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Ninjutsu and Ninpo

Category: Mystic groups and systems

Ninjutsu and Ninpo are defined as martial arts whose origin is Japan. 

  • Ninjutsu are the set of techniques used to physically engage in combat – thus Nunjutsu is the part most people witness.
  • A parallel system exists for the  spiritual aspects and this is called  Ninpo.

Ninpo stresses ‘philosophic and spiritual training’ in conjunction with the physical training.

A definition

Ninjutsu is a martial art, whose objective is not to ‘win’ but to survive.  It is an art of defence not attack.  The objective is to preserve life not take it away.  Using heightened perception achieved via spiritual practises, the Ninja used the acute awareness of his surroundings to avoid unnecessary conflict.  As Dr Hatsumi says ‘even if armed with a blade, he would find a way to win without staining it’.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
What made you choose this book? 
Was it some desire to learn winning techniques?
 If so there is something which I have to tell you:  in the long run, those who focus on winning inevitably taste the bitterness of defeat. 
The important things in the martial arts is not to win – but to survive

Ninja history

Ninja can trace its roots to Shinto and  Buddhism  with input from  Chinese martial arts and ascetic practises [many practises borrowed from Qigong like techniques]

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
The history of the Ninja is long and ancient.  Some say it extends back for over 2,500 years, but in fact there are records going back as far as 4,300 years…..
OId stories say that they played an important role as 'behind-the-scenes' forces in Okume no Mikoto's nation-building operations and Emperor Jimmu's subjugation of Yamato,  which legends place at around 600 BC. Some old documents also state that Price Shotoku (574-622) used Shinobi.
Ninjutsu was also subject to influence from overseas.  Even today, the Ninpo Taijutsu legacy includes techniques called Senban-nage (throwing of thin iron plates) and Hicho-jutsu …. These are part of the Gyokko school of Kosshi-jutsu and the Koto school of Koppo-jutsu, which were apparently brought to Japan from China by Yao Yu Hu and Zhang Wu Sheng, during the T'ang dynasty (618-907).
Another legend says that a T'ang general known as Yi Gou fled to Japan following a military defeat. He landed at Ise, went into hiding, and practiced Zen meditation in the Sada Caves near Iga. Yi Gou was apparently a master of the art of Hicho Ongyo-jutsu, a literally 'super-human' method for hiding from an enemy in order to render their techniques ineffective.

The exchange of ideas is not static even now.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
Takamatsu Sensei himself went to China, survived encounters with notorious martial artists and other enemies with designs on his life and became feared as the ‘Mongolian Tiger’.
Having waded through carnage, he returned to Japan in 1919 and commented ‘my training in Japan, followed by my experience of 10 years of actual combat in China, enabled me to understand the essence of the martial arts and the importance of Ninjutsu’

Back view of a dotera, a type of traditional Japanese clothing - Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Basic beliefs – the spiritual world

It is absolutely essential that one realises that there are two parallel ‘worlds’ being operated when using Ninjutsu and Ninpo.  The vast majority of those who train in Ninjutsu and who avidly follow its moves and fitness regimes are following a martial art that is practised in the physical world.

But Ninjutsu operates also in the spiritual realm and there it operates under the techniques of Ninpo, where  ‘warriors’ or ‘heros’  go out of body within the spiritual realm.  This may sound fantastic nonsense to those of you of a western physically oriented bent, but even in the western tradition we have the stories of Beowulf and they were not legend.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
By cultivating an aerial feeling, you can learn astral projection [out of body travel]

Chuang Tzu

If you read Robert Monroe’s books  - a man capable of frequent out of body experiences - it is difficult to conceive of a spirit realm in which one fought ‘demons’, but in days gone by shamans fought battles not in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm. They still do.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
When Kannon rides a dragon through the clouds, her brow sucks in evil demons.  This is paralleled by the name and shape of the Bisento, which itself slices through space, through the floating world, just as if dismembering demons from within a cloud.

