History of Ninjutsu

Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu did not come into being a specific, well defined art in the first place, and many centuries passed before Ninjutsu was established as an independent system of knowledge in its own right. The Ninja, at the beginning did not use that label for themselves, they were merely practitioners of strategies that were cultural opposites of the conventional outlooks of the ruling Japanese Samurai Class. Their highly illegal counter culture went underground and it was for this reason alone that the art was shrouded by centuries of mystery and deliberate confusion in Japanese history. In AD637, En no Gyoja, a warrior monk, established his Shugendo Dojo in the Togakure mountains, and his following carried on for a further 500 years. DAISUKE NISHINA was born into this sect in 1165. In 1181 the Shugendo warriors were crushed by Heike Troops and Daisuke Nishina was forced to flee south to the Iga province. Here he met a mystic warrior priesr – Kain Doshi. He studied this mysticism and adapted it to his own Shugendo learning. As a commemoration of his rebirth, he changed his name to DAISUKE TOGAKURE and with this the Togakure Ryu was born. Because of their split with society, the Ninja families adapted a highly professional form of self defence for survival and this professionalism was used during the 13th – 16th centuries in the civil struggles of the Japanese Warlords. They were classed as masters of all undercover strategies and over 200 families operated as agents and spies. When peace came to Japan, the Maiji Restoration of 1868 saw the old warrior skills, such as Ninjutsu, as barbaric and all martial arts were stripped of warrior significance and were transformed into sports or personal development exercise systems. The art of Ninjutsu nearly died completely due to this, but thanks to the teachings of the Togakure Ryu being passed down to TOSHITSUGA TAKAMATSU (1895 – 1972) the Ninja warrior system was reborn to what it is today. After his training Takamatsu went on to become the 33rd SOKE (Grandmaster) of the remaining Ninja family. MASAAKI HATSUMI (1931 – present day) travelled across Japan to train under Takamatsu. After several years Hatsumi was the last remaining student and Takamatsu passed down the secret Menko scrolls, and became the 34th Soke and is head of the family today. What was once condemned as an underground assassins technique, is today more recognised as a positive and powerful way of life in which harmony with nature, a working knowledge of universal laws and intuitive realism of where the future is headed and learned through the experience of the warrior ways.

The 9 Schools of Ninjutsu

Budo Taijutsu Budo Taijutsu is the name of our martial art. It is made up of nine individual martial lineages. Six of the lineages are Bugei battlefield arts previously used by Japan 's Samurai warriors, the remaining three are Ninpo arts practiced by the infamous ninja. Each lineage is between 500 – 800yrs old, born from actual combat and passed on through history by an unbroken chain of family heads or patriarch. The current patriarch to all nine lineages is Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi.

The Nine Ryu of the Bujinkan Togakure Ryu Ninpo - "Hidden Door" School Togakure Ryu was founded by Diasuke Nishina who was raised as a vassal of Kiso Yoshinaka in the early 12th century. When Yoshinaka's army was defeated in battle, Diasuke escaped to Iga. There he learned various martial skills such as kosshijutsu and kenjutsu from Kagakure Doshi. It was initially called Togakure Ryu Happo Biken but has been called by various names since that time. Togakure Ryu is known for its use of tekko, senban nage and shinodake (4-foot breathing tube). Founder: Nishina Daisuke, late 12th century Characteristics: - low and wide kamae - shuko - shinodake - shuriken Kukishinden Ryu Happo Hiken - "Nine Daemons" School Kukishinden Ryu - The founder of this tradition was Yakushimaru Kurando Takazane, a palace guard of Emperor Godaigo in the 1330's. He was awarded the family name of Kuki (nine demons) for his spirited fighting and rescue of the Emperor. In addition to bo, yari, shuriken and unarmed fighting methods, this tradition is well known for its bojutsu and kenjutsu. Due in part to the Kuki family's activities as suigun (navy) they adapted a low fighting posture that permitted better balance on turbulent waters. This tradition is related to Kukishin Ryu which is well known for its bojutsu. Founder: Izumo Koshiro Yoshiteru, 12th century Characteristics: - Bo ryaku (special strategy) - Sui & ka ren - onshin jutsu (disguise) Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu - "Jewel Tiger" School Gyokko Ryu - It is believed that a Chinese person named Ikai introduced this art to Japan in the 8th century. According to Hatsumi Sensei, that person could also be somebody (kai) from a foreign (i) country. It is assumed that this kosshijutsu was based on Chinese martial arts. Although kosshijutsu means "to be able to knock down an enemy with one finger", it can also signify the "backbone" [spine] of the martial arts. Founder: Tozawa Hakuunsai, early 12th century Characteristics: - circular movement (quick) - sanshin no kata - kihon happo - muto taihenjutsu Notes: This is the oldest school in the Bujinkan system.

