|Affiliation||Azuma Ninja Clan|
|First Appearance||Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Abilities
- 3 Trivia
Early History of The Azuma Family
The childhood of Azuma Shiunsai, is shrouded mostly in secrecy. It is still a secret when exactly he was born or where or to whom. Azuma Shiunsai was more than likely born into the Azuma clan, around the early 1500's (the prelogue in Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins, says "It is the age of the warring states the old Shogun has fallen and samurai warlords fight savage battles for the right to hoist their flag over the great castles of Japan.") Around this time, the most historicaly accurate shogunate, was the Ashikaga Shogunate, which fell in or around the year 1573. The fact that the Azuma clan's name is shared with the Azuma Village, could lead to some speculation, that the Azuma clan was named after the village. During this time and even before, it was not uncommon for the clans or individual warriors, whether samurai or shinobi, to adopt the name of a respected village or town.
A real-life representation of this is the historical Togakure-ryu ninjutsu, named after Daisuke Togakure (Daisuke Nishina) who changed his name after Togakure Village where he was born. When exactly the Azuma clan established the Azuma Shinobi-ryu (Azuma School of Ninjutsu) is still unknown, but seeing how Azuma Shiunsai was born into the well established Azuma Shinobi-ryu, pretty much shows the ninjutsu-ryu's lineage stretches back even further, as said to Tatsumaru by Azuma Shiunsai, when the entire Azuma Shinobi-ryu tradition was passed down to him. "This is the ancestral sword Izayoi, the spirit of the Azuma Ninja". Also, it was not uncommon for some ninjutsu-ryu to be within a ninja clan that was at first a samurai clan. Again, the real-life Togakure-Ryu Ninpo, whether the Azuma family started as as samurai family and evolved is unknown, but unlikely.
This statement proves the Azuma-ryu existed even further beyond the early 1500s. More than likely, it was established in the 14th century some time. What is known is that this ninjutsu-ryu, was established in a time of widespread war and through the generations have passed down the secret techniques and traditions of the Azuma-ryu. It's main focus were based strongly on unorthodox methods of war, battlefield survival tactics, espionage, sabotage, assassination and of course - stealth. Being a school established in the Sengoku Period (warring states), firmly places the Azuma Shinobi-ryu as a Koryu. (traditional/old school; Koryu systems of martial arts are very commonly far more revered as they are combative systems that were developed during and from Japan's feudal military culture. The primary purpose and emphasis of a Koryu martial system was for use in war. The most extreme Koryu schools preserve and keep intact its traditional and very ancient practices even in the absence of continuing wars in which to test them.) This can be seen through Azuma Shiunsai, his students and the students of the current Master of Azuma Shinobi-ryu.
Grandmaster Azuma Begins Training in Azuma Shinobi-ryu Ninjutsu
Well at some point in his youth, he began his rigorous and long hard training within the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. Training was fierce and kept secret within the Azuma clan and was passed down through kuden (verbal transmission) the Azuma kept little record of its existence, ryu, military operations and traditions. This way the Azuma Ninja remained shrouded in secrecy. As said, the Azuma Shinobi-ryu was developed mainly for war, Azuma Shiunsai's training focused on Azuma Shinobi-ryu interpretations of multiple arts. Some of these include Azuma-taijutsu, Azuma-jutaijutsu, long distance running, underwater survival and combat, battlefield awareness, sensing the intentions of others (though not a complete discipline), around about his mid teens more than likely he began studying and training in the special weapons and more advanced secret techniques unique to the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. Such weapons or tools studied were the stealth camoflouge, sleep powder, invisibility technique, chameleon technique, exploding arrows, blowgun, shadow control, Feign Death, Ninja Mind Control, Shinobi-irijutsu (Stealth and Entering), Gokui Atemi Sakkatsuho Zukai: Secret Killing Strikes Art, koppojutsu (bone breaking), as well as boryaku (military strategy) and Seishin Teki Kyoko (spiritual refinement), and Zanshin: clear mental awareness.
