturally improve mentally and spiritually. This is Ninpo. This is the difference between Budo and pure violence.  

I. Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful answer. Can you talk about form?

E. Firstly form is very important, it can be viewed as incapsulated lessons of past masters. First you need to have a qualified teacher teach it to you. Then, you need to have the capacity and emotional intelligence to absorb what you’ve been taught . And, eventually to have the ability to master it, understand how to apply it and transmit it onward.Secondly, you need to be able to adapt the form to the circumstances, times, culture you live in. Otherwise it becomes only a historical practice something that is not alive. True form is alive and is constantly adaptive. This is something that needs to be discovered through practice.

I. Can you talk about your Dojo name and what it means?

E. My school name is Heiho Canada which focus is on improving human lives through the practice and experience of Japanese and Chinese martial arts and culture. Heiho in general referred to as military strategy however it can also be referred to as life strategy. The  Martial arts section of our system is formally called Shinbukan Dojo(神武館道場). The name represent the cumulative martial arts knowledge that I acquired in coherent systemic way for growth and development. 

I.very interesting, it appears to be very unique and different then the average martial school. I find it to be profound in some way. Can you please elaborate more. 

E. Absolutely, Shinbu (Japanese: 神武) is a Japanese phrase, meaning “warrior might”. The term consists of the characters shin/kami (神), meaning “something divine”, and bu (武), denoting warrior. The idea of shinbu embraces physical, spiritual and ethical issues and denotes the condition when all basic principles of martial art are applied simultaneously and in balance. It is my unique way to share the knowLedge to the next generation.

I. You’ve mentioned earlier that you’ve learned several styles. Is your school kinda like an MMA school.

E. No, at our Dojo we don’t mix knowledge. In other words I teach each system independently to preserve its authenticity. We have a curriculum for Ninpo and Jujutsu as well Aikijujutsu and Chugoku Kenpo. Students can choose to study one or multiple systems. 

I. Finally what are your thoughts about the situation around the world today and what advice do you have for people.

E. I think there is a lot of uncertainty which leads to fear. When people are in a state of confusion and fear it’s difficult to make good choices. Life is like a wave, you have highes and Lowes, nothing lasts forever. Also the greater the obstacle the greater opportunity for growth. If you understand that then you will know that the current situation will pass and as a result we will have an opportunity to adapt, overcome and grow stronger. So please persevere and have faith. Respect one another and don’t be quick to make choices. I wish that more people can study Budo so they can have the courage and wisdom to understand these points.

I. Thank you for taking the time and patience.

E. You are most welcome.

The Jewel Tiger

“By polished Taijutsu gives rise to Satchijutsu (the art of reading intentions and knowing what will happen). By knowing the reason of nature, the ninja grasped the changes of heaven and variations of earth. By making use of the changes in nature and existing conditions, they skillfully employed Ninjutsu in the manner appropriate to the circumstances. Tenmon 天 門 (Heavenly Gate, Meteorology, Study Of Nature) is just that. Changes of weather, climate and natural features and the like that are supported by various conditions of the land were made use of by nimbly incorporating them into Ninjutsu. For instance, there is in Chimon 地 門 (Earthy Gate, Geography, Geomancy / Fusui) the secret teaching called “Hidori Daihi” 日 取 大 秘 (Great Secret Of Scheduling). Using circles of red, white and black, the fortunate and ill-fated conditions, days, directions and the like for carrying out Shinobi strategies were determined. It is an expedient means for emboldening the subtly preserving heart, for strengthening the subtly preserving power. It is making use of the probabilities of the laws of nature based on the practical wisdom of assiduously attentive insight.”

The Message from big old tree

“Well, Great Tree, for martial arts, we have a teaching of the spirit of three hearts – San Shin No Kata. This teaching is based on the saying that the spirit of a three year old is with a man until he is a hundred years old. We recognize the importance of early childhood and treasure these important years, when one is unaware of ego, independence and consciousness.” “This San shin No Kata (form of three hearts) is described in a section of secret teachings of the Gyokko Ryu, which teaches beginners that we have to train ourselveswith the spirit of a three year old, not forgetting the spirit even though they think they accomplish these techniques.”

