Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu - Bujinkan Ninjutsu Sunshine Coast



Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu - Bujinkan Ninjutsu Sunshine Coast
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
A Simplified Explanation
Published by Front Range Bujinkan Dojo
Table of Contents
What is Bujinkan Budo?
What are the origins of the Bujinkan Dojo?
Organization, Structure and Leader of the Bujinkan Budo
Toshitsugu Takamatsu
Origins of the Bujinkan Organization
Changes in the Bujinkan
Organization Structure
Bujinkan Budo and the Concept of Ninjutsu
What is Ninjutsu and how is it comprised?
Definition of Ninjutsu
Ninja in Historical Context
Bugei Juhappen
Ninja Juhakkei (Ninja Skills)
Is Ninjutsu taught in the Bujinkan?
What are the authentic schools of Ninjutsu in the Bujinkan?
Ninjutsu Curriculum of other Schools
What are the different membership levels in the Bujinkan?
Rank Structure within the Bujinkan
Licensing and Titles within the Bujinkan
Menkyo Kaiden
What kind of training is incorporated within the Bujinkan?
The Physical Training
Various Weapons Training
Subtle Training (Spiritual/Meditation/Nature/Special)
Training Principles
Where can I get questions answered?
Guidelines for Participation in the Bujinkan
Contact Addresses
Important Definitions
Contributions and Credits
Summary of Photographs Included:
Photograph 1: Samurai in Traditional Armor
Photograph 2: Bushido – The Code of the Samurai
Photograph 3: Toshitsugu Takamatsu
Photograph 4: Masaaki Hatsumi displaying his certificates of Sokeship
Photograph 5: Soke at a Tai Kai
Photograph 6: Samurai on Horseback
Photograph 7: Popular image of the Ninja
Photograph 8: Application of Metsubishi (Blinding Methods)
Photograph 9: Annual Hombu Membership Card
Photograph 10: Shidoshi Kai Membership Card
Photograph 11: Grade Certificate (Kyu & Dan)
Photograph 12: Shidoshi-Ho Certificate (Junior Instructor)
Photograph 13: Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561
Photograph 14: Densho of the Bujinkan
Photograph 15: GoDan (GoDan no Shiken) or Sakki Test
This text has been written to serve as a ready reference for those new or
prospective students of the Bujinkan. This text attempts to answer the most
common questions which arise to those uninitiated into the organization and
represents only a glimpse and does not represent a the final word on the subject
since evolution is an ongoing process. This text does not represent any commercial
enterprise and is free to those seeking it. Information contained herein represents
knowledge which is thought to be correct at the time of its publishing. Attempts
will be made to correct that which is found to be untrue. The version number is
given below to show this evolution.
Because the realm of fighting arts is very extensive and the knowledge of the
author is far subordinate in nature to the organization, no claims are made to its
authentication. Improvements and suggestions are welcomed at the following
E-Mail address: [email protected]
Again, all conclusions and statements in this text are the opinion of the
author and raise no claim to general validity.
Version Number: Version 2, dated 1 May 2009
This information booklet is available at no cost and can be downloaded from
www.FrontRangeBujinkan.com. All photos contained within have been
downloaded from open sources or credits have been applied, as necessary.
In Memoriam
Greg Dilley
(October 31, 1959 – June 10, 2008)
Greg Dilley, 48, of Salinas, passed away in a diving accident on Tuesday, June 10,
2008. He was born Oct. 31, 1959, in Omaha, Neb., He moved to San Jose when he
was 4 and lived there until 1999, when he moved to Salinas.
Greg was the vice president of Andrews Blueprint shop. He was head instructor of
Bujinkan Wako Dojo, an EMT, former member of the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum
and Bugle Corp, member of the Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International
(SGI-USA) for 22 years, and ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.
Survivors: Wife, Nancy Thomsen, Children, Kaela Dilley, Leia Dilley, Mother, and
Stepfather, Glenda and Roland Jackson and his Brother, Christoph Dilley.
To attempt to eliminate confusion some terms and concepts should be
explained. These terms and concepts often vary depending upon the context in
which they are used, sometimes different than the authors definition.
Bujinkan (武神館) - This is the name of the organization that Soke Hatsumi
created, literally meaning “The Hall of the Divine Warrior.”
Bujinkan Budo (武神館 武道) – The Warrior Fighting Art method unique to the
Taijutsu (体術) – Body Movement used in aspects of Unarmed Fighting.
Ninpo (忍法) – Higher Order or evolution of the concept of Ninjutsu.
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (武神館武道体術) – Warrior Fighting Arts Body
Movement unique to the Bujinkan.
Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu (武神館 忍法 体術) – Warrior Fighting Art Body
Movement unique to the Bujinkan utilizing the higher order or evolution of the
concept of Ninjutsu.
What is Bujinkan Budo?
Bujinkan Budo is the term used to represent a collective organization of 9
historical Japanese fighting arts, which is headed by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. In
contrast, today’s martial arts are oriented towards competition, which have roots in
traditional styles, whereas the Bujinkan maintains more of a Combat orientation
while still maintaining its historical roots.
