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KACEM DENSHO

“Takagi Yōshin-ryū is a style of jūjutsu. Of course it’s not ninjutsu. That is obvious. Historically, the founder of this style, Takagi Oriemon, practiced a school called ‘Takenouchi-ryū’ (竹内流), one of the oldest and most famous traditions of ‘sōgō bujutsu’ (composite martial arts; 総合武術) of Japan. The reason why I say sōgō bujutsu is because you also have weapons. So, sōgō bujutsu in martial arts means ‘general martial art’ or ‘various martial arts’. From one point, a nucleus, they teach many, many weapons. Takagi Oriemon had learned this method with the second generation, but the problem with the Takenouchi family is that they never gave the inner movement, the deepest understanding, to someone from outside of the family. That was one of the main rules back in the 14th and 16th centuries. But he learned enough to create his own style. He received many things and, with that, he had many matches, fights, and duels with many people. He then went to learn ‘Yagyū Shinkage-ryū’, and from that point he created the school called ‘Takagi Yōshin-ryū’.
What you need to know is that what he created, was not all the techniques in this scroll. You need to wait at least four generations following his lifetime before you start to have something that is possible to pass on. Because in order to be a master, first you need to master something. Then, you need to be able to teach it, talk about it, give it to someone, and to explain to someone. If you can’t explain, you need to find someone who can explain for you. In the martial arts, this is very deep and very difficult. So we need to wait four generations, until the day that Takamatsu-sensei met Mizutani-sensei. And, before this, Takamatsu-sensei had already inherited seven traditions from his grandfather, Toda-sensei. So, already he was skilled in the way of observing and performing techniques in a very special way. Something unique to ninjutsu. Something different. Different in using the mind and different in using the body. So, when he watched and learned Takagi Yōshin-ryū, after only one year he was taught the top level techniques; the ‘gokui’ (essence of the tradition; 極意). He was only seventeen. Of course Mizuta-sensei had different students who received ‘menkyo kaiden’ (full license transmission; 免許皆伝). Both were menkyo kaiden, as it is mentioned in this history section of the scroll. Sometimes these things were bought because, of course, Mizuta-sensei sometimes needed to eat; since his only source of income was martial arts. So, sometimes a master would sell a certificate of transmission. This isn’t too different from nowadays, as well. So Takamatsu-sensei, as he had very beautiful handwriting and had learned Chinese, was the one who wrote the scroll. So. he wrote these scrolls by his sensei’s instruction, and sometimes Mizuta would say, “Write this, but don’t include this part.” So, step-by-step, for example the art of ‘iai’ (drawing the sword; 居合), the art of ‘kodachi’ (short sword; 小太刀), the art of rope, or the jō (approx. four-foot staff; 状), was lost or forgotten. Takamatsu-sensei, though, received the entire transmission of the school.
So you have many branches of Takagi Yōshin-ryū. They have the same name, the same principle, but the way of using the body is completely different. Why? Because, when Takamatsu sensei had learned this tradition, he already knew how to ascertain what was effective and what was not, using what is important and removing what is useless. Of course, this is ‘jūjutsu’. But, through the eyes of ‘ninjutsu’.”

✧ DR. KACEM ZOUGHARI

#ninja #ninjutsu #Bujinkan #KacemZoughari #shinobiwinds #SeishinDojo

 

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‘DŌJŌ KUN’ 道場訓, or ‘RULES OF THE DŌJŌ’ (Better thought of as ‘RYÛHA KYÔKUN’ 流派教訓 or ‘Moral Lessons Of The Traditions’)
by Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda
戸田真龍軒正光, 1830-1912

一、忍耐は、先ず一服の間とぞ知れ
1) Nintai Wa, Mazu Ippuku No Ma Tozo Shire (Know that patience begins with taking a moment’s pause.)
二、人の道は、正義也と知れ
2) Hito No Michi Wa, Seigi Nari To Shire (Know that the path of humanity is justice.)
三、大欲と楽と依怙の心を忘れよ
3) Taiyoku To Raku To Iko No Kokoro Wo Wasureyo (Forget feelings of deep desire, longing for comfort, and reliance.)
四、悲しみも恨みも自然の定めと思い、唯だ不動心の悟りを得可し
4) Kanashimi Mo Urami Mo Shizen No Sadame To Omoi, Tada Fudoshin No Satori Wo U Beshi (One must think of sorrow and malice as fates set by nature and strive only to inquire the enlightenment of imperturbability.)
五、心常に忠孝の道を離れず、深く文武に志す可し
5) Kokoro Tsune-ni Chuko No Michi Wo Hanarezu, Fukaku Bunbu Ni Kokorozasu Beshi (One’s heart never straying from loyalty and filial duty, one must deeply engage oneself in study and the martial arts.)

