HISTORY

About the Ninjutsu art itself, the public knows very little, even in Japan. It is mentioned for the first time somewhere around the year 520. During the ruling of various Shogun (warlord), Japan was often divided to dozens of provinces governed by military commanders Daimyo. Fights for power and dominance often took place among these commanders. Their armies confronted openly and in these fights a lot of warriors – Samurai (Bushi) fought and died. For a Samurai it was an honour to die in an open combat for his master, because it was in accordance with their code of honour – Bushido – The Way of the warriors. However, for some special needs during the war, Daimyo also used Ninja warriors because they were not bound by the Bushido code, like the Samurai and were specially trained and perfected in all kinds and ways of combat in all conditions.

The missions that the Ninja performed consisted of espionage and information gathering, various diversions and sabotages, killings of enemy comanders, etc. For a Ninja it was important to complete the mission, at any cost – that was their code.

During the Kamakura period of Japanese history many people, because of their own safety, moved to the mountains of Iga and Koga region leaving the Bushi order, to inhabit them as Jizamuraji, the warriors living like farmers. Because of that they were under the constant pressure of the Shogun army which tried to destroy them. To protect themselves they had to develop and perfect their warrior skills with minimum equipment and means, because wepons were forbiden to anyone who wasn’t Bushi class, and worked for the Shogun.

Somewhere between 794. – 1192, Ninjutsu started to develop into the art as we know it today. For the development of Ninjutsu several Chinese warriors, teachers and priests who travelled through the wilderness of Japan, also take credit. Gamon, Garyu, Kain, Unryu and generals of the T’ang dynasty Cho Gyoko, Ikai i Chan Busho brought with themselves the knowledge that has been acumulated for centuries in their native land. Military strategy (Sun Tzu), religion, philosophy, folklore, the cultural concepts, medicine, mystike, colected in Imperial China from India, Tibet and southern Asia, found their place in the development of Ninjutsu. The determining factor for development of Ninjutsu was combining fighting technics with the technics of stelth movement and disappearing, and the meeting with the powerful, war oriented and organized clan called Yamabushi. Yamabushi, mountain warrior priests, were a clan hunted by the Imperial army, and they practiced Shugendo.

Ninjutsu martial art was a well guarded secret that has been passed on inside the family or the clan, from father to son, or the best student, and if the teacher didn’t have a succesor the school died. The strongest and the most famous Ninja families were spread through Iga and Koga (today Mie and Shiga) districts of Japan.

Between 1854. and 1859. some of the Iga Ninjas cooperated with the Imperial army and joined the unit of Court patrols. They were the source of the great distruction of Shinsen Gumi (the Shinsen group) who were ninja bodyguards in the Tokugawa Shogunate.

In 1863. many of the ninja joined the Tenchigumi, a group of Ninja extremists. Leaders of the group were Yoshimura i Fujimoto Tesseki. They tried to organize a rebellion against Tokugawa Shogun, but their number was no match to the number of the Shoguns Samurai, and many of them were killed. 10 years later, in the reestablished war, the Ninja joined both armies so that they could be seen in many battles even against the Emperor. During the battle in Toba, the units of Fushimi Ninja efectivly showed their skills on the battle field.

In the 19. century the Ninjas of Koga and Iga were limited only to police and bodyguard work, nothing else. Many of the Ryu that survived the masacre 300 years earlier, vanished into nothingness as a result of peace brought by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1601.

In the battle of Tenchigumi, a member of Koppojutsu Ryu (Gikan Ryu) was hurt while fighting against the Emperor. He resigned to a nearby temple, where another Ninja, a member of Kukishinden Ryu (chapter 7), found him. His name was Ishitani Matsutaro.

Apart of Ishitani, only one other Ninja continued to teach and keep Ninjutsu alive. It was Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu, the Soke of Togakure Ryu, who later on transfered all his knowledge to the 33. Soke Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the teacher of Masaaki Hatsumi.