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Ninja Stories

History of the Togakure Ryu - A historical look at the oldest school of ninjutsu still practiced today. The Togakure Ryu is over 900 years old! Find out how it all started.

Other Cool Stories...
(From "Essence of Ninjutsu" by Masaaki Hatsumi)

Jutaro and the Bridge

This is a story from when Jutaro (Takamatsu Senseiís name as a young man) was 18 years of age. In his fatherís factory they needed about 330 gallons of clear water a day. Every morning, using a pole and four buckets, Jutaro brought all of the water to the factory. This was a feat that no one else could perform. The water came from the mouth of a stone turtle, which consistently gave out clear water. This turtle was located a little way down from Maruyama mountain, which was sever to eight blocks away from the factory, Each load weighed 529 pounds and a total of five trips from the turtle were needed. Jutaro said that this was perfect for conditioning his legs and waist.

One day a factory worker said, "Young master, I had a hell of a time last night. I was working alone on Shin Bashi Bridge when a man locked my way. If I moved to the right to pass him, he moved to block me and did the same if I moved to the left. Then, he grabbed me by my collar and threw me into the water. I thought I was going to be killed. Young master, I donít really want to go on errands in that area after dark." Overhearing this conversation, another worker added, "Really? Me, too."

Hearing this, Jutaro said, "Leave it to me."

Shin Bashi Bridge is at the point where the river enters from the Akashi seashore. The sailors tie their small boats to the banks here and leave for the sea from this spot. That night Jutaro crossed Shin Bashi Bridge four of rive times without anything happening. The next day he did the same thing with the same result. Jutaro said to himself, "Maybe this ruffian is someone who knows me."

The following night he wore a disguise and went to the bridge. As expected, when he was halfway across the bridge, a man wearing a hat to cover his eyes came walking toward him. Jutaro moved to the left to pass him but the follow moved in his way. The same thing happened when he moved to the right. Then he grabbed Jutaro by the collar and tried to throw him by using his hip. Jutaro stuck out his stomach and let his arms down loosely. The man persistently tried to throw him; then tried to hit Jutaro with his fist, then tried to kick him. But all his punches and kicks hit air. When the man became confused, Jutaro threw him upside down, yelling a kiai. The manís hat flew away and he fell down on his stomach, stretched out like a dead spider. Jutaro turned the man over to see his face and to apply the art of resuscitation. It was one of Mizuta Senseiís students, Miyata, who held a middle rank license in jujutsu. Jutaro angrily lectured him. "How could you disgrace your school in this way? You should be ashamed!"

The Story of Sasuke Sarutobi

Sasuke Sarutobi, one of the heroes of ninjutsu, was created in Tachikawa literature at the end of the meiji period. Up until that time, the general image of ninjutsu was related to black arts, witchcraft, magic, hobgoblins, thieves, and assassins. Sasuke was a mischievous boy. Books describe him as an innocent child with a strong sense of justice. In the stories, great importance was placed on humor, with actual combat considered secondary.

One day, Sasuke said to himself, "Iím already ten years old. Itís no longer practical for me to practice yatoo (a form of Kiai-spirit shout) with monkeys and deer. Iíll follow my fatherís advice and seek a master swordsman to train me. Iím going to go to Okunoin in the Torie Pass to ask the gods to provide me with a good master."

When Sasuke arrived at Okunoin, he began playing among the clumps of trees rather than practicing yatto. Not satisfied with a stick, Sasuke grappled with a large tree, trying to twist is down. Then, he heard someone laughing at him. Sasuke called, "Hey, who are you? Iím concentrating on fencing. Donít you dare laugh at me. Come out here. Iíll not forgive you." As he looked around, he saw an old man with swept-back long hair tied at the back of his head smiling at him. The manís hair was as white as snow. Sasuke asked, "Oh, you laughed at me, didnít you, old man?"

The old man answered, "Yes I did."

Sasuke asked him again fiercely, "Why did you laugh at me? Answer me. If there is no good reason, Iíll never forgive you even if you are an old man."

The old man laughed and said, "Well, Sasuke, you were practicing with a tree, but this is like practicing with a dead enemy. You canít improve your fencing that way. Do you want to learn fencing so badly?"

This was the age of civil wars, and only a few people could live to an old age. Therefore, Sasuke reasoned, an elderly fencing instructor was surely a master at martial arts.

Sasuke said, "Old man, are you a master of martial arts? I want to learn the secrets of martial arts."

"What are you going to do with them, after you learn them?"

