The Religion of the Ninja

Rather than bother with a long winded philosophical ramble about my motivations or an indepth exploration of the deep personality flaws that undoubtedly underly my entrance to the blogging world I thought I would jump in at the deep end and kick things off with a discussion of the topic at the heart of almost all religious debates… ninjas!

Lest the infamous ability of the internet to eat sarcasm comes into effect I feel I should duly acknowledge that ninjas, although featuring prominently across the internet, are by and large absent from debates surrounding religion. However, this could all be about to change due to a recent announcement from Masaaki Hatsumi, the current head of the largest Ninjutsu organisation around today; the Bujinkan.

 (Ninjutsu, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, is the name for the martial arts systems purpoted to have been used and developed by ninjas in the past, and yes there are large Ninjutsu organisations around today, crazy world, eh?).

A few weeks ago, Hatsumi announced to his students in Japan that he would be seeking to register the Bujinkan as a ‘religious organisation’ (or shukyo houjin 宗教法人) and that he would be asking for donations to pay for the construction of new headquarters which would include a Shinto shrine which would theoretically allow donations to be made ‘tax-free’. Ostensibly Hatsumi explained that he was making all these change for tax purposes and in order to make preserving the organisation after his death easier.

This explanation however did not go over well with many Bujinkan members and certainly did nothing to prevent internet discussion forums becoming ablaze with debate, criticism and a good deal of  insults over what these actions represented.The Bujinkan since its inception as an organisation has attracted an impressive array of critics who along with a number of disgruntled members contended that Hatsumi’s plan amounted to tax evasion- on the rather straightforward grounds that the Bujinkan is a martial art system and not anything to do with religion.

Before going further it would probably be a good idea to clue in those who are not already aware (i.e. probably everyone reading) about how Ninjutsu, and by extension the Bujinkan, are regarded in the wider martial arts community. Ninjutsu is, to put it simply, widely derided. It’s viewed by many, especially those in more modern or competition focused arts, to be essentially a form of live action roleplaying for Westerners who grew up watching too many America Ninja films. This may be a rather unfair characterisation of many involved in studying Ninjutsu however it remains an opinion which is widespread. Such a negative image is also not helped by both the defensive and rather devotional attitude of many Ninjutsu practitioners and  the very unrealistic claims about martial arts that are often found in the books that they write (especially the older ones). On top of this the Bujinkan specifically is frequently on the receiving end of criticism for:

  • Encouraging an insular mentality among it’s members.
  • Promoting an unrealistic and esoteric image of Japan and the Japanese.
  • Promoting an unquestioning devotion to ‘soke’ Hatsumi- the head of the organisation.
  • Placing too much emphasis on mystical sounding philosophies and too little emphasis on realistic martial arts techniques.
  • Presenting an invented history at odds with mainstream historical research.
  • Being based in Japan and having a predominately Western membership.

Such critiques ultimately tend to end with the conclusion that the Bujinkan is an essence a cult with the critics often  drawing parallels between the Bujinkan and notorious religious cults. Now my personal opinion is that such critiques often go too far and overstretch the cult parallels which, with a little creativity, can be made to apply to almost all martial arts systems. However, it is impossible to deny that, on a basic level, many of the criticisms, such as the examples highlighted above, are in essence… correct.

In light of this it should be no suprise that many Bujinkan members would offer explanations to justify Hatsumi’s actions and indeed this is what many of them did.  The explanations offered varied from vaguely plausible (‘it’s the only legal option to an organisation to bypass Japanese inheritance laws’) to the outlandishly wacky (‘such events are common in Japan, in fact, people in the country regularly build shrines in their gardens and become religious organisations to get tax breaks!’). There were also attempts made to argue that the Bujinkan had in fact always been a religious organisation (‘we’ve been bowing to Shinto altars at the start of training for years’) and that this wasn’t an unprecedented step for a Japanese martial art to take since Shorinji kempo had become registered as a shukyo houjin a number of years previously.

Some of the arguments have more merit than others but the unavoidable fact for anyone familiar with Japanese martial arts and religions is that this is not a common affair. Shorinji kempo is an exceptional case due to having a central and unambiguous religious aspect to it’s organisation since it’s inception. In contrast to this Ninjutsu has never had such clear affliations or religious aspects to it’s training as clearly illustrated by these statements taken from various Bujinkan websites (see for instance the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo website):

*UPDATE 25/06/09: An individual associated with the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo has disagreed with my interpretation of their comments and my general conclusions. I recommend anyone interested take a look at the site and judge if I’m representing what it said fairly themselves and also read their arguments and my response in the comments section below*

The Bujinkan Kocho Dojo does not teach religion. It is not part of the body of knowledge that makes up the Bujinkan organization. We do have a rich philosophy and training methods for strengthening the spirit, but these have nothing to do with religion. Religions are focused on worshipping a deity and the correct manner of living to gain a better existence in the after life

Do not mistake the spiritual aspects of training in the Bujinkan with religion. Religion is something separate, although often times there may be some common goals. Both religion and the Bujinkan are trying to develop high quality people who walk a just path in life. But religion will be left entirely up to the student to pursue outside of the dojo.”

and

“NINJUTSU IS NOT RELIGION. Spiritual Yes. Religion NO. You can train in our art no matter what your religious path is or is not. Please do not confuse this or let anyone else tell you otherwise.”

Odd statements if Ninjutsu has always been a religious organisation as some are now arguing. 

Anyway, this is certainly an interesting situation and the discussions surrounding it actually managed to raise many issues which are central to cross cultural religious comparisons such as how ‘religion’ is defined in various cultures, what connotations are carried by the term and what the difference is betwen ‘spiritual’ and ‘religious’ teachings. Will be interesting to see how things develop over the next few months… with ninja’s it really is hard to predict!

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35 comments

  1. Things to discuss at a later date.
    1. Your opinions on Shorinji Kempo (I practised it for a year)
    2. The distinction between a religion say Christianity and a cult
    3. What are the essential core components to a religion e.g. I mean a general philosophy about life cannot be a religeon can it?

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  2. Thank you for this fascinating blog post, really interesting to read and your style of writing is excellent, unbiased and intelligible.

    I hope you don’t mind if I make a few points of my own about what you have written.

    Firstly I would like to ask who the critics of the Bujinkan are and the sources that you have for their arguments against the Bujinkan? Not because I don’t believe you, it seems totally plausible criticism but I would like to know the source of this reference as you do not specify.

    I would like to point out as well that not every Bujinkan club is the same. All martial arts coaches, trainers sensei etc. have very different ways of teaching and aims in mind for their students. All Bujinkan dojos operate under Hatsumi ultimately but many have very different feels to the training and a different atmosphere. You could compare this to a government funded high school or secondary school. Just because they all run to the national curriculum it does not meant that every school has the same set of ideals and ethos. Bujinkan dojos, just like most other established martial art dojos, are similar to school in this this way. I think your comment that it’s a ‘crazy world’ because there is a martial art of the Ninja reveals that you have a bias against a martial art of the Ninja (as opposed to other arts). Jiu jutsu is the martial art of the samurai (the Japanese army), karate was a martial art practised by Japanese peasants, epee sword fencing is the martial art that was practised by middle class Western men when they wanted to solve a dispute or defend themselves.

