Like many others I was excited and set in awe during the 1980’s with Ninja craze that was going on. From movies to TV shows like “The Master” I began looking into the training. I bought books and even began going to seminars to discover this entire Ninja thing…but my excitement waned out very quickly and I simply stuck with my good, old fashioned Karate training.
By the mid 1990’s everywhere I looked it seemed someone was claiming to be some sort of supernatural Ninja expert. I went to several seminars where a “Ninja” would be a featured speaker / teacher. I even attended seminars with Stephen Hayes, the father of the Ninja movement in the USA, several times over the years. I learned they have two sects, Iga and Koga, among many other fascinating historical items about them. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that I began to realize they have more frauds claiming rank than any other martial art…or so it would seem. To date I have met more grand master Ninja’s than I have in any other art form.
About 2008 I met the legendary Frank Dux and had a wonderful time talking to him. I heard his side of his story and found it interesting to note that, even though he claims he teaches Ninjutsu, he never truly studied it but rather his teacher, Tenso Tanaka claimed it was his family’s Ninja system. Regardless I found him very humble, nice and a great guy but I don’t know anything about his proclamations outside of his own story so I can’t say if he is a fraud or not but I can say he has tremendous skill regardless. When I was growing up I bought a book called the “Dance of Death” by Ashida Kim. This was the first time I heard of Koga Ryu Ninjutsu. The book was interesting and full of all sorts of “different” martial arts training and destructive methods. Many years later I would learn that he actually claims he learned the “Dance of Death” from the infamous Count Dante aka John Keehnan who was a very colorful and controversial martial artist from Chicago back in the 1960 and 70’s. Today there is a huge fight between some of Count Dante’s students and Ashida Kim that is almost as funny as it is blasphemous. Of note is that Ashida Kim at one time was offering $100,000 to anyone who could beat him in a “real” fight. All you had to do was pay his way (first class) to your location, put up $100,000 in CASH and if you won you got it back. Read that again and you can see how stupid that claim really was and what sort of people make them.
Today the internet is full of all sorts of information on Ninjutsu. There are literally thousands of websites, Youtube videos, Facebook groups and more all dealing with this topic. What my research has led me to discover is that the Ninja out there are all proclaiming each other to be frauds. Masaaki Hatsumi claims to be the only, and last, living heir to a system of Ninjutsu called Togakure Ryu. Interesting to note that according to Donn Draeger: “The late Fujita Seiko was the last of the living ninja and no other ninja exist today”. Then you have his primary student, Stephen Hayes, who spread their system across the globe, especially here in the USA. Hayes is no longer associated with Hatsumi because he was “dismissed” in 2006 from Hatsumi’s Bunjinkan system. A severe and long onslaught against Hayes was released all over the internet bashing him and in return there was another bashing the Bunjinkan as well.
Regardless these are a couple of the examples of why I am glad I never seriously went down the “dark path of enlightenment” with my curiosity of Ninjutsu. Over the last several years I have met so many young people (age range of 20 to 35) who have claimed they are Ninja Masters. One young guy even claimed (on his own bio none the less) that his father taught him a rare form of Ninjutsu from his birth until he was 9 years old at which time his Dad passed away…yet he still claims to be an inheritor and authentic grand master of this form. It is commentary like that that just prove there are some very dumb people out there in the martial arts world today. I once met a man who had a huge following in his Koga Ninja system. He was teaching seminars, featured in magazines and more with his claims of authenticity. Today he is nowhere to be heard of because he was investigated, proven a fraud and had bilked people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars who want to train with him and get certificates “from Japan” as being authentic Ninja masters.
What brought this to my mind recently was two groups on Facebook that are full of slanderous claims towards certain Ninja people. On group is constantly attacking a guy who has a Gofundme set up to open a school yet he is in fact a pedophile and was prosecuted for it. Then you have the Ninja guys who all claim to have been in the service of the CIA or NSA or some other clandestine group. I think they all watched Bloodsport and want to live the Frank Dux legend. About 10 years ago I got invited to attend a Ninjutsu seminar. I was actually going to go until they began bashing people I know who are legitimate black belts and calling themselves the only “authentic” martial artists in the area. That simply turned me away from them and I haven’t bothered even talking to them since then.
So here I am, 38 years later, still studying my Karate and while I was interested in Ninjutsu at one point in time I have no care to bother with it anymore. There are many reasons for this but the largest factor is the constant bashing, lying and things of that nature they promote all over the internet. I am a simple guy. I teach Okinawan Karate. I like to teach others. Rank, Grand Master status, Soke (founder of a martial art) and those sorts of things have no interest to me. What does matter is helping others through teaching Karate though…I don’t need to be a Ninja to do that…I just have to be a good Sensei and an even better student 🙂