"Iíll be a strong swordsman and win fame and honor."

"Wonderful. What an admirable goal for only a boy! All right. Iím going to five you a lesson in consideration of your zeal and determination."

Sasuke prostrated himself before the old man and thanked him. Then, Sasuke delivered a sword stroke to the old man. However, he had disappeared. Sasuke looked around nervously. Then, he was suddenly tripped by an attack from behind and fell flat on his face. The old man appeared suddenly in front of Sasuke with a smile.

The old man taught Sasuke for the next three years. He tried to teach him the godan or fifth-level secrets by saying, "Donít you have your eyes in your back? How handicapped you are!

"Youíll be a failure unless you know how to defend your weak point, even if you know the unguarded point of your opponent. The secret of defense in martial arts is to always be alert.

"Unless one knows his own weak point, he can never be certain that the weak point of his opponent is not a decoy."

In addition to ankokutoshijutsu techniques for seeing in the dark, Sasuke learned to listen for stealthy footsteps coming from more than thirty meters away.

One day the old man handed a scroll to Sasuke and said to him, "Well, Sasuke, this is my parting gift, the rules of Ninjutsu. Carry it with you for life and behave prudently. When you are in combat with others or meet heroes and great men, youíll never be beaten if you understand what is written in this scroll."

When the old man gave the scroll to Sasuke, he for the first time revealed his name as Hakuunsai Tozawa, and then disappeared.

Takamatsu in China

This is a story from when Jutaro (Takamatsu Sensei) was 26 years old. In various places in China he entered martial arts contests and was never beaten. So, he was recommended to be the chairman of the Japanese Association of Young Martial Artists.

Lord Ren, the uncle to the former Emperor of China, treated Jutaro as if here were his own son. He always bragged that his Jutaro was a top-rate martial artist. This was no wonder because at this time Jutaro had more than eight hundred Chinese, Japanese, American and French students. Every night, he taught 70-80 students. Even in the raging heat of midsummer, he did not show a drop of sweat.

Hearing these facts, a Shaolin kung fu master, Choshiryu from the Santo province, challenged Jutaro to a match. Choshiryu lifted a 248-pound barbell 100 times every morning.

Jutaro refused twice but Choshiryu would not accept his refusal. That night, Jutaro dreamed of a red giant demon who swung a heavy iron bar to catch a little butterfly. The butterfly effortlessly avoided the blows time and time again. Sweat poured off the red demon and in a while he fell down and yelled, "Enough!" The next morning, Jutaro conceived the butterfly dance technique.

Lord Ren came to see Jutaro and said, "Jutaro, Choshiryu has come again. What shall we do?"

Jutaro replied, "This is the third time that he has proposed a match. This time I will accept his proposal." Lord Ren said, "Thank you, this will be a great event!" Lord Ren told everyone he passed in the city and then informed Choshiryu of Jutaroís acceptance. Choshiryu was 37 years old, weighed 248 pounds, and was approximately 1.9 meters tall. Jutaro weighed 165 pounds. The match was held in the plaza of the English settlement. With Lord Ren acting as referee, the match began with Choshiryu giving a yell and jumping 5 meters closer and kicking with the speed of a giant dragon.

Jutaro jumped to the right by 3 meters.

Choshiryu jumped up, down, right, and left within an eyeís blink.

When he came again with the deadly striking hand kick, Jutaro saw an unguarded point. He tried to use the crawl position blow. Choshiryu jumped up 2 meters and returned fierce kicks and punches.

The heated battle had gone on about two hours when he noticed that Choshiryu was out of breath and was sweating profusely. His movements had clearly slowed. The weak point of a big fighter Ė inability to endure long battles Ė started to appear. Choshiryuís vision was impaired because of the sweat that ran down his face. Jutaro did not perspire a drop. When Jutaro said, "Here I come," with a calm smile on his lips, Lord Ren stopped the fight. The audience yelled for them to continue fighting. But Lord Ren could see that Choshiryu had no chance of winning.

Jutaro and Choshiryu smiled at each other in congratulations for having such a good match.

After the match, Lord Ren, Choshiryu, and Jutaro went to a restaurant to celebrate a newfound friendship, the kind that can only come from respect earned during such a competition as they had. Choshiryu praised Jutaro, while the younger man modestly returned the older manís compliments. Choshiryu announced that he wanted Jutaro to be his brother, so they sealed this martial bond with a drink of sake.

There are few ties between friends that are closer than those of brothers in martial arts.

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