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|Current head||Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭)|
|Arts taught||Bujinkan Budō Tai jutsu|
• Gyokko-ryū Kosshi jutsu
The Bujinkan (武神館) is an international Ninja organization based in Japan and headed by Masaaki Hatsumi. The combat system taught by this organization consists of nine separate ryūha, or schools, which have been integrated into one system, called Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu. The Bujinkan is best known as a school of ninjutsu, although six of the ryūha are claimed to be descended from historical samurai schools, with the remaining three ryūha claimed to be descended from ninja schools.
The origins of some of the techniques studied in the Bujinkan are unclear, but some are from recognized Japanese martial arts traditions.
Hatsumi has connection to Ninjutsu through his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu. The Bugei Ryuha Daijiten (Encyclopedia of Martial Art Schools, researched by a friend of Takamatsu) indicates that Takamatsu's "genealogy includes embellishments ... to appear older than it actually is". Other researchers believe that there is no historical basis for the claims that Takamatsu had any link to a ninjutsu lineage. Hatsumi asserts that Toshitsugu was permitted to copy the Amatsu Tatara scrolls, which supposedly date back to 700 BC and describe many assorted techniques, such as killing by yelling, control of the weather, fighting techniques and fortification design. The Bujinkan school claims that Takamatsu's grandfather was a samurai and a direct descendant of the founder of Togakure ryu, and that the Gikan-ryū was passed to Takamatsu through another source.
Other arts, such as Takagi Yoshin-ryū and Kukishin-ryū were developed by members of samurai families. Today the Bujinkan incorporates techniques from the nine traditions overseen by Hatsumi and other sources.
In 1843, several Bujinkan ryūha were mentioned in the Kakutogi no Rekishi (History of Fighting Arts). Although details are omitted, it 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 Koppō jutsu, Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō, Kukishin-ryū, Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtai jutsu and Asayama Ichiden-ryū (which is not part of the Bujinkan’s nine schools but was studied by Hatsumi via Takashi Ueno).
Formation of the Bujinkan Organization 
The head of the Bujinkan organisation, Hatsumi, claims to be the lineage holder of several ryūha taught in the Bujinkan, which he claims were transferred to him in 1958 by his teacher Takamatsu.
From 1968 on, the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten has had entries for Hatsumi below Takamatsu for the following schools entries: Gyokko-ryū Kosshi jutsu, Kukishinden Ryu, Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu, Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentai jutsu, Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtai jutsu, Gikan-ryū Koppō jutsu, Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō and Kumogakure-ryū Ninpō.
Yearly themes 
Since 1988, Hatsumi's teaching has focused on a particular theme, or focus, each year. This typically means that a specific ryū, or a certain set of techniques from specific ryū, will be taught. Hatsumi announces the year's theme 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.[clarification needed] This is one reason why there are often noticeable differences in the techniques of different teachers in the Bujinkan. Although Ninpo Taijutsu is an overall theme of the Bujinkan, 2008 marked the first time that a Ninpo Taijutsu Ryū was the focus of the year. 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.
The themes so far have been:
- 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
No focus was announced for 2009, though Hatsumi talked about three things that are important for a martial artist, which may be loosely considered to be the yearly theme. He said that these things would become a bit of a theme for next year.
- Sainou (Ability/talent)
- Kokoro (Heart)
- Utsuwa (Capacity)
Soon after this theme as was announced, Hatsumi proposed that the second aspect, Kokoro (Heart), be replaced by Tamashii (Soul), reasoning that the heart is constantly changing, whereas the soul is permanent and unchanging and therefore "essential to the person".
- Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術)
- Gyokko ryū Kosshi jutsu (玉虎流骨指術)
- Kuki Shinden Ryū Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術)
- Koto Ryū Koppō jutsu (虎倒流骨法術)
- Shinden Fudo Ryū Dakentai jutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術)
- Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtai jutsu (高木揚心流柔体術)
- Gikan Ryū Koppō jutsu (義鑑流骨法術)
- Gyokushin-ryū Ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法)
- Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法)
Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu training does not include participation in competitions or contests, as the school's training aims to develop the ability to protect oneself and others using techniques that focus on disabling (or potentially killing) an attacker as efficiently as possible.