明治二十三年春 戸田真龍軒正光
Meiji-nijusan-nen Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu (Spring, 1890 – Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu)

SAMURAI

Aisû Ikôsai, founder of the Kage-ryû (陰流) tradition of sword fighting, was born into the prominent bushi (“warrior”) Aisû family in 1452, and lived from the middle to the late Muromachi Period (1392-1573). This was one of Japan’s most turbulent periods. Ikôsai’s original name was Aisû Tarozaemon Hisatada, but he later took the name, ‘Ikôsai’. The Aisû family was a branch of the Kii clan of Kumano in the province of Kii, a powerful family, based in the Ise peninsula, in the center of the Kumano Bay area. They had been put in command of five castle areas by Shogun Morinaga Shinno (1308-1335) in the Nanbokuchô (Southern Dynasty) Period and were related to the Kitabatake clan with close relations to guerrilla fighters in the Iga area.
It is not clear where or from whom Ikôsai originially learned heihô (martial ways), but he was living during a period of great activity in fighting arts. Iizasa Ienao’s Tenshin Shôden Katori Shintô-ryû was active in the Kanto area, and Chûjô Hyôgono Nagahide had been spreading his Chûjô-ryû in Mikawa-guni (present day Aichi-ken) more than a hundred years earlier. As well, it is thought that in the Kyoto-Nara area, a core group of Nen-ryû of disciples known as the ‘Six Men of the Capital’ were spreading their art at the beginning of the 15th century.
Aisû Ikôsai had gained attention among Chinese military authorities when he and his fleet had raided both the Chinese and Korean coasts during that period. Using very long swords (tachi) and unorthodox methods of movement and weapon usage, they decimated Chinese and Korean troops that attempted to board their vessels or halt their raids. Obviously, though, the military authorities were impressed with the swordsmanship of these Japanese fighters and for years were at a loss as to how to defeat these rogue warriors whenever they appeared.
The story of Ikosai’s ‘ken-no-satori’ (sword enlightenment) is that in 1488, at the age of 36, after surviving a shipwreck while returning home from a pirating raid, Ikôsai, who already had been refining his sword skills for many years, decided to visit the temple of Uto Gong. There he prayed for purification and enlightenment, while making a vow to give up piracy, since his life had been spared from the shipwreck. After 7 days of incessant practicing and praying, a monkey-shaped god appeared to him in a dream and revealed the secrets of swordsmanship.
Deciding to reveal this knowledge to selected students, Aisû Ikôsai named his style ‘Kage-ryû’ (‘Current of the Shade’). Later, Ikôsai’s student, the renowned warrior and swordsman, Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Hidetsuna developed his Shinkage-ryû (“New Current of the Shade) based on the instruction he received from Ikôsai. Shinkage-ryû (新影流) thus includes the core techniques, such as Enpi, Enkai, Yamakage, etc., from Kage-ryû.
Aisû Ikôsai passed away in 1538 at the advanced age of 87 years old.

#ninja #ninjutsu #shinobi #shinobiwinds #SeishinDojo #KacemZoughari #OnmitsuKage

YASUJI4

Yasuji Kuroda, (1897 – 1976), was the 13th Sōke of Shishin Takuma-ryū jujutsu, Komagawa Kaishin-ryū kenjutsu, Tamiya-ryū, Tsubaki Kotengu-ryū bōjutsu, Seigyoku Oguri-ryū, and Otengu (Daitengu)-ryū. Renowned and respected greatly for his rare skill by his peers and other swordsmen of the day, a number of anecdotes about the man have survived that paint a unique portrait of a rare warrior and master, the type that only seemed to exist in the civil war annals of Old Japan.