    All these arts and more are practised today and I have never encountered any criticism against them (interested to hear from those who have). What is so unrealisitic about a martial art derived from the practises of Japanese assassins (often used by the Japanese army) and guerilla fighters?

    Regarding religion in Japan: I have read (source The Rough Guide to Japan, context section) that until quite recently in history shinto was not regarded as a religion by the Japanese. As they were isolated from the rest of the world, they did not need to distinguish their religion from anyone else’s and so they just saw it as something they did as natural as eating with chopsticks and most people having black hair and dark eyes in that country. Therefore religion does not have the same context and connotations in Japan as it does in Britain today. The distinction between religion and ninjutsu has been made for western practitioners of the art not for the Japanese in my opinion. Western people observe diversity in their country in a different way to Japanese people who have less diveristy and absorb difference in religion rather than emphasise it (by which I mean they may have buddhist regalia alongside shinto etc. without observing any conflict.) I think this goes some way to explaining Hatsumi’s decision but in my personal opinion, it does not bother me either way.

    What has influenced me to reply in this vein is my hatred of ignorance and my desire to give those reading your blog the fullest possible picture of your subject matter. I hope that this doesn’t offend or upset any readers or the author but only serves to give people all the facts they need to find more information if they are interested or just to be aware that there are other factors in play in this situation.

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  3. No need to apologise I think you have made some very interesting points and I may actually write a new post shortly when I have time to respond properly to some of the issues you raise.

    I don’t have time right now to respond properly but here’s some short answers to some of your questions:

    My sources: I’ve been involved in Martial arts for about 10 years now and have practiced Wing Chun, Muay Thai and presently I train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, more importantly I have also been a member of a large martial arts forum called ‘Martial Arts Planet’. I’ve been there for 5 years and for some time I have specifically moderated the Ninjutsu section of the forum. As such I’ve seen many, many debates about Ninjutsu by practitioners and by critics. That’s where I draw my information from.

    Who are the critics: Generally speaking they are those who advocate the need for more ‘realistic pressure’ in martial arts training including emphasising sparring, conditioning and ‘alive’ training. Folks doing so tend to come from MA backgrounds were such training is emphasised such as boxing, thai boxing, MMA, BJJ or Judo however there are also critics from within the Bujinkan and from various alternative or splinter Ninjutsu organisations. In generalised terms the debate is often labelled as Mixed/Modern Martial Arts vs. Traditional Martial Arts. And yes Karate, TKD, Kung Fu and many other arts are also criticised in the same manner.

    Japanese Religion: What your suggesting is fair but at the same time I would contend it is slightly of base. Japanese conceptions of religion are in many ways different from the Western Christian model however I disagree that what Hatsumi is doing would be considered normal by Japanese people.

    Anyway, as I say you deserve a more thorough response and so I’ll either provide more here or I will cover it in a new post shortly.

    Thanks for your feedback!

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  4. Chris,
    The main point that you miss is that the Bujinkan is not a “Ninjutsu organization”. It is an organization that teaches ninja and samurai martial arts. Hatsumi sensei got to be internationally famous due to the ninja boom. He wisely rode out that boom by publishing books and gaining international recognition. The result is that he was able to discontinue his job as a bone doctor and devote himself full time to teaching martial arts and he developed his small organization into an international one. He is well-known and respected inside of Japan, but his popularity outside of Japan was due to the media driven ninja boom. I think he was at the right place at the right time and made a good business decision to expand to an international audience.

    When the ninja boom died down, Hatsumi sensei realized that the samurai martial arts of the Bujinkan were being overlooked by many, and he decided to officially change the name of the Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu to give equal emphasis to the samurai martial arts. If you were a moderator of a Ninjutsu forum, you should know this.

    Martial artists are often too caught up in petty politics, no matter what style(s) they practice. I have heard many martial artist criticize Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, the Gracies, etc. Petty politics also plague the internet forums, and it is the reason why I do not even bother with them. Yes, I have looked at the majority of them out of curiosity, but once I realized that it was primarily full of teenagers ranting and probably otherwise normal adults venting their opinions and often demonstrating their ignorance, I felt it was not worth my time. There are a great many serious martial artist of all styles who also do not participate in the on-line politics. In all fairness I think the forums have gotten better in recent years and I do know that there are good martial artists that contribute. However one should not judge the Bujinkan as a whole by the writings of a few. So I think your ‘insight’ is of limited value into the reality of the Bujinkan, although you may have an interesting angle to pursue regarding a different topic such as ‘the misconceptions and rants of modern martial artists’.

    The religious connection with the samurai arts is well documented. Please see the history of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu as a well-known example. Though less well known by the public, the Bujinkan spends a lot of training time on samurai martial arts. In particular, the Kukishinden ryu has a strong connection to religion. The Kuki family that created this style was a branch of the Nakatomi who were a religious ‘clan’ serving the emperors since the first emperor of Japan. To this day the Kuki family is prominently involved in the Kumano shrine as well as preserving its own branch of the Kuki martial arts. Takamatsu Toshitsugu, the previous grandmaster, was also an abbot for many years. It was not uncommon during the samurai eras for samurai to retire to a religious life.

    The Kukishinden ryu has at its core the Amatsu Tatara scrolls, which were originally written down during the reign of the first emperor of Japan. The scrolls are divided into sections of history, religion, medicine, and martial arts. The Kuki family has had a strong connection to the yamabushi and shugenja through its Kumano shrine. It is not uncommon for Shugenja to also practice martial arts in Japan. Without going into depth on any one of these aspects, I think it is probably the case that you and most of the public do not fully understand the connections between religions and martial arts in Japan.

    For the most part the training in the Bujinkan has focused upon the martial aspects and related philosophies, but the religious aspects have always been there. The ceremony practiced at the start and ending of training is called Kotodama, which derives from Shinto and is primarily done as ‘paying respects’ to the ancestors that created and preserved the arts we inherited from them. This is an important aspect of the spiritual development of the student and counteracts the negative ego building aspects that are often seen in sport oriented martial arts such as MMA. The Bujinkan has always maintained certain aspects like this that are influences of Japanese religions, but so far there has been no overt teaching of the religions that our influences have come from.

    As far as the public image is concerned in the West, please remember that Stephen Hayes’s books have long touted the connection of ninja martial arts with Mikkyo Buddhism. I believe he vastly overstates the connection, since nearly everyone practiced Mikkyo Buddhism when ninjutsu was formed and would be analogous to people 1000 years from now stating that Mixed Martial Arts have a strong Christian aspect. Mixed Martial Arts are prevalent in predominantly Christian countries: Brazil, USA, etc. But the Kuji-in and Kuji-kiri that the ninja are famous for do derive from Mikkyo and Shugendo, but it is much more of a situation of those religions having an influence upon Ninpo, not being part of Ninpo.

    Many ninja did practice some form of Buddhism and most practiced Shinto. As well, if a ninja were to use a monk or priest disguise it was not enough to just put on the clothes. He had to know enough to practically, if not actually, be a monk or priest. In that aspect, the study of religion can be said to be a part of Ninjutsu, but different than Ninpo. But this can also be said of music, medicine, carpentry, stone masonry, etc.

    If in his later years Hatsumi sensei wants to put more emphasis on the religious aspects of some of his martial arts, he has the right to do so. Nobody criticized Ueshiba from creating the heavily Buddhist influenced, gentle to your opponents art of Aikido out of the Aikijujutsu he learned, so why should anyone criticize Hatsumi sensei for emphasizing the religious aspects?

