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Thread: Thoughts on the Bujinkan

  1. #16
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    Also note that there is high degree of variation in the Bujinkan with regard to the quality of teachers. There are some that are very skilled and traditionally focused, and there there are some that are..ummm... not so much. Focus on YOUR teacher, evaluate what you are personally getting in the way of training and not what is "out there".
    Evan London
    Dojo-cho, Jinenkan Inazuma Dojo
    Orange, CT
    www.Jinenkan-Inazuma.com

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chocrates View Post
    The Antony Cummins version.

    Ive heard bad things about it.... but it seems alright, unless i want to learn japanese well enough to get the real intent from it
    Okay... but bear in mind that the Antony Cummins version is far from a "translation"... Think of it more like an interpretation, it's what Antony wants it to be in a number of ways. Wait for Don Roley's version to see what is meant by that. I would barely consider Antony's version actually a copy of the Shoninki itself, honestly, more "inspired by".

    For the record, on another forum I just posted this, it may help you understand why such things are said about his:

    There's years worth of reading on Antony and the issues with his work if you're willing to put yourself through it, but the (VERY) brief version would be something like this:

    Antony spent some time in what appears to be informal training with someone named Ste (Stephen) Powell, apparently an old/early student of Dennis Bartrum. This seems to have started in 1999. He later went to Japan in the mid-2000's, and as a result of what occured there he started on this whole thing.

    Before going to Japan, Antony had some contact with Dennis Bartrum, including training at (most likely) two seminars some time apart. He approached Dennis at some point, and asked Dennis to "confirm" that Antony was a 4th Dan in the Bujinkan (it may be noted that Antony never paid any membership or grading fees in the organisation, claiming that "knowing that [his instructor] was his instructor was good enough"), as his instructor at the time (presumably Ste Powell) was not willing to put him forward for his Godan. Antony has painted this as him being a student of Dennis Bartrums for a decade, which Dennis denies.

    When he went to Japan, Antony then apparently asked Hatsumi if he could train for free, as he was paying off his University debt and couldn't afford to train (which does beggar the question, why would you pay to go to Japan to train in a martial art if you couldn't afford to train once you were there? Of course, thinking about it now it makes sense [he was going to get his Shidoshi licence/Godan rank, and nothing else], but it does show the way he thinks about things), offering to be the "dojo b*tch" (his words, censored for context), sweeping, cleaning, in exchange for training. He was told no, so he asked if he could watch the classes, and was told that should be okay. So that is what he spent the majority of his time in Japan doing... watching, not training (interestingly, that was also the pattern he followed in England, asking to come and watch classes, not actually train in them...).

    Now, if we follow Antony's explaination of things, he was "disgusted" that the dojo was not filled with "fit, hard, tough warriors", instead it had, frankly, rather average people, of average sizes, and no hugely impressive Schwarzenegers filling the room. He started to get rather disillusioned then (and if I'm reading into his mentality there, he basically went in with a whole bunch of movie fantasy [from the wizened Oriental master teaching the dedicated student for no financial benefit or cost, to his expectation that the school would be filled with macho He-Men], and that illusion is what got shattered.... and he really didn't know how to deal with it), and that's where things really started to get odd.

    Antony says he got a young lady to write out a very politely phrased letter to Hatsumi, saying, in essence, that Hatsumi was a joke, the Bujinkan was a joke, that all grades should be abolished, and Hatsumi should do things Antony's way. It may be prudent to note that at this point (2004/5), Antony had been training informally (not a member of the organisation), and from all accounts sporadically (watching more than training) for all of 5 years (his subsequent attacks on the Bujinkan have shown a desperate lack of understanding of what the Bujinkan is, what it contains, and much more, to the point that he constantly seemed to equate the entire Bujinkan syllabus with Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu, needing to ask on his facebook page for information on the non-Ninjutsu traditions, thinking that anything shown in the Bujinkan is claimed to be Togakure Ryu, and so on). The letter also demanded that Hatsumi meet with Antony to discuss his (Antony's) ideas and their implementation at the next training session (the following Tuesday). Antony's take on that is that he was given the cold shoulder by everyone, George Ohashi shoved a brochure in his hand which explained the problems gaijin have understanding Japanese culture and arts, and Antony's translator urged him to leave, as she "was Japanese, and could tell that things weren't good" (hmm, so Antony was offended that he was handed a document explaining the issues understanding Japanese culture, but he needed someone who was Japanese [and that was the qualification he gave] to explain to him that his completely offensive and arrogant letter was not recieved warmly? Perhaps if he had read the brochure that George had handed him....).

