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Manrikigusari (a.k.a Kusarifundo)

Traditional Kusarifundo

Recently we have been studying the use of Kusarifundo (a.k.a Manrikigusari) in the dojo in preparation for the Triple Threat II seminar with Tommy Joe Moore and Jason Hulott in January 2022. Don’t miss this seminar, it’s being held at our dojo (Seal Martial Arts) in Rugby and we will be looking at a wide variety of traditional Japanese weapons. Jason Hulott is teaching the Okuden No Kata (Advanced Forms) from Eishin Ryu Battoho (Japanese Naval Sword) and Tanjojutsu (Walking Stick) techniques. Tommy Joe Moore is covering Street Sumo and the use of the Yawara (Short Stick) for self defence and combatives. I will be covering fighting with the Tessen (Fan) and the basic use of Manrikigusari (Weighted Chain).

The Manrikigusari or Kusarifundo was believed to have been developed by Masaki Tarodayu in the 1700’s. It is used by several schools such as Masaki Ryu, Hoten Ryu, Araki Ryu, Toda Ryu, Meifu Shinkage Ryu and a few others.

Used to snag and snare the opponent as well as strike with the weight, The chain is a versatile weapon in the hands of a skilled practitioner.

As far as I understand the story, Masaki Tarodayu was tasked with guarding the gate of a castle and because it was considered to be holy ground he didn’t want to use a sword and spill blood. He thought of what he could use as a substitute and decided the staff was too primative so he looked for a new weapon and decided on the Manrikigusari (Weighted Chain). It has several advantages in that you can conceal it easily, strike with it concealed in the hand, use the weight to strike with devastating effect, ensnare your opponent, choke them and throw them.

When training in the dojo it’s important that you don’t use real (Metal) Marikigusari or Kusarifundo! You should always train with rope substitutes for the sake of safety, The Manrikigusari is an extremely powerful weapon and will do a lot of damage to you or your training partner should you make a mistake. Some techniques like the O Same No Kata (Clasping in the hands) cannot be performed properly without a chain as you need to use the elasticity of the chain to bring it into position but you should wind it around the thumb and forefinger instead to place it in the hand when you are using rope Manrikigusari.

The use of the Manrikigusari used to be more common in the Bujinkan (Ninjutsu) but it has fallen out of popularity in recent years. As far as I understand it Soke used to teach more techniques with the chain and a lot of the techniques found in the Bujinkan come from Masaki Ryu but Masaki Ryu Manrikigusari is a standalone art in its own right. As time has progressed and subjects of study have changed the focus has moved away from the Manrikigusari to look at other weapons. Students should however endeavour to learn as much as they can about this weapon as its extremely effective and an excellent weapon for self defence.

When you first start studying the use of the Manrikigusari you learn 5 basic Kamae (Stances) to learn how to safely conceal and position the weapon on the body.

  • Goho No Kamae is all about hiding the Manrikigusari centrally in the hands ready to extend it out to be used when performing techniques such as armlocks and chokes.
  • Issei No Kamae involves dropping the Manrikigusari behind the rear leg to conceal it from the opponents view ready to perform strikes.
  • Tenchi No Kamae involves holding the Manrikigusari vertically on the left side of the body with the chain held taught ready to perform blocks and overhand strikes.
  • Shumoku No Kamae involves holding the Manrikigusari on the right hand side of the body with the rear arm held outstretched to the rear.
  • Ippu No Kamae involves hiding the Manrikigusari behind the back in a similar manner to Kage No Kamae from Hanbojutsu which is quite challenging to move into at first. The key to moving into Ippu No Kamae is bringing the chain around the outside of the arm but it takes some practice for it to flow naturally.

Next you learn Yukichigai or how to wear the Manrikigusari in the belt. This is quite simple you just fold the Manrikigusari in half and pull the chain through the belt and allow it to hang freely. However its quite interesting as when you need to draw the Manrikigusari you simply pull on one of the Fundo (Weights) and allow it to drop down so that you assume Issei No Kamae ready to strike.

One of the fundamental drills with the Manrikigusari is the O Same No Kata or clasping the Manrikigusari in the hands. This takes some practice to get right. You have to maintain tension in the chain and snap it back into the rear hand in one smooth motion. Then the same thing the other way bringing the rear hand to the front hand, catching the chain in one smooth motion. This needs to be practised on both sides of the body until you can snap the chain open and close it into the hands seamlessly.

There are also multiple ways of positioning the Manrikigusari in the hand to to use the Fundo to strike and smash sensitive areas of the body. The most common is to hold one Fundo vertically in the palm with the chain and the other Fundo protruding from between the fore and index fingers. You can also hold both Fundo vertically in the palm and strike with Tetsui Fudo Ken (Hammerfist). The addition of the Manrikigusari makes simple techniques like Jodan Uke (Upper Block) and Ken Kudaki (Crushing The Fist) significantly more effective.

The first attack is called Kasumi (Hazing) and it involves concealing the Manrikigusari in one hand and throwing it forwards to strike the opponent in the face with the Fundo. It’s important to keep hold of the rear Fundo with the little finger so that it can be retracted and used to perform follow up strikes such as Kakoiuchi.

One of the fundamental things to master with the Manrikigusari is Kakoiuchi and Sukuiuchi or swinging the Manrikigusari in a downward figure 8 motion and an upwards figure 8 motion to strike and keep the opponent at bay. It’s important to learn how to switch hands when spinning and how to turn and move freely with the Manrikigusari. If you are spinning it in Kakoiuchi and turn to face the opposite direction then you transition into Sukuiuchi spinning the Manrikigusari the other way to keep it flowing naturally.

My favourite technique with the Manrikigusari is probably Maki Otoshi, It’s simple and very effective! When the opponent punches you move to the outside (Omote) and perform Ken Kudaki with the Fundo and then wrap the chain around the opponents neck with the right hand to choke them and throw them down to be restrained.

The only technique that i don’t particularly think is effective with the Manrikigusari is Yadome (Arrow Shield) this involves spinning the Manrikigusari in front of your body to stop incoming projectile weapons with the chain. Whilst in theory this would work for some small projectiles i can’t honestly see it stopping an arrow at all and every example i have seen of people testing it has ended with them being hit by the Fundo.

In conclusion the Manrikigusari is an extremely versatile and effective weapon! When you obtain a degree of proficiency with it you can incapacitate an opponent in a matter of seconds. The only down side to it is the possibility of strikes rebounding if you don’t follow through with you strikes properly. You have to be mindful of how its moving and anticipate where its going and be ready to catch it. It’s an excellent example of traditional Kakushi Buki (Hidden Weapons) that can be used in a wide variety of ways, I have even seen people wrapping the chains around their hands to strike like a Kakute/Kaiken and holding them by the chain to strike with both of the Fundo simultaneously like a mace. Just remember when your practicing in the dojo don’t use metal Manrikigusari as someone will definitely get hurt, It takes 2 mins to make them out of rope and then the worst anyone is going to receive is a rope burn. I have included a video below if your not sure how to do it:

Bujinkan Rank Structure

The grading system in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu differs by comparison to other conventional martial arts that operate by presenting students with different colored belts with each grade acheived.