The 9 Schools (continued)

Koto Ryu Koppojutsu - "Tiger Knocking Down" School Koto Ryu - This art was founded in the middle of the 16th century by Toda Sankyo Ishinsai who had learned Gyokko Ryu from Gyokkan, a Buddhist monk. Koppojutsu originally came from ancient China and was also called Goho, which was characterized by its use of hidden weapons. The first kanji of koppo (kotsu) means bone, but can have the deeper meaning of "knack". Founder: Chan Busho, mid-16th century Characteristics: - precise and effective koppojutsu techniques - own techniques Kenjutsu and Muto dori Notes: This system was brought to Japan from China via Korea. The first Soke of this school was Sakagami Taro Kunichige. Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu - "Truth, Loyalty & Justice" School Gikan Ryu - Founded by Unryu Hangan Gikanbo, Daimyo of Kawachi Province. He developed this art from his lessons in kosshijutsu. The lessons of this tradition are almost totally unknown to the public and many of its secret techniques were handed down from sôke to sôke only. Founder: Uryu Gikanbo (Daimyo of Kawachi Province), 16th century Characteristics: - many special kicks and punches - dynamic footwork Notes: Very little is known in the West about this system. Only a few techniques have been shown yet. This school has no densho. The scrolls contain only the technique names and no step-bystep instructions. Techniques were passed down through direct teachings. Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo - "Hiding in the Clouds" School Kumogakure Ryu - This martial art was founded by Heinaizaemon Ienaga Iga (Kumogakure Hoshi) who was also believed to be the originator of Iga Ryu Ninjutsu. The special skills of this tradition include its use of the kamayari (sickle spear) and kote uchi (forearm striking) techniques. Much of the training in this tradition is said to be likened to the taijutsu and philosophies of escape and evasion techniques in Togakure Ryu. Founder: Heinaizaemon Ienaga Iga, mid-16th century. Characteristics: - taijutsu very similar to Togakure Ryu - occasional use of daemon mask - kikaku ken - daemon's horn strikes (head strike) rarely used in other systems - double blocks and strikes - jumps while fighting - various survival techniques included in training (e.g. making fire in wet weather) Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu - "Immoveable Heart" School Shinden Fudo Ryu - This ryu was founded by Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru. A characteristic of this ryu is its recognition of shizen ("natural") as the only necessary posture of defense. However, in reality, a person imagines a posture of defense in his mind and places himself on guard. This tradition has two sections of fighting (dakentaijutsu & jutaijutsu) as well as the philosophy of not drawing a sword unless absolutely necessary. Founder: Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru, 12th century Characteristics: - the secret principal is the principal of nature - natural style as only posture of defense - use of several different types of yari, ono (war axe), otsuchi and naginata - two styles of taijutsu: dakentaijutsu (natural posture) and jutaijutsu (5 kamae)

The 9 Schools (continued)