    Next is my favourite bit. Antony then says he went away, and set fire to his gi, his belt, and all his Bujinkan certification (which would be what, exactly? Remember, even during his time in Japan, Antony states that he never paid any membership or grading fees for the Bujinkan whatsoever... so where do these Bujinkan certificates come from?). A year later, he was back in Japan, this time he says he was training with the Genbukan (so far the only evidence that has come forward is an annecdote about meeting Tanemura in his office, and having Tanemura sign a copy of Ninpo Secrets, as well as an allusion to Tanemura "threatening to cut (Antony's) head off" for some form of slight, from memory involving a bow), and he recieved a call from Dennis (who had heard that Antony was in Japan, and remembered him from the few seminars), who asked if he wanted to join Dennis at the Hombu. Antony explained that he'd need to ask George Ohashi if it was okay, did so, and came along. Dennis was unaware of anything untoward, or of Antony's supposed Genbukan training at this time. During the session, Antony remembers Hatsumi using Dennis as his Uke for the night, and at one point holding Dennis in position (painfully!), and staring daggers through Antony. His recollection of this is that every pair of eyes in the room turned to Antony, wondering who he was, and what he had done to deserve such attention! It should be noted that this is consistent with Antony's need for attention, whether good or bad, and his desire to make it, or imagine it wherever possible. For the record, Dennis' memory of that day was rather different... he basically remembers Hatsumi doing a lot of work on taking balance, but that nothing out of the ordinary happened, and there was no "moment where everyone looked at Antony".

    Over the next two years, Antony set up his own martial arts school, known as the Dignity of Flying Birds, teaching what he learnt as Amatsu Taijutsu (Bujinkan with an emphasis on Amatsu Tatara, which Dennis Bartrum teaches, rather different to what may be called "mainstream" Bujinkan), and started producing books. One of the early ones was called "To Stand on a Stone", which is a narrative which explores 50 key principles inherrant in all martial arts, regardless of style. He first started peddling this tome to Western Martial Arts practitioners, particularly those practicising edged weapon work (HEMA). He approached them with the stated intent of using the book to fund his thesis on medieval martial arts (Western). He claimed to have a new way of approaching Tallhoffer swordsmanship, and was rather quickly and soundly told that he was rather ignorant of far too much to really have anything to offer there.

    Next he took the book to the Ninjutsu community, saying that this book was based on his Amatsu (Bujinkan) Taijutsu training, and really started to hit his stride. He did try changing again at one point to explain to karate practitioners that the book was really about how to approach karate training (he trained for a couple of years before he was 10, and earnt a green belt.... according to his more consistent versions, that is), but was quickly laughed out of there as well. So he came back to Ninjutsu. Other books he wrote include one on Hanzo Hattori that he admitted to "researching" entirely online... and included such errors as stating that the name "Hanzo" was a title, not a name (as it was passed down in the family), completely missing the reason he was called Hanzo the Spear, and more. In short, it showed no real ability to research, especially independantly, no ability to cross-reference, no understanding of the history of Japan or it's culture, no real understanding even of naming conventions, and far more.

    He then really got focused on Ninjutsu, starting with his "Shinobi Soldiers" book, website, and you-tube channel. In this he started to look at the history of the "ninja", and this is where the idea of "ninjutsu is not a martial art" started to take shape. In short, Antony's take on martial arts is very limited, to say the least (and that is despite being given broader definitions by people far more experienced, especially in Japanese martial arts, than himself), with him once stating in a video that martial arts are "what most people think of, the hitting and kicking" (while at the same time saying that people need to move beyond their common imaginings.... yet he was unable to do that himself). Add to that his habit of using a single source, or only confirmatory sources to reference and give him his ideas, and that leads to a very limited understanding of a rather broad topic. He basically got his entire understanding of what he classified as "ninjutsu" from a short interview with Otake Risuke of the Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, in which the former Head Instructor gave Antony a copy of the articles he had written on TSKSR's ninjutsu section for a Japanese magazine so Antony could publish it with his Shoninki translation. Of course, the problem is that the Katori version of ninjutsu is more anti-ninjutsu, and Otake Sensei's book on his Ryu specifically states that some things considered ninjutsu in other traditions are not in his (showing differences in definitions between systems, which Antony refused to acknowledge or understand). But, suffice to say that if it didn't fit in with the Katori form of ninjutsu, according to Antony it wasn't ninjutsu... and the Katori version of ninjutsu is not their combative waza, as they cover that in the rest of the curriculum.