He spent hours training at a time, sometimes he may have even been suspended from a tree in order to build up and master patience. Being a system of unorthodox methods of war, the Azuma Ninja trained their students hard, in order to condition them for the demanding battlefield and outside world at large. Around this time (Sengoku period which was initiated by the Onin War-1467to1477), the country of Japan was a large scale battlefield due to this and the Azuma clan survived and continued through the great wars. The Azuma Shinobi-ryu was based in the small Azuma Village, high and deep in the mountains of the small country of Gohda. At some time in history, the House of Gohda brokered an agreement with the Azuma Ninja clan to serve as the countries spies in return for peace and respecting their secrecy and seclusion. The Azuma Ninja accepted, seeing how they have served the House of Gohda for generations through rebellions, civil war and external wars. Azuma Shiunsai mastered the knowledge surrounding poisons. In his youth, it is speculated he possessed immense potential, whether or not Master Shiunsai's master trained and intended on passing the Azuma ninjutsu-ryu lineage to him initially is unknown, but it clearly was. When exactly he began performing missions as an Azuma Ninja is not on record, nor how or when his predecessor stepped down or passed on.
Master Of The Azuma Shinobi-Ryu
At some point in his young adulthood, more than likely, the Master Ninja of the Azuma Ninja clan, passed the Azuma Shinobi-ryu tradition to the new Master: Azuma Shiunsai and leadership of the clan to him through Izayoi. Having fully mastered all the aspects, including combat techniques, theory and philosophy of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu, Azuma Shiunsai was ready to continue the lineage that had existed and survived for generations long since passed in the Sengoku period, that had been developed for war and survival during war, was finally passed down to him. It was a true honor for Azuma Shiunsai, to hold the honorable title of Master Ninja within his ninjutsu-ryu. He loved his ryu and clan very deeply.
Throughout his Azuma Ninja service in the field, Azuma Shinobi-ryu Master, Azuma Shiunsai eventually started thinking about and considering training his own students. Azuma Shiunsai performed countless missions for Gohda Matsunoshin's father, former head of the House of Gohda, who ruled the country of Gohda. His service earned him high levels of honorary respect from those who met him, fought him and heard of him. One mission around about the 1550s early to mid, Azuma Shiunsai assassinated a man, under the orders of the House of Gohda. It is unknown what this man's status was, but he did infact have a son. Azuma Shiunsai, seeing the boy and knowing that his actions left him without a family, Azuma Shiunsai saw an immense amount of potential in him, that could be properly molded under the study and masterful tutelage of Azuma Shinobi-ryu.
Azuma Shiunsai took the young boy back with him to the Azuma Village. Since the boy was of age, began his rigorous, ancient and traditional Azuma ninjutsu training. The boy lived up completely to Azuma Shiunsai's teachings, highly adept at picking up and learning techniques, more specifically Azuma-taijutsu. Which he mastered at a young age and used as his primary form of combat, even when faced with enemies bearing swords. The boy also showed great mental control, which was the second half of his training. Azuma Shiunsai, upon seeing this in a youth of his age, knew that one day, he would pass the entire Azuma Shinobi-ryu tradition along with the leadership of the Azuma Ninja clan to his most prized student. The boy, at about the age 20, was inducted into the Azuma Ninja clan and was named Tatsumaru.
About two years after stumbling across Tatsumaru, Azuma Shiunsai received orders to assassinate a particular samurai. Together, with several seasoned Azuma Ninja, they infiltrated the samurai's house and claimed his life. During the escape however, they were discovered by his wife and a family servant. Azuma Shiunsai, very quickly silenced them both, as they prepared to silence the crying child being clutched in the deceased mother's arms, Master Shiunsai stopped them from killing the baby boy. Taking pity on the boy for leaving him in a situation similar to Tatsumaru, Azuma Shiunsai took him home to the Azuma Village and raised him as if he were his own son. Azuma Shiunsai, already raising and training Tatsumaru, thought and decided, when the baby boy is of age, he will be trained in the arts of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. Once the young boy grew to be of proper age, to undertake the rigorous and demanding Azuma ninjutsu training, it became apparent to Azuma Shiunsai, that the boy may have been too weak to endure the training. Being the battlefield hardened and wise Azuma-ryu master, Azuma Shiunsai named the boy Rikimaru for strength. Whether it was his name, the inspiration from seeing how dedicated his master was in his growth and success or whether it was daily taijutsu and jutaijutsu sparring sessions with Tatsumaru, that drove him to becoming stronger is uncertain.