Bujinkan Budo is comprised of individual Ryû or schools (Ryu-Ha –
Collection of Schools) which are studied and practiced in traditional and modern
methods of application. The distinction between today’s other martial arts and their
sport aspect comes from this compilation and individualistic nature of each style or
These individual schools usually originate from specific regions in Japan,
bear the family name of their originators, and are known or named in part due to
their specific and very distinct style or weapon specialization.
The Nine Ryu-Ha in which Bujinkan Budo is comprised:
9 Schools or Styles of the Bujinkan
Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu - 戸隠流忍法体術
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu - 玉虎流骨指術
Kukishinden Ryu Happo Hikenjutsu - 九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術
Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu - 神伝不動流打拳体術
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo - 玉心流忍法
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu - 虎倒流骨法術
Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu - 高木揚心流柔体術
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu - 義鑑流骨法術
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo - 雲隠流忍法
What are the origins of Bujinkan Budo?
The Onin War (1467 – 1477), a conflict rooted in economic unrest and
brought on by a dispute over shogunal succession has been regarded as the onset of
the Sengoku Jidai.
The Warring States Period (戦国時代 - Sengoku Jidai) was a time of unrest
and near constant conflict similar to the European “Dark Ages” which lasted from
the middle of the 15th century up until the beginning of the 17th century. The Battle
of Sekigahara (1600) was generally regarded as the last major conflict of this time.
After this period Japan entered into a long period of unprecedented peace
generally marking the beginning of the Edo (1603 - 1868) period. Following the
Battle of Sekigahara Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun and established his
(Bakufu – Field Headquarters of the commanding general or the institution of
government under the shogunate) at Edo.
During this time of peace many influential persons pressured the ruling
family of Tokugawa to limit the power of the warrior class. Varied changes also
influenced martial schools which changed the face of Japan forever. Many schools
reduced the training that was conducted to reflect
these influences. This was a time where many schools
disappeared altogether or covertly continued their
teachings that left the ruling class unaware.
Early on in Japanese history a Code of Warrior
ethics or a behavior code was established to direct
one’s actions. This code was known as Bushido,
which directed the actions of Japan’s warrior class,
the Samurai.
As evolution is always changing so has the
code of warrior ethics. At the beginning of the Meiji
period (from 1868) and by express direction from
Japanese authorities, intense changes were imposed
Photograph 1:
upon a very traditional atmosphere.
Samurai in Traditional
During this time Japan entered into a period of
major transformation. Japan opened up its doors to
outside influences, industrialization and began to model itself after western
influence. During this time old traditional fighting arts became shunned and
ostracized within its society.
It was not until the early 1900s that the traditions of the old were to be
integrated with the modern traditions in a more Nationalistic nature. It was wished
that a continuation of tradition would be modeled after the Samurai of the
Tokugawa times. Old technologies were reworked with a new spirit into modern
As a result modern fighting arts were developed with roots to that of old.
This included Martial Arts such as Judo (1882), Karate-Do (1901) and Aikido
Although “Do” represents the general philosophical aspect
of the fighting arts it also is universally recognized to mean “The
Way of.”
With regards to Zen Buddhism, it also represents a
reflection of the true opponent, oneself. It has become associated
with defensive studies and also to realize self-perfection.
Due to this transformation, competition often stands in the
forefront of the particular systems in question. Rules have been
established to ensure the safety of the participant and by all
practical sense has now led to their constraint in practical
The progression from fighting arts into competition arts
has encompassed modern martial systems. Today this concept of
evolution has not been exercised by Bujinkan Budo. The
Bujinkan still maintains its combat and genuine self-defense
orientation in all of its training, which has been carried on
throughout modern years originating from ancient times.
The experiences within this long tradition lay the basis of
Photograph 2:
Bushido – The the philosophy of the traditional fighting arts – The deescalation of aggression since a victory oriented competition
Code of the
system would not be practical.
Organization, Structure and Leader of Bujinkan Budo
Toshitsugu Takamatsu
Today’s knowledge and the tradition of the styles
arise from Toshitsugu Takamatsu (1889 – 1972), the direct
teacher of Sôke Masaaki Hatsumi.
Takamatsu was considered weak and to be a whiner
as a child. Through his study of the fighting arts he was
strengthening, educated and became a fierce fighter. He
learned numerous traditional fighting arts over the years
and received teaching licenses in most all of them. During
his younger years he traveled through China and survived
many “life and death” duels, according to own accounts to
Hatsumi. Later he settled down in Japan and had many pupils Photograph 3:
during his lifetime. Dr. Hatsumi sought out Takamatsu’s “true
budo” and after a long search he was accepted as a student.
Takamatsu personally trained Hatsumi for over a decade and
later appointed him as his successor as Soke of these 9 different
schools or traditions.
Origins of the Bujinkan organization
The Bujinkan was founded by Masaaki Hatsumi in the 1970s and up until
this time training in these traditions existed only in small
groups led by Hatsumi.
An American Student (Stephen K. Hayes) returned
to the United States after a period of study with Soke
Hatsumi and published books about Ninjutsu. The books
made the concept of the Ninjutsu system very popular and
initiated the “Ninja Boom.” This triggered the popularity
of the system and the publication of many varied books
and films. This served to inform the public as to the
origins of the system and gave it the momentum to now
become a truly
worldwide organization.
