Mark Grove began training in martial arts in 1972 and he has been devout to pursuing the art of the Ninja every since. During those early years he was exposed to many exotic arts that few had been exposed to in the United States, including sword fencing (kenjutsu) staff fighting (bojutsu) throwing blades (shurikenjutsu), short bow and arrow (hankyujutsu), and grappling (jujutsu).
In the late 70's Mr. Grove meets Shihan Frank J. Goody, a Master of multiple martial arts, including Nagai Ryu Jujutsu, Matsuyama Ryu Yawara, and Kota Ryu Ninjutsu. Shihan Goody offers high praise of Mr. Grove at a Martial Arts demonstration.
Always drawn to classical Ryukyu kobudo, Mr. Grove learned a variety of Okinawan weapons, but he was especially drawn to the staff, flail, and iron truncheon.
Mr. Grove and Shihan Goody reunite in 1981 and Mark receives vast amounts of information about Kota Ryu Ninjutsu including 16 unarmed techniques with four variants each, scrolls related to the art of mysticism called Gorin Kuji Myo Himitsu Shaku, and in-depth information about the art of joint manipulation and striking using a short handheld stick.
In 1983 a professional photographer saw Mr. Grove perform in a demonstration. She asked if he would allow her to take one shot because she believed she could capture his spirit with the sword. This image was the result.
In 1983 Mr. Grove is introduced to Hakkoryu Jujutsu practitioner Dennis G. Palumbo and is asked to teach classes in Ninjutsu at the Hakkosen Dojo in Aurora, Colorado. In 1984 Dai Shihan Palumbo officially recognizes Mr. Groves creation of the Kurai Kotori Ninjutsu system under the banner of the Hakkoryu Martial Arts Federation.
As founder of the Kurai Kotori Ryu, Mr. Grove assumes the title of Jonin (ninja leader) and focuses on the four core arts of the system, unarmed combat (taijutsu), acrobatic skills (karujutsu), the basic weapons of short staff, knife, chain and throwing blades (kihon nin-buki), and swordsmanship (kenjutsu).
In 1983 he begins chronicling the art in written form in what he calls the Arcanum of Ninja Tactics, an ongoing work that represents the evolving arts within the Kurai Kotori system.
A group photo taken at the Hakkosen Dojo with the first generation students in the new Kurai Kotori system.
First generation students practice climbing techniques.
In 1983 the Ninja boom is on. Due to the overwhelming popularity, classes grow quickly and new students are excited to train with classical Ninja weapons and learn powerful unarmed fighting techniques.
Although much of the training of the Kurai Kotori system takes place in the Dojo, but Mr. Grove is also dedicated to capturing the spirit of the Ninja by having his students practice skills within nature.
In 1986 Mr. Grove was asked to attend the 1st Annual Ninja Summit in Mentor, Ohio. The purpose of this event was to unite the different factions/clans of Ninja that existed throughout the world. Although the politics involved made it impossible for everyone to see eye to eye, it was still a powerful event that promoted the idea that no one had a monopoly on the art of the Ninja.
1986 also saw the birth of Kurai Kotori Ryu training camps, which would be held at various times over the years and be focused primarily on stealth, climbing, concealment, and group tactics.
Mr. Grove had the honor of studying with Small Circle Jujitsu founder Professor Wally Jay. Mr. Grove demonstrated all of the grappling skills within the Kurai Kotori system and the Professor assisted in refining the techniques using his small circle theories. As a result of this training, Mr. Grove made subtle changes to the system to implement this gift of knowledge from a true master.
In 1987 Mr. Grove was asked to become a member of the Samurai Society of America, an organization comprised of highly regarded and qualified instructors willing to share their knowledge and experience for the benefit of all martial artists. At this event Mr. Grove teaches short staff grappling techniques and elemental meditation.
In 1989 the Honshin Dojo is opened and there is a focus on creating historical Ninja gear in an effort to learn how it would have been employed in the past. Hanging in the upper corner of this photo is the "Mizu Gumo," or "Water Spider," used as a stealthy floatation device.
In 1989, Mr. Grove focuses on teaching his students about the art of concealment. A primary dynamic is wearing mixed colors to assist in camouflage in different environments.
In 1990 After over a decade of training, eight of which spent as a Uchi Deshi (live in student), Daryl Rolando is awarded the title of Kenshi (swordmaster). In this new position he requests the honor of training a new group of students who would focus solely on strategy and swordsmanship.
Mr. Grove seeks an outlet for his skills beyond teaching. His top students continue training as he embarks on a four year journey on which he learns all aspects of fight choreography and cinematic technique under professional stunt coordinators and fight choreographers. These new skills allow him to transition into the film industry as an actor and stuntman.
In 1991 Mr. Grove shoots the martial arts action film My Samurai, starring Julian Lee, Bubba Smith, Mako, and Terry O’Quinn. Mr. Grove choreographs multiple fights on the project.