窪地へと落ちる 習いの水なれど やがては登り始めなりけり 寿宗

Kubochi eto ochiru. Naraino mizunaredo. Yagatewa nobori hajimenarikeri

“Water falls down to a hollow but then there is rising again.” – Hisamune

Wisdom from the Master

Translated from Hiden Ninpo

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the Ninja. Some Ninja were originally “failed Samurai”;they started out with a bad reputation. The Japanese character for “Shinobi” implies a lack of heart, coldness, and ruthlessness. That applies only to the lowest or worst class of Ninja. True Ninja have very deep and proper emotions. Love and peace is very important to them.

They must, however, learn to be very patient with their bodies and emotions. They train their subconscious (natural intelligence) also. They are not concerned with “saving face”. They strive to win in the end. The Ninja’s emotions are like a flower. Ninja enjoy the peace of nature, and have a peaceful nature as well. They use natural movement to disappear when attacked with a sword. They fight to protect community and country.

Heart is the most important element of my philosophy. It will carry the warrior through confused times. Budo Philosophy: In general, it is used to protect the country, your community, and your own body. The way one approaches and uses this philosophy is very important. People say that the way you cut with the sword is important, but good eyes, strong muscles and bones are not the “way”. Gross technique is more like cutting wood than swordsmanship. Swordsmanship against an opponent involves a totally different “way”. You also need to learn different techniques but the “way” is the important part which sensei stresses. Jutsu means technique, but it also means heart. Jutsu must come from the heart. Therefore, your heart must be straight and honest. If your heart is not clear and straight, your jutsu will be lacking and you will not improve in the martial arts. Lust for victory will not give you the victory. You must receive the victory from your opponent. He has no choice but to give it to you because he will sense your heart as better or truer. Nature is your friend; it helps you to win. Your enemy will have unnatural movement, therefore you will be able to know what he is going to do before he does it.

I refer to mastery as a “feeling” in the individual. The certificate, even 10th degree, is no proof. One must be honest and think on this very deeply. There is no proof, however, if you look for it. When you don’t need to look, that is the proof. When one develops Shin Ki To Ichi (the heart, universe and weapon as one) that is mastery. This is the proof; this ability always allows the budoka to win, his technique always works.

Ninpo protects all of you, your body and spirit. Other budo philosophies don’t have this. In budo, and other philosophies, if your spirit is not straight, you can kill yourself! For example, medicine should protect one’s health, but used improperly, the same techniques will kill. Likewise with eating and drinking; improper habits will destroy the body. The same with the leadership of a country. Leaders should protect the people; a bad leader (poor philosophy, greedy, selfish) can destroy a country. Religion can be good for society, but greed and fanaticism can destroy. Here is a paraphrase of a letter from Takamatsu to me: “The Universe gives you a mission and guides you– no one can stop you– you will gain enormous strength, lose all fear, become as one with all of the natural world, and have total freedom in your movements. Your mind will be straight and honest. If you are truly straight and honest, you can get this power. Common sense, justice, and no surprise: this is Togakure Ryu Ninpo”.

How to learn the gokui (secrets) so as to become Meijin (a master)? Everyone wants to get the Makimono (Ryu Scroll Legacy that is held by the Grandmaster). Only by studying long and hard can you become strong enough to take the Makimono. Once you have it you may find that it is hard to move for several years because the Makimono is too heavy. You begin to understand the commitment that using the gokui entails. The Makimono becomes like a physical weight. Here are some clues to the gokui (secrets). It has to do with Takamatsu Sensei’s return to Japan from China. In China he was known as Mo-Ko, the Mongolian Tiger. The secret is flexibility and appropriateness. When you need to be a tiger you can, and are one. When its better to be a cat, you can be and are.