In the Bujinkan we operate on a system of Wappen (Patches) and Hoshi (Stars) to make it easy to understand at a quick glance what grade someone is. Most traditional schools of martial arts would present a student with a white belt and then through years of training in the Dojo it would eventually become a black belt, the concept of colored belts is a very western concept popularized by Karate, Judo and Jujutsu during its introduction into western culture.
​The rank structure is outlined in the image below:

Kyusho – Pressure Points

  • Kaku – This point is the knee and the painful point on the inside and outside of the knee joint.
  • Koshitsubo – Hip Pot – You can find this Kyusho point at the base of the spine where it joins the hip, also called the sacrum.
  • Koe – Voice –This Kyusho point is between the centre of the thigh and the groin and is where the Femur joins the hip. This point is also where the femoral artery and femoral nerve begin, before they run down the leg. It is possible to dislocate the hip if this point is kicked hard.
  • Yubi Tsubo – Finger Healing Point – This point is found at the base of the thumb, between the thumb and forefinger. It should be hit or squeezed in towards the forefinger.
  • Ura Kimon – Inside Demon Gate – You can find this Kyusho poin on the ribs just below the nipple and below the pectoral muscles.
  • Suigetsu – Watermoon – This point is just below the xiphoid process and is the solar plexus. This area affects the diaphragm when hit.
  • Kinketsu – Forbidden Hole – This is the length of the sternum and is impossible to protect with muscle. This point lies over the heart and is very influential over the governing of Ki.
  • Wakitsubo – Side Bowl – This Kyusho point is the hollow of the armpit where there are some lymphatic glands.
  • Murasame – Village Rain – This Kyusho point is found on the notch at the top of the Sternum. This Kyusho can be hooked or struck with the forefingers.
  • Matsu Kaze – Wind in the pine trees – These Kyusho are the inside ends of the clavicles.
  • Ryumon – Dragons Gate – This Kyusho point is the space behind the clavicle or collar bone, going down into the body.
  • Uko – Door of Rain – This Kyusho is at the side of the neck and is also known as Amado, and is found level with the adams apple. Located by the artery, Jugular vein and the vagal nerve that regulates the heart. It should be struck inwards towards the spine.
  • Jinchu – Centre of A Human – This Kyusho point is located at the base of the nose and the tip if the philtrum, between the nostrils. This point can be struck, but it is more painful if rubbed in a lateral motion. Note: It is not advisable to strike the Jinchu as if struck with enough force it can kill. Don’t do it!
  • Hadome – End of the Teeth – You can find this Kyusho point by moving to the area where the back of the teeth or Molars are located, the muscle of the Jaw is also positioned there. This area also goes into the cheek tissue below the eyes.
  • Tenmon – Heaven’s Gate – This Kyusho point is located on the ridge of the bone above and below the eye socket. It is sometimes massaged to alleviate headaches, but if pressed hard is painful and is useful for controlling the Ukes head.
  • Hiryuran – Flying Dragon Confuser – This Kyusho point is the eyeballs.
  • Menbu – Face – This Kyusho point is located on the bridge of the nose, when hit it causes a reflex that causes the eyes to water, which affects Ukes sight like biological Metsubishi. It can also refer to the face in general.
  • Yugasumi – Evening Mist – This Kyusho point is located on the sensitive point about an inch behind the lower ear in the base of the skull.
  • Kenkotsu – Healthy Bone – These Kyusho points are located on the four parts of the skull positioned front, back, left and right of Tento on the top of the skull.
  • Tsuyugasumi – Drop of Mist – This Kyusho point is located under the jawline and is where the lymphatic glands are situated. Also, just below the ear into the Cochlea Jaw is a very sensitive area.
  • Inazuma – Thunder – This Kyusho point is located to the left side of Ukes belly Button.
  • Tsuki Kage – Thrusting Shadow – This Kyusho point is located on the right side of the Ukes belly button.
  • Tento – Heaven Head – This Kyusho point is located at the top of the head. It is the area that is soft when children are born.
  • Kasumi – Fog – This Kyusho point is located on the temples on either side of the head. Due to the arteries and their proximity to the surface of the skin, this is a very dangerous area to strike.
  • Happa – Eight Leaves – This Kyusho point is located on the ear canal and also the ear drum. It can also incorporate the bone just behind the ear that protects the inner ear. Shock to the latter point can affect the Ukes balance.
  • Asagasumi – Morning Mist – This Kyusho point is located under the bottom of the chin.
  • Gokoku – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the back of the hand or Kote between the middle finger and the forefinger. It is the point used when performing Omote Gyaku.
  • Ryu Fu – Dragons Wind – This Kyusho point is located on the Adams apple. Hitting here causes severe pain and can cause swelling that could block the airway so care must be taken.
  • Daimon – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the shoulder joint or head of the humorous and if struck correctly can dislocate the shoulder.
  • Dokkotsu – Single Bone – These Kyusho points are located on either side of the adams apple. If you hit the Ukes right side it is more effective that hitting the left.
  • Jujiro – Intersection – These Kyusho points are located at the front of the shoulders just below the anterior deltoid muscle, and on top of the clavicles.
  • Hoshi – Star – This Kyusho point is located on the underside of the elbow, striking here can have an effect on the Ukes grip and is very painful as it pinches the Medial Ulnar nerve against the bone.
  • Jakkin – Weak Muscle – This Kyusho point is located on the inside upper arm and is found between the Bicep and Tricep muscles. It is possible to damage the Median and Ulnar nerves when striking here, and also can affect the Ukes grip.
  • Kimon – Demon Gate a.k.a Omote Kimon – This Kyusho point is located above the nipple and is the spot between the two chest muscles, the pectoral major and minor. This point should be hit inwards toward the spine.
  • Seitaku – Star Mud – This Kyusho point is located on the top side of the elbow joint, with the thumb up. Grabbing here can make Ukes knees buckle and head peck forwards.
  • Kage – Shadow – This Kyusho point is the protuberance at the bottom of the sternum called the Xiphoid process.
  • Butsumetsu – Buddha’s Passing – This Kyusho point is located on both sides of the ribs and is midway down the ribcage below the armpit. It is an area that is impossible to protect with muscle and also includes the end of the floating rib. It should be struck inward towards the centre of the body.
  • Go Rin – Five Rings – These Kyusho points are located around the belly button.
  • Sai – Crush – This Kyusho point is located on the inside or outside of the mid-thigh. It has been said that if you are hit here hard you can’t stand up for a few days.
  • Kosei – Force of a Tiger – This Kyusho point is located in the groin, specifically the testicles, although this area is a sensitive place for women as well.
  • Kyokei – Strong Tendons – These Kyusho points are located on the top of the foot, just above the base of the toes.
  • Yaku – Press – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the calf muscle. It is extremely painful when hit.Note: This subject is quite difficult to compile because some of the Kyusho points have historically been wrongly translated and named, and positioned incorrectly on the diagrams, also different Dojos use different names for the Kyusho and document different affects, from Kyusho that can make you immobile for a few days, Immobile for a moment and those that just hurt momentarily. Please note that although the Kyusho points on the diagrams are marked on one side, they actually apply to both sides of the body unless positioned along the centre line of the body. You should also be aware that the knowledge of Kyusho is useless without the proper Taijutsu necessary to strike them correctly.