    When it then came out that Antony was "translating" the Shoniki (and yes, that was the original claim, not Yoshie Minami, but that Antony was 'the translator of the Shoninki'... that later changed to 'the author of True Path of the Ninja'), the concerns about his ability to translate an Old Japanese document (as in written in a form not readable by modern Japanese people unless they have learnt it specifically), especially if, as it turned out, he couldn't pronounce a single word, read a modern newspaper, or even count properly. As time went on, he introduced a number of other members, most importantly Yoshie, although he never addressed her level of English, her understanding of the specific jargon and technical terminology, her ability to read Old Japanese, or anything else relevant to her being able to translate, other than to accuse anyone who asked of slurring her ability to understand Japanese. Another he introduced was a man he describes as Japan's greatest Ninja historian, a man sought out by TV shows from all around the world, a Prof. Nakashima. This was Nakashima Atsumi, the somewhat controversial head of a reconstructed Ryu-ha (the Katayama Hoki Ryu... he gained possession of some documents, and went to some members of the family [who had never practiced the art] and asked if he could revive it and become the new Soke...), who had translated the Shoninki from Old Japanese to modern Japanese a decade or so earlier. It is this version that formed the basis of Antony's version (along with one or two others, according to Antony). Sufficient to say that no-one other than Antony has ever described Nakashima as "the greatest Ninja historian in Japan", let alone as a credited one at all.

    Throughout Antony's discussions and appearances on another forum, as well as with personal interactions with a number of members (including myself), Antony constantly demonstrated limited understanding of context, culture, Japan, martial arts, and far more, to the point where he would argue small details (the definition of the term "heiho", for instance, where he again took the definition from a single source, and refused to change his mind despite being given multiple contemporary references [other Ryu-ha from the same time as his source document, as well as before it and after it]). He gets an idea in his head, and stretches any link he can find until it gets to the point where it may possibly work, no matter how far he needs to stretch it in the first place. And if something (another source) goes against the way he sees things, he ignores it. He did this multiple times, even when I provided him with material that supported some of his ideas(?). When it came to his "translation", it was shown to be more of Antony putting forth his ideas and interpretations of what he wants the Shoninki to say, with no real way to discern what is his imagining or take on things, and what is actually written in the text itself. If you're buying the Shoninki, to my mind, it's nice to know which parts of the book are actually the Shoninki, not the imaginings of someone like Antony.

    At present, his aim seems to be the ever-popular "let's all be friends so long as you follow what I say" plan. He's grabbing onto anyone that will follow him, no matter how ridiculous their claims are, and those with clearly fraudulant claims are grabbing onto him for the image of credibility (actual authentic historical documents! We use them, so we must be real, even if the founder couldn't find Japan on a map of, well, Japan!). This has seen him teaming up with Christa Jacobson, Choson Ninja, and a few other, uh, interesting people. He is trying to dictate how a class (in ninjutsu, not martial arts...) should be held, designing uniforms for everyone to wear, and saying that if your group is a part of his "Ichigun Ichimi" group, then you'll be far more legitimate than those people from Japan, what do they know?

    This was, believe it or not, incredibly brief and missed out on quite a bit, including some very major aspects of Antony's personality, but it should be enough to get you started on an idea of where Antony is really coming from. For the record, in terms of qualifications, Antony has degrees in Theoretical Archaeology and History (Western). There is no qualification even close to resembling something that lends his work credence, no matter how much he tries to link them. Oh, and he'll say that he doesn't want to be seen as an "expert", but his behaviours go completely against that... and behaviours show the truth far more than words, honestly.
    Oh, and Eric? Nicely put! I've been trying to get that across to my students for a long time now.....
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

    兵法二天一流剣術 Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    天真正伝香取神道流兵法 Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    熟練道場武道兵法 Jukuren Dojo Budo Heiho (www.budomelbourne.com)

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    Okay... but bear in mind that the Antony Cummins version is far from a "translation"... Think of it more like an interpretation, it's what Antony wants it to be in a number of ways. Wait for Don Roley's version to see what is meant by that. I would barely consider Antony's version actually a copy of the Shoninki itself, honestly, more "inspired by".

    For the record, on another forum I just posted this, it may help you understand why such things are said about his:



    Oh, and Eric? Nicely put! I've been trying to get that across to my students for a long time now.....
    WOW
    i had no idea he had such a colorful history.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chocrates View Post
    WOW
    i had no idea he had such a colorful history.
    To let you know, I skipped over a lot of the more "colourful" aspects, such as the plagiarism etc.....
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

    兵法二天一流剣術 Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    天真正伝香取神道流兵法 Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    熟練道場武道兵法 Jukuren Dojo Budo Heiho (www.budomelbourne.com)

  5. #20
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    Wow! One of my teachers had mentioned Anthony before, but I never knew that much detail.

    Glenn whitney

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chocrates View Post
    I personally have only been practicing it for a few months,
    I was mildly dissapointed however that it seems to only go through the "martial" skills and not delve into the rest.
    This is one of the most arrogant and ignorant things I've ever read. Sorry that after a few months you haven't gotten what you want out of this age-old tradition.

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