I was once asked by a friend: “Why don’t you fight a bull like Mas Oyama? You are a very strong Ninja master.” I smiled and said that even though a bull has more muscles, even a farmer can pull it around by the ring in it’s nose. Gokui (the secrets of martial arts) is in a person’s heart and his personal commitment. Be ready to think all the time. If you want enlightenment, practice every moment how to answer these type of questions, like the one about the bull. This means everyone has the capability to learn the Gokui in Ninpo. Practice every day, every moment. Prepare your heart, make it pure in the way that the Universe is pure–natural energy. Then your techniques will also be pure and from the heart. You can learn from anyone if you are sure of yourself. If you are strong you can have good friends and bad friends, and learn from both. I have all kinds of friends because I have no compulsion to judge them. I am not susceptible to bad influences, nor over-influenced by “good” influences. To keep your focus, you must have a purpose–don’t waste your time. Learn from everything.

People like to practice budo in the dojo with their friends. It is very important to go by yourself into nature and work against trees, rocks, with animals. Study the movement of animals and “wrestle” with nature. It is important to have a master, but if he is no good, it could be better than none. Look to nature.

If you, as a teacher, have a student who doesn’t respond to teaching, don’t teach him. Leave his training to him. If he likes Ninpo, he will learn on his own by observing; if not, he will leave. Don’t talk too much: demonstrate. I have many very high level techniques that I never teach. If the student’s are not advanced enough, the training can be detrimental.

You must love before you can create. If you love Ninpo, you can learn with or without a teacher. Strive to find the root of winning. Practice yourself, by yourself if necessary, all your life. Don’t be wishy washy. Use your brain. You can learn many things. Learn them all rather than wasting time between what you think is important to learn. Never give up, even if you get sick. I thought about budo 3 times as much as anyone else I knew, trained 3 times as much as anyone, and spent 3 times as much money in my martial quest. I got strong enough to find out that I was weak. I became very confused, but didn’t give up. I tried to just stop worrying and train. But I got sick anyway. I thought that I would die at one point. I was in bed for five years. I thought that if I died, then I might find peace. After the five years I realized that, no matter whether you are alive, dead, sick or healthy, old or have lots of vitality, you must practice, honestly, according to your situation. Now I don’t worry anymore!

Use natural technique; nature’s power. When you look at someone else’s technique and you feel inadequate, you are probably open for improvement–unless this feeling persists for more than ten years: then give up. Use your practice to gain insight into other things. Techniques are based on philosophy. The fundamentals of both must be strong. Practice the basics. Don’t worry about the flower, worry about the roots. Some day you will bloom into a beautiful flower anyway. Dreams can help you improve your techniques. Dream about the techniques. Practice also, again, again, again.

You have to have a purpose. Why are you studying? Most great martial artists have these purposes: 1) Self improvement. They never quit. They practice all their lives to improve. 2) They realize that it is their own self improvement that is the positive thing that rubs off on others. Both good for themselves, and good for those that come in contact with them.

It is important to know how little you know. When learning Ninpo, keep the fire in your heart. Your technique will then be forged from fire like the samurai sword. Fire and justice are the keys. If you want to change your body and your life, train with fire and live a just life. The number of techniques you know isn’t as important as your attitude. You need purpose and and good eye for those things in life that help your purpose. Takamatsu Sensei was in many real fights and never lost because he was mindful of these important things.

How to become a student: first of all, you need a good teacher. If you have a quack for a “Master” then you are wasting your time. Usually a great teacher will go through many students looking for the ones who have a great sense of the martial arts. In the old days, students had rules–for example, they had to cut wood, clean house, etc. for several years. The master then judged their strength, patience, perseverance, and attitude. If the master decided that you were good, he would invite you into the dojo. There the training would be very hard. Some students couldn’t hack it. They thought that the master was cruel. The ones who could make it were the ones who saw the greatness of the master.