    I do not know the laws concerning religious organizations in Japan, but I do think that the concept of the Bujinkan having some sort of status for being recognized as a religious or semi-religious organization is not as ‘far out there’ as you might think. Such a connection will make much more sense to Japanese than it does to Westerners, especially in connection to the samurai traditions of Kukishinden ryu. But please understand that there is a big difference between Ninpo and religion, and that some samurai martial arts have a strong connection to religion in Japan. Also remember that the Bujinkan means “Divine Warrior Training Hall,” And the training will likely continue to be the same as it has been.

    As for the other criticisms of the Bujinkan that you listed they are all inaccurate and obviously come from outsiders or very inexperienced individuals. The Bujinkan is not a cult, but there is a lot of freedom for nearly anyone to join so there is a wide range of skill and knowledge to be found by practitioners in the West. You are likely to be able to find people that might seem on some level to be evidence for those criticisms, but they are likely to be more from the fringes of the organization and not high-ranking instructors.

    You cannot accurately make blanket statements about the entire Bujinkan any more that you can say that all high school students in California are dumb. Many are dumb, but many are smart will go on to do well in college and have brilliant careers. Those dumb high school students will still spout their opinions, but those who came from other schools should not judge all California high school graduates by the ignorant comments of a few dumb ones.

    Those who view the Bujinkan as Live Action Role Playing have probably never been to a LARP event and may not have trained with qualified and skillful Bujinkan instructors. Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of the Bujinkan martial arts is welcome to present a challenge match at my dojo. We have always been open to that and I will be more than happy to demonstrate that the Bujinkan’s martial arts are indeed very practical and that we are not “putting too much emphasis on philosophy” and therefore by implication unable to fight. Most people do not understand that the fighting skills themselves are an integral part of developing the spirit that is at the core of the philosophical aspects of Ninpo and the samurai philosophies.

    The histories of our styles are not at odds with mainstream historical research. There are parts of our histories (ninja or samurai) that cannot be confirmed by ‘absolute proof’ of corroborating historical documents, but that can be said as well of the history of the CIA and the KGB. In fact I would argue that there is no country or culture that does not have ambiguities and varying opinions regarding its histories, especially regarding the oral traditions.

    There are many martial traditions in Japan that cannot prove everything with period documents. As an example look at Daito ryu. There is an important part of Japanese culture that is hard for Westerners to grasp: historical traditions are accepted on faith, and do not need to be scientifically proven. Even if slightly off in some of its details, the traditions are considered to be generally accurate and valued as having insight that is often more important that the dry academic pursuit of history. Generally Japanese people are logical and are willing to accept new historical information about their traditions if it becomes available, but for many things it just simply is not possible to get better information than the oral traditions of various things like martial arts. This is especially true of the murky history of a secretive group like the ninja.

    There are likely to be some people in the Bujinkan that are too enamored of the soke on a groupie-like basis, but nothing truly like a cult. This can be true of any martial art, i.e. Ueshiba in Aikido, Bruce Lee of Jeetkundo, etc. There are in the Bujinkan individuals who may be a bit overboard in their loyalty to the soke and it might come across as almost like ‘worshipping him,’ but that is a far cry from the Bujinkan and its instructors promoting the soke as a cult leader or that we should worship him or some deity he promotes. Look at the history of real cults and you will see that the Bujinkan does not fit into that category at all. I know that there are people who will refuse to have an open look at the Bujinkan, but there are also people who are completely convinced that the principles of Marxism are fully manifest in the U.S. today.

    Claims of the Bujinkan being insular are a bit vague. All of Japanese culture can be criticized as being insular, and nearly all martial arts are insular in that they seek to promote their own methods above others and all have reasons for why their art is the best martial art. When I was part of the International Taekwondo Ferderation, my instructors did not encourage us to train in Kung-fu. They had plenty of reasons why Taekwondo was superior, mostly in reference to sparring. I trained in Kung-fu anyway because I felt Taekwondo did not offer me what I was looking for. Insular does not mean brain-washed.

    Why should the Bujinkan be expected to be less insular than any other martial art? There are more strictly insular ones, i.e. Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu. The only MA that officially promotes cross-training is MMA, which can be argued is not a specific style but rather a sport oriented platform for the mixing of various martial arts. There are schools out there that offer instruction in multiple martial arts, but even they tend to be insular to the organization they are in and within that organization are insular within their school. Insular has a direct relationship to a word that is unfortunately not well know amongst modern, especially Western, martial artists: loyalty.

    Loyalty is what kept groups of warriors alive in the eras when martial arts were used on the battlefields. This was true in India, China, Korea, Japan and all across the world. Loyalty is still today an I important part of the master-student relationship and it should be admired, not derided as “insular” or mistaken as evidence of a cult.

    If you are going to write about something you do not know about, please do more research. In the future, instead of ripping off my website with quotes that you want to use out of context to support your assumptions that are a result of ignorance, you should ask for permission to use the quotes and ask for more information so that you could write your blog more insightfully. If you want to act like a reporter then you should develop the skills of a reporter, or else I think you will just contribute to the misunderstanding that passes itself off as knowledge all over the internet.

    I stumbled upon this blog by accident and will likely not be back to check it out further. If you or any of your readers would like to comment or ask questions, please direct them to my email address: kochodojo@juno.com.
    Ninpo Ikkan!
    Dojocho
    Bujinkan Kocho Dojo

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  5. Well as you stated that you aren’t likely to read a response it might be a wasted reply nevertheless I’ll give it a go.

    As your reply is rather long I hope you won’t mind if I address your points as paragraphs although unfortunately I fear that even doing it this way will end up with a reply longer than the original article! Nevermind…

    Para 1> You provide a history of the Bujinkan which I am already very familiar with and take no issue with. It may even be good for people who read the article to know it so thanks.

    Para 2> To be honest I was not aware of that specific point. I am aware Bujinkan practitioners are wary about describing what they are taught as Ninjutsu and typically refer to individual schools and/or skills they learn. However, I don’t agree that Hatsumi rebranding his system significantly alters the fact that it is a Ninjutsu organisation.

    Para 3> I think you have a point here and indeed I would never claim that everyone discussing things online is sensible and/or that those who don’t have nothing important to say. It’s a choice whether to discuss things on forums or not and it has good points and bad points. I would however argue that it does not take much time on a forum to realise whose opinions are well informed and whose are not and this becomes easier the longer you know the individuals involved. I trust what some say above what others say and I also tend to have a good idea of where people fit in various organisations i.e. are they a high ranking individual with 20 years experience or a guy in a splinter school training for a few months. My information on Ninjutsu is certainly not complete however I think it is complete enough to draw the conclusions I do.

    Para 4> I am well aware of the religious elements of samurai society and indeed there were significant connections with martial arts. I would not dispute this however I would contend that such historical connections are not of particular relevance to the Bujinkan. The Bujinkan’s historical claims are not widely accepted and are based on evidence that is at best debatable. That martial arts have in the past been connected with religions in Japan does not mean that the Bujinkan has been involved in the same way.

    Para 5> I would wholeheartedly agree that I do not know everything about the connection between martial arts and religion in Japan. However, I am generally dubious of martial arts histories presented by martial artists as they tend to rely on very little scholarly work and in most cases involve accepting a great deal of invented history. If you have specific sources to refer me to I’d be happy to take a look though.