However, Rikimaru grew to be a very strong boy within the Azuma Village. If he had anything that could be looked at as a shortcoming, it was that he didn't learn new techniques as fast as the other students, but Azuma Shiunsai encouraged and guided his training every step. Rikimaru developed into an oustanding swordsman, striving to be as Tatsumaru at his level of skill. Around his mid teen years, he mastered a highly unorthodox Azuma-kenjutsu style, that strongly emphasizes a reverse gripping of the sword behind the back with the empty hand leading and body weight centered in a low stance.
Within the advanced Azuma-kenjutsu style, techniques of graceful movement, counter-attacks and evasion are taught. The style could be considered a soft-hard style, a style that starts off as a soft receiving fluid styl, evading attacks completley and counter-attacking or blocking and deflecting, then the hard aspect generating power and pressing the attack with little to no wasted movements, expressed through his adulthood and numerous duels later on. At the age of 18, Rikimaru became a fully inducted member of the Azuma Ninja clan.
Years later after finding Rikimaru, during the Warring States period, Azuma Shiunsai traveled to Kyoto which is not far from the Iga-Province. There needs to be something spoken on this, for these two Ninjutsu-Koryu share a few of the same tools and the clan spoken of operated not too far outside of Kyoto. The real-life Togakure-Ryu Ninjutsu was uniquely recognized for employing a few hidden weapons, Tetsubishi (known in the Tenchu series as caltrops), Shuko climbing claws, Senban Shuriken (the famous four pointed throwing star) and Shindake (a bamboo tube used for underwater breathing and a blowgun). All of these are unique to the Togakure-ryu as their secrets were passed down through their lineage. Now, with secrets like this being seen within the Azuma Shinobi-ryu one can assume, that the Togakure either trained, fought, taught or had a major influence over the Azuma Shinobi-ryu, for such knowledge would have only been provided by them more than likely.
While in Kyoto, he saw how the wars had left the small villages in ruins, brought upon by warring samurai clans fighting for control. Standing at a riverbank amongst what remained of the recent battlefield, Azuma Shiunsai noticed a very young girl watching the corpses of fallen samurais and slain innocents floating by. Azuma Shiunsai was puzzled by this sight, was it a sign of some sort? The girl knew her name and age, but that was all. After being unable to find her parents, Azuma Shiunsai decided there was nothing more he could do, but could not bear to leave her to fend for herself at such tender age, but what could he possibly do or teach to a young girl, when he was an Azuma Ninja hardened master. He couldn't train her of something he was unfamiliar of, the rigorous training of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu would be too hard and demanding for her. He was not part of some more larger schools, teaching ninjutsu like the Iga or Koka schools. The Azuma Shinobi-ryu was small, but not to be underestimated, they just simply preferred complete seclusion and natural resources to supplement their existence and secrecy. As an Azuma Master, Azuma Shiunsai knew nothing of the ways of the hearts and emotions. What could he teach in traditional kunoichi arts of seduction and hypnotism? With his thoughts of doubt, in taking and raising her rising, he decided it was time to leave the girl clutching at his sleeve. But at that moment, knowing from years of battlefield experience, he sensed the potential in her, to endure the training.
After bringing her to the Azuma Village, Azuma Shiunsai raised her the way he was raised and the only way he knew how was that of a regular Azuma Ninja, like Tatsumaru and Rikimaru. Based on natural abilities and talent despite her late start, the girl was more than likely the most talented out of all three, but also had a bad attitude, which could have reduced some of her immense potential. For example, very curious and willing to learn new Azuma-ryu techniques and picked up quickly of course. She was skilled in all the arts put before her, but lacked the very necessary virtue of patience needed in understanding and mastering the delicate subtleties within the techniques. Even though she still possessed great skill and knowlege of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. With that said its hard to truly determine without her attitude how far she truly could have developed. Possibly surpassing Azuma Shiunsai or even Rikimaru, despite her late start, she passed the initiation training mission with little ease, earning the name Ayame and the title Azuma Ninja at the impressive age of 12, even younger than Tatsumaru. Extremely talented students are only the result and reflection the master that teaches, trains and guides them.