The purpose of each person’s quest can differ: physical strength, mental strength, animal desire to win, or it may be an emotional quest. Practice religion if you want to make your mind/spirit strong, not martial arts. Martial arts can kill. However, to make your body strong enough to just kill or win honors, lift weights, eat vegetables, and walk to become strong. Don’t bother with the martial arts. Only 1 in 1000 will continue to seek the true practice of Ninpo. He is stubborn with a one track mind bordering on stupidity. Student and master must respect each other. Takamatsu Sensei always called me “Sensei”. But master is master, student is student, always. I learned life’s most important lessons from Takamatsu Sensei. Of the three great relationships — Parent/child, wife/husband, master/student, the third is the most important in life.

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi

Taihenjutsu

Ninpo Taijutsu involves techniques of using the feet and Body, Taihenjutsu (体変術) body changing arts which includes, Kaiten(回転) rolling, Ukemi (受身) taking a fall, Hoko Jutsu (歩行術)method of walking, Senko Jutsu (潜行術)concealing arts and Hicho Jutsu (飛鳥術)leaping arts. It important is to develop a nimble and flexible body. 

The art of Hanbo Jutsu (short staff)

 Hanbojutsu 半棒術 is also called Sanjaku-Bojutsu. Depending on the Ryu the length may vary from “Sanjaku” (90.09 cm) to 100 cm. The diameter is “Hachibu” to “Issun” (2.4 cm to 3.3 cm). It is made from red oak, as red oak was considered the Shogun’s tree. In Kukishin Ryu the length of the Hanbo is the same as a sword from tip to tip. Therefore Bikenjutsu and Hanbojutsu have a close relationship. There are 2 related stories of how Hanbo techniques were born. Below is one of them.

 In January of 1338, Ashikaga Takauji forces attacked the Emperor Godaigo’s forces at Kyoto. The Emperor’s top fighter fought using a long spear with the top fighter of Ashikaga’s who used a long sword. At one point the spear was cut in half. Ohkuni suddenly jumped and hit down on Yashiro head with the remaining shaft. He then realized the value of the remaining shaft and added his knoweldge to the system. Over time the hanbo evolved into a comprehensive system. There are many techniques with the ultimate level being the iron fan.

“As with Bojutsu it is the same with all of life. When you fight with an enemy etiquette requires strictness, technique requires preciseness, power requires suppleness, and the spirit requires an attitude of Hisho (must win), and necessity requires only one thing: concentration.” – Amatsu Tatara Kangi No Den

below are some practice tips for basic hand movement and strikes.

The Autobiography of Takamatsu Toshitsugu 高松 寿嗣

The Autobiography of Takamatsu Toshitsugu 高松 寿嗣

March 10, 1889 –  April 2, 1972

My age will be 68, this year the 4lst year of Showa (1955). Until two or three years ago I had no idea of what my age was. This is simply because I did not want to know, however I do know that I was born in the 23rd year (note: possibly 22nd year) of Meiji (1889). I am bewildered by the appearance of my face as it looks now but the reason for this is: I have not looked at myself in the mirror in some thirty years. Even with this bedraggled look I am still what most people would consider an energetic man. If most people were to go for a walk for an hour they would usually cover about four miles – I usually cover that in about half of one hour. I like to walk and do so naturally with my dogs. We walk together everyday. I am very bad for time, but every day I am punctually in bed at 9 o’clock with my pet cat whom I have appointed the name of Jiro. I awake at half past six in the morning and take a cold friction wash. This is something that I have not missed in the past forty years and is why I have never been sick in bed; this is not to say cold washes alone stop you from being sick.

I enjoy painting very much and even now I continue painting as a form of play. I am not very skilful but I enjoy it, for me it’s a pleasure. No one possesses the knowledge concerning the events of tomorrow; this means we do not know when our life will cease. Due to the impetuousness of youth I made lots of errors regarding my life; this was until the age of forty. I learned my mistakes and now take my cold washes and go for a walk with my dog every morning. After this I dedicate some time to writing and painting, as this is also balance. Exercise, rest, study and pleasure.