In Europe, this system was introduced to the
Photograph 4:
Masaaki Hatsumi displaying Western areas and spread very rapidly to other
countries during the 1980s.
his certificates of Sokeship
Due to the increasing popularity of the Bujinkan Soke felt inclined to
instruct abroad by conducting annual Tai Kai (Big Seminar) events which were
sponsored by various countries. This was to encourage new membership and
provide the opportunity to those who could not travel to Japan in order to study.
The Bujinkan had the biggest rates of increased membership during these times.
Unfortunately, many illegitimate instructors emerged to take advantage of this
popularity. They dressed in Black uniforms and portrayed Ninjutsu as something
other than what Hatsumi was attempting to teach.
Over time the organization has grown substantially and most all illegitimate
instructors have been exposed due to an ever expanding Bujinkan network and the
spread of accurate information.
Changes in the Bujinkan
In the middle of the 90s amidst many rumors, it became well known that
Soke Hatsumi found it more and more stressful in his worldwide travels. From this
time on up until 2003 the Bujinkan gained strength and numerous teachers
(Shidoshi and Shihan) helped to solidify the Bujinkan as a truly worldwide
organization. Due to this solidarity Soke Hatsumi held his last overseas Tai Kai in
2003 and issued instructions that no Japanese instructor would be allowed to teach
outside of Japan without his prior approval.
Also since this time the annual training
subjects changed. Before this time the subjects
were strongly focused upon a certain Ryu and/or
weapon. This is still continued however very
strong deeper spiritual aspects and advanced types
of Taijutsu are stressed. Soke encourages all 5th
Dan (Shidoshi) and above to come to Japan at least
once a year to continue their higher studies in a
direct training atmosphere in order to deeper their
Photograph 5:
In addition, the GoDan (5th Dan – Shidoshi)
Soke at a Tai Kai
test can now only be given in Japan due to the fact
that Soke Hatsumi must be present and administer at
least the first test. Retests can only be administered by designated Shihan (10th Dan
and above) in the presence of Soke Hatsumi, at his discretion.
One can journey to Japan to train at their discretion or attend the annual
Daikomyosai – Great Illumination event which is held in the latter part of
November thru the beginning of December in order to share training experiences
and celebrate Soke Hatsumi’s birthday (2nd of December).
Organizational Structure
As grandmaster, Dr. Hatsumi has employed a very open and liberal form of
organizational structure. The Bujinkan is centrally organized around the Hombu
Dojo (Main Training Hall), from where all documents and memberships are
With time international organizations have developed under the direction of
Soke Hatsumi in order to spread the fighting arts of the Bujinkan. Usually the
organization develops from a senior foreign student of the area in question (i.e.
United Kingdom, Germany, etc.). Discussion as to the origin and purpose of such
organizations will remain unanswered at this point and will only be looked at from
the surface.
Even though organizations often appear in this manner, there are no
designated representatives for certain regions. All teachers in the Bujinkan may
freely teach and learn according to authority given to them by Soke Hatsumi.
Bujinkan Budo and the Concept of Ninjutsu
Often in the past and even in the present day the study of Bujinkan Budo
Taijutsu has been equated with the Ninja of feudal Japan and consequently the
study of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu was equated to be the study of Ninjutsu.
This misrepresentation unfortunately continues to this day due to the lack of
knowledge, misinformation or commercialization. There are truly only three
“Ninjutsu Ryu” contained within the nine schools of the Bujinkan, of which
Togakure Ryu is the most widely known. Due to these unfortunate circumstances
some light will be shed upon such misconceptions.
What is Ninjutsu and how is it comprised?
Definition of Ninjutsu –
The Kanji or Characters for Ninjutsu (忍術) are divided into Nin - 忍
(Shinobi) and Jutsu - 術 (Techniques). Nin signifies stealth, secretness, endurance,
and perseverance. Jutsu means art or technique. Ninjutsu signifies the use of
specialized techniques. The exact translation is up for the interpretation of the
individual translator though.
Therefore, up to this point Ninjutsu should be defined as all activities
conducted in medieval Japan by the Ninja. The concept of the Ninja came about
from around 1700 and on. Prior to this these persons were described as ones who
used stealthful fighting tactics (e.g. raids).
Ninja in Historical Context –
The activities of Ninjutsu involved primarily those of an unconventional
nature in the conduct of war. Although Ninjutsu belongs to the classical arts of war
in Japan and was taught in several schools, it is not clearly defined as a Budo art. It
is seen rather as a supplement to other Budo schools.
The practitioner of Ninjutsu was required to learn the common arts of war
first. They are listed in the Bugei Juhappan. The following serves only as an
example of some of the common disciplines.
