Soke, Iga Ryu Karate, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu
"Ninjutsu is not something which should be used for personal desires. It is something which should be used when no other choice is available, for the sake of one's country, for the sake of one's lord, or to escape personal danger. If one deliberately uses it for the sake of personal desires, the techniques will indeed fail totally."
Shinryu Masamitsu Toda
32nd Grandmaster of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
New Years message of 1891
- Know the wisdom of being patient during times of inactivity.
- Choose the course of justice as the path of your life.
- Do not allow your heart to be controlled by the demands of desire, pleasure, or dependence.
- Sorrow, pain, and resentment are natural qualities to be found in life; therefore, work to cultivate an immovable spirit.
- Hold in your heart the importance of respect for your seniors, and pursue the literary and martial arts with balanced determination.
33th Soke of the Togakure Ryu
The Essence of Ninjutsu
The essence of all Martial Arts and military strategies is self protection and the prevention of danger. Ninjutsu epitomizes the fullest concept of self-protection through martial training in that the Ninja art deals with the protection of not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well. The way of the Ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one. More than merely delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple out-witting of an enemy; Ninjutsu is the way off attaining that which we need while making the world a better place.
The skill of the Ninja is the art of winning. In the beginning study of any combative art, proper motivation is crucial.Without the proper frame of mind, continuos exposure to fighting techniques can lead to ruin instead of self-development. But this fact is not different from any other beneficial practice in life carried to extremes.
Medical science is dedicated to the betterment of health and the relief of suffering, and yet the misuse of drugs and the exultation of the physician's skills can lead people to a state where an individual's health is no longer within his or her personal control. A nutritious well-balanced diet works to keep a person alive, vital, and healthy,but grossly over-eating, over-drinking, or taking in too many chemicals is a sure way to poison the body.
Governments are established to oversee the harmonious inter-working of all parts of society, but when the rulers become greedy, hungry for power, or lacking in wisdom, the country is subjected to needless wars, disorder or civil and economic chaos.
A religion, when based on faith developed through experience, a broad and questing mind,and unflagging pursuit of universal understanding, is of inspiration and comfort to people. Once a religion loses its original focus, however, it becomes a deadly thing with which to deceive, control and tax the people through the manipulation of their beliefs and fears.
It is the same with the martial arts. The skills of self- protection, which should provide a feeling of inner peace and security for the martial artist, so often develop without a balance in the personality and lead the lesser martial artist into warped realms of unceasing conflict and competition which eventually consume him.
If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego's desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible - the attainment of the "mind and eyes of god". The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate.
In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce.
The vast universe,beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja.
The way to experience ultimate happiness is to let go of all worries and regrets, and to know that being happy is the most satisfying of life's feelings. Reflect back on all the progress in your life and allow the positive, creative and joyous thoughts to outshine and overwhelm any sorrow or grief that may linger in the recesses of your mind. Knowing that disease and disaster are natural parts of life is the key to overcoming adversity with a calm and happy spirit. Happiness is waiting there in front of you. Only you can decide whether or not you choose to experience it. Take this to heart.
34th Soke of the Togakure Ryu
Essence of Ninjutsu
I believe that Ninpo, the highest order of Ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artist. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalized by Japan's ninja were in fact one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today's martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living. By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear of injury or death, and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations, the practitioner of Ninjutsu can gain the strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others, and contentment with the presence of peace in society.
The attainment of this enlightenment is characterized by the development of the jihi no kokoro, or "benevolent heart." Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that finds expression in the unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, the benevolent heart of Ninpo is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds.
After so many generations of obscurity in the shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which Ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so mankind may continue to grow and evolve into the next great plateau.
Gambatte (Keep Going!)
Forget your sadness, anger, grudges and hatred. Let them pass like smoke caught in a breeze. You should not deviate from the path of righteousness; you should lead a life worthy of a man. Don't be possessed by greed, luxury, or your ego. You should accept sorrows, sadness and hatred as they are, and consider them a chance for trial given to you by the powers...a blessing given by nature. Have both your mind and your time fully engaged in budo, and have your mind deeply set on bujutsu.
I have trained myself and instructed others in Kihon Happo (basic eight rules) and felt that those who have had previous training in Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, and other fighting techniques tend to stay with those forms and have trouble learning Budo Taijutsu from a "blank slate." The fighting forms stay with the student even though he starts the training of Budo Taijutsu. When do the previous learned techniques disappear? I think it is up to a person's individual talent. The phenomenon is just like a dialect disappearing after one lives in a different part of the country.
No matter how hard one tries, he will never be a professional announcer if he speaks in dialect. The same can be said for Budo. I also studied various martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Aikido, old-style Budo, and Chinese Budo. In other words. until I encountered Takamatsu Sensei, I was a Budoka (martial artist) with many dialects. One day I began to wonder why and when did I lose those "dialects?" I realized that it was after I lost all my muscle tone after five years of illness.
Discovery of your own dialect is one way of improving Budo. When one reaches a certain degree of skill, he comes up against the "wall," something he has trouble overcoming. This is the so-called dialect of Taijutsu (body technique).
I want to write about how to train yourself when you reach a higher rank during Budo training. I would like to use a Cat Competition as an example. I have had lots of experience in the competition because my wife served as judge of the World Cat Club and I was also vice chairman of the club.
Suppose five top cats are chosen out of hundreds of cats. All of them are wonderful and beautiful, but that alone cannot be judged. With no other way to judge which cat is more beautiful then another, the judges start to look for faults. The one with the most faults drops to fifth, the next, fourth, then third, and so on. The one with the least faults becomes Grand Champion.
Bugei is the same way. If one reaches to a higher rank, he need only eliminate his faults. It may sound easy, but eliminating faults is very difficult to accomplish, because we tend to think we are faultless. Faults can be translated into something different in Budo. They can be suki (unguarded points), or carelessness, presumption, arrogance, etc. - they all become our fault. No fault, zero condition is the best. I am ZERO. I joke that the Soke (GrandMaster) has no Dan. Zero, no fault - that is the target of Bufu Ikkan (living through the martial winds).
- Adapted from Tetsuzan