Dear Shinobishu, though we use sword fighting kata when we explain our ninjutsu, please be sure to know that we don’t think martial arts are the essential part of ninjutsu. Our ninjutsu has been the techniques to get information and stay alive to report them to the clan headquarters so that the Jonin (上忍) can make use of them by providing advice to clients.
Since 2006 we have reorganized our order, but we have followed our ancestors ideas. Recently we named them Ninshido for the sake of convenience. Our forefathers didn’t bother to name their philosophy or other arts. There were over 3000 people working as onmitsu, and in order to keep things going well, they needed to develop a system to educate their members. Then in a way they turned to be perhaps more disciplined than ordinary samurai. We have decided to call those onmitsu, “ninshi”.
]The ninshi were the samurai who engaged in espionage. Those were educated in the government school of Shoheiko. Since they needed to make good marks in the Gakumon Ginmi (学問吟味) examinations to be promoted, they studied very hard. As a result, they could accumulate enough knowledge and became capable of developing their own shinobi samurai (ninshi) philosophy with an education system. Following the curricula they systematized, they found it easier to educated their youth with less time. They developed clear divisions of work.
Our ancestors of the 19th century chose diplomacy to be their expertise. They were the first ones to learn English, French, Russian and other languages. So, their ninjutsu were not martial arts but psychological techniques to intervene in diplomatic situations and maintain the country’s independence. The ninshi standards were established and their ninjutsu techniques were classified so that the onmitsu could use each technique more effectively. When a leader says his team will use the fire technique, the members understand how to operate. We sorted them into 5 categories, and we call them Gorin principle. This is our way to think.
The Gorin principle is fundamental that all the shinobinomono and shinobi-samurai at the front line could refer to when they were in operation.According to Mansen Shukai, seishin was the guideline for the shinobi in Koka and Iga. But the shinobi-samurai assimilated the ethics of Gotoku in their code. Seishin gives justification for the shinobi to carry on their missions. But when the shinobi worked for the shogunate, the scale of the government was by far larger than those of provincial governments. The Shogunate encouraged their samurai to study Neo-Confucianism. So the Ninshido is based on its ideas. In the 20th century our ancestors added the ideas of Christianity. It doesn’t mean the entire shinobishu became Christian. In our clan our ancestors took the idea of Ku, which is very general that an individual could interpret from his/her religious or non-religious viewpoints. So we never had any religious issues in our clan.
Our ninjutsu is the technique that our shinobi gather information and intervene in given situations without being noticed to improve the situation towards peace. A shinobi walks on the path to Ku. It can be hard to the next stage from the current point one is in, so education helps. A system with good curricula is indispensable.A good example may be the way to strengthen sensitivity. We don’t say you develop sensitivity through martial art training. For many of us meditation is more effective. So you need to teach the way. The student does not need to spend years to acquire it, if taught correctly. A teacher has to be confident to teach this. (S)he should give their students instructions easy to understand. The teacher should not say things ambiguously or in an abstract terms. Just teach them a correct way, then students do not need to spend a lot of time feeling at a loss. They can find their next phase quicker.
Gorin or 5 rings consist of 5 natural elements. Earth, water, fire, wind and ku (sky, void, emptiness, no-self). Our ancestors defined the attributes of each. Earth, the basic, symbolizes natural power. Water means fluidity or change. Fire means chance or passion. Wind is freedom and growth. Ku is no-self or perfect peace.In the technique of earth, we use natural strength and control the situation by force. In the technique of fire, we make a change to control the situation. So each of the 5 elements indicates the way we act. So you may use psychological technique in our negotiations or conversations, or use music or fine arts or any of your expertise. There are specialists and generalists, each of them has a place to work, as working together we know we can be of service to the society more effectively. When the general public feels thankful because of the unnoticed work of our members, we feel rewarded.