Ninpo

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Ninpo is the art of the true ninja. It is The Art of a Spiritual Warrior.

Therefore, the art of Ninpo has two components: Spiritual and Warrior.

The first and most important component is the Spiritual. It is the art of purifying one's heart and mind. This is called "Butoku" in Japanese.

The second and Warrior component is comprised of the physical martial skills necessary to become a complete, high level martial artist. Traditionally, there are 36 martial skills and they are known as "Ninjutsu".

Without mastering "Butoku", one may become a powerful, but corrupted, warrior.

To study and practice "Ninjutsu" without "Butoku" may lead the student down the same path that lead Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader.


"Butoku" or Martial Art's Virtue

To be a practitioner of Ninpo requires one to acquire "Butoku" or Martial Art's Virtue.

This concept is not unique to Japanese Martial Arts. It is similar to the Western concept of Chivalry.

The qualities of Butoku are:

  1. Jin (Compassion)
  2. Gi (Courage)
  3. Rei (Good Manners)
  4. Chi (Wisdom)
  5. Chu (Loyality)
  6. Ko (Obedience)
  7. Shin (Truthfulness)
  8. Bi (Gracefulness)
  9. Zen (Kindness & Goodness)

Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is a subset of ninpo. Ninjutsu comprises only the physical skills necessary to survive in a hostile world. In totality, it provides perhaps the ultimate self-defense skills.

Traditionally, there are 36 arts one must master to become a true ninja.

Bugei Juhappen, the Warrior Arts of the Samurai

The first 18 arts are called Bugei Juhappen, which can be considered the Warrior Arts of the Samurai. These are the basic fighting skills needed to be a great fighter.Although there have been additions and deletions to this list of eighteen arts, the following list maybe considered as complete as any:

  1. Jujutsu (Empty Hand Fighting)
  2. Kenjutsu (Sword Fighting)
  3. Batto-Jutsu (Specialized Sword techniques)
  4. Kusarifundo-Jutsu (weighted chain techniques)
  5. Kusarigama-Jutsu (Sickle and Chain Fighting)
  6. Bojutsu (6' staff Fighting)
  7. So-Jutsu (Spear Fighting)
  8. Naginata-Jutsu (Halberd fighting)
  9. Suiren (Swimming)
  10. Ba-Jutsu (Horsemanship)
  11. Kisha-KJutsu (Horseback Archery)
  12. Jojutsu (4' Staff Fighting)
  13. Kyu-jutsu (Archery)
  14. Yoroi (Fighting with Armour)
  15. Hojo-jutsu (Tying with Ropes)
  16. Jutte-jutsu (Sword Breaker techniques)
  17. Ho-jutsu (Cannon techniques)
  18. Shuriken-jutsu (Blade throwing)

Ninja Juhakkei, the Special Arts of the Ninja

The second 18 arts are what makes a warrior a ninja. They are the Ninja Juhakkei. Some of the disciplines listed below have the same name as those listed above. However, that does not mean they contain the same techniques and/or weapons.

  1. Seishinteki Kyoyo (Spiritual Refinement)
  2. Taijutsu (Unarmed Combat)
  3. Kenjutsu (Sword Fighting)
  4. So-Jutsu (Spear Fighting)
  5. Naginata-Jutsu (Halberd fighting)
  6. Bisento-Jutsu (Battlefield Halberd fighting)
  7. Kusarigama-Jutsu (Sickle and Chain Fighting)
  8. Ryokushako Bojutsu (6' staff Fighting)
  9. Hanbo & Jobo Jutsu (Swimming)
  10. Shuriken-Jutsu (Blade throwing)
  11. Kisha-Jutsu (Horseback Archery)
  12. Inten-Jutsu (Special Disappearing methods)
  13. Hoko-Jutsu (Walking Techniques)
  14. Henso-Jutsu (Disguising Techniques)
  15. Kakushi-BukiJutsu (Secret weapons Techniques)
  16. Nin-Yaku_Jutsu (Secret Medicine Techniques)
  17. Gunryaku Heiho (Strategies)
  18. Tenmon Chimon (Strategies of Heaven & Earth)

The Art of Taijutsu

The following description of the intricacies of the art of Taijutsu is taken with permission from the Harukaze Dojo's Website:

"The Japanese term "Taijutsu" is synonymous with the Art of the Ninja. Taijutsu translates as "The Way or Art of the Body." It usually is associated with the Ancient Japanese Empty Hand Techniques practiced by the Ninja and a few other Ancient Martial Ryuha or lineages. The words are easy enough to understand. However, the Art of the Body is not.

Notice the name is not the "Art of the Body Parts." It is simply the "Art of the Body." One Completely Unified Body. This concept goes all the way back to the Chinese origins of the Japanese Martial Arts where the Chinese say :

" If One Joint Moves, All Nine Joints Move."

This is really profound and difficult to understand on the Physical Level. If you tilt your head slightly, just one joint, your neck, will have moved. Therefore, every other joint in your body will have to shift slightly in order to keep your Structural Integrity intact. If this does not happen, you will lose the Harmony and Balance between your "In" and "Yo" or Yin and Yang. After that, the flow of your Ki or Internal Energy will not be correct and the skill level of your Taijutsu will become much lower. You will have to depend more on local muscle strength and less on whole body power to accomplish your goals. Ki unties your whole body. It is the only one thing that connects the distant parts together. How else can the power from your foot drive your hand? There is no one muscle or even one nerve that travels that whole distance. Yet, with the proper alignment, you can easily feel the power flow from your feet to your finger tips!"

Spiritual Warriors

Ninpo, however, has always included "Butoku" another in its training. This extra dimension sets a practitioner of our art apart from and above the practitioners of mere fighting systems. Ninpo is elevated above most other martial arts by its realization that the refinement and purification of your heart and character is a prerequisite for the proper opening of your energy channels. This has a twofold effect on your ability to produce power and act quickly.

  1. It increases the flow of ones internal energy or ki by reducing the internal resistance.
  2. It enables the practitioner to become tonus-which is the state of being energized while remaining relaxed.

Both of these qualities are necessary to produce a good martial art practitioner.

Ninpo also acknowledges that the final extra dimension of power comes from one's spirit. This part of us can only reach its full potential when it is in harmony with its own inherent nature-which is infinite strength and goodness.

This purification/power relationship becomes a closed, ever expanding circle. The purer our heart becomes, the more energy we have available. The more energy we have available, the easier it is to remain true to our morals, our ethics, our values, our honor and our Dharma (our life's mission). The more we live our Dharma (our purpose in life), the purer our Heart becomes....

This is the Ninpo, the Art of a Spiritual Warrior.

References and Sources

  • Ninpo Secrets by Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura
  • Harukaze Dojo [1]