Sarutobi Sasuke is probably a fictional character that appeared in many children’s stories in the early 20th Century. His life and story is probably based on a Kozuki Sasuke, a famous ninja of the Meiji era. The word “Sarutobi” means “Monkey Jump”, and like many Japanese names it is actually a nickname that describes the qualities of a person. Sarutobi Sasuke was renowned for his acrobatic abilities. He could dodge the fastest warrior, ducking and jumping around a sword slash.
According to the legend, Sarutobi Sasuke began training at the age of ten. It is said that he met his sensei (teacher) when he was practicing fencing on a tree. An old man happened to come by and laughed at the child’s efforts. Sasuke got angry and rebuked the old man for having laughed at him.
“Child, practicing swordfight with a tree is like fighting a dead enemy!” the old man said.
Hearing these wise words, Sasuke was immediately alert, recognizing that the old man was probably a master swordsman. Sasuke pleaded to the old man to teach him sword fighting. The old man revealed himself to be Haakunsai Tozawa, a prominent Ninja of that time. Thus, Sasuke gained instruction as a Ninja.
After instruction, Sasuke joined the Sanada Clan, led by Yukimura who was at that time fighting against the forces of Tokugawa. Yukimura formed a group of ten Ninjas, called the Sanada Ten Braves, who took active part in the battles between the Sanada Clan and Tokugawa’s forces. During the Siege of Osaka, the Sanada Ten Braves were a crucial element of Yukimura’s strategy as they spied and brought forth instrumental information to their master.
In one popular story, Sasuke was sent to spy Tokugawa in his castle. He made a successful entry into the castle and overheard conversations of a plan to attack his master. However, when leaving, guards caught him. Sasuke was a master of evasion, having gone through many such situations in the past. He easily jumped over a high wall.
Unfortunately, there was a bear trap on the other side. Sasuke fell right into the trap. Before the guards arrived, Sasuke amputated his leg in order to get out of the trap. Realising that escape was impossible in this condition, Sasuke committed suicide rather than being caught.