* As a child, Yasuji often went to a liquor store to buy alcohol. There was a large dog that would always bark fiercely at him and would give chase when he passed. One day, he opened the wooden door of the shop to hail the owner, the dog suddenly rushed upon him. He leapt face first into the danger, drawing his sword, and decapitated the animal.

* Once, he was attacked at gunpoint by a couple of violent thieves, as he made his way along a quiet road in town. With almost imperceptible speed, he drew his sword and cut the gun wielding attacker’s revolver in half.

* On one occasion, he cut two thick ‘makiwara’ cleanly in
half with one stroke of a blunt saber.

* Yasuji was also said to be capable of drawing and cutting
a ‘shinai’ (bamboo practice sword) that was sent into the
air.

* Once, a sword-weilding ronin attacked he and his friend in the country. When the ronin swung his sword, the blade broke away from the ‘tsuka’ (handle) and was sailing towards the head of Yasuji’s friend. Yasuji instantly, and with seemingly impossible speed, stepped in front of his friend and let the blade pierce his own shoulder to save his life. The entire incident took place in a tenth of a second.

#YasujiKuroda #martialarts #katana #budo #swordsman #Japan #ryu #Japanesehistory

TAKA1

“In the old days, the principle of ‘Ujin’, was adhered to strongly in Japan. This meant that, at the age of 15 years old, a young boy would go to straight to war after he had passed certain tests by his master to prepare him for battle. Men were sized up instantly then by other warriors by direct and simple questions; How many heads have you taken on the battlefield? Who are some of the warriors, of note, that you fought and killed and in what campaign? What actions and behavior during war and combat, while fighting with the enemy, led you to be alive today? Even then, the most dangerous and skilled men rarely answered such questions. A seasoned veteran of war could see it in the eyes of the man before him. It was a distinct look. The glint of a razor. A predatory calm behind the eyes. It is a trait essential to ninjutsu and one that men of words have never understood and will never obtain.”

#ninja #ninjutsu #shinobiwinds #shinobi #Bujinkan #SeishinDojo

KURODA

Komagawa Tarōzaemon first learned Shinkage-ryū from Kamiizumi Ise no kami Nobutsuna. But even though he soon felt confident in his skills, Kamiizumi would refuse to give him the Shinkage-ryū menkyo, only saying that Komagawa had a “bad habit” in his movements. Komagawa felt wronged by his teacher’s constant rebuttals and decided to take the high road and impress Kamiizumi by getting a menkyo in many other kenjutsu ryū. Returning some years later with over a dozen menkyo, he tried to get Kamiizumi to give him his hard-earned Shinkage-ryū menkyo at last by showing him what he had learned. But Kamiizumi didn’t flinch a bit and stuck to his previous statement about Komagawa having something not quite right in his movements. Then something happened that made Komagawa change his outlook on his whole practice up to then. One evening, while Komagawa was deeply engaged in training, a pack of wolf sneaked up on him. He only had a wakizashi on himself at the time, but he still managed to drive off the pack by repeatedly using a single technique, technique which would later become the first tachi kata and the basis of Komagawa Kaishin-ryū’s whole curriculum. During the tense fight, Komagawa realized that he was left-handed and that this was what Kamiizumi referred to by saying he had a “bad habit”. Komagawa then rebased his whole attitude towards his teacher and changed his name to “Kaishin” or “renewed heart” to show that fact. After correcting his movements, he was finally given a Shinkage-ryū menkyo by Kamiizumi. Komagawa then taught under the banner of Shinkage-ryū. The name of the ryū was changed to its present name by one of Komagawa’s student, Sakurada Jirōzaemon Sadakuni (桜田次郎左衛門貞国). Sakurada also added the jutte kata to the curriculum.

