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Masaaki Hatsumi
Born December 2, 1931(1931-12-02)
Residence Noda, Chiba, Japan
Style Ninjutsu
Teacher(s) Toshitsugu Takamatsu
Notable students Yukio Noguchi, Toshiro Nagato, Koichi Oguri, Hideo Seno, Stephen K. Hayes, Jack Hoban, Bud Malmstrom

Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭 Hatsumi Masaaki, born 2 December 1931) is the founder and current Soke, or Grandmaster, of the Bujinkan Organization, currently residing and teaching in the city of Noda, Chiba, Japan.[1] He is also a doctor of orthopedics, specializing in the mending of bones.[2]


Early years

Beginning in childhood, Masaaki Hatsumi studied several popular martial arts. After teaching martial arts to American soldiers stationed in Japan he noticed that the larger and stronger Americans had an advantage in battles when using the same techniques. He began to question the legitimacy of modern martial arts training and started to search for one where persons of equal skill truly were equals, even if the other one was stronger. It was after this time, while studying ancient Japanese weaponry, that he learned of ninjutsu and a martial artist named Toshitsugu Takamatsu who still knew it.[citation needed]

In 1957 he and Fukumoto Yoshio began making regular trips to train with his new teacher (who resided at the time in Kashiwabara, in Nara), taking a 15-hour train ride from his hometown of Noda in Chiba. This training continued for 15 years until the passing of Toshitsugu Takamatsu in 1972.[3]

In the 1980s, ninja grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi gained international prominence through the books of An-shu Stephen K. Hayes.


From his martial arts instructor he inherited the position of sōke (headmaster) of 9 ryū (schools of martial arts):[4][citation needed]


Masaaki Hatsumi focuses the training of the Bujinkan on the "feeling" of technique, or perhaps more accurately, what he terms the feeling of real situations. While technical knowledge of an art is considered important, the direction of this feeling-based approach guides the practitioner towards a "natural understanding" of what links various martial lineages as well as what is most effective in real situations. In addition Bujinkan students do not participate in martial art tournaments as it is Hatsumi's belief that martial arts are not about winning or losing but about surviving.[5]


He has also served as a martial arts advisor to various films and television productions, including the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice,[6] and in the first film from the highly popular Japanese Shinobi no Mono films series. He also appeared in and was the stunt coordinator for the Japanese show Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya.[7]


  • 2001 - Apostolic Blessing, the Vatican.[8]
  • 2001 - Lifetime Achievement Award, USMA International Hall of Fame.[9]
  • 2003 - 社会文化功労賞 (Award for the Promotion of Culture.)[3]

In 2003 Hatsumi was awarded the 社会文化功労賞 (Shakai Bunka Kourousho- the award for meritorious service in society and culture) from the日本文化振興会 (Nihon Bunka Shinkoukai- the Society for the promotion of Japanese culture).[citation needed]


  • Masaaki Hatsumi, Unarmed Fighting Techniques of the Samurai (2008), Kodansha International, ISBN 978-4-7700-3059-7
  • Masaaki Hatsumi, Japanese Sword Fighting (2006), Kodansha International, ISBN 978-4-7700-2198-4
  • Masaaki Hatsumi, Advanced Stick Fighting (2005), Kodansha International, ISBN 978-4-7700-2996-6
  • Masaaki Hatsumi, The Way of the Ninja (2004), Kodansha International, ISBN 978-4-7700-2805-1
  • Masaaki Hatsumi and Quintin Chambers, Stick Fighting (1981), Kodansha International, ISBN 978-0-87011-475-5
  • Wolfgang Ettig: Takamatsu Toshitsugu. The Last Shinobi. 2006, ISBN 3-924862-10-9


External links

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