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    Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

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    Cichorei Kano

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    Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Aug 13, 2014 5:08 am

    This is a Japanese documentary about foreigners coming too Japan to study classical martial arts.


    I found the start of this video particularly interesting with short sequence showing a Ôtake Risuke of Katori Shintô-ryû exhibiting clear mastership, followed by some ninja guys showing a remarkable absence of body control. The purple-haired Hatsumi Masaaki has become an interesting living expression of His Way. While the documentary is "somewhat interesting", I would hesitate to call it "deep".




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    DougNZ

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by DougNZ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:44 am

    I was recently told that the "800 year old" Tokugawa ninjutsu history was mostly a modern marketing invention and that there is little to show ninjutsu actually existed in Japan's deep past. Does anyone know anything other than the modern, popularist take?
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:48 am

    DougNZ wrote:I was recently told that the "800 year old" Tokugawa ninjutsu history was mostly a modern marketing invention and that there is little to show ninjutsu actually existed in Japan's deep past.  Does anyone know anything other than the modern, popularist take?

    Ninja existed and they were active during the Ōnin War (1467-1477) and the Sengoku jidai (1467-1573)

    Historic documents such as the Bansenshukai from the 1670s attest to their existence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bansenshukai)

    However, contrary to Western popular believes, ninja were not something cool, something one wanted to be. They were some of the lowest of the lowest, filthy criminals, outcasts of society, not something to be proud of.

    During the Meiji restoration much information regarding martial arts got reinvented and it is in this period that reality and fantasy regarding ninja started to get mixed. The concept in the West only became famous in the 1970s and was immediately infused with mysterious skills and an ideal to strive for; they were usually mentioned in one breath together with samurai, and the image we have of them in the West certainly is heavily influenced by folklore, but they certainly did exist. There also exists serious research regarding ninja, but one really has to look for it. Japan does not have a solid tradition of critical inquiry, especially when one talks about martial arts since many perceive that critical inquiry conflicts with strict hierarchy where everything that comes from a higher hierarchic individual obtains a stamp of being correct. The Iemoto system is a totalitarian system, not one of democratic shared government.

    But ninja and ninjutsu are not the same; the first one refers to people and their job, the second one to a set of skills. So many hundreds of martial arts schools existed that used different names for what they taught and so whatever one calls an art or a composite art is not so important. Obviously taught skills need to be targeted towards the purpose for what they will be used, so it is not that inconceivable that whatever skills set one employs or teaches would have been enriched with particularly useful skills for the job.

    Perhaps the more apt question is in how far whatever those students do has anything to do with the original ninja stuff ? As with so many martial arts ninjutsu proved to be an excellent form for bizar behaviors, self-promotion, self-appointed sôke-ships, and claiming some ridiculously high dan-rank. No doubt this has little to do with the historic foundations.


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    DougNZ

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by DougNZ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:30 am

    No doubt ...
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    NBK

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by NBK on Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:58 am

    Interesting but leaves questions.

    That's not Ohtake sensei of Katori Shinto ryu - that's one of his deshi, a gent from Chiba whose name escapes me. Ohtake sensei is a much older gent.

    The producers found two of the great PR seekers of 'kobudo' in Japan, prolific gents who've made a living by ... no one is quite sure. Hatsumi sensei is a genial old gent that caught the nascent ninja wave and built it into a global enterprise.

    After watching their claims to antiquity demolished in detail, the 'ninjer' crowd now typically points out that a couple of the heiden (subsumed martial arts) have an historic presence and are quite old (but nowhere near '800 years'). The questionable link is how Hatsumi, an aikido student with a degree in theater IIRC, becomes the ninja master. His master was one of a couple of gents in the postwar era that showed up and claimed unbroken lineage back to undocumented antiquity; one was the genial fraud and genuine martial artist and prolific historian Fujita Seiko, the other was Takamatsu Toshitsugu. The Japanese historians who have looked at this note too many documentary and temporal discrepancies for the histories of unbroken transmission, which is a core interest and source of legitimacy in kobudo.

    But to further confuse the issue, as CK pointed out, ninjutsu (usually called ninpō - the way of the shinobi) is separate from the ninja - the shinobi warrior. Ninpō was cited by most sources as one of the 18 martial arts of the complete samurai - meaning, when stealth is called for, use stealth. While the last, and one of the few modern government mentions of ninpō is in a curriculum for the Nakano intelligence school, where ninpō was taught to Japanese intelligence operatives / spies.

    Japanese tourism has capitalized on the modern interest in ninja, particularly the isolated towns of Iga and Togakure ('hidden door', a lovely little town in the mountains of Nagano), modifying shrines into 'ninja shrines', ninja museums, etc.