Nin Gu – Ninja Tools

In this section of the website you will find a brief glossary of all the weapons and tools traditionally used by the Ninja, this is provided purely for reference purposes to help students of the Bujinkan learn the names and specifications.

None of the weapons depicted should be used unless under the supervision of a qualified Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu Shidoshi or Shihan.

Shinken (sharp) weapons should never be used in the Dojo under any circumstances, unless specifically attending a test cutting lesson (Tameshigiri), this is generally only practiced in Japan under the supervision of one of the Shitenno or practiced in your own time after extensive training on private property.

The official stance of the Bujinkan Rugby Dojo is DO NOT train with Shinken weaponry, especially in the Dojo as it is illegal in the UK to bring weapons into a public place under the Offensive Weapons Act 1996. The student accepts all responsibility for any injury incurred outside the Dojo by misusing specialized weaponry intended for use by experienced martial artists.

In short your responsible for your own stupidity, stick with wooden, rubber or foam training weapons until you thoroughly understand what you practicing, throw Bo Shuriken (after training) instead of cheap throwing knives that can easily bounce back and cause serious injury, use your common sense and ensure you maintain control over the weapon at all times, no aimlessly waving a weapon around, bare in mind if you lose grip on a sword swinging it around it could easily take your arm or even head off it is a 3 foot long razor after all!

Just to clarify you shouldn’t be swinging a sword around anyway, Japanese swordsmanship is very controlled, the spinning motions and movements you often see in movies are derived from Chinese martial arts such as Kung Fu who use shorter broadswords and position the body in a completely different manner, do it with a Nihonto (Japanese Sword) and your likely to cut off your ear (or other bits) due to the longer blade, in conclusion DON’T DO IT!

Kaginawa 鈎縄 – Hook Rope/Grappling Hook

The Kaginawa quite literally is translated as ‘Hook Rope’ and is a generalized term for a number of different climbing tools including the conventional western styled grappling hook. This particular Kaginawa is comprised of a three pronged claw (Kumade) and rope that could be used not only for climbing but also to restrain violent swordsmen from a distance by snagging clothing and flesh and dragging him to the ground. The Kumade could also be attached to the end of a Rokushakubo (6 Shaku Staff) and used in the same manner.

Shuko and Ashiko – Hand and Foot Claws

Shuko and Ashiko are hand and foot claws traditionally used by the Togakure Ryu Ninja for a variety of reasons, their primary purpose is to aid the Ninja in climbing trees, structures and other obstacles somewhat like a mountaineers crampons but they could obviously be used to devastating effect when used with the Ninja’s Taijutsu to block incoming cuts from an opponents sword and incapacitate them.

Ninja-To 忍者刀 – Ninja Sword

The Ninja-To (忍者刀) or Shinobigatana (忍刀) is the conventional sword of the Ninja portrayed in popular culture and animation. Their is some debate about the exact dates that this sword was used due to a lack of antiques from the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States) period being found but they do feature in various Ninja museums across Japan. The conventional belief is that the Ninja-To was more of a utilitarian bush knife of machete by comparison to the conventional Japanese Katana.

Their are several fundamental differences between the Ninja-To (忍者刀) and the Katana, The first and most obvious being that the blade is straight, this was due to a variety of reasons such as the Ninjas inability to replicate the complex forging processes used to create a Katana at the time but it also served a functional purpose as it makes the blade more stable so that the Ninja-To could be used as a step when in the Saya to climb over walls and other obstacles. The Kojiri (Metal Saya Cap) meant that the Saya could be secured in the ground and the Tsuba used as a step and the longer Sageo meant that the Ninja could hold it in their teeth, climb up and then retrieve the sword. In conclusion the Ninja-To could be compared to the modern soldiers Bayonet or Survival Knife.

Kodachi 小太刀こだち

The Kodachi is a sword that is roughly about midway between the Katana and Wakizashi. Literally translating into “small or short tachi”, is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (Nihontō) used by the samurai class of feudal Japan. Kodachi are from the early Kamakura period (1185–1333).

This particular Kodachi is an Oniyuri Bujinkan Katana although technically it is more of a Kodachi due to the shorter blade, and larger Tsuka (handle) and fittings.

This served a very practical purpose as when the Ninja needed to draw his sword when faced with an opponent the longer Saya would act as a form of psychological misdirection meaning that the Ninja was able to draw the Kodachi at a far quicker rate than the opponent was expecting and cut him down before he even drew his sword. The Saya could also be loaded with Metsubishi (Blinding Powder) in the space left in the bottom to blind and disorientate the opponent or carry secret messages.

Bokken 木刀 – Wooden Sword

The Bokken or Bokuto is a Japanese wooden sword used for training in Kenjutsu (Swordmanship). The Bokken can come in a variety of sizes and are usually made of red or white oak and carved in the shape of a Katana. The Bokken is one of the primary pieces of equipment that you will encounter in the Dojo.

Rokushakubo 六尺棒 – 6 Shaku Staff

This name derives from the Japanese words roku (六), meaning “six”, shaku (尺) and bō (棒) . The shaku is a Japanese measurement equivalent to 30.3 centimeters (0.994 ft). Thus, rokushakubō refers to a staff about 6-shaku (1.82 m; 5.96 feet) long. The bō is typically 3 cm (1.25 inch) thick, sometimes gradually tapering from the middle to 2 cm (0.75 inch) at the end (kontei). This thickness allows the user to make a tight fist around it in order to block and counter an attack.

In the Bujinkan the primary school learnt for the use of Rokushakubo is Kukishinden Ryu (九鬼神流)

Wakizashi 脇差 – Short Sword

The Wakizashi has a blade between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 in), with Wakizashi close to the length of a Katana being called Kodachi and Wakizashi closer to Tantō length being called Ko-Wakizashi. The Wakizashi being worn together with the Katana was the official sign that the wearer was a Samurai or swordsman of feudal Japan. When worn together the pair of swords were called Daishō, which translates literally as “big-little”. The Katana was the big or long sword and the Wakizashi the companion sword. Wakizashi are not necessarily just a smaller version of the Katana, they could be forged differently and have a different cross section.

Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The Wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword, it was also used for close quarters fighting, to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit Seppuku, ritual suicide.

The Wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by Samurai including the Yoroi Tōshi, the Chisa-Katana and the Tantō. The term Wakizashi did not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of “wakizashi no katana” (“sword thrust at one’s side”); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of Katana and Wakizashi were officially set.

Kunai 苦無 – Trowel/Dagger

A Kunai (苦無) is a Japanese dagger, derived from the masonry trowel. The two widely recognized variations of the Kunai are short kunai (小苦無 shō-kunai) and the big kunai (大苦無 dai-kunai). Perhaps the most important point to mention is that the Kunai is not bladed and was often used by the Ninja to dig holes and bore peep holes.

Although a basic tool, in the hands of the Ninja the Kunai could be used as a multi-functional weapon. Kunai were originally made to be farming tools but soon evolved into the weapons they have become today. The Kunai is commonly associated with the Ninja in popular culture and animation as a form of throwing knife although this is a popular misconception as this was never their original intended purpose. That’s not to say that they aren’t available as throwing knives today but they tend to be cheap replicas not really suitable for training.

Their are a variety of Kamae and applications for the Kunai which will be discussed more in depth during lessons.

Suntetsu 寸鉄 

A Suntetsu is a metal rod/spike about 6 inches in length with a ring attached to it. The middle finger is inserted into the ring and the Suntetsu rests in the hand using a variety of grips. Suntetsu are small, easy to conceal and relatively simple to learn how to use. Suntetsu are used for stabbing, poking, pinching, striking, smashing, scraping and throwing. You can use a single Suntetsu or a pair. 

In the Bujinkan Suntetsu are predominantly used for striking Kyusho.

Tanto 短刀 – Traditional Japanese Dagger

A tantō 短刀, “short blade”) is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto) that were worn by the Samurai class of feudal Japan. The Tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu) and saw a resurgence of use in the West in the 1980s as the design made its way to the US and is a common blade pattern found in modern tactical knives.

Teaching Ninjutsu

I’ve had quite a few private message from people asking me about advice recently and it has got me thinking about what it takes to teach Ninjutsu (Bujinkan or Genbukan).

Let me start by saying I don’t have all the answers, my journey isn’t necessarily yours, we all have to walk our own paths and i’m about 10% of the way down mine.

It’s certainly not easy! You spend years studying and training to develop your technique to then open your own dojo and realise you know nothing about how to actually run a dojo. I don’t mean you don’t know how to teach but more that you don’t know how to run a martial arts school.

When we first started, I thought the best course of action was to get the financial backing of a government organisation (The Princes Trust) to give us a step up in the market we needed to get out there and get students in the dojo. The problem is even after compiling a comprehensive business plan and obtaining the finances needed to stock up on equipment and set up shop, I still had next to no idea what i was doing.

This is the weird thing about it, you can have the best intentions, have everything planned out and be a very capable teacher but, you don’t know what you don’t know, so its easy to fail fast!

The first issue we encountered was commercial premises, EVERYBODY wants a full time martial arts school that is completely kitted out but that costs a lot of money! We couldn’t even afford the repairs on the premises we were looking at initially with the money obtained from the Princes Trust. There is also an fixed term lease to consider, change of license, repairs, business rates, decoration, fittings, security, etc. This gets expensive QUICKLY!

When you first start it’s best to find a decent venue to rent and this need to be in a central location in your area. Renting a hall for a few hours a week is far more affordable than £1900 a month in rent. Some halls can be rented for under £10 an hour! This is important as when you first start you want to keep costs down as much as possible until you start to develop a student base in your area.

The reality is when you first start you’ll be lucky to get a single student in if you haven’t consistently marketed the launch of your lessons. When we first opened we had 2 students, just 2 and i knew them both. We overlooked the fact that nobody cares when a new dojo opens if they don’t know you exist!

So what can you do to assist with launching your lessons?

I think the first mistake I made was keeping things ultra traditional, I opened a Bujinkan dojo in an area that has never previously had a Bujinkan Dojo in it and expected people to know what it was. We were called the Bujinkan Rugby Dojo for ages and recruited one student via word of mouth.

People just don’t understand complex Japanese names so if you call your dojo something like the “Bujinkan Kage No Shinobi No Mono Dojo” people have switched off before they even finish reading the name. You have to keep it simple! Ninjutsu lessons for adults would be far more effective purely because they understand that it’s martial arts lessons for adults even if they don’t know what Ninjutsu is.

I see it a lot in the Bujinkan we all use the Bujin Kanji symbol and call the dojo the Bujinkan (Location) Dojo or a Japanese Bugo that mean nothing to the general public and then wonder why students aren’t lining up at the door for lessons.
Identifying your “brand” is important as it makes you identifiable as a unique entity whilst being part of something much bigger i.e. the Bujinkan.

We did this by simply calling the dojo “Rugby Ninjutsu”, It’s Ninjutsu in Rugby, Having a bright colour which catches the eye (Red Shield) and a Ninja with a sword (Most people know what a Ninja looks like even if they don’t know their name). It’s simple but effective! Then we added the tagline “Master all arts, be limited by none” which explains our ethos in the dojo.

Politics is a big problem in martial arts and i know exactly what it’s like! There is this tremendous pressure (especially in the Bujinkan) to fall in line and do what your told according to the organisation, This is most often due to promoting the overall brand of the organisation whilst being masked as “Traditional” or “The way it should be run”. I remember a saying about watching the ones who stand above the tall grass as they are the first to get cut down, which basically means fall in line and don’t be individual in your dojo. It’s hard to explain as i’m not trying to rip into the Bujinkan just simply using it as an example as i know what rhetoric i have heard over the years and its important to point out that it’s not Sokes doing but a control mechanism put in place in the organisation by Shihan past and present. It’s a sad fact that often people just don’t really want you to succeed unless it benefits them in some way, when the reality is that collaboration is far better than competition.

You have to learn to go your own way whilst still respecting the art you teach, We are called Rugby Ninjutsu but we are the Bujinkan Rugby Dojo and still process all of our gradings with the honbu dojo in Japan. What people think about that isn’t my problem personally as we have a very justified reason to use that name as I previously explained. If it’s well thought out and means your dojo will be more successful then do it! Tell the people with an issue to concentrate on what they are doing rather than wasting your time!

There is also an arguement that times have changed, what used to work 20 years ago to grow a successful dojo no longer works today, you have to adapt with the times its quite literally modern henka of old methods. Social media is a powerful tool but we have had the most success growing things organically, get out there and do the leg work.

Get to know other martial artists in the industry, train together, attend events, contact local schools, host free seminars and events, nothing ever changes when you are sat planning your next move in your living room.

