Magazine B-Club, vol. 104, July, 1994.
Ask Ninja About Ninja Things!!
Magazine B-Club, vol. 104, July, 1994.
by Masaaki Hatsumi
A Global Ninja who introduces ancient martial arts and Japanese virtue since olden times
Masaaki Hatsumi/Tetsuzan. He accumulated experiences as a martial arts practitioner and followed Mr. Takamatsu, who had succeeded to nine schools of ancient martial arts and became a nine ancient martial art practitioner. He received a doctorate degree (USA) of human science by proving Ninjutsu-Ninpo scientifically, and a doctorate degree (USA) of philosophy after he submitted his study of "Find that Bushido is to Die". He also received the title of Knight from the German government in the middle of May, 1994 because it confirmed his abilities to teach Budo extensively and generally. He appears in many TV dramas such as "Jiraiya", "Ninja-boy-Fujimaru", "Ninja Nights", etc. He also works as a martial art investigator (historian). He was born in Noda City, of Chiba Prefecture in 1931. (List of Nine Schools)
(Titles) Knight (Germany), Doctor of Philosophy (USA), Doctor of Human Science (USA), Texas State Honorary Citizen, Honorary Texas Ranger, Los Angeles Honorary Citizen, Atlanta Honorary Citizen, Dublin Honorary Citizen. (Photo Subtitle) A Tai-Kai which was held in Atlanta, USA in 1992. Mr. Hatsumi is giving instructions, and is using a real sword- so his sharp eyes are real.
Interviewer: I heard that Sensei had been invited to Germany recently. What kind of events took place there?
Hatsumi: I received a title of "knight" from the German government.
I: Did you! That's amazing, isn't it?
H: Yes, I am probably the first (foreigner) who received that title. I am so glad that they found Japanese Budo equal to European chivalry, as they share some common points. Since they knighted me, that is also an honor to Japan, I think.
I: Sensei has titles of honorary citizenship in several cities abroad.
What kind of activities are you doing?
H: I am holding Tai-Kai for Bujinkan Dojos. That means I hold a seminar which provides man to man training. Besides this, I take my wife with me, who is highly skilled in the discipline of Japanese traditional dancing, in order to introduce wonderful aspects of Japanese culture to the world. Last year, we traveled around 13 countries.
I: If such a Tai Kai is held, are you invited directly by the host
H: No. Since I have a lot of Deshi (pupils) all over the world, they invite me like "Sensei, please come to us." I am kind of well known in many places in the world. So I meet some executives from various kinds of organizations at a seminar where I go. After they receive my training they say, "Marvelous!" But in the beginning when I started, violence-orientated people came to obtain only skills because they heard I would teach a martial art. However, in the end, just people who have humane and rich minds have been joining our seminars. Because I want to pay my respects to those people, I would not establish systems or organizations, something like that. And I am giving each one what he or she wants, rather than teaching them, and keeping ceaselessly in mind the theme of how human beings should live. That is neither religion or philosophy; we are just communicating our feelings in nature.
I: Do you find any difference between Japanese and non-Japanese people
through holding seminars?
H: Since police officers and soldiers outside of Japan are exposed to much higher risks to accomplish their duties, they may die if they learn martial arts by halves. So they are really serious. However, people who just learn Japanese martial arts from books might say: "We can't survive because there are so many forms and that makes my brain inflexible." But if I go to them and hit their spots, they say, "Oh, I can survive. It's wonderful." Some of them say "Ecstasy!" (laugh). If they find that they can make use of it for themselves, I think, they don't feel painful even though I give them pain. I happen to teach how to live as a human being.
I: How do you instruct it in Japan?
H: I rent Tokyo Budokan once or twice a week. (A famous building in Tokyo for big concerts or sports events.)
I: What kind of things do you do there?
H: I always fix a theme, in other words, a subject. For example, the theme of this year is yari (spear) and kodachi (small sword), and Taijutsu, including Ninjutsu techniques. Anyhow, there are so many kinds of techniques. So I am teaching slowly, taking a year, setting a theme, for example, tachi for next year, something like that. Everybody comes here in order to learn seriously. I want to work hard as long as those people come.
I: I'd like to ask about your background. What were you like when you
H: I liked exercises and I'd wanted to be strong. Since I was in elementary school, I learned kendo, judo and karate. I met such excellent teachers who were from Okinawa. In the environment where I lived, I had good enough circumstances for mastering real budo. Besides martial arts, I had experiences in boxing and soccer, which nowadays are very popular in Japan. The experience of soccer turned into an advantage later because it enabled me to master a very good form of keri.
