Through the years many have questioned the validity of certain martial traditions, especially those related to the ninpō arts. When researched in depth, ‘walls’ are constantly hit when attempting to gather any viable information concerning events and solid historical facts on these ryū-ha and the men of their genealogy. Such abrupt ‘dead-ends’ of research efforts usually occur around the late Edo period of Japanese history (the mid to late 1800’s). This holds true also for any viable information on the past masters of these traditions. But why? When attempting such research, one must take into account the nature of the ryū-ha in question. Many traditions, especially those related to ninjutsu, survived due to an intense cloak of secrecy that was never compromised. This meant that the true name of the tradition was only known to the soke, or headmaster, and his eventual successor. Any name given to the public was a false name, used as a deceptive front and sometimes changed often. This still holds true today. Names such as Gikan-ryū, Togakure-ryū, & Shinden Fudo-ryū, for instance, are cover names used to hide the true title of the tradition. This explains why any research into the history of these given names ends up in utter futility on the part of the historian or researcher. This is also the case for past masters that are difficult to investigate. Names such as ‘Shinryuken Toda’ and even ‘Toshitsugu Takamatsu’ were ‘nom de plum’, or pen names, used to hide their true identity, past, and relations. Often, these men had several identities to help them maneuver quietly and undetected through dangerous times, such as the late Edo and early Meiji eras, for example. This protected not only the individual and the knowledge they held, but their families as well. Remember, these men were utter and true masters of illusion, disinformation, and psychological warfare. The proof of this is in the convincing of researchers or those of the ‘by the book’ mentality that the traditions and masters in question were either made-up or never truly existed, because no concrete evidence can be found to prove otherwise. Yet, as history has proven, just because evidence cannot be found does not mean that it does not exist. It simply is in the secretive hands of the headmaster of the tradition, kept safe from the hands of people of ill-intent, opportunists, deceptive con artists, and the public at large, and shown only in part to those who truly practice and sacrifice to help keep the tradition alive.
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