Bugei Juhappan – The 18 Martial skills learned by the common Japanese Warrior
1. Kenjutsu (Swordsmanship)
2. Battojutsu (Sword Drawing)
3. Sojutsu (Spear Fighting)
4. Naginatajutsu (Naginata Fighting)
5. Kyujutsu (Archery)
6. Kyuba (Mounted Archery)
7. Suijutsu / To-Suijutsu (Swimming)
8. Bojutsu (Stick and Staff Fighting)
9. Nagamono (Polearm Fighting)
10. Torimono Dougu (Arresting Weapons)
11. Kakushi Buki Jutsu (Hidden Weapons)
12. Jujutsu (Unarmed Combat)
13. Shurikenjutsu (Blade Throwing)
14. Hojutsu (Musketry)
15. Jouhou Kaishuu (Information Gathering)
16. Chikujou (Fortifications)
17. Angou (Signaling)
18. Jinei / Heihou (Strategy and Tactics)
Photograph 6:
Samurai on Horseback
In addition to the Bugei Juhappan other training was included in the Ninja
Ninja Juhakkei – The 18 Ninjutsu Fighting skills that were also practiced along
side the Bugei Juhappan.
1. Seishin Teki Kyoyo (Spritual Refinement)
2. Taijutsu (Unarmed Combat)
3. Kenjutsu (Swordsmanship)
4. Bojutsu (Stick and Staff Fighting)
5. Shurikenjutsu (Blade Throwing)
6. Sojutsu (Spear Fighting)
7. Naginatajutsu (Naginata Fighting)
8. Kusarigamajutsu (Sickle and Chain Fighting)
9. Kayakujutsu (Pyrotechnics and Explosives)
10. Hensojutsu (Disguise and Impersonation)
11. Shinobi-Iri (Stealth and Entry Methods)
12. Bajutsu (Horsemanship)
13. Sui-Ren (Water Training)
14. Boryaku (Tactics)
15. Choho (Espionage)
16. Intonjutsu (Escaping and Concealment)
17. Ten Mon (Meteorology)
18. Chi Mon (Geography)
Photograph 7:
Popular image of the Ninja
Today, techniques practiced in modern day Ninjutsu focus upon those
relevant to armed and unarmed combat. Even though techniques are listed in both
the Bugei Juhhapan and the Ninja Juhakkei techniques sometimes are practiced
similarly or completely different.
Much false information surrounds the Ninja of old and new. During the time
of old rumors, restricted general knowledge, and superstitions all led to
exaggerations and false interpretations of who and what the Ninja actually were.
During modern times much of the same type of misinformation exists and has only
been clarified by authentic sources. Even then most people tend to form their own
opinions based upon their personal interpretations and bias. It is the intention of
this document to dispel some of these ideas as presented by the Bujinkan
Moreover it is important for one to note that even modern day Special
Armed Forces have a shroud of mystery involved with them. For example, when
one thinks of the Green Berets, Marine Force Recon, British SAS, and German
GSG9 or KSK most people have an idea based upon second or third hand
information that sometimes is twisted be misinformation or the popular media
When you take into consideration that such misinformation and
misunderstandings happen even today then it is understandable that such things are
even more exaggerated with things that history yields.
Within the context of the media, such movies of the 1970s only added to this
mystery by over exaggerating rumors and false history. The Ninja were mostly
represented as cold-blooded murderers which had origins in legend and horror
stories of Japan. Another explanation could be found in the heroic roles portrayed
in stage plays and novelty items (i.e. the black clad figure of the night).
In contrast, extensive opinions exist today that cast the Ninja as nothing else
as paid murderers and terrorists. They never-the-less were highly specialized
warriors which conducted specialized missions, such as undercover agents, spies
and military counselors.
Their knowledge of numerous fighting skills and their conduct of special
missions with specialized equipment soon generated such myths of supernatural
ability. The necessity of secrecy arose and contributed this myth. Unfortunately,
knowledge of the Ninja and their art still has not become common knowledge
throughout the world.
The difference between fiction and non-fiction lies with James Bond and his
inventive weapons master, who expose the reality of Secret Service activities.
Technical aids find themselves at home with this type of branch and so did they in
ancient times of the Ninja. Nevertheless, it can be doubted that cars with catapult
seats, clocks with laser weapons, etc. are reality.
Circle of acquaintances exist within the Bujinkan in order to discover and
document technical literature on subjects of interest in order to present information
based upon facts and not fiction. You will find this unique structure within the
Bujinkan, which will allow for your education and personal growth. Seek such
things from your instructors, piers, written documents, personal experiences and
then come to your own informed conclusions!
Is Ninjutsu taught in the Bujinkan?
Yes, training in Ninjutsu is conducted in the Bujinkan but at varying
degrees. Training within the Bujinkan encompasses many forms of unarmed and
armed combat methods not specifically considered Ninjutsu. The weapons that are
used originate from specific schools within the Bujinkan. For example, the Shuko
(Hand Claws) originate from the Togakure Ryu and the Rokushaku Bo (6’ Staff)
originates mainly from the Kukishinden Ryu. Nevertheless, you will find similar
fighting methods in all Budo styles. Styles within the Bujinkan can be considered
separate but also overlapping or connected. Ninjutsu specific knowledge and
training plays a historical and modern role in its application.
As an example, in 2004 the yearly subject chosen was that of Juppo Sessho.