THE MEIWA INCIDENT

In 1767 (Meiwa 4), a samurai by the name of Fujii Umon Sadayuki (藤井右門定之), real name Fujii Naoaki Yoshitarō (藤井直明吉太郎), was sentenced and executed for ‘lèse majesté’ towards the Tokugawa Shogunate along with his teacher, a renowned scholar of Confucianism and military strategy named Yamagata Daini. They were denounced by troublemakers on the public place thus forcing the shogunate into investigating the allegations, which were that they conspired to mount a revolt against the shogunate in an attempt to reestablish the Emperor as de facto ruler of Japan. Since the trials and subsequent verdicts were kept secret even though the accusations were first made publicly, both were in the meantime unjustly vilified by the public as traitors to the shōgun and disturbers of the peace. The vilification intensified after their executions, which were made in public, while the specific offenses under which they were condemned still remained secret. The reason to this secrecy may be that the shogunate wanted the rumours about their association with the restoration movement to continue, although the two men were ultimately not found guilty of advocating the restoration of power to the Emperor. It was true, however, that Yamagata criticized the Tokugawa regime in a published book, and so the shogunate felt they had to act rapidly. The students of Yamagata were thus almost immediately released, except for Umon who was directly implicated in the original allegations as he was the one who spurred the troublemakers. The student and the teacher were later executed, in all probability as a deterrent to the proponents of restoration, while the troublemakers were exiled.
At the time of this incident, Umon was the chief proponent of Komagawa Kaishin-ryū, going so far as to add a complete series of kodachi kata in the curriculum, a series that has been handed down to this day. As a consequence of the bad influence brought on the ryū’s name by Umon’s involvement in what was then seen by the public at large as an attempted revolt, many if not all fiefs closed down their Komagawa Kaishin-ryū school branches. Even in Toyama, the birthplace of the ryū, it has since then been publicly referred to by the name of its parent art, the Shinkage-ryū. The secrecy was so complete that even the grandfather of the current sōke, the 13th sōke Kuroda Yasuji, thought when he was young that he was practicing Shinkage-ryū. Only by comparing his techniques with practitioners of other ryū did the thought cross his mind that he did not actually practice Shinkage-ryū at all. He then asked his own father, the 11th sōke Kuroda Hiroshi Masakuni, who passed down this story about the concealment of the ryū’s real name and origins. Yasuji was thus the first to use the name “Komagawa Kaishin-ryū” outside of Toyama since the incident when he relocated to Tokyo at the start of the Taishō period.

KURODA YASUJI

“In the beginning, as one knows nothing, one does not doubt anything. After having entered the study of combat, various things occupy the spirit; one is obstructed by it and all becomes difficult. Then, as soon as one does not wonder anymore about what one learns, the idea of rules does not have any more impact. Thus, one does not stick to them anymore to exert the techniques in the various ways. They emanate from oneself and are then naturally in true harmony with the rules. It is necessary to follow the way of combat, but one must understand this well. To involve oneself by learning the beginning weapon techniques, and all the rules, postures of the body, manners of perceiving, is to deploy the intellect. When one has gained control, these many rules disappear from the intellectual consciousness. Without conscious reflection, one finally reaches the heart of things. After having assimulated many rules, the merits of this approach accumulate. They reside within the legs, the arms, and the body. They no longer linger in the spirit. One moves away from the rules, but one conforms to them. In all circumstances, the techniques become spontaneous. Alone, thought does not stick to anything at this point and, thus, not even demons can disturb one’s being. It is to reach this stage that one practices. When the rules have been assimilated, they disappear.”

Yagyū Munenori
柳生 宗矩
1571 – 1646

Yagyu01

“‘Seigan no kamae’ is a guard found in all sword traditions and is also utilized with virtually every type of weapon. It is thought that its origin is in the use of the long weapons, such as the spear and the halberd, where to attack by maintaining a strategic distance and not to be touched was very important. The first ideogram, ‘sei’ (正), which has the reading of ‘tadashii’, means ‘correct’, ‘just’, ‘right’. The second ideogram, ‘gan’ (眼), which is also read ‘nemui’ and ‘nemuru’, means ‘to sleep’, ‘to be sleepy’, ‘the eye’. Often translated as ‘the correct eye’, which expresses that it is a question of penetrating the glance of the enemy to perceive his weaknesses. In practice, ‘seigan’ means to direct the point of the weapon and the hands towards the eyes of the enemy. The body must be ‘hidden’ behind the weapon or the empty hands. It is thus about a guard of combat which makes it possible to carry out any type of attack while, first of all, seeking to take the stability of the enemy and to scramble his sight. By hiding behind the weapon, the arms tend to direct the point of the weapon, or the hands in unarmed combat, towards the eyes of the enemy. The distance is thus lengthened and the body becomes one with the weapon which makes it possible to defend and to attack at the same time.”
– DR. KACEM ZOUGHARI

