THE INTENT HEREIN IS TO EDUCATE NOT TO JUDGE; THUS IF YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY OFFENSE; RIGHT?
First and foremost, we DO NOT claim to teach the “Koka Ryu Ninjutsu”, though our Kukishin Ryu is th eonly surviving school with a direct ties to one of the Koka family; and for he or she to claim to be masters of Koga Ryu today, that is higly improvable and without legitimacy, an accomplice to the grand false illusion, if you will. Based on the lack of strategic information and the fact that the body movement from the Iga Ryu and Koga Ryu were very similar, the supposed Koga Ryu that is taught today does not have much in common with the Togakure Ryu (well known Ninjutsu line) and the other traditional systems from Iga and Koga.
Should you find yourself learning karate forms or kata (there are no forms in Ninjutsu), restricted or stiff routines or even moving around like a monkey without any significance whatsoever; this does not mean you are learning any type of Ninjutsu less Koka ryu.
Sadly, the Koka ryu or line is a long dead body of knowledge which did not survive the changing time; perhaps the level of isolation contributed to this. Its principles and concepts of strategy did not serve man any longer and so like anything else, it die. This is, I believe, what Fujita Seiko came to realize hence committed Koka to eternal suicide.
It is important to point out, for those who follow these idealisms, if you are going to use the term Ninjutsu, it is important to understand the root characters of the significance of using the proper terminology. This is one of those, “lost in translation,” sort of things. Ninjitsu is the incorrect term since the character for jitsu refers to time. The technique of hammering a nail which requires no process less thought. The character for jutsu, however, refers to a process or methodology; hence Ninjutsu refers to the methodology of endurance or permanence. Ninjutsu is the methodoly of strategic survivalship and even living.
NINJUTSU IS NOT A MARTIAL ARTS. One can practice Ninjutsu without ever setting a foot in a dojo or learning how to fight; nevetheless, it is through the rigorous training of taijutsu that one can manifest the highest application of these stratgies in preparation to battle or warfare. Those who claim to practice Nnjutsu really meany taijutsu. Nowadays, a more accurate assesment is to say Ninpo taijutsu, which is the body of methodology at an extremely high level of proficiency in conncection to the Ninja.
Besides the Iga Ryu, the Koka (Koga) Ryu Ninjutsu was the other ninja clan (group of family) of importance in Japan. This Ryu consisted of 53 families who probably came together under the Tenkyo period between 938 and 946.
It was after Mochizuki Saburo Kameie triumphed in the war against Taira No Masakado that he received a bit of land southeast of the Omo province. The area was called Koga-Gun, so Mochizuke changed his name to Koga Oni No Kami Kameie. It was his son, Oni No Kami Iechika, a talent in the military as well as in literature that was supposed to have been the founder of the Koga Ryu. It is said that he studied Genjutsu from the Buddhist monk Tatsumaki Hoshi who lived in the area.
The tradition kept going for seven generations through Oni No Kami Ienari, Iesada, Ienaga, Iekiyo, Ietoo, Ieyoshi and Yoshiyasu, before it spread to other families: Mochizuki, Ugai, Naiki, and Akutagawa. To these five head families the remaining troops from both the north and south kingdom in the Namboku were joined (1335-1395). With help from Koga Ryu they grew to 53 families. Some of the Ryu (families) within Koga Ryu were:
1. Koga Ryu 2. Taro Ryu 3. Otomo Ryu 4. Shinpi 5.Kuruya Ryu 6. Hiryu Ryu 7. Taira Ryu 8. Tomo Ryu 9. Fujiwara Ryu 10. Isshu Ryu 11. Tatara Ryu 12. Sasaki Ryu 13. Byaku Ryu 14. Sugawara Ryu 15. Tachibana Hachi Tengu Ryu 16. Kawachi Yon Tengu Ryu.
While the Koga Ryu grew, there were eight families (Koga Hachi Tengu) that would be the strongest, leading the other Ryu in Koga. The eight families were Koga, Mochizuki, Ugai, Naikii, Akutagawa, Ueno, Ban and Nagano. But even groups in Koga such as Hiryugumi, Kakuryugumi, Tachibana Hachitengu Gumi and Kawachi Yon Tengu Gumi had Ninjutsu masters of high class.
Under the Holuto period (1441-1451), the leading heirs were Koga Saburo, Mochizuki Goro, Ugai Ryuhoshi, Naiki Fujibe and Akutagawa Kazuma. Under the Bunmei period (1469-1487) they were Koga Saburo Ii, Mochizuki Yajiro, Ugai Chiaki, Naiki Gohei and Akutagawa Tenpei who was hired by the Sasaki family – the Daimyo in that area – to lead their troops against Ashikaga Yoshizawa.