Think about where you post flyers and marketing material, putting a flyer on your local community notice board is pretty pointless in comparison to putting a flyer up in a busy Costa Coffee or Fish & Chip shop that has lots of footfall each day. You have to be strategic in your approach to marketing the dojo! You can spend loads of money on flyers and distribution and realise you are appealing to the wrong demographic of people in your area after significant investment into the marketing. I have found flyers to be pretty much useless unless they are given out in person or by the students, going door to door just doesn’t yield significant results for us.

It’s really important to maintain the integrity on your dojo! This is one that really annoys me personally! I have met so many multiple world champions that it’s ridiculous and even saw one saying that they are a weapons specialist who wouldn’t know a real Nihonto if it slapped them in the face. There is so much bullshit in the marketing of martial arts that when you see it for what it is, it makes you sick! Surely if your a world champion then you would be the champion for that year of one or two umbrella organisations, being a world champion of your own made up internal competition doesn’t count! Thats like me taking a couple of my students and calling it a world chapionship tournament hosted in Rugby and then proceeding to beat them all in duels and claiming to be the best in the world, thats not an achievment thats a farce! The first thing we teach our students is to always check the source of whatever it is you are learning as you don’t want to waste time being led down the garden path. I wouldn’t even bother training with half of the so called world champions out there as its all fabricated for marketing purposes, they don’t have any real knowledge to impart other that how much their current black belt package costs.

I have always considered myself to be a student, when you think your a master its a delusion of grandeur, this keeps us honest in our pursuit or perfection of technique. When you lose your integrity it’s game over, you should constantly be training, constantly teaching like that lesson is the last one you will ever teach, it takes passion to teach properly and if the end game is simply the impact on your bank balance then your focused on the wrong aspect of being a teacher. Yes a teacher not an instructor.

I hate it when i see people talking about students in terms of annual student value as it’s about more that that!

Running a dojo should be about quality of service, integrity and continuity of technique, you need to invest into it, get more equipment to engage the students whilst making it accessible for all.

You can run a dojo with integrity whilst using modern marketing strategies, After all it’s an important part of running a dojo, having students to teach in it.

Find out what your strengths are and market them whilst developing your weakest areas in the dojo. I see this a lot its like instructors just give up when they open a dojo, it becomes more about business and figures than training, they stick to what they know and avoid the things they aren’t good at because it damages their ego and may potentially change peoples impressions of them so that they see they are actually a human being the same as everyone else. It’s important to maintain integrity and an exceptional standard of technique but there is no shame in making mistakes now and then, it happens and you have to learn to just crack on with what your doing rather than being embarrassed. The worst thing you can do is become complacent as there is almost always more work to do when running a dojo.

You have to learn to effectively manage and delagate tasks, you physically can’t do everything yourself it’s impossible! You can’t be the instructor, graphics designer, the marketing team, social media manager, events coordinator, etc. You have to build a team to work together to push the dojo forwards! This is something that we have only recently put in place ourselves but you need to put peoples individual skills to good use and you’d be surprised how big a difference a few dedicated students helping out in their spare time really makes to the overall success of the dojo. After all everyone benefits from the dojo growing! We have this term in Ninjutsu called “Buyu” like a martial brotherhood so we inherently help each other out in the dojo anyway but my point is don’t be affraid to ask your students to help out as they are often more than willing to do so.

Incentivising the students to help out with recruitment is another way but I think this has to be a careful balance between the incentive and the lesson. Some people offer games consoles and similar as incentives but we think this is somewhat counter productive so offer Japanese sweets and custom equipment, This way the student is still incentivised to get their friends into the dojo to train but also are kept focusing on the right thing, Improving their technique and knowledge with the sweets as an added bonus.

The important thing is to get yourself out there, teach with integrity and use modern marketing strategies to recruit students whilst not viewing them as nothing more than an annual student value. The more students you get into the dojo the better as regardless of whether its adults, children, ladies only or diversifications, students will often bring friends and family into the lessons helping you with organic marketing.

The point is to make sure you move with the times whilst maintaining the integrity of the art you teach! The most common comment we get is that people love the lessons as they can tell we love teaching and really care about the students individual progression, which definitely isn’t bad feedback at all!

There is a lot more to this than can be written in a single post but this is the best place to start. Rant over!

Dead Ninja Lineages

A question that we commonly get asked in the Bujinkan is about the legitimacy of other Ninjutsu Ryuha (Schools) and for good reason, if you type in Ninjutsu into YouTube you will usually be presented with a veritable freak show of sword wielding idiots and weirdos all claiming association to long dead Ryuha that have been documented as ceasing to exist in historical record.

The problem with this is that often these people have absolutely no martial arts experience of any variety and are wielding lethal live bladed (Shinken) Katana around unwitting would be Ninjutsu students with little or no regard for how much damage their assumed mastery of the martial arts will cause. People can and do get seriously injured and killed because some idiot watched to much Naruto or Bleach and decided he’s a Ninja master. What’s worse is that these people then market their stupidity and get others to buy into these shambolic organisations giving themselves totally unrelated and vague instructor titles taken from other non Ninjutsu related arts such as Kyoushi or Senpai.

A prime example of this is Fuma Ryu Ninjutsu UK.

Other examples of this are Koga Ryu Ninjutsu, Hagakure Ryu Ninjutsu, Budo Ryu, Natori Ryu in its modern variation, Ashida Kims Ninjutsu, The list is quite literally endless of fake Ninjutsu Ryu. This is exactly what causes the confusion about Ninjutsu lineages as so many wannabes claim to be Ninja but in reality their are very few Ryuha that have actually survived to this day.

Their are a few telltale indicators that give away if a school claiming to teach Ninjutsu is fake, number one is the name of the Ryuha, Number two is what are they teaching, if it isn’t technical in its approach and doesn’t make coherent sense then its probably fake, If it looks like Karate or Tae Kwon Do it definitely isn’t Ninjutsu.

Ask yourself do they have a legitimate venue, are they insured, do they have links to a legitimate governing body, do they have links with masters in Japan, do they train in Japan, do they teach children, if so, do they have a safe guarding policy and are the instructors CRB checked.

If they say they were taught by their neighbour who was a little Japanese Ninja Master until he said his number one student should pass on his newly acquired Ninja mastery to the world, then thats the storyline of an 80’s movie called Blood Sport with Jean Claude Van Damme. Do you really want to be placing you life in the hands of an instructor who’s martial arts experience is watching a Tae Kwon Do based action movie at some point in their life?!

As ever use common sense and check the source of whatever style you are endeavouring to learn, Who is the grandmaster? Who is it exactly that you are aspiring to learn from and what knowledge do they have to impart in reality. If they are called Black Scorpion Ryu Ninjutsu or Black Dragon Ryu then use common sense, I mean really?! Do they sound legitimate?! They haven’t even tried to come up with a decent name!

To try and help clarify the situation i have provided a list of all of the Ryuha known to no longer be in existence as verified by historical record.