AD1

KENKICHI

The top image is an advertisement from the March 18th, 1877, issue of the Yomiuri Shinbun (newspaper) announcing the introduction of the newly invented ‘Yamatotsue’. The 14th headmaster of ‘Jikishinkage-ryū’, Kenkichi Sakakibara (榊原鍵吉, 1830–1894), also known as Kagikichi, was one of the most well-known and deadly swordsmen of his time. An instructor at the Tokugawa Shogunate’s ‘Kobusho’ school, Kenkichi was also the personal bodyguard of the shogun Iemochi. Yet, upon Iemochi’s death in July of 1866, he resigned his post. In 1877, following the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the subsequent Sword Abolishment Edict, the Haitōrei, Kenkichi created the ‘Yamatotsue’. The ‘Yamatotsue’ was an unassuming wooden weapon of about four feet in length that brandished an iron ‘kagi’ (hook), like the smaller policing weapon, the ‘jutte’. Upon receiving permission from the Meiji government, the ‘Yamatotsue’ was put into mass production by Kenkichi as a new tool that could be carried by, not just the remaining samurai population of Japanese society, but also the masses. Kenkichi taught samurai how to wield the unimposing ‘Yamatotsue’ based on the ‘gekken’ sword-fighting methods he was renowned for. For the average citizen of Meiji-era Japan, the ‘Yamatotsue’ was touted as a very practical tool for walking, carrying heavy loads, locking Japanese screen doors, aiding in duties as a bouncer, and defending oneself from not just ruffians, but also small house fires as well.

In the practice of warrior bujutsu, many weapons were used.  Although some historians relate that the bow and the sword were  the more popular weapons, the study of the spear was also very  important. As with the arrow, the spear can be thrown. As with  the sword, it can stab and can also cut, including the yari used by  ninja. In fact, use varied depending on the situations encountered  on the field of battle. Aside from ninjas who used the yari (spear)  for unorthodox methods, the spear was the weapon of warriors of  high rank. These men did not join in on the melee during an  assault by the warriors of lower class that fought on the front line,  the Ashigaru.

BACKGROUND

The yari was widely used during the Sengoku period (1480-  1570), when the Bafuku (Military government) was only  exercising its power, and with difficulty, in the limited area of the  capital and its immediate surroundings. Indeed, an aspiration of  the masses for self-government came to light and  daimyo principalities were formed. They fought fierce battles to  conquer Kyoto in an attempt to obtain a total hegemony. But the religious and cultural particularities between these principalities maintained division and thus produced constant fighting. The spear was used extensively during these battles. It was later abandoned because it proved too cumbersome for the bushi.

THE PRACTICE OF THE NINJA’S YARIJUTSU

The basis of the practice of the yari is ninja taijutsu. As all bujutsu of the time, the art of moving is the keystone of practice for a weapon. The Ninja uses the spear as other weapons such as the bo, the jo, the hanbo or the sword. Yarijutsu is the union of the art of striking with kosshijutsu, koppôjutsu, the art of taihenjutsu (art of moving in, depending on the environment) and finally the art of Bôjutsu (with an in-depth knowledge of the saber, daito, katana, the shinobigatana, and the kodachi).

All the many forms of spears invented by the ninja were created with the loopholes of standard defenses in mind. But, in a very short period of time, they could become most useful work tools or farm tools. Thus the kamayari and shinobiyari also served as tools for fishing and climbing, or the transportation of goods. Yarijutsu must bring together a knowledge of distance and angles of attack, essentials for survival. The yari measured 12 feet on the battlefield and those used for the practice were 6 feet.This length allowed one to create a vacuum around oneself and could also be used to unseat a rider, or attack from a distance. But such a length, in the hands of the naive, becomes a serious handicap. Therefore ninja’s ‘kyojitsutenkan’ cultivated the art of interchanging truth and falsehood and vice versa, using optical illusions.

It’s not that simple but  requires intense technical adaptability, mobility, and openness. So, the ninja  excelled in taking advantage of their errors by turning them against the enemy … The surprise no longer surprises! They had a thorough knowledge of kenjutsu (art of sword) and kumitachi to fight against enemies armed with sharp weapons.