Mr. Grove lands his first co-starring role in Country Justice, playing the main henchman to the films villain. He also served as the fight choreographer and pyrotechnician, rigging the squibs (bullet hits), small grenade explosions, and prepping and igniting a full body burn.
In 1994, after his four year apprenticeship, and with multiple films under his belt, Mr. Grove feels it necessary to honor both his passions. He opens a new training facility that teaches both martial arts and fight choreography, with a special focus on Chambara (classical sword slinging films) to pay homage to the epic Samurai and Ninja films depicting Japan's Feudal era.
March 21st 1995 Shihan Frank J. Goody passes away. Mr. Grove reflects on the many lessons from this great master, especially those pertaining to mysticism. To honor Shihan Goody, Mr. Grove devotes a great deal of time compiling and organizing all the written materials he received pertaining to the Ryobu Shinto doctrines that focused on the Ryubo Kuji (aka kuji in).
Mr. Grove travels to Canada to meet with stunt coordinator John Wardlow to discuss being the stunt double for John Lone in The Hunted. However, because of Canadian restrictions, Mr. Grove is not allowed to perform in that capacity. But he still provides Historical Consultation with his “Arcanum of Ninja Tactics” training manuals.
In January 1996 Mr. Grove completes an audio CD and training booklet called Ninja Chants of Power that contains a detailed account of Shihan Goody’s teachings. Mark shares this information with those interested in the mystical aspects of the Ninja lifestyle.
After receiving a copy of the Ninja Chants of Power CD, Koga Ninjutsu master Ronald Duncan contacts Mr. Grove and shares he was a long time acquaintance of Shihan Goody who respected his teachings and admired his experiences in the martial arts. O’Sensei Duncan suggests an exchange of information and they begin communicating regularly. The two become good friends.
Mr. Grove works on 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain in 1997 where he served as a stuntman, stunt double, and firearms handler. In multiple scenes he fought Hulk Hogan. Mr. Grove continually changed his look to play many different characters in the film. Great experience working with Jim Varney and acting as bodyguard to the beautiful and talented Loni Anderson.
In 1998 the first multi-school Ninja camp is held with students from around the country. Focus is on survival skills involving shelter construction combined with a Samurai versus Ninja stealth mission proved to be an amazing adventure.
Warrior Quest International is founded in 1999 with Jonin Mark Grove and Kenshi Daryl Rolando at the helm. The school has custom hardwood floors, indoor rock garden, rope course, cargo nets, and balance beams.
Summer 2000 is the 3rd annual multi-school training camp with a focus on stealth, climbing, and battlefield tactics.
2001 summer camp was held on private land permanently secured for continuing Warrior Quest events. Focus on twin sword, blowgun, and fight choreography by adapting real fighting technique to work for camera.
September 2002 Mr. Grove’s first training video focused on Ninja swordsmanship releases world wide. The video receives high praise and is especially successful overseas.
Mr. Grove serves as historical consultant, stuntman, and portrayed himself in training sequences on the History Channel series Conquest: Weapons of the Ninja.
Yoroi Kumi Uchi (grappling in armor) and sword restrainment weapons was the focus of training at the 2003 camp. Students were also able to experience Torinoko (flash bombs) first hand.
In 2004 Mr. Grove’s second instructional DVD on the unorthodox methods of using the Ninja shroud as a makeshift weapon is released. This DVD becomes a huge seller on the internet and sells out its initial run in 30 days.
In 2004 Mark accepts the request of Sara Salazar to become a Jiki Deshi (direct apprentice). She commits to dedicating herself to both Ninjutsu and Stunt training in an effort to learn all aspects of the system.
Reunited with his great friends Diana Lee Inosanto and Ron Balicki, Mr. Grove co-produces, assistant stunt coordinates, and performs in the award winning film The Sensei.
In 2005 Mr. Grove uses his knowledge of film related practical effects to create high tech versions of classical Ninja weapons that include a metsubishi (blinding powder) cannon that is strapped to the Ninja’s forearm that can direct a blast with great accuracy.
2006 brought about a new yearly event, the Ninja Festival. At these events students receive rank recognition, demonstrate skills, and celebrate the years training with fellow practitioners.
In 2007 students were exposed to a cave experience that took them deep underground, relying on their climbing skills to ascend sheer walls, descend long drops, and navigate in darkness.
Mr. Grove Graces the cover of SHINOBI NO MONO magazine with an article about Ninja bone breaking techniques.
2007 was focused heavily on teaching the use of close range weapons to combat armored opponents.
Winter Festival 2008 celebrated rank advancements and the addition of some younger students to the school.
Spring camp 2008 was taught by Jiki Deshi Sara Salazar and sword master Chris Rhoads. Camp consisted of climbing skills, stealth movement, and endurance training that included long distance running.