Those who are evil-minded would always do bad things, even the bad intentioned ninja would be banished. This is applicable to any martial system, not just ninjutsu. My teacher of the Koto Ryu koppojutsu and the Togakure Ryu ninjutsu was TODA SHINRYKEN MASAMITSU SENSEI. Toda sensei began teaching me first koshijutsu when I was nine years old. Whilst I was young I had a few too many fights. These, I have to say, were in my own protection. When I was 15 I had a fight with two masters of the Musashi Ryu during which my eardrum was ruptured. This later stopped me from joining the army. When I was seventeen my family had a match factory. During this time an elderly man by the name of Ishitani called by the factory using a bokken as a walking stick. He was a famous martial artist, but as with all other martial artists he could not earn a living from it during this period. So my family employed him as a guard at the factory. Together with another person we made a dojo at the factory and Ishitani Sensei began teaching us Kuki Happo Biken no Jutsu as well as other arts including a variety of weapons such as swords, bo shuriken etc. Above all he trained

in the art of ninjutsu. He was already a very old man and after two years died upon my lap forever.

I trained in koppojutsu and this training is very difficult. At first you should train fingers and toes using sand. Next you use small pebbles and then a rock, at first your nails and fingertips will flow with blood; it will be very painful and difficult to persevere. I developed very strong fingers and toes from this practice, however this sort of training is useless nowadays and just a little makiwara training is sufficient. I say this because it is very easy to damage the joint causing problems in later life. I started my ninjutsu training when I was thirteen years of age. I began by using a plank of wood 3″ thick by 4m in length. I started with the plank at 45 degrees, gradually increased it to 60, then 70 and until I could run up it at 90 degrees. Ninjutsu is not only the art of invisibility. The wide ranged of techniques were only named after a long time had passed. The origin goes back to the pre-history period of the gods. The exact formation is very difficult, as I was not alive then.

The Kuki family kept registers of this period under the title of Kukishin Ryu Happo Biken Jutsu and they are part of the most advanced teachings of the Yagyu Ryu. Within the Iga Ryu it is also possible to find the Happo Biken Jutsu. It is the essence of the Ninjutsu. These are the Happo Biken Jutsu:

Taijutsu-Hichyo jutsu-Nawa nage

Karatejutsu, koppojutsu, jutaijutsu

So jutsu-Naginata jutsu

Bo jutsu-jo jutsu – hanbo jutsu

Senban Nage jutsu- Ken nage jutsu

Ka jutsu-Sui Jutsu

Chikujo Gunryakuheiho

Onshin Jutsu

Biken is the designation for the group comprising of kenjutsu, kodachijutsu and juttejutsu. The juttejutsu is the highest of the sword techniques. The offensive and defensive use of the tessen and the jutte are found in this category. There is also Toako no Jutsu which enables you to overcome an opponent from a distance. There are secret scrolls and books with explanations about this skill but they are hardly intelligible. There are three Kiai used, these are:

“A” – Which produces a breaking effect of the opponents Ki

“Ka” – Which produces the same effect in his technique

“Ei” – Which breaks body movement

Anyway, the most important thing is to keep the essence of a true heart. In the martial arts there is no need to concentrate only on the aspect of winning when fighting. However, not to commit one’s self to the fight is not a “martial art” – it is simply violence and such a person does not have an honest heart and is anti-humanist. Nowadays, there is a sport of Judo which concentrates upon the pleasure of fighting and the building up of their bodies. They only want to win and because of this they bend at their waist when fighting rather than maintaining their bodies upright. When I think of this judo sport, since its birth from real martial arts, I feel ashamed and it gives me a chilling sensation. A true martial artist wins by using the natural movements of the highest quality techniques and if one moves the body according to this theory then one will of course win. In martial arts you need three points; these are:

Body power

The learning of technique

The spirit power

    With these you can truly win.

