View Full Version : Rare Article written by 3 Ninjustu Historians

Robert G
18th May 2006, 22:30

I have an English translation of a interesting Ninjutsu article that was written by Okuse Heishichiro, Koyama Ryutaro and Yumio Nawa. The article was written in a booklet form for a Ninja Exhibit held in August of 1966 entitled Ninja-Ten. This is part 1.

Translation of the booklet Ninja Ten (Ninja Exhibit) Part 1 of 2

Ninja Exhibit

History of Ninjutsu

There are many theories regarding the origin of Japanese Ninjutsu, but since it veiled in deep mystery, there exists no standard theory. However, it is believed that it came from ancient China and was developed into a unique art in Japan. In the famous ancient Chinese book on martial arts, Sonshi, Volume 13, Yohan Chapter, the method of using spies and the types of spies are described, in other books such as classic books and Bubishi, pictures are shown along with the recordings in utilizing the tools for stealing in.

It is estimated that it came to Japan around the time that Buddhism was introduced to Japan. Of course the person or persons introducing the art are not known for certain and there are many stories but it may possibly be attributed to monks or naturalized citizens.
Iga ryu and Koga ryu are so famous that they became synonymous with the word “ninjutsu” and this fact indicates that the Iga and Koga regions were the mecaa of ninjutsu. This is quite apparent according to the inherited historical documents and the traditions found in Japanese history.

Otomo-no Sainyu, body guard of Prince Shotoku: Shinobi Takoya courtier of Emperor Tenmu; Ongyoki, retainer of Fujiwara-no Chikata; cunning General Ise-no Saburo, staff member of Minamoto-no Yoshi-tsune; and 48 members of Iga Shinobi’s retainers of Kusunoki Masashige; etc., were all products of the mountainous regions mentioned above. The reason for its development as to the continental style of the surprise attacks and the steal-0in art in these mountains can be summarized as follows:

Due to the climate, local people’s temperament, the existence of many small local lords and the presence of many naturalized citizens who helped the natives absorb the progressive continental culture and frequent traffic of ascetics around the old shrines and temples which the region was infested with all of thee factors gave sufficient grounds for the birth, growth and polishing of ninjutsu, The fact is that many of the founders were originally ascetics. In fact, for the ninjutsu method of mind concentration and magic performance, the performers made a sign of kuji (lit. nine characters, a secret and sacred sign). For this reason, some believe that ninjutsu derived from the military practice if yamabushi (lit. mountain hermits) of the Shugendo sect.

Ascetic monks were the spear head of intellectuals at that time absorbing the continental culture and they were philosophers as well as scientists and medical doctors.

According to historical data, following the introduction of the gun to Tanegashima (a small island off of Kyushu), the monks from Negoro temple gave their attention to the guns and gun powder and took them for study, however there is a theory which says that gun powder was introduced to Ki Province (now Wakayama Pref), Koga and Iga Provinces prior to Tanegashima.

Iga and Koga’s art must have been a startling performance, almost supernatural, because of the mastery of techniques utilizing gun powder and fire and the superb prescription of medicines.

For two hundred years between the 15th and the beginning of the 17th century, which is called the Sengoku Period or era of civil wars, several tens of local lords divided the Iga basin and checked each other, repeating cunning wars for their self preservation.
Ninjustu was polished in such surroundings and developed into an organization of ninjutsu performers (called ninja which can also be translated as spy) within the organization, the natural formation of three classes took place, namely ue-shinobi, naka-shinobi and shita-shinobi (translated as upper, middle and lower class performers) and there was a control among them. For example momji Tanba and Fujibayashi Nagato were famous ue-shinobi who divided Iga region’s ninja organization in two.

In Tensho 9 (middle 16th century), Iga region rebelled for the second time against Lord Oda Nobunaga and the region was burned to the ground. The ninja organization was disbanded temporarily and they took refuge all over the country. Ninjutsu thus spread throughout the nation and some branches of Iga abd Koga ryu could be found in different places. The practice of hiring Iga ninja by the various feudal lords began about this time.

When the Honnoji Incident occurred in June Tensho 10 (middle 16th century) Tokugawa Ieyasu had just completed his excursion to Sakai City and was on his way to Kyoto with 30 of his retainers but his way was blocked because of the incident and he was put in a tight spot. At this time, one of its retainers, a native of Iga, named Hattori Hanzo arranged for 200 Iga people (ninjas) to help Ieyasu get back his territory safely. Since this group of 200 rendered distinguished service often under Ieyasu, he organized a group called “Igagumi” and appointed Hattori Hanzo as its head.

Ieyasu also later organized another group called “Kogagumi” consisting of 110 Koga ninjas who had distinguished themselves during the siege of Fushimi Castle in Keisho 3 (1598) and appointed Yamaoka Doami as the head of the group.