    Para 6> Bowing to a shrine and uttering a phrase which I doubt most understand is not the most significant of religious influences and I would sincerely doubt that such a practice develops a students religious sensibilities in any significant way. As far as the shot at MMA while I am certain MMA especially in America does involve a fair amount of ego I am not so certain that the Bujinkan can really claim to be significantly more devoid of egos. I would certainly say that I do not get the impression from most of its practitioners that they are particularly humble individuals. There are humble individuals of course but they are not in any greater abundance than usual.

    Para 7> I agree with all you say here especially the part of mikkyo being more of a general influence than an integral taught part of Ninjutsu. There are many aspects of Japanese culture influenced by the religious background and as such that martial arts hold such influences is not surprising. It doesn’t mean that everything in Japan should be considered partly ‘religious’ however.

    Para 8> This kind of point is made often by certain individuals within the Bujinkan and is just as often criticised by others, personally I find it a bit too wishy washy. And I am also somewhat dubious about the unequivocal statements about the religions practiced by the historical ninja. I’m not aware of any reliable sources documenting such things but again I’d gladly take a look if you point me to your sources.

    Para 9> It is Hatsumi’s right and it is the right of others to comment and criticise such decisions. Ueshiba’s Oomoto influences and there relevance to the martial art of Aikido are actually often debated amongst Aikido practitioners. Another difference I would contend is that from the very outset of creating Aikido it’s religious aspects were made clear and were promoted as being extremely important by the founder. This is not the same in the case of the Bujinkan. To give another example that is relevant to the style I currently practice it is the Gracies right to promote a correspondance BJJ course but it is also the right of BJJ practitioners and those outside to comment on the motives and the validity of such decisions.

    Para 10> I’m sorry but I strongly disagree. As I stated I have been studying Japanese religions for a fair number of years now and I can confidently say that it is not considered normal for a martial art to seek recognition as a ‘religious organisation’. This is especially the case when the ‘religious organisation’ is predominately made up of foreigners and involves ninjutsu which most Japanese would associate with historical fantasy. Contending that this is common in the world of Japanese religions makes me seriously doubt the reliability of your other comments.

    Para 11> Of course you are not going to agree with the critics of the Bujinkan! You are a practitioner who obviously deeply respects his art. This does not however make the criticisms go away. Nor does it mean that the only people who make them are uninformed idiots or inexperienced practitioners. It would also be rather strange to expect that most high ranking individuals would make such criticisms as they are heavily invested in the system. Some people who make such criticisms are uninformed but not all are and you stating that the criticisms aren’t correct is simply your opinion not an indisputable fact.

    Para 12+13> Your right you shouldn’t make baseless generalisations at the same time it doesn’t follow that no generalisations are accurate. Generalisations by their very nature do not apply to every single case but that does not mean they are not useful or ‘generally’ accurate. As for your willingness to prove your mettle. I will if you wish forward your message to any of the Bujinkan’s critics who are in your area and doubt the veracity of Bujinkan training. I would however add that comments such as this kind of contradict the image you present of Ninjutsu practitioners being above proving themselves to others.

    Para 14+15> Hatsumi claims to possess historical scrolls that strongly support the claims he and others make about the historical authenticity of what he teaches. These scrolls have never been tested by the relevant historical authorities in Japan which is an issue frequently raise by the Bujinkan’s critics. If you type ‘bujinkan scrolls’ into the search on the MAP forum you get over 100 threads some over 20 pages long. I’ve read them all and I would strongly contend that there is a lot of debate over the scrolls and other historical claims that Hatsumi has made. Who is correct I am not entirely sure. As far as historical information not being complete that is certainly true although how far oral testimony should be regarded as a reliable source for historical information ESPECIALLY in martial arts is another matter that could be debated both ways.

    Para 16> I would agree that the comparisons to a cult are overstated. I believe I said as much too. I do think many of the criticisms have some validity to them however.

    Para 17+18+19> By insular I believe the critics typically mean that Bujinkan members typically have a tendency to be more insular than most other martial arts i.e. on the martial arts forum very few Ninjutsu members use any other area of the site other than the Ninjutsu forum and have a reputation for being hostile to non-Ninjutsu folk. This is the same reputation almost every Ninjutsu forum has. It does not apply to all practitioners however I would argue that it is a notable trend. As far as arts encouraging cross training of course there are many systems that do not. However, you are exaggerating when you suggest it is only MMA that does so. Many other systems do so.

    As for your argument that insular is a characteristic of all Japanese martial arts systems. I would strongly disagree. To me it seems that this like many of your points is simply your positive spin on a particular issue. This is perfectly reasonable and some of your arguments are valid however your presentation of such arguments as if they are beyond debate is indicative of the very points critics of the Bujinkan raise. Also, loyalty to one’s system/instructor should not entail an uncritical acceptance of everything that the organisation or the individual does. THAT is a cult-like mentality, everyone is fallible even the founders of martial arts systems.

    Para 20> I do not agree that I have not done enough research to write about this topic. I fully expected Bujinkan practitioners to disagree but then if I never wrote anything that I thought some people would disagree with I would never write anything. As for the quotes I do not believe they were taken out of context or misrepresented and they were clearly presented as general information for anyone who visits your site to read. As such quoting two paragraphs from a freely available article on your website does not seem like it amounts to much of a violation. Did you not want anyone to read or comment on what you wrote? Your website was already discussed on MAP which is what raised it to my attention so if you want to avoid it being part of such discussions I would recommend taking the article down as if you leave it up others are likely to read it and may even comment on it in other blogs.

    You may disagree with my perspective but I’m not claiming you endorse my perspective only that the comments posted on your website about religion clearly contradict the message that other individuals in the Bujinkan were promoting. Now it seems that you do support such claims however I feel that the statements on your website (made prior to the announcement) reflect a different perspective. You may disagree but they are quoted for individuals to read and they can make their own judgement.

    Finally as for being ‘like a reporter’. I am being a blogger. I am commenting and offering my opinion on topics that interest me. Folks are welcome to disagree with my opinions as you have however I don’t feel that your comments have pointed to any real issues in anything I wrote. You are a Bujinkan practitioner who does not agree with the positions of the Bujinkans critics and supports Hatsumi’s decisions to register the Bujinkan as a religious organisation. As such your position is hardly that of a neutral observer and it was never likely you were going to agree with my analysis.

    I will however add a link in to the article above so individuals can have a look at your website directly and judge for themselves (I hadn’t worked out exactly how to do this when I originally wrote the ‘article’).

    Like

  6. Chris,
    I was hoping that if you had anything to add you would write me an email. Out of curiosity I have returned to your blog, but I will stop commenting after this just to end what appears to be an irresolvable difference of opinions.

    Para 2: It would be more accurate to call the Bujinkan an organization that teaches ninja and samurai martial arts.

    Para 3: Had this blog taken the angle of ‘from the general observations of what is being written in the forums’, maybe you would have enough insight to write an article. However in this blog you are editorializing. I do not think you are in a position to judge whether Hatsumi should or should not register the Bujinkan as a religious organization based solely on reading the forums. Interviewing a few top instructors for their opinions would have given greater weight to your article. I think your article could be a good one if you were a bit more open-minded about the Bujinkan. It seems however that you are using Hatsumi sensei’s decision as yet another way to bash the Bujinkan. My initial comments (written hurriedly during my lunch at work) may not have been as complete as they could have been, and I apologize if I was too scathing of you, but you are publishing a derogatory opinion of the Bujinkan that demonstrated incomplete information. I also believe that most of the contributors on the forums suffer from incomplete information-itis, so I can understand why you have come to many of your opinions.

