Questions and Answers – Part 3
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. After gathering information from my books, DVDs, and the internet, their teacher asked for more detail and urged them to write to me personally with some more questions.
9. Why is it that ninja are often completely ignored in today’s history books (like textbooks, for instance), yet the books go on and on about the samurai for pages? Weren’t both ninja and samurai just about as interesting and important as each other?
The ninja were important in the 1500s and early 1600s, but once the Tokugawa family shoguns ruled a unified Japan, the ninja faded into the background of history. There was no possibility for a resistance movement, and perhaps no need for one. Japanese people forgot about the impact of the ninja families in the peaceful times of the 1700s and 1800s.
After that, many complicated things happened in the political scene of Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s, after America forced Japan to leave isolation and enter the world of commerce and colonialism. When those of the early 1900s Japanese military industrial complex needed to build up the Japanese people’s sense of nationalism, in order to get them to support the imperial Japanese government’s plans for expansion into greater Asia, the ideal of the samurai selflessly serving the emperor was used to inspire the army. The ninja ideal, on the other hand, was too family and community oriented, making the building of a nationalized army and navy a difficult thing, and so the ninja ideal had to be reviled and portrayed as a negative or selfish thing.
10. How did you meet your wife Rumiko?
To support myself financially during the 1970s years I lived in Japan to study ninjutsu, I did advertising and movie and TV work. That kind of work allowed me to be paid well while still having the time to follow Hatsumi Sensei around all the time.
Rumiko had just graduated from Jochi Daigaku (Sophia University) in Tokyo, originally coming from Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu, and was working for one of the companies I did film, voice-over, and creative writing contract work for. She began to help me with translations that assisted me to read Masaaki Hatsumi’s books, and soon joined me in her own training in ninjutsu with Hatsumi Sensei herself.
11. What was the Shadows of Iga Organization all about?
The Shadows of Iga Ninja Society was the means I used in the 1970s and 1980s – long before videos, DVDs, and the internet – to promote the martial arts as I had studied them from Togakure Ryu Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi. We used to publish a newsletter-magazine and schedule of seminars and workshops around the world.
The Society is pretty much dormant these days, now that we have schools and DVDs that teach the methods I studied. I also feel it is more important in our current times of unsure social, political, financial, and internationally uneasy states to emphasize studying the much more practical To-Shin Do approach to making the teachings of classical ninjutsu work for students around the world. Nonetheless, many of my top students also study with me in earnest the classical ways of Japan’s shinobi warriors under the inspiration of what began in America as the Shadows of Iga Ninja Society in the mid-1970s.