Bujinkan (MiyabiryuEly Dojo (Ninjutsu)

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The Original Ninja clans

The history of Ninjutsu is closely tied to that of Japan. One thousand years ago several family clans dwelt in the wooded mountainous regions of south central Japan. These families practised pragmatic ideals in the search for individual enlightenment using teaching that had originated in Buddhist Tibet and had travelled to Japan via T’ang dynasty China.


The powers controlling the state religion did not accept the theory that spiritual enlightenment could be experienced directly by anyone less than a priest of the ruler’s religion. Troops were deployed to eliminate these rural troublemakers. So, the families had to employ the knowledge gained through their studies of nature and the human body and mind in a martial direction as the necessity for protection against danger grew. The resulting centuries-long struggle for religious independence produced the legend of the supernatural ninjas.


As Japanese history unfolded, the ninja families evolved into military specialists. The increased demand for ninja agents required a training system that could produce espionage or combat specialists in the shortest possible time period. Physical tricks came to replace the developed natural abilities of the original mystics. Systems of combat skills based on the deception of the senses became the ninja’s stock-in-trade. These individuals, once motivated by love for their families, came to be feared for the ruthlessness of their determination.


From the 13th to the 17th centuries in Japan, countless ninja families operated out of a wide range of motivations and levels of sophistication. Each family or clan had its own specific requirements for status as a ninja agent. Some groups stressed physical skills, others mental alertness or political contacts.


During every active day of a ninja’s life, he or she was exposed to new and unfamiliar environments and experiences. Their learning system had to general enough and broad enough in scope to provide them with a means of handling any situation that came along. Much of the ninja’s practical knowledge of the world could be labelled as working common sense or “awareness”. Socially, far below the elite samurai status with its rigid codes of honour and propriety, the ninja were free to apply the naturalist teachings of their heritage and follow the path of ninpo for moral guidance.


The above information is paraphased from Stephen Hayes, "Spirit of the shadow warrior" 1980


Chronology of Japanese History
  • Early Period: � to 700 AD
  • 350 AD: Formation of Japanese State.
  • 6th Century AD: Introduction of Buddhism from Korea.
  • 607 AD: First embassy to China.
  • 702 AD: First Laws codes established.
  • The Aristocratic Period: 700 1200 AD
  • 710 AD: Capital established at Nara.
  • 794 AD: Capital moved to Kyoto.
  • 1180 1185 AD: War between two military clans, Minamoto and Taira.
  • The Feudal Period: 1200 1869 AD
  • 1192 AD: Minamoto no Yoritomo granted the title of Shogun.
  • 1274 and 1281 AD: First and Second Mongol invasions.
  • 1467 1477 AD: Onin war.
  • 1477 1603 AD: The age of the warring states.
  • 1603 AD: Tokugawa Ieyasu granted title of Shogun, administrated from Edo.
  • 1639 AD: Seclusion policy completed.
  • 1853 AD: Commodore Perry arrives in Japan
  • 1869 AD: Rule by the emperor resumed.
  • Prior to the Mongol invasions, Japanese warfare involved duels between mounted samurai of equal rank supported by groups of retainers. The Mongols disregard of Japanese military etiquette and their successful use of large scale infantry spearmen forced an evolution of Japanese strategy to mimic that of the Mongols. This led the Daimyos to create larger infantry armies which resulted in the age of warring states. It is to be noted that the 2nd Mongol invasion was halted by poor sea conditions and changing political targets and not by Japanese military might.

    The Age of the Warring States


  • 1467 1477 AD: Onin war.
  • 1543 AD: The harquebus (matchlock firearm) reaches Japan from Portugal.Legends have ninja involved
  • 1568 AD: Warlord Oda Nobunaga occupies the imperial capital of Kyoto.
  • 1570 AD: Sugitani Zenjubo (Koga ninja) failed to assassinate Oda Nobunaga.
  • 1575 AD: Nobunaga defeats Takeda Katsuyori by the use of firearms.
  • 1579 AD: Kido Yazaemon (Iga ninga) failed to assassinate Oda Nobunaga.
  • 1581 AD: Nobunaga troops invade Iga.
  • 1581 March: Fuma Kotaro ninja group carried out nighttime raids on Takeda troops.
  • 1582 AD: Nobunaga assassinated; his general Toyotomi Hideyoshi takes over .
  • 1582 June: Hattori Hanzo arranges the safe passage of Tokugawa Ieyasu from Sakai to Okazaki. Hanzo developed a massive network under the patronage of Ieyasu.
  • 1590 AD: Hideyoshi gains control of the country.
  • 1594 AD: Tokugawa Ieyasu is Hideyoshis top aide.
  • 1598 AD: Hideyoshi dies.
  • 1600 AD: Battle of Sekgahara; Ieyasu leader of the eastern warlords is victorious.
  • 1603 AD: Title of Shogun granted to Ieyasu. Start of the Edo Period.
  • 1614-1615 AD: Osaka summer and winter campaigns; Toyotomi family destroyed.
  • 1616 AD: Ieyasu dies.
  • 1623 AD: Tokugawa Iemitsu becomes third Tokugawa shogun.
  • 1639 AD: Seclusion policy completed.
  • 1701-03 AD: The incident of the forty-seven ronin.

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