After I had finished helping my father in his match factory I attended an English school by the name of George Bundow School. I also attended a Chinese culture school. After this I would train with Ishitani sensei in the art of Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, as well as other arts. Seven generations before, his family had been the advisor to the famous Hattori Ninja Army.

When I had been training for some time I decided that I wanted to know more about ninjutsu, and myself so I went to a mountain known as Maya-san in Kobe prefecture. At the mountain I lived by a waterfall called Kamenotaki for a period of one year. I stayed in a cottage the size of two tatami mats and lived on beans with no boiled rice. My training partners were the rocks around my cottage. Sometimes I would exercise my finger tips by hitting the rocks. I would jump up on the rocks with my Kiai and then jump off. During this time I developed a special sense.

For instance: I could stand at the top of the mountain and know how many people were coming up, I could tell if they were men or women or otherwise. I became known as the “sennin” or “tengu” of the mountain.

I went to China during the Chin era and traveled through Mongolia and northern China for a period of about 10 years. During this period I met a Shorinji Boxer named Choshiro. We had a fight and I beat him. We became very close friends, like brothers. This is how I was introduced to the president of the Sino-Japanese Martial arts Association.

My memories of these times are a little bit confused, especially the exact dates and times but I do recall that I once decapitated someone. On one occasion I faced and fought a group of mountain bandits, which happened to be members of the local army division. I used ninjutsu on many occasions and was once tried for murder but proved my innocence (self-defence). I recall that one time I was walking through an area known as Santo-sho. It was pitch black and suddenly I could feel something coming at me from behind. I turned to look and saw a huge dog running straight at me. Before I could move he had lunged at me and his head was next to my left ear. He growled viciously but I did not move a muscle because I knew that if I did he would attack me. After a while he stopped, maybe because he knew that this human was not against him. At that instant I hit him right between the eyes with my right fist using my koppojutsu technique. He yelped for a second and then fell to the ground not moving at all.

This experience can also be applied against a human attacker. Always be ready for when your attacker drops his guard and then counter attack, without giving any warning or opportunity for a second chance. This is the way I handle this type of situation. I wait for my opponent to attack me and then I just wait for him to drop his guard or make him relax. This is an important point. The sak-ki, or intent to kill, is felt through a system comparable to radar. One who is not able to receive these transmissions will not be able to reach a state of higher quality martial artist.

This is what I can guarantee through my experiences, for so many times I have stepped over the line that separates life from death. This, with your techniques, is the line. I once fought a man who was very skilled in many techniques and after I had beaten him we sat down and talked. He indeed knew many techniques and many ways to stop techniques and I have to say that the names alone I would have easily forgotten. Truly he had a large amount of knowledge but this knowledge was wasted in the direction in which it was used. This is an important point when we talk of techniques. We are not talking about moving the body in an exact direction. There is a phrase in the Chinese book of strategy ‘UTSU RYU SHI’ that says how the victorious soldier is like water. This is because the water is both weak and soft and yet there can be a strong influence on it like a hill – even the hill can be decimated. On the surface it appears like the soft cannot win and yet soft can be stronger. This is like individual techniques; they are strong on the outside but weak within. If you know the name of a bird then you know nothing because this tells you nothing about the bird. The Kito Ryu in the early part of the Edo era was under Fuku No Shichiro Uemon Masakatsu (Yuzen) and Ibaragi Mata Zaimon Sensei (Toshifusa Sozen). Together they founded the Ryoi Shinto Ryu. This was the beginning of the Kito Ryu, then later Ibaragi sensei changed the name to the Ryoi Shinto Ryu. From the fourth generation, Master Takino had a very famous student called Kuki Nagato. This school eventually became known as Kuki Shin Ryu.