I: Does mastering a good form of kick have anything to do with the
fact that your family line is a Ninja family line?
H: I guess not.
I: Could you tell us the story of how you became a Ninja?
H: When I grew up, at the same time I trained in what is called budo, I had been studying it. This is what is called budo as a sport. Then when I was a 4th dan in Judo, I guess, over 20 years old, I went to the U.S. military base camp to teach judo. There I realized one reality that surprised me. One day when I gave them training, I was defeated by an unexpected waza (technique). Since they were soldiers, they knew a lot of real fighting waza, and they maybe combined various waza and used it with their whole energy. When I faced it, I realized that one cannot survive by Japanese budo as sport. I realized if we continued this type of budo, we could not use it in real battle. Then I did everything I could. I studied every ancient budo and everything called budo in Japan, not only with my body but with my brain. Then in the end I met my teacher, Takamatsu Sensei. He was a real Ninja and was on intimate terms with the last Chinese emperor. Then I learned from him for 15 years, until he passed away. That was when I was between 27 and 42 years old. He initiated me into Ninjutsu around that period. After all, the waza of Takamatsu Sensei were the best. He had no pupil but me.
I: I see. I thought that Takamatsu Sensei taught many people...
H: He didn't teach anybody, even if they visited him. He merely said: "Learn from Hatsumi," and he didn't instruct anybody. After all, he gave me all he had. So if somebody says "I learned from Takamatsu," he is a fake, because he had only one pupil: me. Besides, I had never met anybody who was taught by Takamatsu Sensei while I learned from him for 15 years. Nonetheless, there are some people who use Takamatsu Sensei's or my name to give themselves authority. I want people who are interested in learning budo to be careful. I cannot overlook conduct which deceives people who want to learn real budo.
I: Which schools did Takamatsu Sensei belong to, among the schools
that you are teaching?
H: Takamatsu Sensei was discipled by three teachers, who were Toda Sensei, Ishiya Sensei, and Mizuta Sensei, and he succeeded to all nine schools. Eventually I succeeded to all nine schools.
I: So, did you learn all nine schools from Takamatsu Sensei?
H: Yes I did.
I: That means you learned not only Ninjutsu from him..
H: Well, I learned all kinds of things generally, evenly. Of course they included Ninjutsu because it is a martial art. However, nobody but me has experienced the real Ninjutsu at the present in Japan. Due to this, the mysterious parts of Ninjutsu tend to be focused on. But to be exact, I am a martial arts practitioner. And since 1972, when Takamatsu Sensei passed away, I have compiled the waza that I learned from him, made them public and have taught people.
Interviewer: What elements of Ninjutsu do you think attracts people
from all over the world?
H: Not to mention, its mysterious parts. Maybe people want to see what they can't see. In pictures that TV or films create, however, the parts they can't see are all to often incorrect. (Laugh) But I teach in a correct manner all the parts that we can't see visually. So there are many people who understand and say "Real Ninjutsu is wonderful."
I: For them, it is not unclear, and they can get a sense of
realism, can't they?
H: Right. If you see it, you'll know it is humane and you'll know you need it to live.
I: I see. We often run into scenes in movies or books in which Ninja
employ amazing waza (techniques). So are they merely waza in the fictional
H: No, we can.
I: Can you? For example. . .
H: I can't explain in short. To be honest, the techniques of our budo cannot be explained even visually... ntin"it is beyond description". I wouldn't avoid your answer with this. But you need to feel something. Visualization has a limitation because seeing is just one of the six senses, just one sixth. That's why it is hard to explain the rest of five sixths. The original ninja was excellent at converting reality into fictional reality. That makes it more difficult to express.
I: Like the ninja on TV or films, a real ninja disappears in smoke or
makes his figure look many....
H: Of course, we do.
I: Or a waza to transfer into something....
H: Yes, we can. But you must train your body and brain. In other words, it is mental power and that is the most important, if I dare say. The more you are trained for it, the more strongly you can come to feel it. And in the end you will be able to obtain that power.
I: In reality, we seldom have opportunities to use Ninjutsu in the
H: Yes, we do. When I visited Israel, where terrorism caused serious problems, I saw many people carry guns. They said to me, "Here it is dangerous, so shall we bring a gun for you?" I said, "If I fire a gun, the report of the gun will invite more enemies. But I don't need it because I will handle one without making noise."
I: You mean by using Taijutsu?