    To me ninjutsu practice is a typical example of way too many tools in the box - there are so many disparate techniques that most folks don't master the basics of body control, but want more and more novelty and techniques. But certainly there are accomplished athletes that can use the techniques effectively, and people who have been inspired to build considerable athleticism through the practice of ninjutsu. Good on them... just don't insult my intelligence by claiming an unbroken 800 yr old inheritance without proof.

    Kohno Yoshinori, the swordsman who taught the basketball team, is a prolific writer that cranks out book after book. Clearly fast as lightning, he turns up everywhere. Doesn't seem to have a single authenticated link to kobudo, which is the basis of his persona.

    Dr. Alex Bennett is a great guy. College prof, editor of Kendo World, translator of multiple books (latest is a new and highly acclaimed translation of Hagakure), real kendo 7 dan IIRC, highly ranked in naginata, frequent lecturer and member of the Japanese Academy of Martial Arts. Kendo World Books
    He also translated "Jigoro Kano and the Kodokan: An Innovative Response to Modernisation", a great introduction to the Kodokan.

    But given the flashy demos of ninjutsu and swordsmanship versus the focused practice of naginata, how many recruits will be enticed to one or the other?

    NBK

    DougNZ

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by DougNZ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:49 pm

    NBK wrote:
    But given the flashy demos of ninjutsu and swordsmanship versus the focused practice of naginata, how many recruits will be enticed to one or the other?  

    NBK  

    It was the purple hair which enticed me!

    Thank you for some background depth, NBK. I thought Hatsumi's claims had been pretty well discredited. And for such a commercial guy, I would have expected a more substantial dojo.

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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:33 pm

    NBK wrote:Interesting but leaves questions.  

    That's not Ohtake sensei of Katori Shinto ryu - that's one of his deshi, a gent from Chiba whose name escapes me.  Ohtake sensei is a much older gent.

    NBK  

    You can be absolutely sure, my friend, that that is indeed Ôtake-shihan, exactly as I have indicated. That is the hara and skills of a true sword master, let there be no doubt about it. I would recognize him eyes wides shut simply by communicating with his ki ! To avoid confusion, I was talking about the beginning of the movie, specifically from 00'51" to 00'56". That Ôtake would be much older, yes today (he is about Daigo-sensei's age, thus 89 now), but obviously not when that inserted footage was made. As you can clearly see in the top right hand corner of that part it clearly says that the part is borrowed with permission from the Nippon Budôkan. It obviously is footage from decades ago, that was taken from the much larger part that also is available on YouTube albeit in your typical much down-sampled flash quality:






    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:37 pm; edited 1 time in total


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    "Quand on essaie, c'est difficile. Quand on n'essaie pas, c'est impossible" (Guess Who ?)
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:34 pm

    DougNZ wrote:
    NBK wrote:
    But given the flashy demos of ninjutsu and swordsmanship versus the focused practice of naginata, how many recruits will be enticed to one or the other?  

    NBK  

    It was the purple hair which enticed me!


    It's a century-old distraction that immediately precedes a deadly attack out of nothing. Sorry, but you stood no chance.


    _________________


    "The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was." (Thomas Carlyle)
    "Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." (Blaise Pascal)
    "Quand on essaie, c'est difficile. Quand on n'essaie pas, c'est impossible" (Guess Who ?)
    "I am never wrong. Once I thought I was, and that was a mistake."

    DougNZ

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by DougNZ on Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:19 pm

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    DougNZ wrote:
    NBK wrote:
    But given the flashy demos of ninjutsu and swordsmanship versus the focused practice of naginata, how many recruits will be enticed to one or the other?  

    NBK  

    It was the purple hair which enticed me!


    It's a century-old distraction that immediately precedes a deadly attack out of nothing. Sorry, but you stood no chance.

    I have much to learn, master ...
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    NBK

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    Re: Cool Japan: Classical Martial Arts:

    Post by NBK on Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:41 pm

    Cichorei Kano wrote:
    NBK wrote:Interesting but leaves questions.  

    That's not Ohtake sensei of Katori Shinto ryu - that's one of his deshi, a gent from Chiba whose name escapes me.  Ohtake sensei is a much older gent.

    NBK  

    You can be absolutely sure, my friend, that that is indeed Ôtake-shihan, exactly as I have indicated. ....It obviously is footage from decades ago,

    You're right, decades old footage of Ohtake sensei, not within 40 years of anything else in the piece.  I watched on my iphone tiny screen and missed the Man.

    My main point was that display of excellence had nothing to do with Hatsumi and Kohno - it really was a teaser, I guess.
    NBK

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