Bujinkan

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The Bujinkan (???) is an international martial arts organization based in Japan and headed by Masaaki Hatsumi, it is best known for its association with ninjutsu. The system taught by this group, called Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, consists of nine separate martial arts traditions.

The Bujinkan organization incorporates the teachings of nine martial arts lineages (ryuha)[1]:

According to the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, the head of the Bujinkan organisation, Masaaki Hatsumi is the lineage holder of several ryuha taught in the Bujinkan[2][3][4][5] transferred to him in the middle of the 20th Century by his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu.

From 1968 and onwards, the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten has entries bearing the name of Hatsumi below his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu for the following school entries: Gyokko-ryu Kosshijutsu, Kuki Shinden Happo Bikenjutsu, Koto-ryu Koppojutsu, Shinden Fudo-ryu Dakentaijutsu, Takagi Yoshin-ryu Jutaijutsu, Gikan-ryu Koppojutsu, Gyokushin-ryu Ninpo and Kumogakure-ryu Ninpo.

In 1843 several of the Bujinkan ryuha were mentioned in the Kakutogi no Rekishi (“The History of Fighting Arts”), p.508-517. Although details of the ryuha were omitted, the publication states, “even though they are not mentioned in this particular periodical, there are several schools that are well-known for being ‘effective arts’ (jitsuryoku ha).” Among the schools listed in this section are Gyokko Ryu, Gikan-ryu Koppojutsu, Gyokushin-ryu Ninpo, Kukishin Ryu, Takagi Yoshin-ryu Jutaijutsu and Asayama Ichiden Ryu (which in not part of the Bujinkan’s nine schools but was studied by Hatsumi via Takashi Ueno). [6] The Bujinkan as a whole has been recognised by the Zen Nippon Todo Renmei (All Japan Sword Federation).[citation needed] However, the recorded history and lineage several of the ryuha especially of Togakure-ryu Ninpo Taijutsu taught in the Bujinkan, as documented by the Bujinkan, have been called into question.[7]

Several of the above martial arts taught in the Bujinkan can allegedly be traced back to the Iga region of Japan and were developed and used by the Yamabushi and the Ninja. The arts said to be in the Iga-ryu Ninjutsu tradition include Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Gikan-ryu and Shinden Fudo Ryu. The alleged connection to Ninjutsu is through Hatsumi’s teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu who was, among other things, permitted to copy the Amatsu Tatara scrolls. Takamatsu Toshitsugu grandfather was a samurai and a direct decedent of the founder of Gyokko Ryu (Gikan-ryu was passed to Takamatsu Toshitsugu through another source). Other arts, such as Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishinden Ryu were developed and used by members of Japan’s Samurai families. Today the Bujinkan incorporates techniques from all of the above 9 Ryus and others.

The training is generally referred to as taijutsu (body arts), and is composed of both armed and unarmed methods of fighting. Bujinkan training incorporates bikenjutsu, bojutsu, sojutsu, naginatajutsu, tantojutsu, tessenjutsu, juttejutsu, kusarigama, the use of modern firearms and more. Much of the basic taijutsu taught to beginners comes from six primary lineages in the Bujinkan compendium, namely Koto-ryu, Gyokko-ryu, Shinden Fudo-ryu, Takagi Yoshin-ryu, Kuki Shinden-ryu, and Togakure-ryu.

A large variety of weapons are taught, including swords such as daito, wakizashi and tanto, bamboo shinai, wooden bokken, mogito (a flexible aluminum replica sword that holds no edge), or swords made by soft modern materials are employed for safety such as fukuro shinai, staves of varying lengths (bo, jo), short staves called (hanbo, hanjo), nawa (rope), kusari-fundo (weighted chain), kusarigama (scythe with chain), yari (spear), kamayari (spear with curved scythe-like blades crossing the principal head), kagiyari (spear with 2 rearward hooks), bisento (known in Mandarin as ‘kwandao’), kyoketsu shoge (similar to a kama except it has a dagger point and a rope of several feet attached to an iron ring), jutte (sword trapping truncheon), tessen (iron fan), naginata (Japanese glaive), kunai (a blunt digging tool), as well various form of shuriken including bo-shuriken and senban shuriken. In training, students are encouraged to always use any available weapons, including the environment. In some dojos, students will practice hiding training weapons in their uwagi or somewhere on the mat, and surprise their uke (training partner) during technique. While in many other oriental martial arts this is seen as dishonorable, the emphasis Bujinkan places on stealth and deception makes it a valuable exercise when practicing awareness.

Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu practice does not normally include participation in competitions or contests, however, many Bujinkan Dojo’s incorporate sparing drills,[citation needed] these include ground fighting as well as slow sparing with designated attacker and defender. Specifically however, the Bujinkan is mostly known for teaching koshijutsu (pressure point, muscle attacks/tears and joint dislocations), koppojutsu (bone breaking), jutaijutsu (throwing, grappling, ground fighting), dakentaijutsu (strikes), happo bikenjutsu (various modern and traditional weapons), and ninpo tactics and strategies (Ninjutsu)

The Bujinkan Dojo has a series of nine kyu (grades) below the level of shodan, starting with mukyu (“without grade”) and then from kukyu (9 kyu) to ikkyu (1 kyu), with 9 kyu being the lowest rank and 1 kyu being the highest. Just like in other Japanese martial arts, such as karate and judo, unranked (mukyu) practitioners wear white belts, and those with ranks of shodan and above wear black belts. Kyu level practitioners wear colored belts, though the actual color of the belt varies from place to place. Furthermore, unlike other martial arts, the color has no relation to the actual kyu-level the practitioner holds. In Japan, it was once customary for kyu-level men to wear green belts and women to wear red belts; however, this practice has largely been abandoned. Now, both male and female Bujinkan practitioners wear green belts at most Japanese dojo. Outside of Japan, some countries still follow the green for men/red for women custom, while others use green for all practitioners.

There were originally 9 dan levels, as with many other martial arts using the kyu/dan system, but this was changed by Hatsumi to 10 and later, 15 dan levels. The grades are divided into three groupings; 1-5 dan Ten (Heaven), 6-10 dan Chi (Earth), 11-15 dan Jin (Man, in the sense of Humanity). The Jin levels are further divided into the five elements of the Godai; chi (earth), sui (water), ka (fire), fu (wind) and ku (void).

The practitioner’s level is displayed by the color of the art’s emblem, called wappen (????), inscribed with the kanji “bu”(?) and “jin” (?). There are four kinds of wappen (9 to 1 kyu, 1 to 4 dan, 5 to 9 dan, and 10 to 15 dan) sometimes augmented with up to four silver, gold or white stars (called hoshi) above or around the emblem, representing the individual ranks.