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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. While there is an international martial arts organization representing several modern styles of ninjutsu, the historical lineage of these styles is disputed.
Some schools claim to be the only legitimate heir of the art, but ninjutsu is not centralized like modernized martial arts such as judo or karate. Togakure-ryū claims to be the oldest recorded form of ninjutsu, and claims to have survived past the 16th century.
According to Shōninki, the first open usage of ninjutsu during a military campaign was in the Genpei War, when Minamoto no Kuro Yoshitsune chose warriors to serve as shinobi during a battle. This manuscript goes on to say that during the Kenmu era, Kusunoki Masashige frequently used ninjutsu. According to footnotes in this manuscript, the Genpei War lasted from 1180 to 1185, and the Kenmu Restoration occurred between 1333 and 1336.
Ninjutsu was developed by groups of people mainly from Kōka and the Iga Province of Japan. Throughout history, the shinobi were assassins, scouts, and spies who were hired mostly by territorial lords known as daimyō. Shinobi are mainly noted for their use of stealth and deception. An example of these is the Togakure-ryū, which was developed after a defeated samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure escaped to the region of Iga.