    Para 4: The only martial arts in the Bujinkan that are lacking in evidence to their lineage are the ninja martial arts. This should not be surprising to anyone, that the ninja did not keep written records of their activities since getting caught would result in the death penalty in the Edo era. The samurai martial arts of the Bujinkan are well documented and there is no one that I am aware of that doubts that the Bujinkan’s samurai arts are actual ko-ryu. It would help to understand that the Bujinkan is just an organization and that the martial arts each have separate histories. The relevance of the more religious/spiritual connections (I would still refer to them more as spiritiual since Buddhism was originally a philosophy for attaining enlightenment devoid of worship-able deities and Shinto is much more involved with becoming spiritually pure) in the Bujinkan may be in question since it has been primarily a martial arts organization and previously not emphasized the religious/spiritual aspects. What I am trying to get you to understand is that in at least one of the martial arts of the Bujinkan there has always been a strong religious/spiritual connection. This is not a long dead historical connection, but one that was made throughout the life of the previous grandmaster Takamatsu Toshitsugu and which is still maintained by other branches of the Kuki martial arts outside of the Bujinkan. I am only partly surprised that Hatusmi sensei has not become a monk at some point like his teacher, who was an abbot (in case you did not know).

    Your point is correct, that until now the Bujinkan has not made a big deal about the religious connections, but for a long time most (I assume the greater majority) of the long-time senior practitioners inside the Bujinkan have known of these connections as something you will get to be initiated in at the ‘master’ level, but that the emphasis is upon fighting skills. Isn’t that one of the things you verified as being a correct criticism of the Bujinkan: that we spend too much time on mysterious philosophies and not enough time on martial arts? The reality of it is the opposite and that a lot of spiritual development needs to happen through enduring the rigors of martial training to get the spirit strong enough to make progress in the higher level aspects of something like the Kukishinden ryu. Nonetheless, the normal training in the Bujinkan will likely not change in the future, and any religious organization status will not change any of the arts in the Bujinkan, and still likely require students to work their way up to the more advanced levels where the ‘religious/spiritual’ aspects would be introduced.

    Para 5: There is a whole lot that has been written about the subjects I just briefly referred to. You will have to do you own research. There is a lot about any historical subject that is debated by scholars. I have read a lot about differing opinions on the American Revolution, Egyptian history, Medieval history, by top scholars. I have even seen scholars use oral traditions in their research. One example is the use of Eskimo stories about the demise of the medieval colony on Greenland. And why is it that American Indian oral traditions are respected and that no one doubts that American Indians had legitimate martial skills that were not written down? How come the people who practice American Indian martial arts today are not criticized? Why do they not need to provide written proof of their arts prior to 1868?

    The point of these rhetorical questions is that I think you (and a lot of the Western world) put too much importance on written evidence. I don’t really think the argument of historical lineage is as important as most people seem to think. The samurai did not show up on the battlefield and submit papers to show that they were legitimate samurai warriors before being allowed to fight. Furthrmore, I don’t think it is important if most people think that Takamatsu invented the ninja martial arts, and I think that the ninja of old would not have cared either. Hatsumi sensei seems to not care what the public thinks either. He passes on what he was taught and allows each person to make up their own mind, quite in contradistinction to a cult leader who would try to recruit and brainwash.

    Para 6: I will not try to instruct you further, but trust me that Kotodama plays a very important aspect on the spiritual development of the student. I do not defend all of the Bujinkan practitioners, in fact I am equally critical of most of the Western practitioners. There is a big difference betweem criticizing them and in making blanket statements criticizing the whole Bujinkan and the arts it is comprised of. If you were to meet a lot of Bujinkan members, either in their dojo, at seminars, or in Japan, I think that you would find them to be fairly humble and generally affable, and certainly more so than the MMA crowd. Ego seems to be a big part of the appeal in MMA and why is has a sport fan following. The tough guy attitude prevails and the top competitors strike me to be just shy of the WWF sort. That being said, I think that there are a lot of Bujinkan members in the West that should keep their opinions to themselves. What you should realize Chris, is that it is hard for people, especially Westerners and Americans in particular, to keep quiet when their organization is being bashed. I am unaware of any similar bashing of any other martial arts.

    Para 7: We are not discussing whether everything in Japan is partly religious. We are talking about a martial arts organization and what I think is your lack of understanding of the connections that many martial arts in Japan have to religion. The modern –do martial arts do not generally have a strong connection to religion, but many of the koryu do. The Kukishinden ryu does and ninjutsu does (note that I am using that word specific and not Ninpo – there is a difference).

    Para 8: You are welcome to your opinions, but I think you should study Shinto and Buddhism in Japan more fully. Shinto was practiced by everyone and Buddhism by nearly everyone. Today it is not much different, but the technological age has reduced religious practice in all denominations throughout the world, so there are plenty of people in Japan today who are not particularly ‘religious’. But I bet that most of them even have some small amount of participation, if even only on festival days and funerals.

    If you need more information on the use of religion by ninja, please look to the primary sources of the Banshenshukai, Shoninki, and the Ninpiden. Many modern books paraphrase what is written in those works.

    Para 9: The ‘American freedom of speech’ is not what is in question here. Everyone has an opinion, but I think what you are criticizing Hatsumi sensei for is a bit crass. If an old man wants to put more attention to religious studies, I think that to be completely normal and not as rare in Japan as you seem to think. He may not succeed in getting the Bujinkan organization accepted as a religious organization. But why do you care? It seems like you are just using that as another reason to bash the Bujinkan in general.

    I do not bash the BJJ or the Gracies in public forums and I hope that others in the Bujinkan would not do so either. If that is the case, and some Bujinkan members have been acting like bad children, then I apologize on behalf the Bujinkan.

    I understand the desire and perhaps value in discussing aspects of certain techniques or training methods and getting a cross-martial art input on martial arts forums. But that is not what is in question. Your premise seems to be that the Bujinkan has no legitimate claim to a religious connection, and I hold that you are wrong. The Bujinkan as an organization may not have strongly pushed it before now, especially in the International forums, but it has been a part of some of the arts since long before the Bujinkan organization was created.

    Para 10: I think you must be misunderstanding me then. I do not think it is normal for martial arts organizations to seek recognition as a religious organization. I think that option is actually a new development in Japan, but I do not know enough about Japanese laws to know that for sure. Most –do arts in Japan would not do such a thing, and many koryu would not either. But amongst the koryu there are many martial arts that have a strong connection to relgion. While it will seem strange to foreigners, I think a lot of Japanese people, especially those that practice koryu, will see the connection.