H: By a sense of living. Fortunately, I didn't have such an experience, though. A pistol or gun is not my friend. Because it is possible to lose it. So I don't carry a weapon. The weaker the person, the more the need to carry weapons.
I: It's an amazing story. How about the role of Ninjas in the society
in addition to an aspect of Martial arts?
H: Well, now it is the age of information, isn't it? So I believe that there are many people who can succeed in playing an active role of ninja although it may not be a traditional ninja's activity. For example, to probe somebody on a subject.... if you belong to a big company, you need to conduct yourself like a ninja. So we could call those people modern Ninjas.
I: I see. Then, Sensei, do yourself play an active role in the modern
society as a person who is qualified as a legitimate ninja?
H: As I told you, my role would be to make people understand the merits of Japanese culture by introducing Japanese traditional cultures through the Tai Kai. There are good aspects of Japan. But even Japanese forget those values. The fact that I have received a lot of titles from many countries does not mean that I want to be famous or rich, but it means I want to accomplish my purpose to draw attention to those Japanese merits and to get it across to the Japanese people as well. The other day, I gave instructions of actions for the theater drama "Akahige" at Tokyo Art Theater.
I: As an action director?
H: Ah... let's see... probably it's a new academic field, say "Martial arts investigation." Despite the fact that Japan is a country of martial arts, it is behind in the study of these actions. Depending on stories, actors have to differentiate roles such as ninja or sword expert. Accordingly, directors have to follow those lines. That new field, martial arts investigation, production of martial arts in modern and artistic ways, is my job. Not to mention, as long as we make dramas in Japan, they should include Japanese traditional elements. But in reality, people are confused with the foreign concept of intelligent drama theory. I though that was not good. That's why I've recently been making efforts to create real Japanese elements from martial arts investigation and to include them into theater and films. I am now making a video series which describes the correct actions or fighting ways of the Ninja, to keep people from believing the incorrect stuff (laugh). Some stuff are really terrible works, and that means there are a lot of fake Ninjas. Now I am working hard on a new video. I hope the situation is going to improve someday.
I: What are the conditions required to be a Ninja?
H: It is Nintai-jisei (endurance and self-control). That is the most important thing. Living with endurance. Ninjas live with endurance- the theme is "live healthy."ur bo We often hear that "Find that Bushido is to die?" don't we? This may make you think that a Bushi (warrior) is destined to die. It is not true. This word is written in the world best selling book "Bushido" first introduced in America. I explained the words in that book and I received a doctorate degree of philosophy. When Bushi heard the words, they came to think "why are we going to die?" When they found the dead, they asked him, "Why did you die? Why?" The dead said: "I died for this reason (a Bushido thought)." "I understand," they said, "and I should do such a thing like this." So "Find that Bushido is to Die" means "Find that it is to live."
I: I understand the meaning.
H: I'll bring a familiar example. If we live up to Hara-Hachibun-me (If we don't eat too much. Note: Hara- Hachibun-me means eat until eight tenths of your stomach becomes full, then stop eating), we could keep ourselves healthy, couldn't we? We don't easily get diarrhea nor adult diseases. This is part of the teachings of the Ninja, to live with endurance. With endurance, controlling oneself, maintaining healthy and happy life is the training of the Ninja. But we are humans, so sometimes we use fictions, though. The other day, I got a little sick, so I swore my wife and pupils that I would not drink sake. But eventually I came to drink again (laugh). So I don't drink a bottle of sake, I drink 3/10ths of a bottle of sake. Converting to such a fiction is also a technique of the Ninja. But it is not so bad a thing. I've lived for 64 years ... I think enough. So I live, doing what I want. That, I think, leads to the most healthy life. Not to try to live longer, to find pleasure without too much greed... and live according to our ages. If we run into troubles, we could convert that fiction, that's it.
I: So you mean that you master wazas based upon such a natural feeling?
H: I think that feeling is principle. A human being is carried away by one's emotions and greed. If you cannot carry out "Endurance and Self-Control," you will come to use Ninjutsu for wrongdoings. You have to determine what is the right thing. And do it not just for yourself, do it for Natural Justice, in order to protect Nature and human beings. Nowadays, natural environments are being destroyed. That is by human beings who destroy them. Unless those people are told that, they don't know even that they are going to die, sinking into their greed. Some people don't notice what they do leads to their own suicide. Our next generation, in future, will have to take responsibility for what we are doing. I believe that to prevent it from getting worse is the role of human beings and the attitude for living. I tell people this by going abroad and through teaching Ninjutsu and Budo. I hope the readers of this will share with me like the people who come to my seminar.