When I returned home from China my father had taken his 10th wife, so I went back to China where I became very ill(tapeworm?) and returned home to Japan. I then went to the Maya mountains. During that time I trained both karate and ninjutsu using my own theories. An old man of whom I know nothing, not even his name or who he was, taught me many things. He made the “to-in” sign together with a kiai and then said after two or three days the tapeworm will be gone. Within ten days he had me walking again. He taught me many things about myself and nature. After that year I thought back and realized that to do anything I needed money and therefore once again returned to China. In China I earned my living by teaching at the English school. I had over 100 students of the martial arts and during this time I taught many people the arts of war, but also taught them the arts of peace. I had many matches against very highly ranked martial artists and of these I did not lose once (although some were called to a draw). I left China having made a lot of money. I later became a monk but have to say that not all religions are good, the people within them become corrupted and then the religion itself becomes corrupted.

Sometimes when a crime was committed within my region the police would seek my help in solving the mystery. I was always able to do this and never once failed. Because of my knowledge and practical experience I have often done work for the government. This has only been in cases where it was for the good of my country and our people. Sometimes the work was very hard and dangerous.

With the period of change, I was asked to help form the Minoku Seinen Botoku-kai (present day Budokan). There were many masters on the organization mostly from old schools of martial arts. I was elected as president of the association. My official recognition was as a master of jutaijutsu and bojutsu. I have also helped on movie productions and at the theatre I have worked as a technical officer.

There are many who try to copy our skill and they do this badly. There are schools of the short stick (jojutsu) but they do not understand what I will tell you. Just as a man (ninja) can and does disguise himself so does the art of the stick. Since the jo is for travellers on the road, it is a means of self-defence. It is not nor has it ever been a weapon or tool of the battlefield. It is disguised as an aid in moving but is for self-defence. Jo-do is not for self-defence, it is for doing movements with the stick! They are too big and glamorous for self-defence; they have no taijutsu.

When I was president of the Seinen Botoku, many martial arts people would ask me if the “Do” was also a method of hiding the true techniques. I have always been honest and had to tell them that the “Do” is very different to “Jutsu” and not of any use save that of learning the dance of the Kabuki theatre. Sometimes you cannot find a master of the true arts and then whatever teacher you find will have to do. There are some people who give themselves a certificate of menkyo or higher but it is not the scroll that gives ability; it is one’s knowledge of past knowledge. These people surround themselves with government senators and high ranking people of authentic arts to make their own arts seem better. This is wrong. Often they use strength or say they have special powers to win but they lose anyway where it is more important – in their heart.

I have had many fights with these so-called masters not only with the body but with words. Two of them even swapped techniques to try and make their own styles but when I pointed out the error of this they denied any such thing. To train you must do so at any time in any condition. I remember my grandfather’s training hall was lit by candles and you had to use all of your senses to know who had entered and if they were friends or not.

Sometimes we would get ready for training and he would take us outside(in the winter). If you did not have your outside clothes on you would die from the cold so you had to know before. This also teaches bravery and courage. Use all your senses all of the time. You must train like fire because this is how the sword is made. If you sweat, this is like the cooling effect of the forging process. You must keep your vision broad even after practicing a skill for a long time. If you fail to see anything else then your vision will become narrow. If, when training, you think you are not learning then wait ten years and this will change.

On injuries; I have had too many to remember them all. If you truly have to fight for your life then this is bound to happen. Old scrolls talk of “katsu” or life giving powers. My teacher Ishitani (Kuki Shin Yo Ryu) became very ill and died in my arms. These skills could not help him as no one has such power. If you hurt your foot or your hands (limbs) then you must use water at different heat. Then you rub into the skin herbs from sweet plants. For the back you can roll on the floor to soften the joints between the bones. Sometimes it is good to have someone rub and push these joints. If you have lots of pain then you must dream about this because your body has the answer on its own. This is the eyes and ears of god.

You must drink plenty of water and still train even if you are in great pain. If you cannot leave your bed then train in the mind this is called “sankakujutsu”. Some people talk of breathing but I tell you that if you want to control your breathing then it will never become real (natural). When you eat, it is the same with breathing. You do not have to remember to stop breathing when you drink from a cup. Breath is the life force of the body I have heard people refer to it as the power of their technique. If so, I am very pleased for them! If they ever have to fight for three hours it would be nice to see them controlling how they use their air. Too much air will blur the eyes and mind so take care! 

