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Buj-logo.png
Bujinkan logo, consisting of stylized "Bujin" kanji inside a circle.
Bujinkan
(武神館)
Date founded c.1970
Founder Masaaki Hatsumi
(born December 2, 1931)
Current head Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭)
Arts taught Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (武神館武道体術 Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu?)
Ancestor schools Gyokko-ryū KosshijutsuKotō-ryū KoppōjutsuShinden Fudo RyuTakagi Yōshin-ryū JūtaijutsuKuki Shinden-ryū Happō BikenjutsuGikan-ryū KoppōjutsuTogakure-ryūGyokushin-ryū NinpōKumogakure-ryū Ninpō
Official Site http://www.bujinkan.com

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

Contents

Ryūha

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

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

From 1968 and onwards, the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten has entries bearing the name of Hatsumi below his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu for the following school entries: Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu, Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu, Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu, Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentaijutsu, Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtaijutsu, Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu, Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō and Kumogakure-ryū Ninpō.

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

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

Training

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

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

Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu practice does not normally include participation in competitions or contests, as the school's training aims to develop the skills to protect ones self and others, through the use of techniques which often focus on the disabling (breaking) of the attackers limbs and which can also intentionally cause their death. The Bujinkan does not adhere to any guideline or set of rules to limit action or techniques during training, as such many of the staple responses of a student would be illegal in most competitions. Specifically however, the Bujinkan is mostly known for teaching koshijutsu (pressure point, muscle attacks/tears and joint dislocations), koppojutsu (bone breaking), jutaijutsu (throwing, grappling, ground fighting), dakentaijutsu (strikes), happo bikenjutsu (various modern and traditional weapons), and ninpo tactics and strategies (Ninjutsu). The depth of training in the Bujinkan, is designed to open the eyes of the student to the endless possibilities and potential in all situations.

Junan taiso is a method by which the Bujinkan practitioner may develop and maintain good physical condition and well being. The yoga-like stretching and breathing exercises form a core part of all training sessions.

Grades

The Bujinkan Dōjō has a series of nine kyū (grades) below the level of shodan, starting with mukyu ("without grade") and then from kukyu (9 kyu) to ikkyu (1 kyu), with 9 kyu being the lowest rank and 1 kyu being the highest. Unlike other Japanese martial arts, such as karate and judo, unranked (mukyū) practitioners wear white belts, kyu grade practitioners, green belts, and those with ranks of shōdan and above wear black belts. In some dojos Kyū level practitioners - especially in children's classes - wear colored belts, though the actual color of the belt varies from place to place. In Japan, it was once customary for kyu-level men to wear green belts over a black gi and women to wear red belts over a purple gi; however, this practice has largely been abandoned. Now, both male and female Bujinkan practitioners wear green belts at most Japanese dōjō. Outside of Japan, some countries still follow the green for men/red for women custom, while others use green for all practitioners.

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

The practitioner's level is displayed by the color of the art's emblem, called wappen (ワッペン), inscribed with the kanji "bu"(武) and "jin" (神). There are four kinds of wappen (9 to 1 kyū, 1 to 4 dan, 5 to 9 dan, and 10 to 15 dan) sometimes augmented with up to four silver, gold or white stars (called hoshi) above or around the emblem, representing the individual ranks.

At 4 dan (yondan), practitioners submit to a test before the sōke to establish that they are able to sense the presence of danger and evade it, considered to be a fundamental survival skill. This is called sakki. This is the test for 5 dan. A practitioner with the level of godan or above is entitled to apply for a teaching license (shidōshi menkyo). A shidōshi is entitled to open his own dōjō, and grade students up to the level of 4 dan. A practitioner with the level of between 1 dan to 4 dan may become a licensed "assistant teacher" (shidōshi-ho), if backed by and acting under the supervision of a shidōshi 5th to 9th dan or a person who holds the level of 10 dan (jūdan). In the Bujinkan a person who holds the level of between 10 dan and 15 dan is often referred to as a shihan.

In addition to the kyū/dan system, a few practitioners have earned menkyo kaiden "licenses of complete transmission" in individual schools. These menkyo kaiden essentially establish that the master practitioner has learned all that there is to learn about the particular lineage. Whereas the kyū/dan ranks are often made public, those select practitioners who have earned menkyo kaiden rarely divulge their status, sometimes even being reluctant to recognize their actual dan ranking to outsiders.

Theme by year

Since 1988 Hatsumi's teaching has focused on a particular theme each year. This typically means that a specific ryū, or a certain set of techniques from specific ryū will be taught. Hatsumi announces the years theme, or focus, each year at the Daikomyosai. Depending on what years a student has studied in Japan, they may find that their focus reflects the themes or schools taught during their time. This is one reason that there are often noticeable differences in techniques from different teachers inside the Bujinkan. Although Ninpo Taijutsu is an overall theme of the Bujinkan, 2008 marks the first time that a Ninpo Taijutsu Ryū was the focus of the year. However, prior to founding the Bujinkan organization and teaching the nine Ryū collectively (with particular yearly focus), Hatsumi awarded his students rank certificates in individual Ryū.

No focus was announced for 2009, though Hatsumi talked about 3 things which are important for a martial artist, these 3 things may be thought of as a kind of Sanshin. He said that these things were going to become a bit of a theme for next year.[citation needed]

They are:

  1. Sainou (Ability/talent)
  2. Kokoro (Heart)
  3. Utsuwa (Capacity)

The main meaning of the word 'utsuwa', its first definition in the dictionary, is 'container/receptacle/vessel'. A secondary meaning, however, is concerning a person's capacity or potential. Examples of 'utsuwa' in Japanese sentences include: "Utsuwa no ookii." (a person of high caliber). "Daitouryou ni naru utsuwa dewa nai." (He [doesn't have what it takes / isn't cut out] to be president. / He is not of presidential caliber [stature]) So utsuwa can mean 'caliber', to have 'potential', basically to have the 'right stuff'.[citation needed]

Yet the basic meaning implied by the word 'container' may hold another aspect. Fish, plants etc. will only grow to the size of the container which they are in. Their growth is limited by the size of their container. Humans too have a 'limit' to their potential. If their utsuwa is small, they can never grow bigger than its limits. Such is another possible suggestion of Hatsumi.[citation needed]

Soon after the theme as herein described was announced, it was proposed by Hatsumi that the second aspect, Kokoro (Heart), be replaced by Tamashii (Soul). His reasoning was that the heart is in a constant state of change, whereas the soul is permanent and unchanging, and therefore is "essential to the person", as was later stated on George Ohashi's homepage.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Shinkentaijutsu
  2. ^ Tetsuzan: Chapter1 p18; ISBN 4-901619-06-3
  3. ^ Alex Esteve: Exploring the essence of the Martial Arts, ISBN 978-84-85278-30-5
  4. ^ Ninjustsu, History and Tradition; ISBN 0-86568-027-2
  5. ^ Footprints of the Bujinkan dojo soke
  6. ^ a b The History of Fighting Arts. 1843. pp. 508–517. 
  7. ^ Skoss, Diane (ed.); Beaubien, Ron; Friday, Karl (1999). http://koryu.com/library/ninjutsu.html "Ninjutsu: is it koryu bujutsu?". Koryu.com. http://web.archive.org/web/20030202135534/ http://koryu.com/library/ninjutsu.html. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 

External links








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