  • Nakagawa Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Aomori Prefecture. Organised by Nakagawa Kohayato.
  • Haguro Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Yamagawa Prefecture and was said to have been developed by the warrior ascetics of Haguro Mountain.
  • Uesugi Ryu Ninjutsu was established for Uesugi Kenshin as a military espionage organisation by Usami Suruganokami Sadayuki in Niigata Prefecture.
  • Kaji Ryu Ninjutsu was founded by Kaji Ominokami Kagehide, A student of the founder of Uesugi Ryu but was also linked to the roots of Iga’s Hattori Ryu Ninjutsu.
  • Matsumoto Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Tochigi Prefecture.
  • Matsuda Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Ibaraki Prefecture.
  • Koyo Ryu, Ninko Ryu and Takeda Ryu Ninjutsu were all founded by Takeda Shinken for intelligence gathering and used wandering monks and merchants as agents.
  • Fuma Ninpo / Fuma Ryu Ninjutsu based in Kanagawa Prefecture was established by Fuma Kotaro and specialised in guerrilla warfare.
  • Akiba Ryu and Ichizen Ryu Ninjutsu based in Aichi Prefecture were established by Hachisuka Koroku Masakatsu who was a famous ninja from this area.
  • Mino Ryu Ninjutsu based in Gifu Prefecture was developed during the rule of Saito Dosan and included the Kurokawa Ninja group of Koga.
  • Echizen Ryu Ninjutsu was established in Toyama Prefecture by Iga Ninja fleeing the attack of Oda Nobunaga.
  • Yoshitsune Ryu Ninjutsu based in Fukui Prefecture was developed for Yoshitsune Minamoto as a blend of espionage methods taught by Ise Saburo and yamabushi teachings.
  • Koga Ryu Ninjutsu was a regional tradition made up of over fifty families.
  • Iga Ryu Ninjutsu was a regional tradition made up of several key families, most notably the Hattori and Momochi Clans.
  • Negoro Ryu founded by Suginobo Myosan, firearms master, Saiga Ryu were firearms and explosives specialists, Natori Ryu, founded by Natori Sanjuro Masatake the author of the Sho Nin Ki reference book and Kishu Ryu Ninjutsu were all based in Wakayama Prefecture.
  • Bizen Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Okayama Prefecture.
  • Fukushima Ryu Ninjutsu transmitted by Nojirijiro Jirouemon Narimasa was based in Shimane Prefecture.
  • Kuroda Ryu Ninjutsu was based in Fukuoka Prefecture in support of the Kuroda family government.
  • Nanban Ryu Ninjutsu Was based in Nagasaki Prefecture.
  • Satsuma Ninpo was based in Kagoshima Prefecture in support of the Shimazu family government.

In reality the vast majority of Ninjutsu Ryuha died out prior to the Meiji restoration in 1868 and couldn’t possibly exist today.

Which brings me to Natori Ryu, whilst it is true that information has been translated and published this school cannot possibly be revived in a way that would be recognisable as the original Natori Ryu Ninjutsu. This dead Ryuha is being paraded around and used as a scapegoat to advocate people with no actual or limited martial art experience to teach something losely based on Ninjutsu. The fact is the so called Natori Ryu instructors i have seen to this day have been nothing short of an absolute liability to the martial arts community overseen by a martial arts researcher, who could never actually demonstrate any of the techniques he is publishing and promoting to unstable individuals. It is a bad joke in the martial arts community and should be avoided at all costs, just another buy your own black belt course. Quite frankly I would even go as far to say that the organisation is dangerous. A vivid memory of a so called Natori Ryu Ninjutsu master going postal on homemade cardboard judgemental targets with a homemade Yari (kitchen knife tied to a broom handle) comes to mind and why the hell anyone would mistake that for a legitimate martial art is beyond me.

You need a good instructor with a thorough understanding of the art, That takes years of dedicated practice, you need to really understand why you are practicing whatever technique you are performing. How does it effect the opponent? Is it breaking their structure? You need to understand the Kuden (Concept) and Gokui (Secret) behind the technique and that cannot be learnt from a book alone.

Be careful who you invest your time studying under as when it really comes down to it do you want to hold a rank and own a nice looking belt or be able to survive an attack. Don’t serve someone’s ego placing them on a pedestal, any instructor worth learning from will respect you far more for asking “why?”, If they don’t then ask yourself why that is exactly?

It’s our job as Shidoshi-Ho, Shidoshi and Shihan to guide you on the right path and help you make discoveries and learn along the way, after all we have been their ourselves at some point, we have to lead by example. If your instructor can’t then once again, ask yourself why?

In conclusion don’t be drawn in by fakes and fraudsters, do your research before training in any art, it will save you a lot of time and a lot of money!

Useful Japanese Phrases

Here is a list of some useful Japanese phrases that you will encounter in the Dojo:

Shiko – Walking in Suwari Gata
Migi – Right
Hidari – Left
Omote – Outside
Ura – Inside
Jodan – High
Chudan – Middle
Gedan – Low
Uke – Instigator or training partner
Tori – Responder
​Ichi – One
Ni – Two
San – Three
Shi – Four
Go – Five
Rokku – Six
Shichi – Seven
Hachi – Eight
Ku – Nine
Ju – Ten
Ju Ichi – Eleven
Ju Ni – Twelve
Ju San – Thirteen
Ju Shi – Fourteen
Ju Go – Fifteen
Etc. until Ni Ju – Twenty, Ni Ju Ichi – Twenty One, Ni Ju Ni – Twenty Two, and so on. 100 being Hyaku. 1000 being Sen.

