This review is by Bernie Gourley from his article "10 of My Favorite Books About Martial Arts" (October 2011):
Ninpo: Wisdom for Life by Masaaki Hatsumi. I will first warn that if you aren't familiar with Hatsumi-Soke, this is probably not the best book with which to start. However, this book probably offers as much insight per page as any of the other books. First-time readers and those who've never experienced his teachings are advised to pick up Ninjutsu: History and Tradition first.
Hatsumi is as arcane and difficult to follow as any on this list, but he often offers lessons that are unique among the books mentioned herein. In this book, Hatsumi conveys stories about his own life, such as when he kept training while he was sick for five years, and a number of stories about his teacher Takamatsu-sensei, such as Takamatsu's bout in China with a burly Kung fu practitioner. He also addresses maxims in brief essays as do some of the other books. However, included among them are several lessons that are quite different from those in the Hyams book [Zen in the Martial Arts] or the work by Stevens [Budo Secrets]. Among the more unconventional admonitions is "be bold, act timid", which requires an understanding of the peculiarity of the Japanese word that is translated as "timid" [attention to small things] and thus gives the maxim a slightly different implication than the English translation would convey. Some of these less conventional admonitions come across as humorous or absurd at first such as "look for a spouse who understands seppuku" [seppuku is the ritualized suicide that was once practiced in Japan], but the author gives insight into the meaning of seppuku through his essay. Of course, some of Hatsumi's maxims do convey similar ideas to those in other books. For example, "do not rush to build your house" is not so different from Hyam's "conquer haste."
Steven D'Agostino, UK [Dec 4, 2010]|
Dear Joe, I thought that I should let you know that the book arrived here (UK) today, in perfect condition. Thanks again!
Matt Gilson, UK [Sept 3, 2009]
Hi there, I'm emailing to let you know that yesterday I received the two copies of Ninpo Wisdom for Life that you sent. I was very impressed by the speed of the postage, and from what I've read so far, the book seems excellent!
Thanks for the books - I'm really enjoying it, and it does look to be filled with wisdom!
From: Cody A
County: Santa Rosa, CA (USA)
Regarding my our for Ninpo: Wisdom for Life, I received the book on Jan 21, 2009. Thank you for your attention. I placed a comment on Amazon.com stating my appreciation. I would like to tell you that I originally purchased this book several years ago and I read it regularly. My sensei had never heard of the book, so this is the recent purchase I made for him. I've been a practicing member of the Bujinkan for several years and value this book greatly.
From: Stephen A
Country: NSW / Australia Joe,
Six (6) days from the US to "Down Under"! That was fast.
Thanks for the great efforts in not only getting the book out to me so quickly, but also for the great job on the book itself.
Paul Harper, UK
Ninpo: Wisdom for Life, is a translation of Sensei's "Hiden Togakure Ryu Ninpo." Hold onto your brain! It is essential reading once a year. You can probably measure your progress in life and budo by how much more you understand each time.
From: Stefan Filus
Country: Munich, Germany
I ordered a copy "NINPO: Wisdom for life" only a week ago and it arrived the day before yesterday! As people always tend to take things for granted I want to do something different here and say: Thanks guys for a great job! I really was amazed by your fast service! I will surely recommend your service.
Thanks again and best regards from Germany,
From: Jamie D. [North Carolina]
Your hard work on Ninpo was very much appreciated by the people around me that have experienced the book. Thanks again for all your effort to keep information available. I know Sensei will love the book.
(snip) Your book is great Joe and you should be proud. People won't email and tell you of things the book has helped them understand or deal with. So I thought I would share my story with you. You have put information out that will help people in and out of taijutsu training. Thank you again for your hard work, it is appreciated greatly.
David Greenberg [New York]
I have just received a copy of the book as a present from my students, and am already on page 48. I do find it very interesting. I think that being able to read (and learn) these materials (in English) provides invaluable assets to any Budo student and teacher. Moreover, it covers areas that are beyond techniques and illuminates a crucial philosophical/spiritual/historical context to what we do in everyday training. Congratulations on completing this hard work!
Chris Davy [Washington, DC]
I just asked that all of my students order the translation of the Hiden Togakure Ryu book from you. A student of mine bought me one, it's very well done!!!
David C. [New York]
I recently finished my first reading of Ninpo: Wisdom for Life. The book was fascinating, with many salient points that at times made me think about why I train. I love any opportunity to read Hatsumi Sensei's philosophy, and this edition was a delightfully quick reading. I especially enjoyed the theme of having a proper spirit while training. I feel that books like this help to keep Bujinkan students motivated. The philosophy behind our arts is noble and worth an equal amount of study outside and in conjunction with the physical teachings of the dojo.
After having read Essence of Ninjutsu, Grandmaster's Book of Ninja Training, and Ninja Secrets from the Grandmaster, I think this book is a great starting point for any student that wishes to immerse themselves in the philosophy of the Bujinkan. I know that I'll be reading it again and again for as long as I train. Thank you for helping to advance the philosophy of Hatsumi Sensei to students around the world.