Takagi Yoshin ryu Jutaijutsu - "High Tree, Raised Heart" School Takagi Yoshin Ryu - Traces its lineage back to the 16th century scroll Rinpo Hiden which was studied by Ito Ki-i no Kami. This tradition was founded by Takagi Oriemon Shigenobu. This art developed through the years and has strong links to Takeuchi Ryu, Kukishin Ryu and Hontai Yoshin Ryu. This tradition teaches to always remain calm and flexible like the willow. Founder: Takagi Oriemon Shigenobu, 17th century Characteristics: - techniques are applied in a way that opponent can't escape by rolling or breakfalling - opponent is held close while applying techniques - look the opponent in the eyes - uses speed - uses the impulse and the weight of the opponent Notes: The close fighting style of Takagi Yoshin Ryu originates from training inside buildings. Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo - "Jewel Heart" School Gyokushin Ryu - This art is a branch of kosshijutsu and was founded by Sasaki Goemon Teruyoshi. Characteristics of this tradition include its unique usage of nawa nage (rope throwing) and espionage techniques. The secrets of this tradition have only been hinted about by the current grandmaster. Founder: Sasaki Goemon Teryoshi, mid-16th century Characteristics: - sutemi throws - emphasis on espionage techniques of ninjutsu Notes: Not much is known in the West about this system.- Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo

Within these nine schools you can find eighteen traditional topics of study; they include: Taijutsu - unarmed fighting Ninja Ken - ninja sword Bojutsu - long and short stick fighting Shurikenjutsu - throwing weapons Yarijutsu - spear fighting Naginatajutsu - halberd fighting Kusari Gama - chain and sickle Hensojutsu - disguises Shinobi iri - stealth and infiltration techniques Sui ren - water training Bo ryaku - strategy Cho ho - espionage Intonjutsu - escape and evasion Tenmon - meteorology Chimon - geography Other Skills: Bajutsu (horsemanship) Bo-ryaku (strategy) Kayakujutsu (fire and explosives) Seishin teki kyoyo (spiritual refinement)

Other training: As well as the above mentioned Bujinkan traditions our dojo training also encompasses several other martial traditions as well. For instance, our kusari fundo training comes from Masaaki Ryu, while our daisho sabaki training comes from Takagi Yoshin Ryu, and our black belt level Shinken Gata training is derived from the philosophies and strategies of samurai hundreds of years ago. Some weapon training is derived from Kukishin Ryu and other ryu.

Weapons Quick List

There are many traditional weapons used in Ninjutsu, many of which are wooden, and some are metal. Generally, we use wooden versions of everything, in the interests of safety and economy.

Weapon Description Katana Mid-sized and most common type of Japanese sword. Bokken and Subarito Wooden training sword, the Subarito is a heavier version. Wakizashi Short sword Shoto Literally 'Short sword', it's also used to refer to the short wooden training sword. Tanto A short knife, either metal or wooden. Bo 6ft staff Jo 4ft staff or 'chin height', depending on school Hanbo 3ft staff, or walking stick height Naginata Equivalent of a western halberd, and has a variety of blade shapes and sizes. Yari A spear, carried by the mainstay of Japanese armies, the Ashigaru ('light foot'). Kyoketsu Shoge A combined spear tip and sickle, attached to a long chain with an iron ring at the other end. Kunai A digging tool, a bit like a trowel. Tessen An iron fan, either one that can open and be used, or just a solid bar made to look like a real fan. Kusari fundo A short length of chain with small iron weights at either end. Kusari gama A sickle, with a short length of chain attached, and an iron weight at the other end. Kama The sickle from the Kusari gama, above, but without any attached chain. Shuriken Throwing weapons, in either star or spike shapes. Jutte A sword-breaking and restraint weapon, that looks like half an Okinawan Sai; a metal rod with a grip at one end, and a spur.