Ashi – Leg
Do – Body
Men – Head
Kasumi – Temple
Uko – Neck
Butsumetsu – Ribs
Suigetsu – Solar Plexus
Kimon – Below the collar bone
Mune – Lapel
Kyoshi / Kyusho – Pressure Points
Kote – Back of the hand
Sabaki Gata – Avoidance
Taisabaki – Footwork
Soke – Grandmaster
Shihan – Master Instructor
Shidoshi – Instructor
Shidoshi Ho – Deputy Instructor
Zen Wan – Forearm
Te – Hand
Sokkotsu – Instep
Koshi – Hip
​Jo Wan – Upper Arm
Hiji – Elbow
Benkai – Inside Shin
Wappen – Patch
Hoshi – Star
Mu Kyu – 10th Kyu/ Unranked/ White Belt
Ku Kyu – 9th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen
Hachi Kyu – 8th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 1 Silver Hoshi
Nana Kyu – 7th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 2 Silver Hoshi
Rok Kyu – 6th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 3 Silver Hoshi
Go Kyu – 5th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 4 Silver Hoshi
Yon Kyu – 4th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 1 Gold Hoshi
San Kyu – 3rd Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 2 Gold Hoshi
Ni Kyu – 2nd Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 3 Gold Hoshi
Ik Kyu – 1st Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 4 Gold Hoshi
Shodan – 1st Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen No Hoshi
Ni Dan – 2nd Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 1 Silver Hoshi
San Dan – 3rd Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 2 Silver Hoshi
Yon Dan – 4thDan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 3 Silver Hoshi
Go Dan – 5th Dan – Black Belt – SIlver, Red and Black Wappen No Hoshi
Rokudan – 6th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen 1 Gold Hoshi
Nana Dan – 7th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 2 Gold Hoshi
Hachi Dan – 8th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 3 Gold Hoshi
Ku Dan – 9th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 4 Gold Hoshi
Ju Dan – 10th Dan – Green, Orange and Blue Wappen No Hoshi
Budoka – Student
Menkyo Kaiden – Licence of complete transmission 10th Dan and above.
Ryu Ha – School of Martial Arts
Bujinkan – Diving Warrior Training Hall / Palace
Shiken Haramitsu Daikomyo – Ancestoral Prayer – Let every encounter bring with it the enlightenment we seek.
Onegaishimas – Please assist me
Domo Arigato Gozeimashta – Thank You
​Gomenesai – Excuse Me (if bumping into someone accidently)
Sumimasen – Excuse Me (if asking a question)
Do Itashimaste – Your Welcome
Konbanwa – Good Evening
Oyasuminasai – Good Night / Sleep Well
Retsuotskute – Line Up
Yamei – Stop
Hajime – Begin
Mo Ichi Do Kutosai – One more time please.
Choto Mate Kutosai – Just a moment please.
Sensei Ni Rei – Bow to the instructor.
Yukuri – Slowly
Daijoubu – Are you OK?
Hai – Yes
Iyo – No
Ninpo Ikkan – The spirit of the Ninja is the primary inspiration for us.
Soshin No Kamae – Taijutsu – Seigan No Kamae with rear hand flat at waist.

Yearly Bujinkan Themes

Each year Soke Hatsumi selects a subject which is the primary focus for training that year, here is the list of subjects covered in previous years.

  • 2016 – “42” – The beginning of a new 42 year cycle, commemorating the 42 year anniversary of the passing of Takamatsu Sensei and the beginning of a new 42 year cycle. Arnaud Coursegue the Shitenno for France explains it as Sokes way of telling us that starting next year, Soke is going to leave the future of the Bujinkan to us. He is doing what Takamatsu did for him in 1971 when he inherited the nine schools. The circle is completed “maru no ichi”.
  • 2015 – Nagamaki
  • 2014 – Shin In Bu Dou
  • 2013 – Ken Engetsu no Kagami (“mirror of the fullmoon sword”)/ Tachi Hôken (“divine treasure sword”)— Ken, Tachi, and Katana/ Naginata and Yari
  • 2012 – Jin Ryo Yo Go – Kaname, Sword and Rokushakubo, separately and with one in each hand
  • 2011 – Kihon Happo
  • 2010 – Rokkon Shoujou
  • 2009 – 才能 魂 器 ”saino konki”/ Talent, Heart, Capacity / Talent, Soul, Capacity
  • 2008 – Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu
  • 2007 – Kukishin Ryu
  • 2006 – Shinden Fudo Ryu
  • 2005 – Gyokko-ryū Kosshi jutsu (Bo and Tachi)
  • 2004 – Daishou Juutai jutsu (Roppo-Kuji-no Biken)
  • 2003 – Juppo Sessho
  • 2002 – Jutai jutsu (Takagi Yoshin Ryu)
  • 2001 – Kosshi jutsu (Gyokko Ryu)
  • 2000 – Koppo jutsu (Koto Ryu)
  • 1999 – Kukishinden Ryu
  • 1998 – Shinden Fudo Ryu
  • 1997 – Jojutsu
  • 1996 – Bokken
  • 1995 – Naginata
  • 1994 – Yari
  • 1993 – Rokushakubojutsu
  • 1992 – Taijutsu Power
  • 1991 – Sword and Jutte
  • 1990 – Hanbo
  • 1989 – Taijutsu and Weapons
  • 1988 – Taijutsu

Bugei Juhappen – 18 Samurai Fighting Arts

Ninja Juhakkei were often studied along with the Bugei Juhappen (the 18 samurai fighting art skills). Though some techniques were used in the same way by both samurai and ninja, others were utilized differently by the two warriors. The 18 disciplines are as follows:

  • Seishin Teki Kyōyō – Spiritual Refinement
    The Togakure Ryu Ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate understanding of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. The Ninja had to be very clear about his intentions, his commitments and his personal motivations in life. Personality traits could often mean the difference between life and death in his line of work. Exercises in mental endurance, ways of looking at things, were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By evolving into a mystics understanding of the universal process, the historical Togakure Ryu Ninja would became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love or reverence and not by mere thrill of violent danger or need for money.
  • Taijutsu – Unarmed Combat
    Skills of Dakentaijutsu or striking, kicking and blocking, Jutaijutsu or grappling, Jime (chokes) and escaping the holds of others, Taihenjutsu or silent movement, rolling, leaping and tumbling (Kurowaza) assisted the Togakure Ryu Ninja in life threatening defensive situations.
  • Kenjutsu / Bikenjutsu – Sword techniques including Tojutsu
    The ninja’s sword (shinobigatana) had a short straight single edged blade, and was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required by the ninja, “Fast Draw” techniques centred around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous defensive or offensive action. “Fencing” skills used the drawn sword in technique clashes with armed attackers.
  • Rokushakubojutsu / Bojutsu – Stick and staff techniques
    The Japanese stick fighting art, practiced by Samurai and Peasants alike, was also a strong skill of the ninja. Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to use the Bo (long staff – 6ft), Jo (4ft staff) and Hanbo (half-staff – 3ft) as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed Shinobi-Zue or Ninja canes were designed to look like normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be used against the enemy.
  • Shurikenjutsu – Throwing weapons techniques
    Throwing blades were carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Togakure Ryu used a special four pointed throwing star called a Senban Shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The blade was thrown with a flat spinning motion and hits its target with a sawing effect. Bo Shuriken or straight shaft darts and spikes were also constructed for throwing. Throwing stars in general are called Hira Shuriken.
  • Sojutsu / Yarijutsu – Spear Techniques
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as middle-range fighting weapons. Spears and Lances were used for stabbing and piercing attacks, and rarely ever thrown in normal combat. The Togakure Ryu also used a unique spear weapon called a Kama Yari or “Sickle Lance”, which consisted of a spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The lance point could be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point could be used to snag and pull the opponent or his weapon.
  • Naginatajutsu / Binaginatajutsu – Halberd Techniques
    Virtually a short sword blade mounted on a Rokushakubo, the Japanese Naginata was used for cutting and slashing attacks against adversaries at medium range. Togakure Ryu Ninja were also proficient in the use of the Bisento, A huge heavy bladed version of the Naginata. Based on a Chinese weapon the broad bladed weapon was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armour and ground the horses of mounted Samurai.
  • Kusarigamajutsu – Chain and Sickle Techniques
    The Japanese Kusarigama was adopted into the arsenal of the Togakure Ryu Ninja. A chain, six to nine feet in length with a Fundo (weight) attached at one end, was attached to the handle of a Kama (sickle) a traditional grain cutting tool. The chain could be used to block or ensnare the enemies weapon and the blade then used to finish off the attacker.Kyogetsu Shoge – Over the fields and plains
    A weapon similar to the Kusarigama, It was favoured by the Togakure Ryu Ninja. The Kyogetsu Shoge is commonly thought of as the predecessor to the Kusarigama. The weapon consisted of a straight blade with a secondary forward facing hook blade protruding from the hilt, attached to a fifteen foot resilient cord usually made from a woman’s or horses hair. A large steel ring was attached to the free end of the cord with the other end attaching to the Kashira/Pommel of the blade.
  • Kayakujutsu – Pyrotechnics
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were experts in the placement, timing and rigging of explosive devices for demolition and distraction predominantly utilizing fire and smoke. In later years, the use of black powder or Bakuyaku and other explosives were supplemented with knowledge of firearms and their strategic applications. Kayakujutsu was generally taught in three stages Katon No Jutsu – the use of fire smoke and heat for infiltration, evasion and deception, Kayakujutsu – The use of gunpowder, firearms and explosives, Shinobi Kaki – Fire Tools
  • Hensojutsu – Disguise and Impersonation
    Essential to the ninja’s espionage work was his ability to assume false identities and move undetected through his area of operation. More than merely putting on a costume, Ninjutsu’s disguise system involves thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. Personality traits, areas of knowledge and body dynamics of the identity assumed were ingrained in the ninja’s way of thinking and reacting. He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman or wandering entertainer. This art of assuming alternate identities is called Shi Chi Ho De – (The Art of Seven Disguises)
  • Shinobi-Iri – Stealth and Entering Methods
    The ninja’s techniques of silent movement, breaking and entering, and gaining access to inaccessible areas became legendary in feudal Japan. Togakure Ryu Ninja learned special walking and running methods for covering long distances, passing over floors silently and for staying in the shadows while moving, in order to facilitate entry and escape.
  • Bajutsu – Horsemanship
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills.
  • Sui-Ren – Water Training
    Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross over water, and underwater combat techniques were taught to Togakure Ryu Ninja. Also training and fighting in icy conditions, most often performed by practicing Taijutsu wearing Geta (wooden sandals) on ice.
  • Bo Ryaku – Strategy/Tactics
    Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots and advantageous timing for use of current events were used by Togakure Ryu Ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the enemy around to doing what the Ninja wanted him to do, Ninja were able to work their will without drawing undue attention to themselves. This is an extensive area of study which cannot be summarized into a small caption
  • Cho Ho – Espionage
    Methods of successful espionage were perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and served as a guide for using espionage agents as efficiently as possible.
  • Intonjutsu – Escape and Concealment
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to “disappear” at will. The Goton Po five elements of escape were based on a working familiarity with the creative use of Earth (Chi), Water (Sui), Fire (Ka), Metal (Kin) and Wood (Moku) aspects of nature and the environment.
  • Ten Mon – Meteorology
    Forecasting and taking advantage of the weather and seasonal phenomena was an important part of any battle consideration. Ninja were trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to predict weather conditions.
  • Chi Mon – Geography
    Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain were crucial skills in the historical art of Ninjutsu. High and Low points, Undulated Terrain, Horizons, Cover, Etc.Note: In the book Ninjutsu History and Tradition written by Soke Hatsumi, Kusarigama and Kayakujutsu are both labelled as the ninth level of training with their being 19 levels of training listed, Level 19 being Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho.Although not listed as a separate discipline in its own right, A crucial part of the Togakure Ryu Ninjas training was the application of Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho philosophy.“In the world of combat survival, the superior fighter makes use of all advantages at his disposal, including the influence of the mind.
    As a means of increasing the difficulty for an enemy, Ninja of old developed the strategy of Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho or the interchange of the concepts of falsehood and actuality. A strategy for winning that relies on the presentation of truth and falsehood in ways that permit the antagonist to be deceived,
    Kyojitsu forms the basic approach for all Ninjutsu activities and thinking. Because the Ninja is dealing freely with the concepts of truth and falsehood, fluidly bending one into the other, he must be well grounded in his own concept of reality. To prevent becoming lost, misguided or swallowed up by his own deception or awareness altering, the Ninja must maintain Seishin, or purity of heart. In this sense, the word pure means “Complete” or “Total”. The ninja carries the truth in his heart, though he may appear in many psychological guises to others. His intentions remain resolute, though others may have no idea what those commitments entail. Because he is totally honest with himself at all levels of introspection, he can venture into the realm of falsehood and untruth without defiling himself or his spirit. He can willingly plunge into the cold darkness knowing full well that he has the power to create his own light from the brightness he carries in his heart – Soke Masaaki Hatsumi 34thGrandmaster Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu “

In summary I have included a list of the Bugei Juhappen for quick reference with Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho included:

1. Seishin Teki Kyōyō – Spiritual Refinement
2. Taijutsu – Unarmed Combat
3. Kenjutsu / Bikenjutsu – Sword techniques including Tojutsu
4. Rokushakubojutsu / Bojutsu – Stick and staff techniques
5. Shurikenjutsu – Throwing weapons techniques
6. Sojutsu / Yarijutsu – Spear Techniques
7. Naginatajutsu / Binaginatajutsu -Halberd techniques
8. Kusarigamajutsu – Chain and Sickle techniques
9. Kayakujutsu – Pyrotechnics
10. Hensojutsu – Disguise and Impersonation
11. Shinobi-Iri – Stealth and Entering Methods
12. Bajutsu – Horsemanship
13. Sui-Ren – Water Training
14. Bo Ryaku – Strategy/Tactics
15. Cho Ho – Espionage
16. Intonjutsu – Escape and Concealment
17. Ten Mon – Meteorology
18. Chi Mon – Geography
19. Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho –The Interchanging concept of truth and falsehood present in all.

Ku Ryuha – The 9 Schools

Soke Hatsumi founded the Bujinkan in 1970 and he was born on the 2nd of December 1931. The Bujinkan is comprised of nine schools or Ryu-Ha (martial arts lineages) which are listed below:

  • Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
  • Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu
  • Kukishinden Ryu Happo BIkenjutsu
  • Koto Ryu Koppojutsu
  • Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu
  • Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu
  • Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu
  • Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo
  • Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo 

Note: Koshijutsu – Joint manipulation

Koppojutsu – Bone manipulation

Jutaijutsu – Throwing, grappling and ground fighting

Dakentaijutsu – Striking

Happo Bikenjutsu – The study of and use of weapons

Ninpo – Ninjutsu tactics and strategies

Taijutsu – Unarmed combat.