There are any number of skills needed to achieve controlled out of body travel. 
They include: 

  • Being able to control  your shape  - you can be invisible or take on numerous shapes including ball and animal shapes.    This is called shape shifting 
  • Being able to manoevre  - you can stride, fly, bounce, hop, leap etc.  In Europe our fairy tales often tell of ‘hundred league boots’, well the fairy tales are actually relating the exploits of out of body travellers able to take great leaps.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
The Ninja would study various gaits, including stealthy steps, shuffling steps, skipping steps, small steps, large steps, tight steps, hopping steps, mincing steps, crawling steps, disguised steps and normal steps

Geisha mimic the shuffling steps of an out of body traveller

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
In Yoko-aruki you swing your arms to and fro and use your fingers to balance your legs as you walk freely to either side

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
Leaping around in all directions – the 4 compass points [cardinal directions], the eight intermediate directions and then high and low

  • Being able to control your mind enough to combat the spirits encountered - good bad or indifferent, - all key strengths for a shaman. 

There is still a secret army of out of body capable shamans who ‘patrol’ the spiritual realms and I am certain you won’t believe me, but it is the case.

Ninjutsu, is taught to the majority of westerners as a physical martial arts discipline that is aided by a bit of mind control.  But the true Ninjutsu practitioner has been trained by a master whose only concern is out of body travel.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
The Ninja view of the universe contains not only three dimensions but four.
The fourth dimension is that of the world of Mu – nothingness - a world of spirit only. It is a world with no physical existence, where everything simply disappears. That is why in that world you must not let an opponent see or sense your form - you must wipe it out entirely.
The vast majority of Ninjutsu practitioners are, however, stuck at the third dimension, or even the second. Some people are in fact still in the first dimension maybe even some 'minus' levels’
It is only once you can move as freely as a phantom from the first dimension to the fourth (each dimension has positive and negative versions too), and discover how all things arise from the nothingness or the "mu” dimension, that you can become a true Ninja, one of the Four Heavenly Ninja Kings. This will lead you to discover the fundamental, final step leading through to the fifth dimension.
What I would most like you, the readers, to learn from this book is that the key to the martial arts, to Ninpo Taijutsu, is not power. I would like you to look at the aesthetics of Space - rainbows, auroras, and so on - find a way through to the world of Mu, and then, standing in the realm of Ku, the Void, discover for yourselves some hint as to how truth and falsehood can be manipulated in the fourth dimension

The hero’s path

The Ninjutsu path is a spiritual path – the hero’s path – without all the negative associations that have arisen in the west that involve the active involvement in aggressive behaviour.  The hero defends but never attacks.  A true Ninja is a lover not a fighter.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -- Essence of Ninjutsu
Neither martial artist nor Ninja like fighting or violence. Ninja in the true sense of the word are artists who love the beauties of nature and the human spirit

Japan has hundreds of schools of martial arts today, but the majority were developed after the Meiji period to be enjoyed as sports.  The martial arts judo and kendo, for example, are sports.  But Ninjutsu being older and more allied with Shinto and Buddhism is a true spiritually based martial art.

There is a recognition in Ninjutsu that there is – as in all spiritual paths a starting point which is the spiritual awakening and an end point ‘enlightenment’.  Enlightenment is not achieved via meditation but by ‘bodily techniques’ – sexual stimulation

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - Essence of Ninjutsu
I always tell my pupils to try to attain enlightenment through bodily techniques.

In enlightenment you merge with your higher spirit and this is referred to as the Juji principle

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
The Juji principle of bonding with the divine.

You can practise Ninjutsu techniques for your whole life and never even get beyond the first stage – so in other words never even achieve a spiritual awakening.  To achieve the awakening, there is a recognition in Ninjutsu that the sword and the pen go together, you have a lot to learn spiritually about the world in which you may eventually be admitted.  This is why a teacher or  ‘master’ [guru, sensei]  is needed, tuition covers not just the physical movements but also covers a plethora of spiritual concepts, taboos and symbols.  The word ‘Kyomon’ describes these very special teachings

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - Essence of Ninjutsu
Even if you continue spiritual training throughout your entire life, what you can attain through spiritual awakening is limited.  It is appropriate to say that what you gain is only the tip of the iceberg.  What I mean is that even if you see the word for ‘air’ that doesn’t mean that you understand what air is.  There are many people who cannot be spiritually awakened even if they continue this effort throughout their lives.  In addition, some people are aware of the fact that they will not be able to attain enlightenment even if they continue their effort for a lifetime.

It is only via the true spiritual awakening therefore that you gain the true skills of a Ninja.  Without the spiritual awareness you are practising a sport that might be quite fun, that might help to keep you fit, but which ultimately is much like any other sport.