Next Generation Of Azuma Ninja Inherits Azuma Shinobi-Ryu
Around about 1573 Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins during the Warring States period, the country of Gohda was thrown into civil war by Gohda Motohide. Who felt it was he who should have inhereted the title daimyo over the House of Gohda. This war lead to the Azuma Ninja being called upon once more. Master Shiunsai knew from years of experience that the time to appoint his successor was. Appearing from a revolving door within his house holding Izayoi the full moon ninjato of the Azuma. Master Shiunsai explained the situation to his young students. Then announced to Tatsumaru, that with him, passing this sword down to him along with it the Azuma Shinobi-ryu history, lineage and Master Ninja rank of the Azuma Ninja clan, saying "The powerful, must know when to pass along their power. As you three graduate to new roles I also ascend." More than likely he attained the level of Azuma Soke (Grandmaster), when Tatsumaru became the Azuma clan master, but also at finally, being able to see how his training and strict tutelage of his students will pay off. Now that they are free to leave the village and experience true Azuma Ninja survival in the many wars that are all across Japan.
Passing And Legacy Of The Azuma Ninja Clan Grandmaster Azuma Shiunsai
During the Great War between the country of Gohda and the Burning Dawn, the renegade ninja group lead by former Nyogetsu Ninja Master, Lady Kagami, attacked the Azuma Village as punishment for their interference. Tatsumaru, suffering from amnesia after an earlier duel lead the assault into the village, his mission orders to assassinate the Azuma Grandmaster, Azuma Shiunsai. Silently eliminating the majority of the elderly Azuma, who valiantly fought and died for their respected village. Tatsumaru came upon his masters hut, entering he quickly incapacated Lord Gohda and dueled the master. Azuma Shiunsai, as it would be expected, fought hard and with the skill of a previous but well-aged Azuma Master. But was not able to withstand the skill and youth of the heir of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. At some point during the duel, Tatsumaru drew Izayoi into combat in order to keep up with the Azuma Master swordsman. Finding and opening in his masters technique, the highly-skilled shinobi quickly thrust Izayois' blade into the chest of its former wielder and Azuma Master.
After this event while dying, Master Shiunsai tells Rikimaru: "the fate of the Azuma clan is now in your hands."
Rikimaru and Ayame avenge both Master Shiunsai and their then almost extinct Azuma Ninja clan at the Battle of Gohda Harbor. But with their survival and retreival of Izayoi, the Azuma Shinobi-ryu survived the war that almost brought about the end to this historical Ninjutsu-Koryu. Seven years passed and Rikimaru and Ayame trained very hard. With no experienced previous Azuma Master to turn too, in order to help teach and train him the most secretive techniques of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu. He taught himself, it was not easy by any means. But through his unshakeable dedication, that in which he's possessed since childhood. Mastered all the secret techniques of the Azuma-ryu becoming maybe the most powerful Master Ninja the clan had ever seen. Because he also taught these very same techniques to Ayame or she could have taught herself. To name only a few of the most secret and powerful techniques some are the Wrath of Heaven jutsu, Tengu Conceal, Ninja Rebirth, World jutsu time manipulation technique, the latter is found in Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, along with the ability to generate and perform lightning attacks.
All of Master Shiunsai's students at some point held the title Master Ninja of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu, possibly making this honorable Azuma Grandmaster the greatest of the Azuma and abroad had ever seen. His teachings and philosophy live on through the Azuma Shinobi-ryu currently taught by Rikimaru, his second student, as we've seen in the House of Gohda-House of Ogawara War. Rikimaru's students were trained and taught well showing that this Azuma Master learned well, but like a true Azuma Ninjutsu Master, ensured the survival of the Azuma Shinobi-ryu will continue on into the next generation and beyond.
"You must not be ruled by vengeance or anger when you face him or you will fail again." - Azuma Grandmaster Azuma Shiunsai.
As former Grand Master Ninja of Azuma clan, Azuma Shiunsai is unquestionably very skillful. He is the one who taught Rikimaru and Ayame, that means he is highly skilled in swordmanship. He also the one who taught Tatsumaru taijutsu, that means he is highly skilled in martial arts too, although he is seldom to use it in combat.