Almost 100 years later the Sasaki family hired ninjas again. This time they were ninjas from both the Koga and Iga area (1570). They also hired samurais from Koga and the goal was to destroy Oda Nobunaga. The samurais were trained intensively for a short period to be able to fight under the strategies that the ninja jonin had worked out.
Sasaki army was divided into three divisions. The first one was led by ninjas from Mikumo Ryu, Takanose Ryu, Mizuhara Ryu and Inui Ryu. The other army was led by the other 53 Koga families, and the third by the Sasaki samurais. In the battle, Mikumo Iyo No Kami, who led one of the Sasaki armies suddenly changed sides and attacked the Sasaki army’s back. This led to the defeat of Sasaki, who barely managed to escape.
When Tokugawa Ieyasu fought for power in Japan, the Fushima castle near Kyoto was occupied. They had to defend themselves against the armies in the west long enough for the Tokugawa army to regroup for the fight in Seki Ga Hara in the east. There were also 400 ninjas from Koga Ryu who helped them with the defense – some of them in the castle, while others terrorized the enemy outside the compound with different kinds of raids. About 100 of them died, and after the Tokugawa victory they held a ceremony commemorating the dead, among whom Mochizuki and Arakawa were mentioned to have been killed.
One of the last times the Koga ninja were active in a battle was at the Shima-Bara No Ran, when Christian samurais rebelled and occupied the Hara castle in Shimabara province on Kyushu. Ten ninjas from Koga Ryu were sent by Izumo Kami Nobutsuna to gather information for the Shogun samurais to prepare an attack against the castle.
They were led by Mochizuki Heidayu, 63 years old and Akutagawa Kiyouemon, 60 years old, both veterans from the battle at Sekigahara. The others from Koga were:
1. Iwane Kanbei, 56 years old 2. Kamogai Kanuemon, 56 years old 3. Tomei Gohei, 53 years old 4. Iwani Kanbei, 45 years old 5. Natsumi Kakunosuke, 41 years old 6. Mochizuki Yoemon, 33 years old 7. Akutagawa Shichirobei, 25 years old, 8. Yamanaka Jutayu, 24 years old.
They arrived on the 4th of January 1638, and their first assignment was to create a map of the area around the castle. Only 15 days later, they sent a detailed map of the castle and the forces protecting it to Edo and the Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu.
It is also said that the ninjas from Koga, or Ongyu No Mono (hidden persons) as they were also called, infiltrated the castle each night without problem. The 21st of January they stole food from the castle, which did not make it easier for the enemy since they already had very little food. They also managed to get some secret passwords.
January 27th, five Koga ninjas managed to get into the castle disguised as soldiers. They were Mochizuki Yoemon, Arakawa Shichirobei, Natsume Kakano-Suke, Yamanaka Jutayu and Tomo Gohei. The troops outside the castle fired with their rifles, and the enemy in the castle automatically blew out all the torches so they wouldn’t draw more fire to them. Later that night, when the guards began to relax, the ninja could easily climb over the walls in the protection of the darkness.
Arakawa got careless and fell down in a hole. He got immediate help from Mochizuki. But because of the noise, the guards lit the torches again, and they were spotted. Mochizuki and Arakawa both ran right through the troops, snatched one of the Christian flags on the way, and got shot at. All five managed to escape, but both Mochizuki and Arakawa got wounded.
When the castle was attacked the 24th of February, the Koga ninjas served as an office of connections between the two troops. As a parenthesis, it can be mentioned that Musashi Miyamoto (one of the most famous swordsmen throughout the history), was one of the plan makers on the Shogun’s side. He was hit by a rock thrown by a woman from the castle wall, he had to retreat from the battle complaining about his loss of youthful power.
The Koga Ryu survived into the middle of the 20th century through one man, Fujita Seiko (1899-1966). He claimed that he was the 14th Soke of Koga Ryu, but there was no proof to those claims. He led small special units in the jungles in the second world war during which he became well noticed as a field operative not so much for his success but ability to endure and gather intellingence.
There is a book called A Ninjutsu No Gokui@ (The secrets of Ninjutsu), written by Gingetsu, who learned the techniques and history over a long period of time from Tanemura Ihachiro, a jonin in Koga Ryu. The techniques described in that book are very similar to those in the Iga Ryu, naturally.