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The Secret Traditions of the Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo's Shinobi Hiden and Other Ninja Scrolls Paperback – 27 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Snake Books (27 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583944354
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583944356
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rockerbabe on 29 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the translated version of the Shinobi Hiden into English, you may have heard of the name Hattori Hanzo, of course you have, there have been many western media outlets that have included that name, Kill Bill and a little less known comic named Path of the assassin. Well Hattori wrote this manual, thats right, a real ninja, need i say more?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By etienne deligenza on 16 Jun. 2014
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Good sequil to the first book, I'm not sure how much more info this book reveals but again there isn't much, that's the point.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 22 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good reading 22 July 2013
By eddie swofford - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very historical and put the reader inside the time frame.... Not a boriing read and full of interesting material not found in current historical texts...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Read for the historical significance not for "how to" 18 Jan. 2014
By Alain B. Burrese - Published on
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed "The Secret Traditions Of The Shinobi: Hattori Hanzo's Shinobi Hiden And Other Ninja Scrolls" edited and translated by Antony Cummins and Yoshie Minami for the historical significance of reading older texts on the arts. You won't learn how to "be a ninja" by reading this book, especially when many lessons from that period were stated to be transmitted orally. However, this book does enlighten the reader as to what kinds of skills were being studied and practiced, and points the modern student of martial arts toward elements to include in one's training.

There are several older texts included in this volume, including: the Shinobi Hiden attributed to Hattori Hanzo; the Koka Ryu Ninjutsu Densho from the Edo period; the three shinobi scrolls of the Gunpo Jiyoshu promoted by Tokugawa Ieyasu; and one hundred medieval poems about the shinobi dating to somewhere between the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. Also included are seventy black-and-white drawings from the scrolls.

Throughout the book, there are plenty of notes and descriptions to help the reader understand the translations better. These definitely helped me gain a deeper understanding of the texts, as well as the significance of the texts as related to the history of ninjutsu. I'm sure anyone wanting to learn more about the skills studied by the ancient ninja, as well as those with an interest in this period of Japanese history will enjoy this book.

I think the last section of the book, the Yoshimori Hyakushu, or the 100 poems or waka (also known as tanka) is my favorite section of the book. The poems themselves are very short, but there is also a paragraph of explanation after each of them. Some hardly needed much explanation, and the advice is still practical, as this one illustrates, "While traveling, you should never let you guard down with anything. It is said you are likely to make a blunder if you do." Pretty good advice today as well, stay alert while traveling. The Japanese text of these short waka is also included for those that can read Japanese. (There are a few other places in the book where the Japanese is included as well.)

I enjoy training with modern weapons and training procedures, but I also like to study history of fighting and warfare and see where we have come from with the different martial arts and ways of warriorship. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these older texts and learning more about the historical shinobi, his tactics, skills studied, and his role in medieval Japan. If you're also a martial art history buff, I think you'll really enjoy it too.

Reviewed by Alain Burrese, author of Hard-Won Wisdom From The School Of Hard Knocks (Revised and Expanded): How To Avoid A Fight And Things To Do When You Can't Or Don't Want To and others.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Never Letting Down Your Guard 6 April 2013
By Owl - Published on
Format: Paperback
What was the most important lesson for Shinobi? Essentials to carry on every mission? Attitude? Techniques for entry?

From the "The Secret Traditions of the Shinobi," encompassing the Shinobi Hiden (Volumes I, II, and III), the Koka Ryu Ninjutsu Densho, the Three Shinobi Scrolls of the Gunpo Jiyoshu, the Related Text from Gunpo Jiyoshu and the Yoshimori Hyakushu, the answer is clear.

The jobs of the Shinobi were two-fold. First the ninjas were to infiltrate the enemy's defenses, swiftly getting detailed, accurate information back to their Lord. Second they were to detect enemy efforts to infiltrate their own defenses, swiftly alerting their fellow-defenders without revealing to the enemy ninja that they had been detected.

We learn from this remarkable direct translation of original materials that the essentials for every mission were writing equipment,food, water, and a means of making fire to which would be added armament as needed such as caltrops, grenades, torches and incendiary devices for wet and dry conditions (recipes included). Anticipating the information value of captives, the scrolls illustrate the construction and use of gags and restraints, as well as proper techniques for binding to prevent escape. We are told, over and over, that the attitude of the Shinobi must be absolute unswerving loyalty to his Lord, putting loyalty before any fear of death. None-the-less, the value to the Lord of a highly trained Shinobi was such that loyalty could mean taking great care not to be killed, thus what we might consider today a proper respect for one's own skin and survival.

There is not much in these scrolls that seems overlooked in the art of entering and exiting undiscovered, or defending against entry from the technical to proper use of calendar time and auspicious hours to the psychological in dealing with samurai and commoners. The illustrations, taken from the originals, are admirably clear as is the translation itself.

For example, the last scroll involves the 100 tanka poems for Shinobi. A classic Japanese form of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables, the tanka can be allusive and poetic. These translations are straight on with brief explanations. Consider tanka #79:
"If you always assume you are facing the enemy, you will never drop your guard in any way." This, says the accompanying text, " a blunt and basic message: complacency and soft-heartedness cannot coincide with a warrior's life. If a ninja is always ready in the mind and always at the edge of his ability, there will not be much that escapes him."

Never, ever let your guard down is among the central messages to aspiring ninjas. In every scroll, it appears again, again, and yet again. Not inapplicable for today, as are many of the the guidelines from centuries ago.

Clarity is among the gifts of these very gifted translators, Cummins and Minami, in this valuable book. They give us, in addition to the translations of the original scrolls, a detailed explanation of the ambiguities and possible copy errors they have resolved, as well as essays on the scrolls, their histories, the men who composed them, and the Shinobi's world.

The details are fascinating, including how to walk with your feet on your hands to prevent detection once inside a stronghold, which typically would have been constructed with creaky floors, dead-ends, and other defenses against even the cleverest of Shinobi. (The castle in Matsumoto, incidentally, is open to the public, with excellent guides. I found it offers a vivid experience in what the Shinobi were up against and why detailed accurate knowledge of what was inside was essential before launching an attack.)

For those interested in this dangerous, highly skilled world of the ninja, this may be the must-get, must-read book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Book 16 May 2014
By Pwill - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite how anybody may feel about Antony(watch youtube to make up your mind) there are very few people doing mass research into the history of ninjutsu. It is a good book for history
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Really good book but only comes in PB 21 Sept. 2013
By James - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love this book. I just don't like paperback books it's a shame it doesn't come in hardback. However the content is what matters so don't judge this book by its baperback cover.
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