    The connection with religion in martial arts is quite prominent and makes me doubt your claims to having studied the subject thoroughly. Please read the Kojiki and Nihongi to get an idea of the interconnectedness of martial activity and the Emperor, who was and still is regarded as the spiritual leader of Japan. Research the struggles for power between the various sects of Shinto and Buddhism and the battles fought by sohei and yamabushi. Power struggles in Japanese politics were often struggles within the religious arena. The final rise of the warrior class came with a coup against the Pharaoh-like Emperors. Study the role of battles with various religious sects of warior monks during the Sengoku jidai. Research other non-Bujinkan martial arts such as the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu that have a strong religious connection. Also research the Amatsu Tatara collection of scrolls that emphasise the Bumon and Shumon (i.e. martial and spiritual aspects going hand in hand), and research the connection of every martial art within the Bujinkan to those scrolls. But the strongest connection in the Bujinkan is through the Kuki martial arts. Please reseach the Kuki family today and their continued involvement in their family martial arts and religion. Religion and martial arts have been connected in Japan since the first emperor.

    I don’t understand why you don’t see a connection between the martial arts and religion in Japan.

    Para 11: Not at all. I also criticize a lot of the Bujinkan practitioners, but as I have already stated, that is not the same as blanket criticism and dismissal of the Bujinkan overall due to the opinions of vocal practitioners that are probably lacking a lot of insight and information. One of the negative aspects of the rapid growth of the Bujinkan is that there are a lot of bad teachers and practitioners out there. Hatsumi sensei has openly stated this many times. This development happened concurrently with the rapid growth of the Internet which brought developments nobody saw coming, such as a rapid spread of misinformation fueled by opinion on an easily accessible outlet. Some people learn more, get better, and would probably like to take back some of their earlier comments. Others do not. Hatsumi sensei and the Shihan of the Bujinkan know this and use the situation to test the true character of Bujinkan members in a way that would be hard to due otherwise due to the difficulties with language and cultural barriers. All the foreigners in the Bujinkan are given enough rope to hang themselves with so to speak. But, it is a different situation with the Nihonjin practitioners, and generally the gaijin living and training in Japan do not make the mistakes common by those in the US.

    Para 12 & 13: To clarify, most advanced practitioners do not care what the public thinks about the image of ninja, samurai, or the Bujinkan. I am already regretting wasting the time spent on the previous post and now this one… I really probably should have just ignored your little blog, but I wish that you would have been more open about your blog and at least had the decency to email me about it if you were going to quote my web site. It just struck me as a little cowardly. Please note that I am not calling you a coward, so don’t get your feathers ruffled. I just expect martial artist to have a higher level of curtsey and integrity amongst other martial artists.
    You can forward my message on to anyone you want to, but in particular anyone who thinks that the Bujinkan is the same as LARP, as you asserted. We don’t fight with foam weapons in my dojo.

    Challenge matches have been a staple among old style martial arts in Japan until recently when it was outlawed due to the number of injuries and deaths. I believe that they still happen, although rare and done in secret. Takamatsu fought many challenge matches and even in his senior years issued a challenge match in a newspaper to a karate master who insulted him. The karate master apologized and declined the match. Hatsumi sensei personally told me that I was free to do whatever I wanted regarding challenge matches. Note that I know he was giving me enough rope to fail and hang myself, but I have always felt that if another martial artist wanted to challenge my skills in the spirit of true martial training that I would be more than happy to do so. I have fought many people on the streets and put many people in jail, but so far no martial artists have come knocking on my door. I don’t seek them out either as I have far too much to do with my own personal training.

    The challenge I would issue to you directly Chris, is forget the historical arguments and come train in my dojo for a while. Take a week or two and I will show you enough of our training that you will be convinced that we are not LARP and that these methods are valid martial skills at least on par with any other martial art out there. Train a year or more and I think you will want to join the Bujinkan. I teach in the LA area, and hope that you would be local, but if not, consider taking a vacation and finding out for yourself what the Bujinkan is really about.

    Para 14 & 15: I am well aware of all of that and I still contend that it doesn’t matter. The ninja should not have written anything down during the Edo jidai. They were outlaws and it would be stupid to have written evidence to be used against you. Also, the Toda family kept the arts inside their family so there was no need for documents. Many samurai traditions also lack old writings that can proof the age of their style. So what? You can buy old scrolls in Japan. Just because a person or style has old documents does not make the practitioners of that style able to fight their way out of a paper bag. My primary concern is the practical skills and I think that they speak for themselves. No one person could have created so much depth, in my opinion, and if they had I would still practice those skills.

    Para 17,18, & 19: I think that the Bujinkan members should not post on other forums regarding martial arts they do not have experience in. That does not mean that they do not read those forums. I have read forums but I do not post on them. It gets tedious, as has this comment on your blog.

    I do not think that the Bujinkan members should be hostile to non-ninjutsu folk and I can only hope that serious martial artists of other styles would try not to be offended by them. They know not what they do. Many of them are probably young and immature. Probably, as seems common on those forums, insult is taken by Bujinkan members when it should not be. They really should practice more ‘nin’ and just endure the hardships of the bashing. That is my normal MO and I wish I had done so in this instance as this is taking up way too much of my time.

    No one in the Bujinkan really is completely uncritical of at least some aspect or person in the Bujinkan. I have personally heard criticisms of the soke from top shihan, not to mention many by senior instructors and other students. But like any group, when attacked from the outside, they will get defensive an seem insular. Both sides would benefit from a more friendly discourse, and when that atmosphere prevails, I may spend a little time on forums, but not likely.

    Para 20: I found your blog while looking for my website to start some much needed upgrading and corrections of minor things. The articles were written over 11 years ago as very simplified introductory information for people who would see the ad in the yellow pages and want to get a little more information. It was never intended as a complete discourse on any of the subjects brought up. So, as a generalization, yeah the comment “the Bujinkan does not teach religion” was and still is accurate, although incomplete.
    The organization did not actively promote the religious aspects of the Kukishin or Kukishinden ryu back then. It may not in the future. It may be a big question mark as to whether Hatsumi will succeed in his efforts at gaining religious organization status, and he may not follow up on it. However there is nonetheless a strong religious connection within the Kukishin martial arts that Hatsumi is free to teach whenever he so chooses.

    The simplification of matters in my brief web site article (dwarfed by the size of my comments on your blog) was a choice I made due to space and time and the fact that I think such religious aspects are way too down the road for most practitioners and that no one really ever needs to learn those aspects, and they certainly are not a concern for beginners looking for general information (which was the sole intent of the web site). I would adjust my article to read more like “the Bujinkan will not force its members to study religion.”

    Using the oversimplified quotes on my website in your blog is like using a brief bit on a brochure to make an editorial point on a scholarly matter. If I had any idea that someone would do that, 11 years ago, I would have left it off my web site just to save myself the time I have spent recently discussing this with you.

    I think the Bujinkan training will likely not be changed in the future, but who knows. Maybe I will be proven to be wrong. If through such actions Hatsumi is successful is driving away some of the less desirable people in the Bujinkan, I will not be sad to see them go. Maybe the religious connection will drive them to join your organization…

    I don’t know what MAP is, although I assume a martial arts forum. Please send me the link, and to the relevant discussion if you can. I would appreciate it.

    I did not say that I agree with getting religious status for the Bujinkan. Hatsumi sensei owns the organization and he may do anything with it that he chooses. If he wants to make calligraphy a part of it he can. He can also decided to add judo or aikido to it. But I will keep my opinions about that to myself. What I present here in the comments to your blog is information that you seemed to be unaware of and I did not address on my website. If he can save the organization from being torn apart by some tax laws in Japan, I will let him make those decisions.

