Not many people have heard of the Bujinkan – but everybody’s heard of ninjas. So what’s the difference?
Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu
Our grandmaster, Dr Hatsumi Masaaki inherited 9 schools of martial arts (aka Budo) from his teacher, Takamatsu Toshitsugu. They were of varying lineages but all were hundreds of years old and focussed on the way of fighting that stretched back to the traditions of the samurai and the ninja. The Bujinkan was the name he gave to his teaching of these traditions – a kind of umbrella name.
With these multiple traditions and influences the Bujinkan is a very complete martial art. It doesn’t just focus on strikes or grappling for example. It allows you to study how the body works and how to extend this knowledge to, say, using a punch or kick, or a sword or stick just as easily. It allows you to protect yourself during combat and emphasises self-defence and survival as opposed to violence and competition. Saying that, it is not always for everyone. Some people prefer competitive, sport-like martial arts. The only way to know is to try and see for yourself.
So why ninjutsu?
Why should we use the term ninjutsu when talking about our art? Interestingly the idea that most people have about ninjas is that they were brutal assassins, dressed in black, invading the local lord’s castle in the dead of night. That may have happened sometimes, but we don’t focus on these aspects, really. The ninjutsu (ninja technique) we study is the martial arts aspect of this ancient warfare. And in its own way it is every bit as fascinating, if not more.
It could be more useful these days to compare the ninja to the special forces of today’s army. They know how to fight just as the rest of the army do, but they have some specialised knowledge on top. We are studying an older form of special forces training, specific to mainland Japan from several hundreds of years ago. But interestingly, the techniques can be astonishingly relevant to today. Our techniques have been field tested by front-line soldiers and police and found to be very effective.
Chief Instructor, Beth Faulds
Beth is 10th Dan in the Bujinkan and has been studying the art for approximately 18 years and has approximately 20 years martial arts experience overall. She has studied under the highest ranked instructors in the world and passed her instructor’s test (sakki or godan test) in Japan in 2008 in front of the grandmaster, Dr Hatsumi. She has also travelled extensively to train in countries like France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, India as well as across the UK and has made several trips to train in Japan.
She has developed extensive training programmes and materials and tries to share with her students her sense of wonder at the Bujinkan which is still fascinating her after all these years. She has called her dojo Kizen (毅然) – meaning fortitude or resolution – to reflect her own beliefs and values.
Instructor, Doug Faulds
Doug has been training for over ten years and passed his instructor’s test in 2016. He has trained in Japan with the highest ranked instructors and travels to train in Europe every year.
Assistant Instructor, Bryan Kirk
Bryan is 4th dan and will pass his instructor’s test imminently. He has an extensive training background in Taekwondo before coming to the Bujinkan and has been to Japan and Europe to train with the best.