What is the Bujinkan Dojo?

The Bujinkan Dojo is an international martial arts organization, based in Chiba-ken,Japan. It teaches the martial art of Budo Taijutsu (also occasionally referred to as NinpoTaijutsu) and is headed by Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi. The name of the school translates as Hall of the Warrior Spirit and is named in honour of Hatsumi Senseiís teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu. The Bujinkan Dojo is best known in the western world as a school of Ninjutsu, however it also contains a large amount of material that is not drawn from the ninja tradition.

What is Budo Taijutsu?

Budo Taijutsu (martial arts body method) is a Japanese martial art drawing elements of nine ancient schools of classical Japanese martial arts together into a single study. This system was created by the current Soke (inheritor) of these schools, Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei. The schools taught under the banner of the Bujinkan Dojo are (see page 3.)

These arts are taught together as the martial art of Budo Taijutsu, but also separately as individual schools. Licenses, or menko, are issued in Budo Taijutsu, and the modern curriculum includes multiple fighting skills drawn from battlefield proven medieval combat arts, such as punching, kicking, throwing, limb restraints, rolling and breakfalling. Also studied are weapons including the long and short Japanese sword, long, medium and short staffs, flexible rope and chain weapons and throwing weapons.

What is Ninjutsu and Ninpo Taijutsu?

Ninjutsu (endurance method/art) is the name given to the method used by the ninja of ancient Japan. Typically, in modern popular culture theses figures are portrayed as black-clad masked assassins, but in reality ninja operated primarily as gatherers of intelligence and information during the Sengoku Jidai (warring states period) of Japanese history in the 16th century. (Itís interesting to note that the term ninja wasnít used during the golden period of Ninjutsu, when specialists in these skills were known as Iga no Mono, or Men of Iga, a part of Japan well-known for producing soldiers skilled in espionage.)

Ninjutsu as a set of techniques and methods was used by intelligence operatives employed by conventional military forces in feudal Japan and incorporates a wide body of esoteric knowledge suited to such secretive operations, including such wide ranging subjects as meteorology, geography, espionage and some hand to hand and weapon-based fighting methods. Most significantly though, ninjutsu offer a unique and intriguing outlook on martial arts training. Ninpo Taijutsu is the name given to the physical martial arts and philosophical view point used by practitioners of Ninjutsu, as distinct from the supporting skills outlined above which have less to do with punching and kicking.

What is the difference between Budo Taijutsu and other martial arts?

The majority of martial arts commonly practiced in the West were actually developed quite recently, despite popular misconceptions that they are thousands of years old. Most, such as Karate, Alkido, Taekwondo and to a large extent Judo are in fact less than 100 years old in their current forms and while they developed out of older systems, today they have very different aims and goals than arts that have survived unaltered since the middle ages.

Most modern arts are more concerned with athleticism, sport, competition and spiritual development than anything else, and as a result, have a different mindset and training methods to authentic Koryu, or old martial arts. It is important to say that there is nothing inherently Ďwrongí with this, many of these arts are fine pursuits and offer much to their practitioners. However, the arts found within the Bujinkan are many hundreds of years old, and are still transmitted in the same way as they were in the mid 1600s. As a result, Bujinkan training encourages a mentality of survival rather than victory, and places higher store on strategic thinking.

How long does it take until I will be able to defend myself?

This is a thorny question, because there is no meaningful answer and because each person is different and each self defence situation is different. Realistically, it takes at least a year and a half to two years before the average practitioner becomes competent, although some people develop skill faster than others. As with all things in life though, there are no guarantees.

Most people who start martial arts training do so because they want to learn how to defend themselves, however the reason most people continue to study is because they enjoy the training and the sense of achievement that comes with developing skill.

How long does it take to get a black belt?

Grades have less significance in Budo Taijutsu than in most other arts, but even so, the black belt is usually a good indicator that somebody has committed time and effort to the study of this art. In general, it takes around two years of committed training twice to three times a week to achieve Shodan (1st degree black belt)

How does the Grading Structure work?

The Bujinkan Edinburgh Dojo grading structure is reasonable simple. The Grades are as follows: 9th Kyu to 1st Kyu, where all students wear green belts and a certain number of silver and gold stars indicating the different levels of green belt - 1st Dan to 5th Dan and above, where all students wear black belts using silver and gold stars to indicate the different levels. In total there are 9 green belts and 14 black belts. 10th Dan meaning Mastery level.

Do I need to buy a uniform?

Not immediately. Beginners can wear a black training uniform (dogi) and a white belt if they wish, but it is not necessary to purchase a uniform straight away. Instead, new students should wear dark loose fitting clothing such as a tracksuit. Alternatively, if they have a martial arts uniform from previous practice, the training pants from that and a sweatshirt are also ideal.

What are Tabi Ė do I have to wear them?

Tabi are actually traditional Japanese footwear from Japan and were commonly used during ancient times. Today apart from some Martial Arts only construction workers, farmers and occasionally priests wear tabi. You get indoor and outdoor versions and they can be recognised by having a split toe. Bujinkan practitioners usually use both.

You donít have to wear any footwear but itís advisable. They will protect your feet and keep them clean.

What about hakama - do you need to be a black belt to wear one?

Hakama are old-fashioned Japanese split skirt trousers that were commonly worn during the period when samurai martial arts were most widely developed and used. In some martial arts, only black belts are allowed to wear hakama, but in the Bujinkan they can be worn by anyone when studying historical movement that was developed by people who wore hakama.

In essence, when doing hakama-based techniques, you wear a hakama, in the same way that when practising kenjutsu, you use a sword.

What if I have studied another art - does that count?

No, all students start at the beginning when learning Budo Taijutsu. That said, there are many things in common between martial arts and understanding of distancing and timing acquired in another art will be useful in Bujinkan training.

I studied at another Ninjutsu club - can I keep my grade at your club?

As long as you have an official license for that grade issued by the Bujinkan Hombu in Japan, it will be recognised. Otherwise, you must start at the beginning.

What weapons do you study?

Budo Taijutsu incorporates the study of many weapons, based on the principle that the foundation of all martial arts is Taijutsu, or body movement. In other words, using a sword or a staff isnít really any different from empty hand technique. While there are a large number of weapons in the Bujinakn arts, those studied most often include the Japanese long and short swords (katana and kodachi), the six foot, four foot and three foot staff (rokushaku bo, jo and handbo), chained weapons (kusarifundo), the halbard (naginata) and Japanese spear (yari). Also studied but less often are the fan (tessen), the sword catcher [jutte) and projectile weapons (shuriken).

In general, the study of weapons is practiced by all students but some of the more unusual and advanced weapons are unusual studied more by senior students.

Where do I buy my training eqipment/weapons?

Cubs sometimes supply students with tunics and weapons, so always try thereís first of all. Occasionally suits bought through the club are price-discounted. Other times their cost is included into the membership fee. Thank you

If you have any Questions please contact senior instructor:

Matthew Taylor
Email: mattie1000@hotmail.com