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Frequently asked questions
Is there such a thing a ninja martial art?
We have to be careful here; by “martial art” we mean hand to hand combat with or without weapons, the art of physically fighting another human with a specific form of fighting skills. In this respect, no, there is no evidence anywhere to show that the ninja had any alternative and specialised form of physical hand to hand combat to anyone else in Japan at that time. In fact most ninja manuals advise a shinobi not to fight and to warn to avoid confrontation. However, in the Edo period, the ninja were used more and more as criminal capturing agents and they did learn binding skills and swordsmanship to help them in this role. Furthermore, ninja manuals talk about “combat tricks”, for example, where to position yourself when going through doors, what to do if the lights go out etc. These are not special forms of fighting, they are tricks to aid standard combat.
Are you saying that the ninja could not fight?
No, not at all, the shinobi were warriors of an age of war, it is without doubt that these people knew how to fight, what I am saying is that their method of fighting was no different to anyone else at that time and the type of fighting style they would use would depend on their upbringing, situation and social class.
I want to ask about the lineages of ninja schools, like the Bujinkan, the Genbukan and the many others that claim a real ninja lineage, are they real?
To date no individual has supplied satisfactory proof of their claims, some have produced no proof at all. However the Historical Ninjutsu research Team does not aim its research at modern ninja schools, we only deal with historical documentation.
Where can I train in real ninjutsu?
To my knowledge there are no traditional ninja schools left. If you are interested in learning ninjutsu you will need to find a club that teaches from the historical manuals or put together a study group that recreate the ways of the shinobi from the translated text. If the information you are learning from cannot be tracked to an identifiable and proven ninja scroll it is most likely that you are not learning ninjutsu. Please refer to the downloads page.
Am I studying ninjutsu at my dojo?
If you are at a dojo and you are studying a form of martial art, then no you are not studying ninjutsu. If you are studying arts which reflect what can be found in real ninja manuals then you are at least on the correct path.
I have been studying a ninja martial art for most of my life, I have seen your research and I now believe that I am not doing ninjutsu, what should I do?
Do not worry, all the skills you have learned will not go to waste. If you have spent many years learning a martial art, all you need to do is simply understand that it is a martial art and that the shinobi themselves would know how to fight. Therefore you have one of the skills you require. The next step is to start your training in the shinobi arts by experimenting and understanding the original ninja manuals. Try to bring this information into your group. In short: you have not lost anything, but do not waste any more time by not studying ninjutsu.
Is Ninpo Taijutsu and Budo Taijutsu effective?
This is one of the most popular questions I get asked. It is only my opinion, but martial arts are generally effective in the main, it is the lack of the students understanding that prevents them from working in real life. If you have a Dojo in mind, ask yourself the following; does the instructor look fit, lean and healthy and have a commanding presence (without force or aggression), do you think the instructor could defeat you in most cases through skill and not because of his size. If you feel that the instructor suits you and that he could generally beat you in combat through skill not strength then they are the people to train under, irrelevant of which martial art. But remember, even the best of instructors have poor students, so it is up to you to make these things work. However, that being said, Ninpo and Budo Taijutsu as practiced by most have no quality control in most of the organisations and generally the skills are constructed on the spot, making individual instructors vastly different in skill level.
I am a ninja and I have a real ninjutsu lineage, can you confirm my school?
If you wish to claim a real ninja line, please email with lineage charts, copies of the scrolls handed down in your school and background information on the line itself and why it has not already been identified by the research community.
Can I get a signed copy of your book?
At present I do not sell any of my books personally, but if you send me a slip of paper – that you feel suits your taste and the size of the book in question – and send it with the prepaid postage I will be more than happy to sign this and send it back to you. Postage can also be paid by Paypal.
Do you read and write Japanese, if not, then what is your role?
I do not read nor write Japanese with any fluency and my Japanese ability is basic at best. Early on in my journey into Japanese historical documentation I realised that even high level readers, born outside of Japan were no match for native born, educated researchers. This meant that for me to even start work on translations alone I would have to permanently move to Japan and study for most of my life before I could even start these projects. Therefore, the choice was simple, I decided to put together a team who all had specializations that would make for a better translation. Bringing on board well educated and experienced Japanese people allowed me to dive much deeper into the scrolls and help bring about a better translation through working together. Thus, my role is to do the reverse and to bring the native English parallel to the native Japanese. Normally a single translator is native in one language but not in the other, in my team, things work differently. The first stage is for the translator to get any scroll into basic Japanese and to do some background research, from there, together, we work through every single word and sentence in any given document and try to match the connotations of the original with the language used in the translation, to get the best match we can, bringing a much better reflection of the original than any single bilingual translator could. In addition to this my role is to correlate all the information from all translations and use my academic training to build a real picture of life as a warrior in medieval Japan, findings that will be published stage by stage as we, as a team discover more.