Our ancestors started to work for Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582 by the request from Hattori Hanzo, and were officially employed by the Shogunate in 1603. Those were the Shinobizamurai of the Sengoku Period, the major part of our tradition was formed during the Edo Period. Our people left Iga and Mikawa and came to Edo to work for a large organization, so they developed their own philosophy starting out from Seishin which might have been the standard guideline for Koka and Iga shinobi.During the Warring State Period, shinobi were often hired individually, so when a Shinobi working for a feudal lord “A” met his relative working for another lord “B”, they would exchange information to each other. Similar things happened from time to time. Knowing this, the Tokugawa Shogunate used only their retainers like our ancestors to gather intelligence and take care of shinobi related work so confidential matters would not leak. Our clan remained anonymous. They kept things to themselves. They were so careful to keep a clan, that they married the people from the same backgrounds. But in one thing they became rather outstanding. They researched and studied a lot. And that caught the attention of the Shogunate. Though they were not high-ranking samurai, by 1850’s they were very familiar with the situations in the world, when Japan still remained isolated. Our ancestors learned the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism and took exams. Of course they learned other arts, too. We see that some of our ancestors were awarded prizes from the Shogunate because of their mastery in martial arts.Then some high-ranking officials like Ii Naosuke started to give orders directly to them. So those became “Tenshu shinobi”. They were the shinobi who received orders directly from lords. We decided to call those ancestors of the time “Ninshi”. Those were the elite shinobi samurai with special knowledge.When a new member starts in our order, we ask this person to report about 5 places of interest. This is an easy task, but not everybody completes it. Many may think, this has nothing to do with ninjutsu or ninja. Well, for us this is important because we can get to know the new ninja. One has to know how to work in a shinobi order. So only the ones who complete requirements reach the next level. We want to make ninshi leaders, who know our ninjutsu. We say a ninjutsu is not a martial art. It is a way to make things work well in the world toward peace. To make a proper judgement, “Seishin” written in Mansen Shukai is not enough, and that’s why our shinobi order philosophy developed.
This year, we have a Zoom NinYori in our Order of Shinobi Samurai once a month. The members attending are very dedicated ninshi. Each time very insightful topics come up and I learn a lot. In the NinYori of Aug 23rd, there was a question about the difference between Heijohshin (even or ordinary mind) and the state of Ku. Can or do the shinobi fight in the state of Ku? Tohmoku’s answer was “Yes, but you don’t know it when you were in the state close to Ku. Only after fighting when you look back over the things happened you may realize that you were in that Kyohchi (the mental and spiritual state). Ku is no-self, no ego, so you are not here as a person, you are part of the nature or balance. You know what happens. The happenings are subconsciously understood.A veteran warrior may have very clear and calm preparedness, he can sometimes foretell what his enemy will do. This does not come from Ku-no-Kyohchi, or his closeness to Ku. We define this mental state, Heijohshin (even or orninary mind). In this case the warrior is conscious of everything, and he judges and chooses to do correct and proper things.In most of the Japanese martial arts schools, they advocate one of them as the ultimate purpose of training, heijohshin or Ku-no-kyohchi, Our ancestors chose Ku. Even though one can get close to Ku, one does not become a saint or demi-god. We know we will never reach there, but we make efforts to go closer by giving compassionate services to our communities, As shinobi we prefer our work remains unnoticed.