    Yes, I did point out real issues with what you wrote. Your premise was that the Bujikan has no connection to religion, and I have offered plenty of information that while the organization has not had official connections with religions in the past, that the some of its arts, especially the Kukishinden ryu has, and that there is a legitimate angle through the Bujinkan’s samurai traditions more than the ninja traditions, which you assumed. I am not disagreeing with your analysis that the Bujinkan is possibly taking a new direction, or may just be trying to take advantage of a tax loop-hole, but I am saying that the connection has strong legs to stand on. You seem to be unwilling to believe me, nor unwilling to research the subject which shows your lack of being a “neutral observer”.

    You will no doubt continue to disagree with what I have written and will no doubt add more comments to your blog. Have fun. I am done. If you want to write email to me, please feel free. If you want to call or talk in person, no problem. If you want to come and train, the invitation is open. I am not issuing a challenge match to you. I do not think that was your intention on your blog, but if that would help in your own training and in gaining a better understanding of the Bujinkan’s martial arts, then maybe that would be a rewarding experience for both of us.

    Good luck with your training.
    Ninpo Ikkan!
    Dojocho
    Bujinkan Kocho Dojo

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  7. Dojocho,

    Just like you I am not particularly fond of debates in the comments section which end up dwarfing the original article so I’ll try and keep this brief. I replied here as you wrote your response on the blog and I wanted to let anyone who reads see a response to the points you raised. I will e-mail you this reply however after I post it.

    In regards the offer to train I live in the UK so I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon! And I also don’t think it would achieve much as 1) the Bujinkan as you have noted is very variable and 2) I do not think that attending your Bujinkan class would provide any relevant insight into the aspects surrounding the Bujinkan becoming a religion which is what I was originally discussing.

    As far as not being interested in doing research on the subject I believe I have already addressed this point. I’ve been researching Japanese religions for a number of years so I am happy to research the subject and indeed I base my opinion on Japanese religions from my own research. I asked you for specific sources that you draw your information from so I could look at what you are basing your historical information on and you’ve supplied some or more precisely you’ve indicated topics some of which I already know quite well and don’t agree that they support your position: I note that there are no academic sources just general references to old texts and families. You also present the typical defences of suggesting that looking for accurate information is a ‘Western perspective’ and ignores the value of oral tradition.

    On both points I think you are mistaken, Japan has a very developed historical profession and many of the sources I draw my information from are by Japanese academics studying Japanese history. Oral traditions are given due consideration, they are just not considered to be unquestionably accurate.

    Anyway, lest this ends up being as long as before I think I will leave it at that. I appreciate your opinion but I think you are mistaken in your interpretation of a number of my points and my intentions and I also think that your research on this topic is extremely influenced by your affiliation with the Bujinkan.

    The overall reason I originally wrote this article was because I was surprised at how readily people were willing to attribute the Bujinkan becoming a religious organisation as being due to the perceived ‘exotic’ nature of Japan rather than the eccentricities of one particular Japanese man who heads an organisation which is unusual for Japan.

    The arguments you present all featured in the discussions on the forums (and yes MAP is a forum- Martial Arts Planet) and they would generally fall into the category I mentioned of people saying ‘it wasn’t an unprecedented step’ and ‘there have always been religious elements in Ninjutsu’. So it is not as if your positions are things I had never heard until you wrote your comment.

    I am not however arguing that there have been no connections between religions and martial arts in Japan. My argument is simply that no such connections have been central to the Bujinkan and that some of the justifications offered by practitioners for this decision are of questionable merit.

    Phew… getting longer, time to stop!

    Best Wishes,
    Chris

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  8. I need to know the religion of the Ninja’s, but I’n having trouble finding any accurate, reliable information.

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  9. well we all seem to have some thing to say forgive my spelling i am old an dont like writing much any more but wow ninja kung fu graplers aaaa dose it realy matter who is wright as much as it should matter that your geting more healthy or stronger when i started the arts as a child my grand father was in the arts as a child also his we have practic the arts for a few genarations its all a personl choies but hay ninjas an spirits an religons have been around sins the dawn of time an has changed as many times as you would a shirt it would seem that if you all would be as dilegent in the dojo as you are spending time flapin your jaws you might find your selves much more at peac as well as a true master of at least some thing as i would say own my own words grow up keep your nose in your own schools is it honorabl to be rap rap raping about one another ??? when i teach i leave it to the students what thay whant to lern like my grand father said to me is it usfull in to days world an is it makeing you a better person for all as well as your self it makes me sick to here so many people sqable over the arts talk talk talk no true action in the wright place martial arts was meant to change an so are we the problem with the passt is its ment to stay there an some feel its needed to keep dreging it up on the ninja just one blurb is there any one that was one in the past !! willing to chat so dam much about them selves so who is saying thay are one realy one ??? an if so are thay being trufull ??? manny m artest are on board for the cash if not start teaching f for free an sell every thing you own give it to the poor an wounder the world helping thouse in need or shut up !!

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  10. hay mariko why do you whant to know are you willing to chaneg every thing you think you know willing to truely dedicate your self to some thing you know nothing about willing to be renewd an walk the truly silent path no show boating no telling some one hay look at me no shareing this knowleg so openly ?? if so an this is the truth the old saying is seek an you shall find i live in imnaha orgon come to town ask around for who they call grand pa but one thing i dont like sniveling gosiping or asking 10000 questions on what you have read on the internet the way is much simpler than all that much of what can be read to day has been changed like most things to suit the new kings leaders so ask your self am i realy interested or am i wanting to add to the ranks of talk talk talk an no action

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  11. thanks for the opertunity to speak we all have some thing to say i probly seem two faced on my coments thay in no way are meant to offend iknow why there is so much contravesy over the arts yet ifwe look back we see confusion an it is meant to be so dont confus your selves so much yet im sure you are haveing fun this is good pleas forgive an old fart just going aginst the grain hahaha

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  12. wow some thing to realy think about demonds hell hmm has any one ever fought a demond an been awear of it now think of that for a second wile you look over your shoulder at night when you have that feeling of some thing watching you we all must face our own demonds at one time or another they take manny forms some would say bull shii but ??? thanks rich food for thought

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  13. realy look do you realy think were alone here in this idle univers ask some grand masterts like ron pirece or ask your self am i all that hhmm ill be canded with u how old are u have u ever seen your own reflections do you think you are a man a child a master ?? all is not well here in are little world u will see !!! soon an then ! there is a old old saying the young mock the old for there wisdom an the old warn the young that do not here

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  14. sorry when i say idle i mean that we as a humane orginizem cant seem to have enogh we keep looking an looking but caant find satisfaction that we just are in are pursuit in wanting to know we are destroying our selves hay ixny haha is this not true ???? then ask your self why if were so dam smart cant we cant go ango ango tothe center there is no end s to the senter must we destroy it to see if we can we are here an let it be so what if there is more let it naterly play out how its entended to natraly you ask shit ask a plant do you want me to rip u up wat would it say do u like wen some one stills from u is it natural ? hhmm or if some one takes your house over an kiks u out is itn ik or natra, well ??? sorry just fujin tired old fuk wont a say any more agin dun with this world of want to be going to re tire from it all keep up the good work u all my times up next plane is a comin

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  15. The old don’t tend to write in text speak as far as the rest goes I’m old enough to know when there is no point discussing things with someone so have a nice day!

