Questions and Answers – Part 4
Two young men in Texas – Patrick Tow and Rayford Outland – decided to do a History Fair high school project about ninjutsu training and my work. If you might be interested in some minor points about my life and how I ended up where I did, check previous questions 1-4 and questions 5-8 and questions 9-11.
12. We realize this may be a touchy subject, but we heard you were expelled from the Bujinkan’s list of authorized judan 10th Degrees. We would love to hear your personal take on what happened.
A few of my senior students did not want me to comment on this. They feel that to address no-name keyboard snipers makes me look defensive and gives them credibility. On the other hand, other students and friends feel that because there is so much pernicious false information and cowardly character slander on the internet, it might be time to address the issue.
My skill as a practitioner and teacher – regardless of what rank degree I earned as a student – is on display all over the world through my personal appearances and DVD courses. My years of training with my teacher Masaaki Hatsumi have been documented in 19 books. You can look up what Black Belt Magazine says about my impact on the martial arts world. Nonetheless a few people still peck away at promoting this pointless gossip on the internet, so here is my take on it since you asked.
All this talk of my being “expelled” comes from a few of Masaaki Hatsumi’s newer foreign students (people enrolled after I made the art famous in the 1980s). Some of those newer black belts feel hard pressed to compete with my impact, and believe that if my influence were out of the picture, it would be easier for them to appear more powerful and important.
Based on observation, it is my opinion that a few of those foreigners are envious of the role that I played in Masaaki Hatsumi’s life. I escorted him from the shadows to full visibility. I propelled him to international fame through my books. I made it possible for thousands of students all over the world to study his art even though he had only two dozen students when I was living there. I established the foundation that took him to enormously rich prosperity. Some of Hatsumi Sensei’is newer students crave a sense of being that important too, but apparently they feel their roles are overshadowed by my influence in Masaaki Hatsumi’s life history.
These people seem to be nervous about what I teach, and are discouraged by the attention my words command in the greater martial arts world. Apparently a few of these students kept nagging for my name to be taken off the rank wall now that I am focused on teaching To-Shin Do. I guess they figured that if they could not beat me, they could at least cheat me.
I heard that some pestered Hatsumi Sensei to the point where he dismissed it all by saying they could do whatever they wanted. Reportedly, one of the students strutted over and took my name plank down himself. I really do not know the true story. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the Bujinkan organization right now, as a few ambitious people try to edge each other out in hopes of taking over when Hatsumi Sensei chooses to retire. That is what my friends in the Bujinkan tell me they witness all too often.
All this silliness began in 2006, but Masaaki Hatsumi himself has never acknowledged to me in any personal conversations or letters any word of “firing” me. My most recent letter from Hatsumi Sensei arrived three weeks ago (as of this writing), and he still has never acknowledged banning me from his life.
Why would Hatsumi Sensei avoid committing to an answer when asked? Why would he deliberately take an ambiguous fog-shrouded position? Maybe he is a ninja? Maybe he likes keeping people off balance? Maybe he is testing his students? “How much of what you see is really just what you want to believe?” he might ask.
So then what is true?
I did most of my learning under Masaaki Hatsumi’s guidance in the 1970s and 1980s, when I was in my 20s and 30s. I lived in Japan for some years and traveled back and forth each spring and fall for some years. I earned a 10th Degree Black Belt in Nin-po Taijutsu. I enjoyed my training. All of my books proudly acknowledge Masaaki Hatsumi as the source of my martial inspiration. My critics today were not there in the 1970s when Hatsumi Sensei was teaching ninjutsu. I was. Therefore, it is impossible for them to know what I know about what Masaaki Hatsumi taught in his ninjutsu days, and how it is different from the budo taijutsu they practice in the Bujinkan today.
Those are all indisputable facts.
Now in the 2000s, I very much enjoy teaching and sharing my insights into practical self protection and self perfection. My teaching approach is called To-Shin Do, and it is based on what I studied alongside Japanese friends in Masaaki Hatsumi’s dojo in the 1970s and 1980s
Perhaps the best way to view the situation is to understand that what I teach is extremely relevant to the kinds of danger that routinely arise in Western life. My job is to teach my fellow Westerners urgently needed spiritual tools in this current age of cultural degeneracy and financial confusion. At age 60 with way over 40 years of practice and application behind my belt knot, I serve far more people better by sharing To-Shin Do applied ninjutsu philosophies and tactics around the world as a teacher, than I would by just studying Japanese forms in Noda City as a student as I did half a lifetime ago.
In other words, my real rank is “Stephen K. Hayes.” Name plank or not, I serve the world with my budo to the best of my capability. Such a life is exactly what my teacher Masaaki Hatsumi has demonstrated to me since I began studying with him in 1975, and I am proud to follow his example.