Scott Robbins [New York]
Just thought I'd mention that I've gotten and begun reading the Ninpo: Wisdom for Life book and find it really good. I have the original Japanese version, but my Japanese reading is too weak to take up more than a few pages at a time -- reading the English version, I see why too :).
At this point, I am glad I have it.
Skip K. [USA]
"Mucho thanks to Joe Maurantonio of the Bujinkan New York Dojo for EXTREEMLY timely and cheerful service upon receiving my chicken-scrawled order for Hatsumi Soke's new book.
"It'll be tough to get any work done without sticking my nose in the book for another peek every 5 minutes. If you're thinking of getting this book, stop. Thinking, that is, and place yer damn order!"
Alexander K. [USA]
Joe... I bought the book from you back when I first got wind of it through your internet site. It's great! Thanks. Ninpo Ikkan!
Barry B. [California]
I ordered [Ninpo] from you over two weeks ago... Could you check it out for me and let me know? Thanks.
[Emailed a few hours later]
Disregard my earlier mail! Flash! I got it wow! Thanks you sure know how to follow up fast and deliver. :)
Tony W. [USA]
Hello Mr. Maurantonio,
My name is Tony and I recently placed an order for two copies of "Ninpo: Wisdom for Life". I mailed the money order in the amount of $51.40 on 6/11, a friday. I understood that if you paid by U.S. postal money order that your order would be shipped priority mail within three days of receipt. Could you confirm receipt of my order/payment and if possible let me know when or if the order shipped? Thanks for your time.
[Emailed an hour later]
The books just arrived! Maybe half an hour after sending you the first message, the mailman dropped them off. Please disregard the first message. I think I need to foster a more patient attitude!
I have had some unpleasant experiences with mail order and I really appreciated your services. Perhaps there are other individuals that have had similar experiences and would be comforted by a quote regarding the service I was given.
Don Houle [New Jersey]
I was just re-reading Ninpo: Wisdom for Life and came across a very good paragraph on page 121.
"A doctor who has known me for many years said, 'Often you act very bold but at other times you look timid.' I was very happy to hear these words and could not help smiling to myself. The reason is that having both of these qualities is necessary for genuine warriors in the martial arts world. This seems to be evidence of me developing into a real bujin.
There are big techniques and small techniques in the world of budo. And it is not always the case that the big techniques beat everything; it is a fact that sometimes small techniques can beat big ones."
I think this is one of the quotes that really expresses what ninpo and taijutsu are all about. It is difficult to pick great passages out of this book because of the way Hatsumi sensei jumps around. It seems that just as one point is sinking in, he changes the subject and hits you with another from out of nowhere. Seems kind of like his physical taijutsu too, doesn't it? Thanks!
Dean Rostohar [Croatia]
"I want to Thank You for editing Ninpo: Wisdom for life by Soke Hatsumi. The book is really incredible. I also wanted to tell you that I read the book once and did not think too much about the contents, other than I liked it very much. Anyway, as you know, we all have small problems in our dojo. Problems with ourselves, with students , with training, etc... Everytime I have a problem I take out the Ninpo book and open it up, picking some random text. In that text, I always find an answer to the problem, and Hatsumi soke explains it very well. So this is how I sometimes learn to solve dojo problems. This is really amazing!!! So, thank you very much..."
"Hi again! The books have arrived today! Very fast handling I must say! I have just started to look through the book and what I have seen is great!"
Don Roley [Japan]
"I think every high ranking member should have a copy and I value mine."
Pierre B. [Canada]
Just a note to let you know that I received the book yesterday morning. It Is Great !!! I can't seem to put it down and even when I do, it stays there in my mind. It is great to read about the philosophy behind our art and having it from the source is excellent. When reading the book I feel like I am reading a Densho. I feel the same when reading Sanmyaku. Thank you very much for getting it to me so quickly. Excellent job at packing it. Just wanted to let you know how satisfied I am with your service. Ninpo Ikkan!
Andrew Young [Japan]
Greetings from Japan!
How the devil are you my friend?
I hope this email reaches you. Just to let you know that I have read your translation of Sensei's book and found it to be really great! I attempted to translate for my own personal use several years ago but got no further than the first chapter. It was very heavy going. Having lived in Japan all these years I found it to be useful because of the references Sensei makes to Japanese society. Once again, well done.
Paul H. [Australia]
I am writing to thank you for the speedy delivery of the book...
I was quite surprised to find the book in the mail, as I expected that it would take at least a month or so from the time I placed the order, being that I reside in Australia.
The book itself is fantastic, definitely well presented. I have just begun to read it, and already I can see that it is going to offer tremendous insight and information, not only into the martial arts of the Bujinkan, but also on Hatsumi Sensei himself. Many thanks for collecting this information and getting it published.
Dean R. [Croatia]
Hello Mr. Maurantonio,
The book are really great, and my students enjoy to read it.
It is pleasure to be in contact with you.
My deep regards.
Ian Hickey [Ireland]
I ordered some copies of Senseis new book off you ...
I am interesed in ordering some more for my club and just want to check if you have books in stock at the moment.
Ps. The book is brilliant.