In Tensho 13 (middle 16th century) monk warriors from Negoro Temple rebelled against Toyotomi Hideyoshi , some were captured and others took refuge throughout the country. Tokugawa Ieyasu later requested pardon for these monks and took them in to organize groups called “Negorogumi”, each group consisted of 100 riflemen members. He sent 100 negoro members to each of his branch families in Kii Province and Owari Province.

As described above ninjas form Iga, Koga and Negoro became the intelligence service, body guards or modern weapon units of the Central Feudal Government. Ninjas who did not serve the central government were also assured a secure living under Todo’s (Lord of Iga Province) pacifying policy. It is well known history that the Koga ninja unit participated in the Shimabara Uprising (Christina Rebellion) in Kanei 15 (1638) but after that they served in the capacity of “Oniwaban” (lit. guards of the gardens, but the true nature was a spy) to be dispatched to different feudal states for collecting intelligence data but time passed and up to the Meiji Restoration they did not have a chance to perform spectacular services.

Techniques of Ninjutsu

1. Ninja’s Costume and Disguise

The apparel for the steal-in was lightweight with a dull color between black and grey. It consists of a coat with straight sleeves having no pockets, slacks called “Igabakama” (resembling knickers) hand covers, gaiters and socks heavily padded with cotton. The head and face are covered with a hood having an opening only for the eyes. A belt of the same color was bound around the waist and a sword called “ninjato” which was shorter than the standard sword was carried in the belt. This ninjato is sturdily made all around and is usually covered with black lacquer and has an oversized sword guard and tassel strings about 14 feet long.

The ninja carried a bag containing a shuriken, metsubushi and medicine. A bamboo container having kindling charcoal which was hung form the belt and a longs sack containing all types of tools which was carried diagonally on the back.

Depending on the surroundings, he wore an outer coat which had a dark brown lining. In case of snow, a white lining was used in the outer coat.

The hair style for ninja was called “shiho gami” with the hair of the temple shaved and the rest tied together at the tope of his head with the loose ends hanging.

“Shihode” (lit seven ways to go out) means the method of disguise which comes in seven basic forms, namely komuso (wandering flute player), yamabushi (itinerant priest) shukke (Buddhist priest), shonin (merchant) hokashi (tumbler) and sarugaki (monkey trainer) and ordinary man.

2. Walking and Running Techniques

Walking and running fast are of utmost importance to a ninja and it was normal for them to cover twenty kilometers per hour or 120 to 160 kilometers per day.
In “Shoninki” ten different foot works are described namely nukiashi (tiptoe), suriashi (sliding step), shimeashi, tobiashi (hopping), kataashi (one foot), ohashi (big step), koashi (small step), hashiriashi (running) and tsune-no ashi (normal steps). It also describes “ukiashi” (floating foot) as a step that one should perform with the feeling of a monkey walking on tree branches.

The techniques of “shinsotoko” (lit. true bush rabbit walk) is described as the step in which one places his left foot on his left hand , his right foot on his right hand and walks quietly on the edge of the walls. Also “yokoaluki” means to walk sideways to the left or right. The technique of walking on the toes or the tops of the feet to imitate a deformed person is also described.
In “Mansen-shukai” notations ion the walking method as part of the camouflage can be found.

3. Jumpimg Techniques

There are six ways to make a jump, namely maetobi (forward jump), ushirotobi (backward jump), takatobi (high jump), habatobi (broad jump) yokotobi (side jump) nanametobi (diagonal jump). It was standard for a ninja to make six meters by the broad jump, three meters by the high jump and fifteen meters by the jump down.
If it was necessary to jump down more than 15 meters, he opened his outer coat by holding the two bottom ends of his coat with his hands and the outer edge with his teeth to leap or used a parachute made of cloth.

Please enjoy the article.

Robert Gruzanski

knarly b
19th May 2006, 10:01
Thats an interesting article, where's parts two and three?

knarly b
19th May 2006, 10:23
woops, part two.

Robert G
19th May 2006, 20:39
4. Escape Techniques

The technique was called “goton-no jutsu” (meaning 5 escape techniques), namely katon (fire escape), suiton (water escape), mokuton (wood escape), kinton (metal escape) and doton (earth escape). There were five ways to run away. There were also ten techniques utilizing the weather and ten techniques utilizing geographical features and ten techniques using other people. For example “hishimaki-noki” was described in two techniques. One is to spread diamond shaped hard stud objects on the ground and lure the pursuers to that location. The second technique is to drag diamond shaped iron stud pieces strung together behind him as he run.

5. Other Techniques

Ninjas were trained to perfectly identify even the slightest sounds and objects in the dark and they also had to master the different dialects and various sound effects and bird and animal cries. They were also required to climb trees and fences and walls using a three point holding method. They had to master escaping the bond. It was necessary to acquire skills and techniques of the professions in which they were disguised. They had to learn astrology, meteorology, psychology and medicine.

