Ancient KOGA History

For hundreds of years the IGA (Togakure) group of ninja were the major force in Ninjitsu, however smaller groups existed in other parts of Japan. Within these groups of spies, saboteurs and killers there developed two super groups, namely the IGA of Mie prefecture and the deadly KOGA of Shiga prefecture. Interestingly Shiga is next to the Mie prefecture in Southern Japan. The KOGA and IGA inhabited the same mountain range, in two valleys divided by the mountain. Completely isolated from the outside world, where they lived as farmers and were consulted by the locals on medicine, herbs, weather forecasting and agriculture.

From among the warlords, great generals came forth who gradually unified Japan. Leaders such as Tekada Shingen, Oda Nobunga, and perhaps the greatest general in Japanese history, Tokugawa Lesyau. They all employed the Ninja to help control the country through complex spy networks. The KOGA Ninja consisted of 53 families. They specialised in medicine and explosives and developed many of the tools and weapons used by the Ninja.

Through small in number, they were and elite force and because the second most famous group, beside the IGA. Based near Kyoto, they were recruited by the great rulers of Japan as councillors and military strategists.

In 1573, Oda Nobunaga became the Shogun, or military dictator, and when he was assassinated in 1582, a commoner Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who died in 1598 took over the government. In 1603 Tokugawa Leyasu became Shogun by defeating Hideyoshi’s son at the battle of Seki ga Hara.

With the close of the Sengoku era in 1600, three hundred years of peace and prosperity followed, known as the Tokugawa era in Japanese history. Up until this time the capital of Japan had been in Kyoto, but Tokugawa moved the capital to Edo, or Tokyo as we know it. He took with him three hundred Ninja from the KOGA and IGA groups as personal bodyguards. Later these Ninja guarded the castle in Tokyo.

Now that peace had come at last to a united Japan, the Ninja whose work and usefulness had been invaluable in time of war, found themselves glorified servants around castle of Tokyo. They became known as oniwaban (gardeners) by the people and were ridiculed by the samurai and the ladies-in-waiting who attended the shogun’s court. Although still used to gather information on any signs of rebellion and to carry messages for the lords, the Ninja mainly acted as bodyguards to Tokugawa.

Modern Ninjutsu

Today, as before, there are two main styles of Ninjitsu in general existence, namely the IGA (Togakure) and the KOGA. Today the main difference between the styles is that while the IGA style still adhere to the more traditional Ninjitsu, the KOGA style has evolved to become essentially an extremely effective system of self defense. The KOGA syllabus is constantly adapting and increasing to keep pace with the current modes of attacks and weapons being used in the streets today.