This theme emphasized the roots that lie within the concept of Bujinkan Budo
Taijutsu. Underlying fundamentals of this form of Budo were best thought to be
absorbed by more advanced students, since their level of training experience
allowed more of an understanding and interpretation of this training. One must
constantly seek higher levels of training which encompass more than just the
concept of Ninjutsu if one is to truly understand was is attempting to be passed on
by Soke Hatsumi. Answers will only be found through true devotion and diligent
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu was chosen as the official term used to encompass
all levels of training in the Bujinkan, to include the varied weapons and ever
increasing levels of training.
What are the authentic schools of Ninjutsu in the Bujinkan?
Most sources agree that the following three Ryu-Ha still exist today and are
authentic historically:
• Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu Happo Biken
• Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken
• Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken
Each of these three Ryu-Ha originates from Soke Hatsumi as represented
within the Bujinkan. It is commonly believed that only concepts and techniques of
the Togakure Ryu are taught. This may be correct up to the point that the other two
Ryu-Ha are taught to only the highest ranking of Soke’s students.
Two organizations have been formed by former students of Soke Hatsumi
(Jinenkan and Genbukan) and have formed their own base of knowledge. Claims to
this knowledge stems from Menkyo Kaiden which has been awarded to their
leaders, which gives them the authority to from their own school.
All other schools of Ninjutsu appear up to know to be considered as
questionable, since they are historically believed to have become extinct and their
so-called representatives have yet to produce any reputable documents to
contradict these negative feelings.
Concern sometimes arises that Ninjutsu will fall back into abuse, to include
its misrepresentation of the techniques itself and the circulation of fake documents,
due to its popularity and financial interest. Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware!
Claims to this lineage by countless organizations should not equate to
historical authenticity!
Ninjutsu Curriculum of other Schools
According to various experts, there is long term controversy surrounding the
authenticity to the “claim of sole representation” of Ninjutsu within the Bujinkan
organization. A short discussion will take place here and further interpretation will
be left up to the reader.
There are several Ryu which historically have “Hiden” or only “Verbal”
transmission of techniques (i.e. no specific techniques are documented but rather
are only passed from one generation to the other by verbal or physical methods).
This method of teaching arose from military necessity in order to keep methods
secret. Therefore historical documents are either very rare, hard to find or are not
in existence.
Furthermore, various traditional Ryu are said to exist as forerunners to
Ninjutsu which contain selected specialized Ninjutsu techniques but have no claim
to be associated with or considered to be Ninjutsu. It is doubted by some historians
as to the degree of systematization of several schools within the Bujinkan and if
their true authenticity is valid.
It is very clear due to the nature of the discussion of history that there may
never be a final conclusion which will answer everyone’s questions or dispel all
controversies. Again this is due to the difficult
task with which researchers find themselves
engaged in. The structure of Japanese fighting
arts has been subjected to new establishments of
schools, deviations, renamings, etc. throughout
Historical facts become ever increasingly
difficult to establish due to lost or destroyed
documentation of various schools. Also those
schools which exist only through traditional
verbal tradition (kuden) are almost impossible to
document or prove.
Photograph 8:
For example, research which has been
Application of Metsubishi
conducted from World War II up until recent
(Blinding Methods)
years has just as much controversy surrounding it
due to the lack of documentation (documentation lost, destroyed, never established
or maintained).
This leaves the only practical answer to questions of authenticity, and that is
to confer with Dr. Hatsumi directly or to gather facts through his or other various
media products. Of course, it will always be left to the individual as to their
individual interpretation and final conclusion.
What are the different membership levels in the Bujinkan?
Students of the Bujinkan normally maintain two types of memberships and
these memberships are represented by two categories of cards. These cards are
either the annual membership or shidoshi kai card.
Photo 9:
Annual Hombu Membership Card
The Annual Hombu Membership Card serves as official recognition of one’s
membership in the Bujinkan organization. Normally the annual membership is not
required unless the student attends training at the Hombu Dojo in Noda, Japan but
this is entirely up to the rules of individual dojos.
Photo 10:
Shidoshi Kai Membership Card
The Shidoshi Kai (Instructors Association) card is the annual membership
card issued to official instructors within the Bujinkan. Possession of this card is an
indication of three levels of instructors, Shidoshi-Ho (Junior Instructor – 1st thru 4th
Dan), Shidoshi (Fully Licensed Instructor – 5th Dan thru 9th Dan), and Shihan
(Master Instructor – 10th Dan & above).
Rank Structure within the Bujinkan
The rank classification system in the Bujinkan very clearly differs from
other modern systems; although they were have similar adaptation.
With the opening of worldwide apprenticeship, Soke devised a classification
system comprised of Kyu and Dan grades. Prior to this, ranking followed the
traditional Menkyo principle. Ranking was accomplished by awarding certificates
appropriate to one’s level of apprenticeship. The traditional style of steps was used
prior to this system (Shoden, Chuden, Okuden). These steps were represented by
Ten (Sky), Chi (Earth), and Jin (Person) within the Bujinkan.
Within the Bujinkan there are 9 Kyu Grades and 10 Dan Grades. Soke
Hatsumi followed this ranking with the Godai Principle (Chi, Sui, Ka, Fu, Ku) and
this further reflects the higher levels of ranking, though not meant to represent Dan
ranking. Although it was never meant to reflect these further Dan grades it has
become a method of recognizing and referring to ones ranking (11-15 Dan).
In the Bujinkan few belt colors are represented under this system of ranking.
