MARTIAL ARTS HIGHLIGHTS
Note to all visitors: Fellow martial artists, while you’re here reading about my Ninjutsu and Sports Chanbara background, you may be interested in reading my works of Japanese Fantasy – The Smoke Dragon and The Mist Ninja (and more to come!). The Smoke Dragon is a free novella ebook available from Amazon and Smashwords. The Mist Ninja is a novella sold for 99c at Amazon. If you’d like something darker, my other free ebooks can be found here. Enjoy!
Shane began training in Iga-ryu Ninjutsu and Sports Chanbara in 1992 under Sensei Kazuo Crando Saito, the 16th Grand Master (Soke) of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu and the Australian Sports Chanbara chief instructor (appointed by Sports Chanbara founder Tetsundo Tanabe). Sensei Saito is also a Shingon Buddhist Monk and a master of other arts, including Saito-ha Goju-ryu Karate and Iaido.
In Sports Chanbara, Shane has been the Australian Grand Champion and NSW Grand Champion, a three-time Australian Champion, a five-time NSW champion, and a qualified tournament referee. Shane was a founding committee member of the Australian Sports Chanbara Federation (later renamed the Australian Sports Chanbara Association). In 1994, he represented Australia at the 20th World Championships in Japan. In 1995, after attaining his 3rd Dan and Shidoin (Instructor) status in Sports Chanbara, Shane opened the Mortdale dojo in southern Sydney and began teaching children’s classes.
Shane closed down the Mortdale dojo in 1997 before moving to Perth. He retired from training and competition in 1998 but maintains an avid interest in ninjutsu history and folklore.
In 2010, Shane resumed occasional Sports Chanbara training in Perth with Sensei Graham Eacott’s Goshinkan Perth.
Note: Shane does not teach Iga-Ryu Ninjutsu (including private tuition), nor does he plan to return to ninjutsu training. No correspondence will be entered into. Practitioners looking to study Iga-Ryu Ninjutsu should consult Sensei Saito’s Shinbukan website.
MARTIAL ARTS RANKINGS
- 3rd Dan – Sports Chanbara (Yari), 1995
- 2nd Dan – Sports Chanbara (Kodachi), 1994
- 1st Dan – Sports Chanbara (Nito), 1994
- 1st Dan – Sports Chanbara (Tanto), 1994
- 1st Dan – Sports Chanbara (Choken), 1993
- 1st Dan – Iga-ryu Ninjutsu, 1995
SPORTS CHANBARA TITLES
First Sydney (NSW) Championships, 1994
- Winner – Choken
- Winner – Tanto
- 2nd place – Ishukongo (Yari)
- 3rd place – Kodachi
First Australian Championships, 1994
- Winner – Ishukongo (Yari)
- 2nd place – Tanto
20th World Championships (Yokohama, Japan), 1994
- 3rd place – Teams (Yari)
Second Sydney (NSW) Championships, 1995
- Winner, Choken (Jiyu)
- 4th place – Teams (Nito)
Second Australian Championships, 1995
- Grand Champion
- Winner – Choken (Jiyu)
- 3rd place – Tanto
- 4th place – Teams (Choken)
Sydney Tameshigiri Iaido Championships (Special Event), 1995
- Winner – Musashi Cup
Third NSW Championships, 1996
- Grand Champion
- Winner – Choken (Jiyu)
Third Australian Championships, 1996
- Chief Referee
- Winner – Choken (Morote)
Fourth NSW Championships, 1997
- Tournament Director
- Winner, Choken (Morote)
Fifth Australian Championships, 1998
- 2nd place – Choken (Morote)
A BRIEF HISTORY OF IGA-RYU NINJUTSU
(From Saito Sensei’s Shinbukan profile)
The knowledge and disciplines of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu originated from the studies and practices of a group of monks and scholars living in a monastery founded in the early centuries AD, in the rugged mountains south west of modern day Osaka. The town (and monastery) of Iga was founded by Lord Ienaga Hattori (1150 to 1185), the disciple of Heike’s Shinchunagon Tomomori. Tomomori was the fourth son of Kyomori Taira, the head of the Heike clan. Lord Hattori’s seventh descendant was Yasunaga Hanzo Hattori, the founder of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu in its organised form. Sometime between 1532 and 1555, Yasunaga Hanzo Hattori served the Ashikaga Shogunate and later the Tokugawa Shogunate, becoming the first head of the Tokugawa’s ninja and working as the Shogun’s intelligence service, an elite fighting unit. After Yasunaga Hanzo Hattori’s death in 1596, his son Masanari Hanzo Hattori became the second Soke of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu, followed by Masatsugu Hanzo Hattori. While employed by the Tokugawa Shogunate, every Iga-ryu Ninjutsu Soke used the name Hanzo Hattori, generation after generation.
