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18 skills of the Ninja

Togakure ryu Juhakkei
(The Hidden Door school 18 methods)

Established approximately eight hundred years ago the Togakure ryu is now in its thirty-fourth generation, an unbroken succession of Soke (Grand Masters).

Due to the stabilized nature of contemporary Japanese government and judicial systems, the Togakure ninja ryu no longer involves itself directly in combat or espionage work.

The ryu exists today as an organization dedicated to teaching effective methods of self-protection and promoting the self-development and awareness of its members.  Pervious to the unification of Japan during the 16th century, however, it was necessary for the Togakure ninja to operate out of south central Iga Province.

At the height of the historical ninja period, the clan's ninja operatives were trained in eighteen fundamental areas of expertise, beginning with development of self understanding and progressing through a vast range
of physical and mental skills.

The eighteen methods of training were as follows:

1. Seishin Teki Kyoyo (Spiritual Refinement)
The Togakure ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate knowledge of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. The ninja had to be very clear about his intentions, his commitments, and his personal motivations in life. Personality traits could often mean the difference between life and death in his line of work. Exercises in mental endurance, ways of looking at things and proper perspective when evaluating things, were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By evolving into a ‘mystics’ type of understanding of the universal process, the historical Togakure ryu ninja became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love, self preservation, protection of loved one’s or the clans community or reverence and not by the mere thrill of violent danger or need of money as modern Hollywood 'ninja movies' portray.

2. Tai Jutsu (Unarmed Combat)
Skills of Daken-taijutsu or striking, kicking, and blocking; Jutai-jutsu or grappling, choking and escaping the holds of others and Taihenjutsu or silent movement, rolling, leaping, and tumbling assisted the Togakure ninja in life-threatening, defensive situations. With the movement skills and flexibility of a gymnast and devastatingly practical martial skills the ninja was feared by all.   

3. Ninja Ken (Ninja Sword)
The ninja's sword had a short straight or slightly curved single edged blade, and was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required of the ninja. "Fast Draw" (Iainuki) techniques cantered around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous action. "Fencing" (Shinobi Kenjutsu) skills used the drawn sword in technique clashes with armed attackers.

4. Bo-Jutsu (Stick and Staff Fighting)
The Japanese stick fighting art, practiced by samurai and peasants alike, was also a strong skill of the ninja. Togakure ninja were taught to use the 'bo' long staff (six feet) and 'hanbo' (half-staff, three feet), as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed shinobi-zue or ninja canes were designed to look like the normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be used against an enemy.

5. Shuriken-Jutsu (Throwing Blades)
Throwing blades were carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Togakure ryu used a special four-pointed throwing star called a Senban shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The blade was thrown with a flat spinning motion and hit its target with a sawing effect. Bo shuriken or straight shaft darts and spikes were also constructed for throwing.

6. Yari-Jutsu (Spear Fighting)
Togakure ryu ninja agents were taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as middle-range fighting weapons. Spears and lances were used for stabbing and piercing attacks, and rarely ever thrown in normal combat. The Togakure ryu also used a unique spear weapon called a kami-yari, or "sickle lance", which
consisted of a spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The lance point could be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point could be used to snag and
pull the opponent or his weapon.

7. Naginata-Jutsu (Halberd Fighting)
Virtually a short blade mounted on a long handle, the Japanese halberd was used for cutting and slashing attacks against adversaries at medium range. Togakure ryu ninja warriors were also proficient with the bisen-to, a huge heavy-bladed version of the naginata halberd. Based on a Chinese war tool, the broad-bladed weapon was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armour, and ground the horses of mounted samurai.

8. Kusari-Gama (Chain and Sickle Weapon)
The Japanese chain and sickle weapon was adopted into the arsenal of the Togakure ryu ninja. A chain, six to nine feet in length and weighted at one end, was attached to the handle of the traditional grain cutting tool. The chain could be used to block or ensnare the enemy's weapon, and the blade then used to finish off the attacker. The kyoketsu-shoge, a weapon similar to the chain and sickle, was favored by the Togakure ryu. The weapon consisted of a straight hand-held dagger blade with a secondary blade hooking out from the hilt, attached to a fifteen foot resilient cord usually made from women's or horse's hair.
A large steel ring was attached to the free end of the cord.

9. Kayaku-Jutsu (Fire and Explosives)
Ninja were experts in the effective placement, timing, and rigging of explosive devices for demolition and distraction. In later years, (around the mid 1600’s) the use of black powders and other explosives was supplemented with knowledge of firearms and their strategic applications.
NOTE: this is no longer taught to the public for obvious reasons

10. Henso-Jutsu (Disguise and Impersonation)
Essential to the ninja's espionage work was his ability to assume false identities and move undetected through his area of operation. More than merely just putting on a costume, ninjutsu disguise system involved thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. Personality traits, areas of knowledge, and body dynamics of the identity assumed were ingrained into the ninja’s way of thinking and reacting. He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman, or wandering entertainer.

11. Shinobi-Iri (Stealth and Entering Methods)
The ninja's techniques of silent movement (still taught), breaking and entering (no longer taught) and gaining access to inaccessible areas became legends in feudal Japan. Togakure ryu ninja learned special walking and running methods for covering long distances, passing over floors silently, and for staying in the shadows while moving, in order to facilitate entry and escape.

12. Ba-Jutsu (Horsemanship)
Togakure ryu ninja were taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills. Care, grooming, health and training of the horses was also learnt.

13. Sui-Ren (Water Training)
Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross over water, and underwater combat techniques were taught to Togakure ryu ninja.

14. Bo-Ryaku (Strategy)
Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots, and advantageous timing for use of current events were used by Togakure ryu ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the enemy around to doing what the ninja wanted him to do, ninja were able to work
their will without drawing undue attention to themselves.

15. Cho Ho (Espionage)
Methods of successful espionage were perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and served as a guide for using espionage agents most effectively.  NOTE: this is no longer taught to the public for obvious reasons.

16. Inton-Jutsu (Escape and Concealment)
Ninja were experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to "disappear" at will. The goton-po five elements of escape were based on a working familiarity with the creative use of earth, water, fire, metal and wood aspects of nature and the environment.

17. Ten-Mon (Meteorology)
Forecasting and taking advantage of weather and seasonal phenomena was an important part of any battle consideration. Ninja were trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to predict weather conditions.

18. Chi-Mon (Geography)
Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain were crucial skills in the historical art of ninjutsu.

Note: In the kids organisation only 4 safety weapons (1. Hanbo - wooden 3 foot staff, 2. shuriken - rubber/wood throwing stars, 3. Rokushaku Bo - wooden 6 foot staff and 4. Bokken - wooden sword) and 15's and over will be taught various weapons skills from the traditions including Shinobi Iainuki (ninja fast sword draw) and Samurai Iaijutsu (samurai sword drawing). 

Soft (padded/flexible) sparring sword and weapons are used by all for fun, timing, reaction and
distance training as well as for a reward for diligent training

Students can complete a nationally recognised 'Sport (Coach) Certificate II' qualification.  This can be used towards further nationally recognised training in the Sport and Recreation field (becoming an instructor/coach) and/or students attaining their SACE in South Australia. 
See our qualifications website for details.

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