Beginners (MuKyu – 10th Kyu) wear a white belt, higher Kyu grades wear Green,
and Shodan or above wear a black belt. To further recognize each individual Dan
rank White, Silver, or Gold rank stars are worn to distinguish this.
Kyu Grade
Dan Grade 1-4
Dan Grade 5-9
Dan Grade 10
10th Kyu
White Belt
9th Kyu
Green Belt
8th Kyu
1 white star
7th Kyu
(Shichikyu) 2 white stars
6th Kyu
3 white stars
5th Kyu
4 white stars
4th Kyu
1 gold star
3rd Kyu
2 gold stars
2nd Kyu
3 gold stars
1st Kyu
4 gold stars
1st Dan
Black Belt
2nd Dan
1 silver star
3rd Dan
2 silver stars
4th Dan
3 silver stars
5th Dan
Shidoshi Badge
6th Dan
1 gold star
7th Dan
2 gold stars
8th Dan
(Hachidan) 3 gold stars
9th Dan
10th Dan
拾十段 (Judan)
Shihan Badge
11th Dan
拾初段 (Jushodan)
1 white star
12th Dan
拾弐段 (Junidan)
2 white stars
13th Dan
拾参段 (Jusandan)
3 white stars
14th Dan
拾四段 (Juyondan) 4 white stars
15th Dan
拾五段 (Jugodan)
4 gold stars
5 white stars
The following are examples of the two classifications of official certificates
issued from Soke Hatsumi. These are the only certificates that are considered to be
approved and valid by Soke.
Photograph 11:
Grade Certificate (Kyu or Dan)
The classification of documents for Kyu and Dan grade differ only slightly
from the above example. The titles Shidoshi and Shidoshi-Ho are only considered
to be official titles if a separate certificate is issued to award such title, as depicted
in the below example. The title Shidoshi is a specific title awarded in the Bujinkan
and it entitles the bearer to teach independently.
Photograph 12:
Shidoshi-Ho Certificate
Photograph 13:
Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561
Licensing and Titles within the Bujinkan
In the Bujinkan there are few titles or official terms of rank recognition.
The Soke is the head or leader of the school. It is the responsibility of this
leader to bring life and flexibility into the system, in order to allow for
modernization. This title is awarded to only one individual and is recognized by
proper documentation by the previous leader. At the same time, documents which
have been handed down from generation to generation are given to the new head.
A person can be the head of several different schools, in this case 9 within the
Bujinkan organization.
This is an honorable title awarded in the Bujinkan to recognize an
exceptional and honorable person that is informally awarded informally at the rank
of 10th Dan.
One is eligible to be awarded this title at 5th Dan and with this recognition
comes the authority to teach independently. The title in itself is a creation of Soke
Hatsumi himself and is used exclusively in the Bujinkan.
Shidoshi-Ho is a title award to a junior licensed instructor (assistance
instructor) of 1st through 4th Dan ranking. This title is confirmed with the Shidoshi
Kai membership certificate and card. Although the award itself is authorization to
teach the person awarded this title should instruct under the direct supervision of a
Mentor and further educate their self under this Mentor’s supervision.
Menkyo Kaiden
Menkyo Kaiden is a personal award given to an individual who has mastered
all aspects of a particular school that is able to transmit the system completely to
their students.
An Issued Certificate.
What kind of training is incorporated within the Bujinkan?
The Physical Training
Training in the Bujinkan relies upon Taijutsu or Unarmed Fighting as its
backbone. Taijutsu is just another concept which today is comprised of individual
body movement and other techniques such as Jutaijutsu, Dakentaijutsu,
Koppojutsu, Kosshijutsu, etc.
Further explained, Taijutsu as it is normally translated is the art of using the
body movement in Unarmed fighting. As it is comprised, it is made up of two
words, Tai (Body) and Jutsu (Techniques) composed together.
Used in combination it can be used to further explain other concepts, such as
JuTaiJutsu. Ju (compliance, elasticity) combined with Taijutsu means correct body
movements and motor activity used in combination as opposed to relying upon
brut strength and raw power.
As used within the Bujinkan, Taijutsu therefore means the use of body
movements and applicable varied techniques (throwing, traps, rolls, grappling,
striking, sweeping, choking, etc.) to assert oneself over their opponent) as an
overall unarmed self-defense system.
Various Weapons Training
The Bujinkan is comprised of many different weapons. The primary
weapons used are the Hanbo (3 Foot Staff), Jo (5 Foot Staff), Rokushaku Bo (6
Foot Staff), Katana (Japanese Sword), Kodachi (Short Sword), Ninja-To (Ninja’s
Specialized Sword), Yari (Spear), Naginata (Angle Bladed Pole Weapon), Kusari
Fundo (Weighted Chain), Tanto (Knife), Shuriken (Throwing Blades), Kunai
(Digging Tool), Bisento (Halberd), etc.
Other specialized weapons are used as well to include concealed weapons
and modern day applications of older and newer weapons. When training with
weapons a concept of the usage of anything as a weapon is reinforced to allow
flexibility and survivability.
Spiritual Training
There are a very many views and opinions of this subject so it will only be
touched upon here in a limited capacity.
