Browsing the blog archives for November, 2010.

Get it straight, people

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I don’t really pay attention to the groupie crowd anymore, given that I would rather be with my friends and family than slam my head against a concrete wall. I have a very hard head, but banging it against concrete inevitably hurts, and, in the end, groupies are uninteresting for many reasons.  

But I was recently told that an interview with Kacem Zoughari had been printed in a martial arts magazine here in Greece, an interview that has an excerpt referring to positions I have supposedly taken in the past. The related excerpts state:

So, …. may I ask you a question concerning Ninjutsu’s historical validity. Mr. Dervenis, who was one of Ninjutsu’s pioneers in our country, claims that after studies he has made he has concluded that Ninja’s never existed and that this whole story is just a manufacturing of both Hatsumi sensei’s and the movies, for merchandising (commercial, business) purposes. As an academic, what is your opinion on this?

The reader can view the whole thing here if they wish: http://shinkendojoathens.blogspot.com/2010/09/dr-zougharis-may-2010-interview-to.html#more 

but it is kind of a moot point. What I would appreciate, however, is for the author of the interview to get his facts straight regarding my position(s) and re-state what I am saying more accurately.

For the record, except in a metaphorical sense, I have never stated that the ninja did not exist as a historical phenomenon. What I stated was that their historical reality did not reflect their popular image today in almost any context, nor does the image of them portrayed by the Bujinkan reflect historical reality. In addition, and far more importantly since this is what is getting people with vested interests upset, what I have stated repeatedly is that no independent ninjutsu ryuha exists within the Bujinkan syllabus – that is to say, there is no Togakure ryu, no Kumogakure ryu, no Asakusabeerguzzling ryu or any other such ninja school to be found within Japanese history. Toshitsugu Takamatsu made it all up for his own reasons, and Masaaki Hatsumi intentionally perpetuated the myth in order to propagate the teachings of his school.  There never was a Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda; he is not an actual person.  Takamatsu was never taught “ninjutsu” – he made it all up. I have stated this position openly and repeatedly and no one has been able to rebutt it in the slightest with extant historical evidence.  (Bear in mind that I would love to see such evidence; nothing would make me happier. Unfortunately, it does not exist.)

Do the teachings of the Bujinkan have historical context? Most certainly, but only as a classical jujutsu lineage derived from the conjunction of several verified family traditions. In addition, the Kukishin ryu most certainly has esoteric elements in its syllabus that have been passed on by Takamatsu Sensei to Hatsumi Sensei, and the Bujinkan in its original format (pre-1988) most certainly had many esoteric teachings that were simply wonderful, and which they were very serious about.  But human beings are complicated creatures and reality is often mixed with falsehood to promote specific intentions and agendas; this is the rule rather than the exception in life.  

Kacem, sadik, here is my advice to you: In China, they catch monkeys by placing bananas cross-wise in narrow-necked vases. The monkeys grab hold of the bananas and cannot let go of them even to save their own lives; they want the fruit badly , but given the narrow necks of the vases, the bananas can only come out length-wise, and the monkeys lack the intelligence to figure that out. The hunters eventually come along and seize the apes with their arms up to their elbows in the vases, shrieking, unable to open their fists and escape.  That is how fresh chilled monkey brains make it to the markets in China.  The amazing thing is that all the monkeys have to do to escape, is to let go. But they cannot, and do not.

Stop being a monkey, sadik.  

If you have historical evidence as to the existence of a ninjutsu lineage within the Bujinkan, publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, as Karl Friday did for Kashima Shin ryu, and I will be the first to congratulate you. If you do NOT have historical evidence that can withstand peer review (which I am told you do not), then you must understand, your claims and your position have turned you into as much of a fraud as anyone else within the Bujinkan espousing similar claims.

Don’t get me wrong – I have seen what the koryu crowd has to offer, both from an ethical and functional standpoint, and I am not impressed; Hatsumi far outshines them as a martial artist. Hell, I outshine them as a martial artist.

But that does not mean that Hatsumi is not lying.

Hey, have I told you all about how I inherited a 2500-year-old ancient Greek tradition that dates all the way back to Timasitheus the Delphian? It’s a staggering story that I’m very proud of, full of combat, betrayal, intrigue, exotic locations, and willing women with full lips, large breasts and tight butts (think Sasha Grey with a rack). The interesting, and sad, thing is that I have far more documentation in hand to validate such a claim, than the Bujinkan has to corroborate their own history (or than many other eastern martial arts schools have, for that matter).

Be well, Kacem.

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