2008 was focused on composite weapons, including rope knife, sickle and chain, and staff flail. A complete record of the rope knife system was created by Jiki Deshi Sara Salazar.
2009 sees a number of higher rank advancements, including Jiki Deshi Sara Salazar, who receives her 3rd degree black belt. She is tasked with running the day to day operations of the dojo and entrusted with all of the written materials, photos, and videos that have been collected since the inception of the system.
September 2012 Mr. Grove is surprised by his students, both old and new, who gather to celebrate his 40th year in the arts of Ninjutsu and Kenjutsu.
On November 19th 2012 we lose another pioneer of Martial Arts. O’Sensei Ronald Duncan was both a warrior and a scholar who was highly respected among his peers and considered by many to be the first American Ninja. Although they hadn’t spoken in years, Mr. Grove is greatly affected by the loss.
In May 2013 Mr. Grove releases an article in the UK Magazine MARTIAL ARTS ILLUSTRATED about refining the ability to sense and avoid dangerous situations as part of his eleven issue series.
Mr. Grove designs and creates a classically styled dojo equipped with a vast array of weaponry, armor, makiwara boards, tamaeshi giri stands, shuriken targets, balance beams, running walls, and both hard and matted floors for martial arts practice.
Dai Shihan Dennis G. Palumbo passes away September 12th, 2014. Mr. Grove recalls something Dai Shihan shared with him when he was writing his first book on Hakkoryu Jujutsu in 1986. He said “We have a very short time on earth and if we are not careful, the wisdom we obtained during our lives will fade quickly after our passing, which is why I choose to share what I've learned through writing.”
Mr. Grove was there when the first box of books arrived at Dai Shihan Palumbo’s Dojo in 1987. Dai Shihan pulled the first book out of the box, took out a pen, and quickly scribbled something inside the book before handing it to Mr. Grove. “The first book is yours.” He said. Mr. Grove was honored and purchased a second copy so he could keep the signed one pristine.
Sara Salazar, after 12 years of being a Jiki Deshi, has proven her skills and is acknowledged by Mr. Grove as being the most accomplished and dedicated student he has ever trained.
In reflecting on Dai Shihan Palumbo’s words from that time, Mr. Grove decides that he should mimic this wisdom and make all the books he had written for his students in the 80’s available to the public. The first book is titled Legacy of the Shadow Warrior.
On September 24th, 2016 Mark Grove and Daryl Rolando officially pass on the future mantle of leadership to veteran practitioners Sara N. Salazar (Nidai Jonin) and Matthew White (Nidai Kenshi). These two masters begin their new mission to lead the next generation.
With a NInja being well versed in so many weapons, the introduction of a weapon from Okinawan Karate is easily adapted to fighting with the same techniques applied with the iron truncheon (jutte).
On April 20th 2017, the second volume in Mr. Grove’s book series releases. The “Way of the Hidden Fist” covers all the fundamentals of the system. Fighting Postures, Body Weapons, Footwork, Vital targets, Bone Breaking, Muscle Attacks, Joint Locks, Throws, and Acrobatics.
August 2017 a small band of dedicated students continue to demonstrate they have both the skills and dedication to excel in training.
Mr. Grove instructs students on the proper application of polearm technique with the straight bladed halberd (nagimaki).
Students are taught to apply rising and dropping parries by executing them against the inner circumference of a rattan ring.
Mr. Grove teaches his Ninja how to use the short staff to apply a series of leverage techniques that tie up the legs, torso, and arms.
October 2017 students are taught the use of the Fukidake (blowgun), learning to shoot from a variety of positions with targets at various heights and distances, even learning to shoot in darkness.
Back in early 2017 two students were taught the recipe to make liniments used for healing. In January 2018, after one year soaking, another batch is ready to be bottled and distributed.
in February 2018, students begin a multi-month session focused on throwing blades and the construction of a classical target.
In mid 2018 Mr. Grove decides to create weighted synthetic throwing blades to practice targeting moving opponents and hand claws with thick rubberized blades that could be used safely against an opponent while grappling.
In 2018 Mr. Grove teaches his students all the Yawara (short stick) fighting techniques passed on to him from Shihan Frank Goody. The entire system is chronicled on video for future reference.
Kenjutsu students practice and perform a long sword drawing form against single and multiple opponents.
As 2018 comes to a close, students complete training with the Kusari Fundo (short chain), learning a variety of striking and entangling techniques.
Lots of Hanbo (short staff) in 2019. Like this lifting and throwing maneuver called "Tossing the rice bale".
Trapping and manipulating kicks is a Ninja specialty. Mr. Grove teaches hyper-extension moves and knee locks in early 2020.
The COVID-19 Pandemic hits in early 2020 disrupting training. The HOMBU Dojo decides to shut its doors in March to keep it's students safe. Training is moved outdoors in the interim with a focus on swordsmanship to increase distance between students.