Sensei told me at the last training session that Takamatsu sensei had said at one point that “Ninjutsu is the ultimate martial art”. Ninjutsu is ultimate because it encompasses so much more than physical combat and was a lifestyle and philosophy that supported the fulfillment of life.
Within Ninpo, the aspect of “KU” =void or emptiness is a core element. This emerges in many different facets of Ninpo. It is the emptiness that one seeks when to disappear or become invisible in the techniques of Ninpo. It is the ultimate goal to put yourself and the opponent in a state of KU when engaged, so that the fight will dissipate. If there is nothing but KU to fight, then the fight goes nowhere. If the Ninja creates a state of KU in an escape, then there is nothing to chase.
Naturally, this aspect of Ku is not limited to Ninpo and permeates any high level of spiritual attainment. The Zen practitioner also strives to develop this KU, or a state of selflessness.
In a practical sense this ties very much into Sensei’s timeless statement of avoiding becoming a target in life. If you are target, then you raise the probability of bad luck finding you.
In my own personal practice, the aspect of not becoming a target is physical as well as mental. It is a good exercise to work on making yourself empty by moving through a crowd or similar environment with the purpose of not drawing attention to yourself. On a physical plane, this can be as simple as what you wear, how you move, or how you act. On a mental plane you can on drawing yourself in, to diminish the chances of becoming noticed.
There are always times that luck will work against you and this is natural. However, more often than not, these above exercises can work as I have had success with them in practice.
A good example of this, that many can relate to, is the time when you might be called out to demonstrate a technique in front of the training group. If you physically make eye contact or shift in your position, chances are that you will draw attention to yourself and be called out. On the mental aspect of this, if you are too much in your mind thinking about being called out, or focused on hoping not to be called out, then you may end up attracting attention. Although the mental example is more intangible, it is the area that we are striving to develop. This is the aspect of Ku that Sensei is referring to.
Ultimately the goal is to avoid any physical confrontation. Sensei always mentions the story of Toda Sensei quitting his post because danger was close. The decision to do so preserved his life and ultimately the life of our tradition. This is the benchmark example.
It is often misunderstood that since the meaning of “Nin” in Ninpo, means to endure, that one must endure and persevere in a fight. But the ultimate goal is to feed the fight nothing but emptiness, on a physical and mental level, resulting in no physical conflict whatsoever, and ultimately no need to exert any effort or need to endure.
This is the Ninpo that Hatsumi Sensei teaches.
The ultimate martial art-without any need for a need to endure.