The technique involves a number of practises that build up the strength of the person and ensures good health.  Through good health the Ninja are able to exercise ‘endurance’ ‘throughout their secretive lives’.  Now endurance has a number of meanings in Ninjutsu.  It can mean the physical endurance needed in order to protect their families, their clans and their country.  But it can also mean another kind of endurance related to sexual stimulation.

The training in both respects is quite harsh – far more harsh than that used in Hatha yoga or Qigong - to achieve the same levels of fitness.  I think there is a real understanding in Ninjutsu of just how dangerous kundalini energy can be and as such the training  is very rigorous.  As we have seen in numerous techniques, health is key to achieving a spiritual experience, as you need virtually no input from the nervous system of a diversionary nature when you apply any of the techniques on this website, thus good health has a two-fold purpose. 

Inherited ability, clans and bloodlines - Kekkei genkai

Most of the ‘truths’ concerning true Ninjutsu and Ninpo practise is to be found these days in  anime and manga.  The series Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto, for example, contains a wealth of detail about the actual practices of Ninja. 
Kishimoto’s manga story incorporates the concept of  Kekkei genkai , which literally means  "bloodline limit". 
It describes abilities passed down genetically. In his manga series, most of the clans have developed special techniques that rely on their genetic abilities, as it gives them an advantage in battle that cannot be taught or copied by opponents.

This is a story, apparently fiction, but it has a basis in fact.

Practically all shamanic societies are based on a belief that the ability to travel spiritually and perform spiritual actions is inherited – both men and women can inherit the abilities which is why there are often shamanesses in ancient cultures – see inherited genes. 

Europe suffered the appalling decimation of its spiritual heritage when its ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’ were burnt at the stake; murdered; hung drawn and quartered; and other tortures inflicted by principally the Christian churches in medieval times.  Whatever spiritual ability there is in Europe and as a consequence America [outside of the native Americans] lies dormant in  people who probably have no idea they have it.

Because Japan managed to protect itself from [principally] missionary Christian influence until the tragedy of the Meiji period, its clans have been preserved and the abilities are probably still there in abundance.  So, Shinto , Ninjutsu and Ninpo is no exception, there are bloodlines and there are clans and indeed they do have particular powers in each clan

Techniques – an overview

Nunjutsu has borrowed techniques from two sources.

Buddhism - From Buddhism Ninja acquired suppression techniques, for example, contemplation and detachment , squash the big I am, reducing desires,   befuddling and so on.  These were used before combat

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
Before using ninjutsu, the Ninja meditated and chanted to himself

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
Ninja practise breathing through the nose, through the mouth and not at all

So we have controlled breathing techniques – rapid breathing, reduced breathing and holding your breath.  All these were undoubtedly derived through Buddhism and have their origins in the Yoga techniques. 

Shinto - From the original Shinto and its shamanic roots, they learnt very specific  overload techniques .   

So one set of techniques helped in the practical process of combat, and defence by preparing the person’s mind for ‘battle’, whilst the kundalini techniques progressed the person spiritually.  Note that spiritual progression heightens the perceptive skills and the skills of combat anyway.

The combination could not be more ideal, as it is a surefire recipe for progressing along the spiritual path  - early techniques can be based on overload, later techniques on suppression

The Shinto based overload techniques are part of the sacred methods, that include techniques for practical out of body experiences.  In order to understand the symbolism -  the ‘disk harpoons’ are not disk harpoons, for example – see Bisento.  Dr Hatsumi’s book is a joy of coded messages – full of double entendres and coded sections hidden in the text, it took me ages to work out what he meant - but hopefully I got the right idea.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
The sacred methods of Ninjutsu are
- Shinto Hiho – the secret teachings of Shinto
- Hachimon tonko jujutsu – the eight methods of incantation
- Taijutsusosoku Shugyo – the body technique of walking like the wind
- Mutodorijutsu – capturing without using a sword
- Senbannage and kodachi – techniques for disk harpoons [bisento] and small swords
- Jissensekko Gijutsu – techniques of scouting in actual battle

Ninjutsu are the set of techniques used to physically engage in combat – thus Nunjutsu is the part most people witness.  A parallel system exists for the  spiritual aspects and this is called  NinpoNinpo stresses ‘philosophic and spiritual training’ in conjunction with the physical training.

In theory, we are only interested in Ninpo for the purposes of spiritual experience, but it would be wrong to assume you do not need Ninjutsu.  Ninjutsu is needed for fitness and to train the body and discipline the mind, in preparation for Ninpo.