This is can become a component of regular training or can be restricted to
special training session. The main goal of this training is to focus the mind to find
internal peace and calmness to manage ones environment.
Training in Nature
This training is focused around the usage of nature as a learning tool to
enable the development of one’s heightened awareness. For example, lessons occur
during religious apprenticeships for warriors that sometimes can help to explain
life difficulties or questions.
Special Training
One-on-one or group discussions can be conducted to foster development on
special subjects.
Photograph 14:
Densho of the Bujinkan
Training Principles
Shu ● Ha ● Ri
This is a term the Japanese use to describe the overall progression of traditional
martial arts training, as well as the lifelong relationship the student will enjoy with
his or her instructor.
SHU - Learning the form (protecting the form)
HA - Studying the form (breaking the form)
RI - Understanding the form (leaving the form)
Ultimately, Shu ● Ha ● Ri should result in the student surpassing the master, both
in knowledge and skill. This is an improvement for the art as a whole. If the
student never surpasses his master, then the art will stagnate, at best. If the student
never achieves the master’s ability, the art will deteriorate. But, if the student can
assimilate all that the master can impart and then progress to even higher levels of
advancement, the art will continually improve and flourish.
**Another translation by Shihan Paul Richardson relating directly to the Bujinkan
can be referenced in his newsletter (June 2000 issue of ‘Jinja’ on page 7). His
website is located at www.hanako.co.uk.
Where can I get questions answered?
The Bujinkan has become truly international now and consists of many Master
Instructors in most countries. It is advised that you direct questions to your closest
Bujinkan instructor. Since training in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu normally is not
advertised in a similar manner as other martial arts, your best source of information
currently is the internet, by using the keyword – Bujinkan.
Guidelines for Participation
in the Bujinkan
The Bujinkan shall be open to only those who agree with and uphold the guidelines
of the Bujinkan Dôjô. Those not doing so shall not be allowed to join. Specifically:
(1) Only those who have read and agreed with these guidelines shall be allowed to
(2) Only those able to exercise true patience, self-control, and dedication shall be
allowed to participate.
(3) A physician’s examination report shall be required. Specifically, individuals
with mental illness, drug addiction, or mental instability shall be barred from
joining. The necessity of such a report concerns individuals who may present a
danger to others, for example, those with infectious diseases or illnesses,
individuals with clinically abnormal personalities or physiology, and individuals
lacking self-control.
(4) Individuals with criminal records shall be turned away. Troublemakers, those
who commit crimes, and those living in Japan who break domestic laws shall be
turned away.
(5) Those not upholding the guidelines of the Bujinkan, either as practitioners or as
members of society, by committing disgraceful or reproachable acts shall be
expelled. Until now, the Bujinkan was open to large numbers of people who came
to Japan. Among them, unfortunately, were those committing violent drunken acts,
the mentally ill, and trouble makers who thought only of themselves and failed to
see how their actions might adversely affect others. Through their actions, such
people were discarding the traditional righteous heart of the Bujinkan. From this
day forward, all such people shall be expelled.
(6) Regarding accidents occurring during training (both inside and outside the
dôjô), one should not cause trouble to the Bujinkan. This is an extremely important
point. Those unwilling to take personal responsibility for accidents occurring
during Bujinkan training shall not be admitted. Reiterating for clarity, the Bujinkan
shall not take responsibility for any accidents happening in the course of training,
regardless of the location.
(7) All those joining the Bujinkan must get an annual member’s card. This card not
only preserves the honor of the Bujinkan members, it indicates you are part of a
larger whole—one whose members come together with warrior hearts to better
themselves through training and friendship. It evinces the glory of warrior virtue,
and embodies both loyalty and brotherly love.
(8) The tradition of the Bujinkan recognizes nature and the universality of all
human life, and is aware of that which flows naturally between the two parts:
“The secret principle of Taijutsu is to know the foundations of peace. To
study is the path to the immovable heart (fudôshin).”
The Code of the Dôjô:
1) To know that patience comes first.
2) To know that the path of Man comes from justice.
3) To renounce avarice, indolence, and obstinacy.
4) To recognize sadness and worry as natural, and to seek the immovable
5) To not stray from the path of loyalty and brotherly love, and to delve
always deeper into the heart of Budô.
To follow this code is part of the dôjô’s guidelines.
Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
Shôwa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryu
(9) Initial training begins with Taijutsu
Kyu levels: beginners
First to Fifth dan: Ten (heaven)
Fifth to Tenth dan: Chi (earth)
Tenth to Fifteenth dan: Jin (person)
The eleventh to fifteenth dan are broken into Chi (earth), Sui (water), Ka
(fire), Fû (wind) and Kû (emptiness); the Happô Biken will be taught at
these levels. The fifth dan test shall only be administered by Sôke. True
Shihan can be given fifteenth dan.