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  16. some do some dont was not trying to disuss any thing yet u miss my point we all keep talking shit but im done here o when i said ill see u in your dreems it was mediforic like if you respond to some thing at all its now in your mind if it were not true you would not have said a thing as far as the old thing were do you get your in foe on how old people write ? un like your self i quit school to go to work to suport my famly was some hard time never felt it that important to go back eather long as some one gets there point across how many people over 70 do you know that has a full colleg edgucation ? but fret not if you were afended you simply were thats all was not my full intent my real point was to play out the caricter of some one who thinks you should not worry about telling or thinking that we can actly know the passt how it may or may not have been ya see when people think thay know some thing well enogh to to say thay know usaly thay only know what thay have read about it no TRUE experianc in it you see i am old but how old? menaly phisicaly spiritaly to coment on my age or writeing shows me you think u KNOW once agine my point is proven so u to have a nice day night or? but i am done here an by the way ninjas do have religons of difrent kinds depending on what sects thay had belong to what you will find? unless you are one an if so you would know that todays ninjas are the same as thay were then? but many like to talk of what thay think thay know yes even me !!!! an no i dot THINK im a ninja

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  17. You don’t need a college education to be able to spell, use punctuation and construct coherent sentences and arguments. I have no idea what your real age is but since you have the technical expertise to comment on blogs it seems odd that you could not use the spell checker which is pre installed in practically every current web browser.

    My experience on the interweb is that when someone’s posts are littered with spelling mistakes, text speak and run on sentences it is almost a sure fired sign that they put no real thought or effort into what they were writing. Instead they just banged out their opinions as quickly as possible and then hit submit.

    You might be an extremely eloquent man in real life and have a whole bunch of interesting experiences but I don’t think you are very effective at communicating that in your posts. And I also think what you are saying by and large has very little to do with any points I made in the original post.

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  18. so u are ofended an can chat like an old women an u got one thing wright im not trying as hard to make my point as u all thow i must say u can write well an have good coments on things but your original blpogs?dont care just seen to many people talk of ninjas who have no clue as far as bilt in spell checks ? first computer ive ever had an no exsperianc with them im going to take a class thanks an was not trying to talk of my “experiences ” but if u are going to have a place were people can write u back u should exspect some shit heads like me who will say things u dont like but ! i do like your work realy just throwin some friction at u so u get better at your thing you are in school hay an whant to be very good at what ever u do ?

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  19. o so a u may feel good about saying some thing about some ones elitteresy do u feel big now or like u know more aah i see said the blinde man to his deff son over a disconected teliphone hahahaha

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  20. I MUST SAY GOOD BUY THANKS FOR THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH THING IF I OFENDED ANY I APOLIGIZE PLAYING THE ADVECATE THATS ALL NOW I MUST EXIT STAGE LEFT SORRY CRIS AN I HOPE U CAN SOME TIME FIND HUMER IN IT ALL U ARE A GREAT WRITER U HAVE A FUTURE IN IT THE NINJA THING ALLWAYS MAKES ME FRUSTRATED AN RELIGION TO A BASTERD SIFU!

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  21. to whom it may concern,
    I must apologize for my nephew who has been on my computer he’s seem to been ranting at some folks I know not who but he’s in a lot of trouble. sincerely,
    a MAD uncle

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  22. I have been studying Ninjutsu for over ten years. In all that I have seen and heard from others who study is that you are not obligated to follow the religon of any of the masters. Hatsumi is said to study Shintoism. Maste Hayes is said to study Buddhism. And there are others who study their own religon. Many ways of how nature, physics and the human body are the primary teachings that may lead some to think that ninjutsu is a religon instead of having teachings on own’s own surroundings. The most important thing that history has misconstrued is that the ninja were only asassins. This is far from the truth. One of the reasons that the ninja came about is because of the constant fighting and wars from the samurai. Who controlled government, business, religon and other aspects of peoples lives. History is controlled by those who have been in power.

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  23. It’s funny that he challenged Chris to try out the bujinkan and then he turn around and told him that it isn’t possible because he lived in the UK. Excuses, Excuse. Go over there and prove him wrong. If not then stop talking and do some walking!

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  26. Being a former member of the Hawaii Bujinkan, I had firsthand experience into the cultism mind games this organization plays. I’ve read your article a few times and finally decided to finally post. I wrote an entire article for my journalism class about the subject. This organization nearly bankrupted me and almost ruined my marriage. Many of the members have either had divorces or had strains on their marriage because of the “school.” My teacher’s first marriage ended when she told him to cut back on classes and spend more time with family and he told her to leave if she didn’t like it. He expected as much devotion from the rest of us as well. When people had financial issues and couldn’t afford to pay the $120 a month, he told them to get a job so they could afford it. If people couldn’t make it to class because of work, he would tell them to get a job so they could. From the beginning I questioned to practicality of their techniques (politely) and was quickly silenced. Even the organization’s promotions were based on money and attendance. We had a 5ft nothing guy who couldn’t even sit in seiza, much less attempt the techniques and he was promoted to black belt. When I brought my concerns to another member word got back to the head students and I was literally shunned. They’re reply to my concerns was “F*** him. He shouldn’t question.” When I asked for areas of improvement on my behalf, “shihan” basically just told me to come to class. (of course, that’s how he gets paid). When I brought this up to my friend, he asked me if I deserved an answer. I would think if I’m paying him to train me, I would deserve an answer, I could learn from a book or Van Donk’s crappy videos otherwise. I have tons of examples, but this is Chris’s blog not mine. There needs to be a support group for ex-bujers. All the defenders of the Bujinkan that will try to shoot me down, try for once in your life to step in the ring with someone who actually does a real martial art. Oh wait, you guys don’t compete.

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  27. Spade: Your experiences are more to do with the particular instructor, not the entire Bujinkan.
    Most Bujinkan training is much cheaper than other martial arts, especially the BJJ and MMA schools in my area. You should have tried another dojo. Hopefully you have found something better for you.
    Yes, Spade, we do compete. Read the reply above. In the Bujinkan it is called a challenge match. No rules and usually using weapons. A lot rougher than MMA tough guy competitions. MMA guys fight on special sprung platforms, not on concrete. If you look a bit closer, you would see that the MMA competitions are not that impressive. “For once”, to quote you, I wish Bujinkan-bashers would show up to our dojo and actually have the courage to stand behind the bad-mouthing of people like you and issue a challenge match. I doubt it will happen.

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  28. “People like me”…thank you for your support. If piecing my life back together after leaving this cult wasn’t bad enough. There would be no reason for “people like me” to bash if the “school” was as legit as it claims. It’s not like I was there for a week, I was scammed by one of Hatsumi’s top students for a year and a half. You are absolutely right that mma and bjj schools are more expensive, they actually work. You people flock to Hatsumi like he’s some sort of pope. Finding the corruption in the bujinkan is not difficult. In fact, if anyone wants, I will point them in the right direction of people who have experienced it. Just google “bujinkan cult.” As for your challenge match, really? Is this the 1970’s? I would be more than ecstatic to accept along with members of all of the other schools I have been apart (Southern Shaolin Kung Fu, Krav, Wing Chun, MMA, Kendo, and Kempo) who consider the bujinkan a joke. I would love nothing more than to take my frustration and hatred of the bujinkan out on any of you “adults” who dress up in your black gi’s and tabi boots. The only difference between the bujinkan and Larping is that larpers know that it’s fake. Stop trying to defend the bujinkan, move on and grow up. Keep trolling, I write for a living.

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