Kyu and Dan grades Common to many Japanese martial arts, a new student starts as a 'white belt', someone with no rank or grade. As they progress, they move through the 'kyu grades', starting at 9th Kyu then counting down to 1st Kyu. In the Bujinkan, you'll keep the same belt colour (usually green) through all the kyu grades, rather than changing at every new rank. The next level after 1st Kyu is 1st Dan, or shodan. This is the first 'black belt' grade. You can then become a 2nd Dan, 3rd Dan, and so on. Shidoshi A Shidoshi is a licensed instructor. Someone must achieve the rank of 5th Dan before being allowed to become a Bujinkan instructor, and therefore open a dojo. People below 5th Dan can be Shidoshi-ho, meaning 'Assistant Instructor', if they are sponsored by a full Shidoshi. Shihan Shihan are those senior practitioners who are the most senior instructors, meant as the role models for everyone else. These people are not usually less than 10th Dan. Gi and Tabi The Gi is the standard martial arts wear. Made of tough cotton or canvas and heavily reinforced, it's meant to withstand all sorts of tough training. It consists of a pair of cord-tie trousers, and a long sleeved jacket, which needs to be tied shut by a belt. It's designed this way so that there are no buttons or zips to land on, reducing the chance of injury. Tabi are Japanese split-toed socks. Jikatabi, which most ninjutsu practitioners wear, are hardier versions, used by carpenters, people in street festivals, and so on, as well as martial artists.

Daikomyosai The Daikomyosai (DKMS) is an annual event held in Japan to celebrate Soke's Birthday. It is normally held at the start of December and consists of a three day seminar taken by Soke. Taikai's Taikai's were three day seminars that are organised in various countries around the world, so that you could train with our Soke, Hatsumi Sensei. This was normally most peoples only chance to experience his skill in the martial arts. There used to be only one or two Taikai a year. 2003 was the last year that Soke intended to travel abroad to host Taikai's. Now you will have to travel to Japan if you wish to see him in action.


I believe that Ninpo, the highest order of ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artists. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalized by Japanese ninja were in fact one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today's martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living. By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear of injury or death, and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations, the practitioner of Ninjutsu can gain the strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others, and contentment with the presence of peace in society. The attainment of this enlightenment is characterized by the development of the jihi no kokoro, or "benevolent heart." Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that finds expression in the unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, the benevolent heart of ninpo is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds. After so many generations of obscurity in the shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so mankind may continue to grow and evolve into the next great plateau.

Masaaki Hatsumi, Soke

Rei No Shikata

Shi-kin Hara-mitsu Dai-ko-myo - as on the floor-to-ceiling battle flag at the front of the Hombu Dojo in Ohio - is an empowerment phrase used to start and close classes. The phrase has been translated by Stephen K. Hayes as, "Every experience contains the potential for taking me to the enlightenment I seek," or, "Everything I encounter serves as the perfection of wisdom that leads to enlightenment." The SHI of the phrase translates literally as "word(s)". The KIN translates as "sound(s)". Together, the two kanji for Shi-kin mean literally "The sounds of words," or "Sounds and words". The combination means "an encounter" or "something that occurs to/at me". HARAMITSU is the Japanese sound of paramita, a Sanskrit term that translates as “perfection of wisdom,” or “having reached the opposite shore”, a Buddhist metaphor for going beyond normal limits of thought and perception to reach the higher or broader awareness of enlightened vision. DAI KO MYO means “great bright light” - illumination “dawns on us.” An-shu Rumiko Urata Hayes offers another interesting interpretation. We can see SHIKIN at one end and DAIKOMYO at the other, both leading inwards to the center of HARAMITSU. “All that we hear and all that we see can lead to the perfection of wisdom.” Multidirectional reading is possible in Chinese and Japanese, though difficult to imagine in Western languages. A contemporary parallel might be an expression like, "This could be it!" as you're digging for treasure, or studying something important, or interviewing for a dream job. You might recite over and over, "This could be it!" as a way of staying on your toes to make sure you get the most you can out of the opportunity.

"Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo" - Translation difficult, but the general meaning is "Everything holds the start of understanding", or variations. This is the phrase said at the start and end of class. If we will only listen and be ready to learn from our experiences, we will find the wisdom to gain enlightenment. Kami, sincerity, compassion, naturally devoting oneself to obeying nature - by continually searching for all of these a great light (daikomyo) can appear. The teaching of the gods shall eternally protect those who are right in heart and body. The sound of words in our reach for enlightenment, creates the divine cosmic light. Conceptually translated as, "Every experience contains the potential for the enlightenment we seek". It's a reminder for us to be ever mindful, to be ever aware that each one of these moments that make up our life could be that special moment. It's like putting together one of these jigsaw puzzles. If you are so intent on the puzzle you may not even know that you put the last piece in.


HANZO HATTORI Hanzo Hattori was born around 1560 into the Ninja family of Iga Province. He developed his family following and eventually took over as Jonin Ninja to the Hattori Clan, which became one of the key clans within the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu system. Hattori was best known in Japanese history for his dedication in serving the Shogun Iayasu Tokugawa (who was the originator of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867) in fact Hattori became Tokugawa’s Director of Ninja tactics and Chief Military Advisor and was given the status of Samurai. Hanzo Hattori had many battle honours but unfortunately met his death by the hands of Ninja trickery. He had been sent by the Shogun to wipe out the Fuma Kainin an aquatic Ninja sect which pirated the Inland Sea. Hattori’s fleet found them and blasted them out of the eater with heavy guns. One of the damaged boats drifted towards them and knowing that the burning ship could ignite the whole fleet, Hattori gave the command to withdraw. What he did not know was that the Fuma Kainin had swum beneath their ships and dismantled the rudders. Unable to move the crews jumped ship and to their horror realised the whole bay was covered in oil. It was too late – the oil ignited and the whole Tokugawa crew including Hattori perished. It is due to his fighting ability and leadership that his name is honoured in today’s system of Ninjutsu – the Hattori Ninja is the name given to young people under the age of 16, who come into the family of Ninjutsu

The Godai

The art of Ninjutsu employs a broad collection of esoteric knowledge that provides the basis for the Ninja’s unique way of life, understanding and the prevention of danger. More than a system of physical tricks of espionage and combat, Ninjutsu is a total way of life in which all aspects of the environment, all levels of consciousness and total perspective of one’s understandings are blended together to provide a life harmonious with the playing out of the universe. Heavily influenced by mystic teachings of the East, Ninjutsu techniques incorporate the symbolism of nature to provide inspiration for practical application. The GYO (GO) DAI are five primary elemental manifestations and the progression of these manifestations depicts the creation of the universe and symbolises the ways that physical matter manifests itself as formless atomic potential, gasses, combustive energy, liquids and solids. KU (void) emptiness, gasses and noise of the body, the THROAT being the centre of the body’s manifestation. Colour feeling BLUE. Positive attitudes include; speech and communication, creative and pure thoughts. Negative attitude of vanity. FU (wind) the breathing cycle of the body, the middle of the CHEST being the centre of the body’s manifestation. Colour feeling GREEN. Positive attitudes include; wisdom and love. Negative attitudes include; sympathy, intellect and pride. KA (fire) metabolism of the body, the lower tip of the BRESTBONE being the centre of the body’s manifestation. Colour feeling YELLOW. Positive attitudes include; vitality and body warmth. Negative attitudes include; fear, ambition and wealth. SUI (water) all the body fluids, the lower ABDOMEN being the centre of the body’s manifestation. Colour feeling ORANGE. Positive attitudes include; flexibility and suppleness. Negative attitudes include; anger, emotions and sex. CHI (earth) the bones, teeth, muscles and solid tissues of the body, the SPINE being the centre of the body’s manifestation. Colour feeling RED. Positive attitudes include; stability and security. Negative attitudes include; laziness and stubbornness to change.




Symbol of the GODAI

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