Let me take an example. One of the disciplines of Ninjutsu is called Taijutsu and describes  a number of practical physical techniques used in unarmed combat.  It is part of a much larger physically based system that includes such things as the

  • Taijutsu  - unarmed combat
  • Kenjutsu  - sword techniques
  • Bijutsu - stick and staff techniques
  • Sijutsu - spear techniques
  • Naginatajutsu  - naginata techniques
  • Kusarigamajutsu  - kusarigama techniques
  • Shurikenjutsu  - throwing weapons techniques
  • Kayakujutsu  - pyrotechnics
  • Hensijutsu - disguise and impersonation
  • Shinobi-iri  - stealth and entering methods
  • Bajutsu  - horsemanship
  • Sui-ren  - water training
  • Biryaku  - tactics
  • Chihi  - espionage
  • Intonjutsu  - escaping and concealment
  • Tenmon (meteorology)
  • Chi-mon (geography)

The parallel system in Ninpo is called Ninpo Taijutsu and it too is ‘unarmed combat’.  For each physically based Ninjutsu technique we can find a Ninpo spiritual exercise, in taijutsu all the exercises are executed physically but are based on sexual stimulation.

All the techniques are described in coded language.  There is an entire vocabulary built up around double entendres.  ‘Swords are not swords, ‘sticks’ are not sticks, ‘riding the horse is not riding a horse, soft and hard techniques are …. well you can guess I suspect.

In the same way we in the west talk about ‘dicks’ and ‘willys’ and ‘cocks’ and ‘cock rings’ and ‘the old man’ and the ‘friend’ – a set of similar terms is used in Ninpo.  The names of the techniques have been kept in the two versions of Taijutsu, but the descriptions [as one expect] are totally different.

Japan has been a repressed society since the Meiji period.  Even before the Meiji period the ruling elite sought to squash all the sexually based techniques. People who have frequent sexual experience, whether this is through masturbation or not,  have little interest in war and aggression.  This is bad news for an empire builder.  The lid has only just been lifted on this repressive culture – and I do mean only just – the 1990s.  All this had to be secretive.  The laws governing the wide dissemination of these sorts of techniques were extraordinarily harsh.

In one of the more surreal events of the modern era, much of the real hidden and secret teachings of Ninpo has been coded into manga.  Manga are ‘comics’  - cartoon based series, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century.They are read avidly by both adults and children and have a long, complex pre-history in earlier Japanese art – they are in some senses the continuation of the use of myth and story to convey truths

Ninpo, Genjutsu and yojutsu

Once you have applied the physical methods to gain the spiritual experience and you are ‘in’ the spiritual world or in an out of body state, there are two extra sets of techniques that can be used genjutsu and yogutsu.  Jutsu actually means ‘tricks’. See magician

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
The people who perform genjutsu are called magicians, illusionists and rainmakers.  They are influenced by Mikkyo ( the secret teachings of Dainichi Nyorai) and dokyo or Taoism.
Yojutsu is eerie and performs its tricks by borrowing the supernatural powers of the various spirits
Of course, the ninja also perform tricks that may be classified as the aforementioned categories of jutsu

Taijutsu and the eighteen disciplines

This too may be of interest as it shows the links with the kabuki theatre.  Pantomine in the UK has links with kabuki theatre

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
Yojutsu plays an active role in the world of kabuki theatre. Supernatural tricks in the theatre may have been a means of defiance toward the ones in power. The curtain on the Japanese stage is opened sideways by an opener in the wings instead of the curtains being pulled up…...

The allusion to curtain opening is also allegorical/symbolic.  The kuji ("nine characters") is a concept originating from Taoism, where it was a string of nine words used in charms and incantations. 

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
Ninja had many oral traditions (Kuden).  Almost all of Ninpo were passed down in this way, man to man.  Kuden can also be interpreted phonetically as ‘nine transmissions’.  In antiquity nine was seen as the highest number and believed to transit the essence of divinity.  These man to man Kuden were used to transmit the doctrine of the mystic nine syllable Kuji.  A master would select a sole student to receive teaching and pass on the law that divine warriors do not kill

Killing does not mean literally  killing .  The little death.  