6. Steal-in Tools

In order to climb high places there were shinobi gumade (steal-in rake), kasugai (clamps), uchikagi (striking hook), mitsukagi (three fingered hook), tekogagi (hand shaped hook), kyoketsushoge (double pointed roped pick), tsurihashigo (suspension ladder), makibashigo (folding ladder), takabashigo (high ladder), tobibashigo (jump ladder), kumobashigo (lit. cloud ladder), etc.

For breaking locks there were tools such as kurorokagi (a hook and saku). For breaking down doors or weather windows or boring holes in them there were tools called shikoro (serrated sickle), tsubokiri ( a u shaped chisel), kiri (drill), tagane (burin), normi
(chisel) shinobigama (sickle), etc.

In order to dig holes in the ground to go through, they used kunai (a shovel) and placed his long sack over his head and shoulders to get through holes or barbed fences.

To cross the water they used mizugumo (lit. water spider), kayaikada (reed raft), kameikada (lit, turtle raft), tatamibune (folding boat). When submerged in the water a suito (lit. water pipe) and sensuigu (diving gear) was used.

They had various tools to close the door and used chokan (audio pipe) to listen to sounds and had a telescope which was attached to the short sword to see far distances.

Speaking of hishi (diamond shaped studded object) they used the natural seeds of the water chestnuts which had been dried hard or wooden chips shaped like a four sided triangle or the same shaped iron pieces.

Utilizing gun powder and fire for steal-in they used kemuridama (smoke bomb), tori-no-ko (lit. baby bird), hiya (fire arrow), horokubi-hiya (lit. earthware baking pan fire arrow), poison gas, hyakurai-ju (lit. hundred thunder gun) teppo (gun), tokushurosoku (special candle), uchidake to carry kindling charcoal and hinawa zutsu (matchlock).

They used a small magnetic iron piece called “kishaku” to find the direction by making it float on water.

The weapons ninja used were sinobigatana (sword) shinobizue (stick), metsubushi (blinding powder), shuriken (throwing blade) kakute (pointed iron knuckle) tetsuken (iron knuckle), arare (multi pointed throwing blade) tsubute (small metal throwing piece), hankyu (half size bow) and kusarigama (sickle with chain)

Ninjas carried a minimum of needs in a small bag hung from a belt or a large sack placed on his back depending on the situation.

There are six items called “shinobi lokugu” menaing six tools for steal-ins namely amigasa (a deep hat) for concealing the face, kaginawa (rope with hook) to be used for climbing or binding or tying things, uchidake, a bambook stick to carry kindling charcoal, which served as a pocket warmer, yatate (writing kit) or sekiboku (chalk) for marking and record keeping and sanjaku tenugui (three foot towel) to cover his face or to tie his wounds. This towel is a “suhozome” (particular dye) and if one strains muddy water through it and drinks it one will not become ill from the water. Kitsuke-gusuri (similar to smelling salts), mushisasari-gusuri (drug for insect bite), suikatsugan (lit. water reviving drug), hyorogan (lit. soldiers’ food drug), ki zugusuri (medicine for wounds), gezai (laxative), etc.

7. Cunning Strategy Secret Techniques

The following is an extract on the subject of cunning strategy from the “Ninpohidensho” (Secret Volume of Steal-In methods)

Regarding Covering Long Distances:

 Six initial planes
 Three articles of katsuraotolu’s tricks
 Three articles of nyokeijutsu (technique of camouflage)
 Tricks of ku-no-ichi
 Two articles on satobito (villager’s tricks)
 Two artlces on shinchu (lit. parasite tricks)
 Three articles on keikajutsu (lit. firefly tricks)
 Two articles in hukurogaeshi (lit. reversing sacks)
 Two articles in tensuijutsu (lit. heavenly hanging trick)
 Two articles in chikyu-no-jutsu (lit. loosening bow tricks)
 Yamabiko-no-jutsu (lit. tricks of mountain echo)

Regarding Short Distances Steal-in Seven Articles

 Six articles of preparation on stealing into enemy camps
 Suigetsu-no-jutsu (lit. tricks of water and moon)

Regarding Stealing Into a House

 Shikibenmintaiyo (lit. general text on peoples seasonal sleeping habits)
 Three articles on the study of a persons stage of sleep according to his age and training)
 Hokenjutsu (control of dogs)
 Zasagashi (spotting technique)
 Five articles on jokeijutsu (lit. eliminating shadows)
 Eight articles on steal-ins at night
 Four articles on “must enter”
 Five articles in inkeijustu (lit. tricks of shadow and shapes)
 Three articles on house guard distribution
 Two articles of caution
 Seven articles in utilization of the sword tassel
 Six articles on setting traps in passage ways