Recently, the Bujinkan has become truly international. Just as there are various
time zones, so exist various taboos among the world’s peoples and nations. We
must respect each other, striving to avoid such taboos. We must put the heart of the
warrior first, working together for self-improvement and for the betterment of the
Those not upholding the above-mentioned guidelines shall be forced out of the
The Bujinkan Dôjô
Sôke: Masaaki Hatsumi Title: Hisamune
636 Noda, Noda-shi, Chiba-ken 278 Japan
Tel: 0471-22-2020 Fax: 0471-23-6227
Togakure Ryû Ninpô Happô Biken, 34th Grandmaster
Gyokko Ryû Kosshijutsu Happô Biken, 28th Grandmaster
Kotô Ryû Koppôjutsu Happô Biken, 18th Grandmaster
Shinden Fudô Ryû Daken Taijutsu Happô Biken, 26th Grandmaster
Kukishin Ryû Taijutsu Happô Biken, 28th Grandmaster
Takagiyôshin Ryû Jûtaijutsu Happô Biken, 17th Grandmaster
Kumogakure Ryû Ninpô Happô Biken, 14th Grandmaster
Gyokushin Ryû Ninpô Happô Biken, 21st Grandmaster
Gikan Ryû Koppôjutsu Happô Biken, 15th Grandmaster
All members should own every copy of the Hombu’s publications, and read and reread them consistently as part of your training. Reading them soon after you join, a
year later, and then several years after that, will afford you with different
interpretations and different feelings. The Hombu’s publications also contain
information concerning the worldwide practice of Bujinkan Budô Taijutsu and the
various materials (printed, video, or otherwise) available for training.
Translation by Benjamin Cole
Contact Addresses:
Important Definitions
Bujinkan Dojo /
武神館 道場
Bujinkan Budo
The Fighting Arts of the Bujinkan.
Bujinkan Budo
武神館 武道
The Higher Concept of the Fighting
movements in the Bujinkan.
The Higher Concept of the application
of specialized Fighting techniques in the
Bujinkan (Ninjutsu).
Regional Leader in Japanese Feudal Times.
Way or Philosophical concept of purpose.
Symbolic representation or explanation of
the world by means of 5 elements – Chi
(Earth), Sui (Water), Ka (Fire), Fu (Wind),
and Ku (Void).
A name for a person in medieval Japan who
used specialized military tactics.
Methods of the Ninja.
Higher order or understanding of the
concept of Ninjutsu.
Hall of the divine warrior – The Name
Organization created by Sôke Hatsumi. He
chose this name in order to honor his
teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu.
Style or School. Traditional teaching
methods most commonly divided into
different steps or levels – Shoden (Lower),
Chuden (Middle), Okuden (Upper).
Sometimes higher levels may be added such
as Hiden (Secret) or Inner Teachings which
is reserved for the most highest of disciples.
Sakki Test
The Godan test (5th Dan test in the
Bujinkan) or also formally known as GoDan
no Shiken. Sakki signifies an aggression
sense or “killer intention” which serves to
protect the individual or also referred to as a
danger sense. The person testing must sit
with their back towards Soke, while he is
armed with a Bamboo sword. Soke then
positions himself with the sword overhead,
focuses and releases his intention while
striking in a downward stroke towards the
tester. One must “sense” the attack and
apply Ukemi (body movement) away from
the attack. Since approximately 2002 this
test can sometimes be delegated to a Shihan
(10th Dan or above) and most be conducted
in the presence of Soke, usually after the
first test by Soke has been failed. Usually,
only two attempts are made, with either
success or failure as a result.
GoDan no Shiken
Photograph 15:
GoDan (GoDan no Shiken) or Sakki Test
Servant. An Occupational warrior in feudal
Japan with a high and privileged rank
within the social hierarchy.
This is the title given to designate a teacher
or instructor. This title is awarded for 5th
Dan and above and allows for full
independent teaching.
土道師 補
This is the title for assistant teachers from 1st
through 4th Dan. This title is confirmed by a
teaching certification. The Shidoshi-Ho
should however be under the direct
supervision of a Shidoshi in order to be
further educated.
An Honorary Title for 10th Dan and above
Instructors in the Bujinkan.
The highest military leader in feudal Japan.
Due to the increased power given to the
Shogun, this led to the gradual loss of power
of the emperor.
The family head of a traditional Japanese
Fighting system.
Body Movement or the Higher Concept of
Unarmed Combat.
Name for the Japanese Emperor.
Contributions and Credits
I would like to offer final credits and thanks to the following individuals for
their direct or indirect contribution to this compilation of information:
Richard Van Donk, Shihan – American Bujinkan Dojo
Greg Dilley, Shihan – Bujinkan Wako Dojo
Julio Toribio, Shihan – Bujinkan Monterey Dojo
Paul Richardson, Shihan – Bujinkan Lincoln Dojo
Ken Harding, Shihan - Missouri Bujinkan Dojo
Mats Hjelm, Shihan – Kaigozan Dojo
Kevin Millis, Shihan – Bujinkan Dojo
Arnaud Cousergue, Shihan – Solkan Europe
Yaron Galant, Shihan – Palo Alto Ninjutsu
In addition, the source of much information pertaining to the Bujinkan has
obscure origins and sometimes cannot be traced to the source. I offer thanks to
those that have contributed indirectly.
This publication originally was published and made available in German.
Since this was such a good source of basic information I have translated it, edited it
and made it available to those who have requested it!
Larry Miller, NiDan & Shidoshi-Ho, Front Range Bujinkan Dojo