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
Genjutsu arrived in Japan in the Nara period from India through China and Korea.  It is also said that it was a performing art in the Muromachi period.  The art of Genjutsu consists of 

  • Mikkyo – the secret teachings of Dainichi Nyorai 
  • Senjutsudokyo – the teachings of mountain sages
  • Taijutsu sosokushugyo – the body technique of walking like the wind 
  • Shuriken and Kodachi – throwing blade and small sword 
  • Heigaku no ichibu – a portion of war strategies

 Shuigendo and Sekkojutsu – mountaineering ascetism and scouting techniques.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.
This means not just responding to things that have happened but sensing things that are about happen and handling them naturally.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  - Essence of Ninjutsu
Neither the power of invisibility nor superhuman actions are the first consideration.  The ninja are not members of a circus.  Nor are the Ninja robbers, assassins or betrayers…..  Togakure-ryu ninja is the very evidence that the ninja have lived and protected their happy lives over a thousand years.

Rules

Ninja abide by both Buddhist and Shinto principles and apply the generic rule DON’T HURT.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
The Ninja created rules to abide by in order to obtain divine wings.

The Ninja must not kill others [not just people any creature], must not injure the innocent, must not steal in fact must not perpetrate any act which hurts – the planet or fellow creatures.  In this both Buddhist and Shinto principles are being followed.

A Ninja’s costume is known as ‘Ninniku Yoroi’.  Ninniku literally means ‘forbearance’ and also refers to a Buddhist monk’s robes. The spirit of the Ninja is thus based on the principle of swallowing insults – forgiving, swallowing the need for revenge and on the stilling of the ego – squashing the will.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
The black colour of the Ninja’s costume really represents forbearance and the concealed righteousness of man.  It also helps practically in concealment.

A Ninja may marry, but for reasons that should be clear to those who have already studied all the sexually based  techniques, this may compromise their ability to have the enlightenment experience unless they follow strict rules – the difference between magic and divinity .  Shinran, one of Japan’s famous monks ‘violated the ban on loving women’ and Rennyo had eleven wives and bore 27 children. 

Yet again we make the fine but extremely important distinction between sexual activity and orgasm.  To provoke a kundalini experience you need to practise sex without orgasm.

It is strictly forbidden to use ninjutsu for the purposes of entertainment or to perform ‘magic tricks’.  There are people, even now, calling themselves Ninja who do ‘magic tricks’ – all of which have a perfectly rational explanation and are simply entertainment.  They can handle snakes, slip through ropes, break sticks with their fists, cause frogs to fall asleep by stroking their stomach, stand on nails and broken glass and cut up chopsticks using paper.  None of this does any harm, it is entertaining, it can be explained, but it is not ninjutsu.

It is clear that ‘magicians’ have been passing themselves off as Ninja for quite some time – people whose only skill is actually illusion and the ability to hypnotise.  The same problem exists in India – some ‘yogis’ are not yogis.  Even the tricks performed are very similar in Japan and India showing where the roots of all these tricks probably lies.

Dr Masaaki Hatsumi  -  Essence of Ninjutsu
Some say that because an illusionist uses devious tricks, he must have a wicked heart. We must realize that these tricks, used to deceive people, were taught for that purpose; thus the performers gain a wicked heart by training in them. There are many theories about the behaviour of these illusionists but as a ninja they are of no interest to me . ……. Through words the illusionist leads the audience into a hallucinatory state . As if in a dream or by a trick of the imagination, a deceased wife appears; by hypnosis townsmen are swept over by a great flood.
Let me explain why Flying Kato failed to deceive a member of the audience when he performed the cow - swallowing trick. He failed because his spirit was not strong enough to absorb the full attention of the audience . Also there are people who are hypnotized easily and those who are hard to hypnotize.
To explain his other trick, let me say that there are some types of moonflowers that act as hallucinogens.
In the ancient views on illusionary tricks, it is understood that the illusions are performed by the will of the performer overpowering the spirit and body of the audience - controlling and suppressing its ability to resist his suggestions. By controlling their actions and thoughts, the illusionist makes them move at his will and inserts the image of his vision into their minds. Striking terror into the audiences' hearts or filling them with illusionary joy is a type of mass hypnosis. 

References

Probably the best book of all those I read to describe techniques, the history and the background to the martial art is that by Dr Masaaki Hatsumi The Way of the Ninja – Secret techniques.  Another book that I found helpful, also by him, is Essence of Ninjutsu  - the Nine Traditions

Observations

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