The eight gates of the ninja are the way to train. I have trained in these for over 70 years and this is the true way.

Kokyuho 呼吸法

Kokyuho  呼吸法 are methods of various breathing practices in which the conscious control of breathing is said to influence a person’s mental, emotional or physical state, with therapeutic effect. 

In Ninpo Kokyuho is part of the internal training methods used to transcend the physical barriers of martial arts training. Therefore giving our practice a deeper meaning and developing our skills to a more sublime level. It’s important not confuse Kokyuho with Zen meditation.

Kokyu ho is also used for developing strong kiai. Through Kokyu ho, one learns how to let ki energy in the body circulate freely. When ki energy is in harmonization with physical action, kiai is usually manifested in a powerful yell. 

one example is to inhale all the air possible through the nose, then hold the air while putting pressure in the hara. Then exhale slowly through the mouth but still keep the pressure in the lower abdomen. This exercise is repeated numerous times for a couple of minutes.

Takamatsu Sensei stated the following:

“The primary point of being healthy is that the spine (背骨) and legs are strong/sturdy. In order to maintain this, the Bugeisha 武云者 (practitioner of the martial arts) had been acquainted with Hichibuku Goshinjutsu 秘致武九護身術. Saiminjutsu 催眠術 (hypnotism) techniques, Seishin Ryōhō 精神療法 (psychotherapy), and Kokyūhō 呼吸法 (breathing methods).“

Chugoku Kenpo 中国拳法

At Heiho Canada students are exposed to elements of the Chinese fighting and healing arts. Chinese arts have influenced the way Ninpo Bugei has evolved over the centuries. Tales regarding the Chinese master Chen who settled in Iga several hundred years ago and taught Quan Fa (Chinese Boxing) and military strategies. It is important to investigate such influences in order to understand the roots of Ninpo Bugei through cultural and historical changes.

Taiji Quan – Taijiquan is one of the major divisions of wushu. It consists of basic barehand exercises, exercises with long and short weapons, tuishou (push-hand) and sanshou (free hand) exercises. A whole set of theories has been built up for it. Facts have shown that regular practice helps to prevent and cure chronic diseases. The practice of Taiji also improves motor skills and develops awareness between body mind and limbs.

24-form tai chi chuan

The form was the result of an effort by the Chinese Sports Committee, which, in 1956, brought together four Taiji teachers – Chu GuitingCai LongyunFu Zhongwen, and Zhang Yu – to create a simplified form of Taiji as exercise for the masses. Some sources suggests that the form was structured in 1956 by master Li Tian Ji . The creators truncated the traditional family style Taiji forms to 24 postures; taking about six minutes to perform and to give the beginner an introduction to the essential elements of Taijiquan, yet retain the traditional flavor of traditional longer hand forms (in general, 88-108 postures). Henceforth, this form was avidly promoted by the People’s Republic of China for general exercise, and was also taught to internees in Communist “re-education” camps. Due to this official promotion, the 24-form is most likely the Taiji form with the most practitioners in China and the world over (though no surveys have been performed).

48-form tai chi chuan

The 48-form is traditionally taught divided into six sections, so you may focus on adding a small number of movements to your overall form gradually. 

The first section stresses basic hand and foot movements and the essential Peng, Lu, Ji, An (Ward Off, Rollback, Press, and Push). The second involves flexible changes in movements of body and legs with Turn Body to Thrust Palm as the focus. The third section has the first climax with many rises and falls and body turns with Slap Foot and Tame the Tiger as the focus. 

The fourth section centers around the challenging Right Heel Kick movement. The fifth focuses on Fair Lady Shuttles on both the left and right, requiring balance, suppleness, and coordination. The sixth section contains a great variety of hand forms, stances, and body movements such as Turn Body and Sweep Lotus, and the final climax of the form.