Once the Tokugawa Shogunate ended and the peaceful Meiji period began, the Hanzo Hattori name was no longer used, and the 14th Soke of Koga-ryu Ninjutsu (Iga and Koga are the same school) was Seiko Fujita. Later, when Seiko Fujita passed the school to Heishichiro Okuse (15th Soke), it was decided to return the name of the school back to Iga-ryu due to the new Soke’s location of residence. Fujita was succeeded by the 15th Soke of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu, Heishichiro Okuse, who was in turn succeeded by the 16th Soke of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu Kazuo “Crando” Saito. Okuse Sensei handed down the title and duties of Soke to Kazuo Saito in January 1992.
When Fujita Sensei passed away, all of his ninja belongings (weaponary, literature, and makimono) were passed on to Okuse Sensei. When Okuse Sensei built the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu Museum in Iga Ueno (Mie Prefecture), he named the library the “Fujita Bunko” and donated all of the ninja belongings of both Fujita Sensei and himself to the library. The only photographs of modern Iga ninja that appear in the Fujita Bunko are photographs of Okuse Soke and Saito Soke. There is also a photograph of Okuse Soke displaying Iga-ryu Ninjutsu artefacts to the Japanese Prince and Princess (currently the Emperor and Empress of Japan).
Personal note [written in 2007]: I make no claims to be an expert in ninja history. In my casual research, I have noted several competing schools of “ninjutsu” out there whose claims to “authentic” ninja heritage have muddied the waters to the point that no one may really know the truth. I also note that Soke Kazuo Crando Saito (who has no association with other “ninjutsu” teachers named Sato or Saito) has been subjected to considerable criticism for his claim to Iga-ryu Ninjutsu heritage, particularly from supporters of the Bujinkan and related martial arts schools (under Sensei Masaaki Hatsumi).
Given my own extensive experiences with Sensei Kazuo Saito, and having met the late Soke Heishichiro Okuse in Japan (in 1994, see below for photos), there is a clear and established connection between the two men. I also assisted Sensei Saito with the translation of Okuse’s book “Ninpo: Techniques and Examples”, during which time Saito regularly consulted with Okuse (via phone) and clearly had permission to undertake the project (although, sadly, the translation was never completed). Furthermore, with Soke Seiko Fujita – a man widely respected by his peers and acknowledged as the last ninja in his eulogies – bestowing the majority of his belongings and ninja documentation to Okuse, there was evidently a strong bond between the two ninja experts. Okuse cemented the ties between these three generations when he built the Iga-Ueno ninja museum and the “Fujita Bunko” ninja library, featuring photos of Saito and Okuse (and no other supposed “ninja masters”).
I make no assertion that other schools of ninjutsu are historically false (or true), nor I do claim to know Sensei Saito’s heritage in arts other than Iga-ryu Ninjutsu and Sports Chanbara. I do, however, take exception to baseless criticism of any martial arts school. Criticism of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu appears to stem from an assumption that because ninjutsu practitioners such as Soke Okuse made no flamboyant claims to their training heritage, their successors have no credibility. True ninjutsu is focussed on the arts of military strategy and subterfuge rather than the stereotypical misconception of the assassin super-warrior popularised by Hollywood. Is it not understandable that traditional practitioners like Okuse would remain in the shadows like the generations of Hanzo Hattori grand masters before him? Men like myself and Sensei Saito are of a more modern (and flamboyant) mindset.
Although I retired from training many years ago, only now (in 2007) do I feel compelled to make public my knowledge of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu as I see Sensei Saito’s heritage slipping away under a barrage misinformation from other ninjutsu schools and biased amateur researchers. The Iga-ryu Ninjutsu I was taught was clearly the product of at least three generations of men, two of which (Fujita and Okuse) have been acknowledged in their lifetimes as leading authorities on ninjutsu arts and history. Beyond that, I simply do not know, but I am convinced of Kazuo Crando Saito’s authenticity as Soke of Iga-ryu Ninjutsu. To practitioners of other ninja-inspired arts, I commend you on your enthusiasm for your school and your Sensei. Remember your seishin and find solace in hard training and the wisdom of your Sensei rather than looking to find fault in the character of others.
The word “Chanbara” derives from the sound of swords clanging together and is loosely translated as “swashbuckling”. Sports Chanbara is a combat sport conceived by Japanese Iaido sensei and businessman Tetsundo Tanabe in 1969. Although taught with traditional Japanese martial art values and terminology, Sports Chanbara is a freestyle combat sport that uses a range of specially-designed inflatable or padded (Airsoft or Actionflex brands) weapons (knife, short sword, long sword, staff, and spear – and combinations thereof).
Chanbara has become popular in Japan, and the sport is now practiced throughout Asia, Australia, USA, the Middle East, and Europe. More info on Sports Chanbara can be found at the International Sports Chanbara Association website or on Wikipedia.
The images in this gallery are protected by copyright and are not to be used/reproduced without permission.