In ninjutsu, how to give a ‘tsuki’ with the yari is something special. Indeed, to pierce armor, it must be either very strong or use a specific technique that involves hitting two or three times in the same place. It is neither supported nor even a prolonged strike. It is a technique  exclusive to ninjutsu and that comes from kosshijutsu and koppôjutsu. (Use of fingers and extremities for impacting bone and bones nerve centers). Practiced in conjunction with the kyôjutsutenkan this striking method allows one to hit two or three times while a single shot was given. The technique is called sanshin-no-kata of gokkyô-ryu. Another technique that is unique to ninjutsu is walking sideways (yoko-aruki or aruki-ashi) of the Togakure-ryu school, also found in the Koto-ryu and Kukishinden-ryu.

Hatsumi-sensei said that when he practiced the spear, the first thing Takamatsu-sensei had him do  was seize the spear from an attack. There is, indeed, during the attack, a moment where one can grasp the blade without cutting. However, as with the manner of a blacksmith, one must enter the Kukan. The Kukan is a breach in time, a moment where everything is possible. A space-time in the time itself and it is less mysterious than it seems. Indeed, in the long run, what happens there for those who attack? One who knows how to control the Kukan has understood the essence of the struggle … and life. You can even add that the weapon, plus the extension of the body, is of the mind because it alone commands oneself. A gokui of ninjutsu, taught by Takamatsu sensei, reflects the infinite number of techniques that emanate from a single principle: “The color of water is the color of its vase.” That is to say that whatever the weapon or form of combat, the principle is unique.

A NEW NINJA WEAPON IS BORN

In the event that the spear is cut, the battle does not stop. One then used the techniques of unarmed disarmament (Mutôdori, shinkenshiharadome juttejutsu). But, the ninja possessed multiple spears. One of them, te-yari, was very widespread. Although shorter than the yari (1.75m), it offered many variable uses and adaptations. It could be thrown like a javelin (Yarinage), it could cut (Ryobi – both sides of the pike were edges) as a sword. The kamayari was mainly used by the ninja pirates (wako or kaisaku) which, from antiquity to the Edo period, infested the coasts of Japan and the mainland Asia. The kamayari served by boarding a ship, it allowed one to catch a sword blade with the hook, as well as mowing, disarming, fishing, catching the side of a boat, etc. Deriving from the kamayari, the shinobiyari (with double hooks), also known as the stealth spear, was a formidable weapon. It served as a grappling hook among other things. Hattori Hanzo, the famous chief of police of the Tokugawa shogun, leyasu, excelled in the art of handling these different lances, in conjunction with a sword, a shuriken, a kodachi, or a jutte. This may suggest that the technique of two swords developed by Miyamoto Musashi could be used with any weapon,whatever the length. The most important thing is the how one uses the body and spirit in battle. Movement should become spontaneous, natural, and unimpeded.

ADAPTING SOJUTSU TO THE POLICE

During the Edo period (1603-1867), the status of the ninja changed. They were responsible for protecting the shogun in his castle in Edo. The juttejutsu, the torinawajutsu, the shibarujutsu were used to capture the bandits without killing them. The ninja were, in essence, highly adaptable. The ninja is a ninja since he can create something of consequence from something simple, where it can evolve constantly and stay creative and surprising.

Spears, they also experienced new functions. The susumata, the môjiri, sôdegarami were adapted by the police. One was captured without being killed, intimidated and frightened without causing a stir among the other bands of robbers. Spears, deadly at first, would find themselves transformed into symbols of order and security. With susumata, the police could dismount a bandit from his horse. He could entwine the  nails of the spear into the kimono of the offender and capture the enemy. He could stop the trajectory of a sword and stab with the other tip of the weapon. These new uses are gradually led to specific techniques in the infinite arsenal of ninjutsu. Apart from a few pre-ryu cities, what remains of ninjutsu are some forms, devoid of possible progression. The kata reformulated, can no longer find the original body of movement.

THE CURRENT PRACTICE OF SOJUTSU

Faced with such a history, so intimately intertwined with the history of any country, what relevance can such a practice hold in  the year 2000? The weapon itself is not nothing. It allows one to explore another dimension of the technicalities of taijutsu, namely whether the union between body, mind and the weapon is perfected (bo tai ichijo). One can also check if one’s movement is unhindered. To check if one has practiced the art, give him a weapon. If one is a practitioner of ninjutsu, he must be able to use any weapon without restriction of style.