This training is conducted in a manner similar to aikido, in which there are predefined "attackers" (uke) and "defenders" (tori). However, the Bujinkan differs from aikido in that the training is rarely centered around specific predefined sets of movements (kata), instead consisting mostly of spur-of-the-moment, slow-motion and dynamic techniques during which the defender hits, locks, chokes or throws the attacker. More advanced training consists of controlling the attacker's mind by means of pain using various techniques. This is done in a manner that entails little risk permanent injury.
The Bujinkan does not adhere to any official guideline or set of rules to limit actions or techniques used during training. However, since training consists entirely of gaining compliance through pain, and requires cooperation between training partners, many of the staple responses of a Bujinkan student would be inappropriate in most competitions. The Bujinkan is known mostly for teaching koshi jutsu (joint manipulation), koppo jutsu (bone manipulation), jutai jutsu (throwing, grappling and ground fighting), dakentai jutsu (strikes), happo biken jutsu (various modern and traditional weapons) and ninjutsu (ninpo tactics and strategies).
Taijutsu (body arts) is the Bujinkan system of unarmed defense using throws, holds, chokes and joint locks. It is divided into different parts: koppo jutsu is the "way of attacking the bones"; jutai jutsu is the "relaxed body method"; dakentai jutsu uses strikes, kicks and blocks; and jutai jutsu uses grappling and throwing techniques. The first levels of training, such as leaping, tumbling, proper fall techniques and body conditioning, form the basis for taijutsu. They are needed to progress into other techniques such as the use of tools and weapons. Once learned, Taijutsu techniques can be applied to any situation, armed or unarmed.
Uke and tori 
Training begins with two partners practicing pre-arranged forms (waza or kata) and then advancing to unlimited variations of those forms (henka). The basic pattern is for the receiver of the technique (uke, or attacker) to initiate an attack against the person who applies the technique (tori, or defender).
Ukemi and balance 
Bujinkan taijitsu seeks to use body movement and positioning rather than strength to defeat the opponent. All techniques in Bujinkan taijutsu involve unbalancing the opponent while maintaining one's own balance. This is achieved by moving the opponent perpendicular to his or her weak line, the imaginary line between the opponent's heels. The attacker continuously seeks to regain balance and cover vulnerabilities (such as an exposed side), while the defender uses position and timing to keep the attacker off balance and vulnerable. In more advanced training, the attacker will sometimes apply reversal techniques (返し技 kaeshi-waza ) to regain balance and disable the defender.
Ukemi (受身) refers to the act of receiving a technique. Good ukemi involves a roll or breakfall to avoid pain or injury such as dislocation of a joint. Thus, learning to roll and breakfall effectively is key to safe training in taijutsu. Before receiving the 9th kyu (the lowest rank), a student must demonstrate the ability to roll smoothly in a variety of directions without exposing the neck to injury.
Weapons use is among the 18 disciplines taught in Bujinkan: bō, jo, hanbo, yari, naginata, shuriken, kusarigama and kayaku (the use of firearms, gunpowder, explosives and pyrotechnics.)
Physical conditioning 
Junan taiso (junan meaning flexible) is a yogic method of stretching and breathing by means of which the Bujinkan practitioner may develop and maintain good physical condition and wellbeing. The exercises promote relaxation, blood circulation, muscle toning and flexibility, and form a core part of all training sessions. Junan taiso is a form of conditioning and preparation for the body. All major joints are rotated and stretched in a proper manner while healthy breathing and concentration are practiced.
Self Protection 
This martial art is based largely on combat and is used for self-defence, not for competition. Because of its nature, many of the techniques can result in permanent and major injuries or even death. Safety and care are always taken seriously during training sessions; when practicing techniques, one must be careful to not injure one's practice partner.
Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō 
Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō ("The Jeweled Heart School") is taught by the Bujinkan martial arts organization. According to the Bujinkan, Gyokushin Ryu has sutemi waza techniques and is focused more on the art and techniques of espionage than on fighting. Its most prominent weapon is the lasso (nagenawa). The Bugei Ryuha Daijiten states that Takamatsu Toshitsugu transferred the Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō to Hatsumi in the middle of the 20th century, making Hatsumi its lineage holder. Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō is taught today in the Bujinkan organization. According to the Bujinkan martial arts organization, Gyokushin-ryū was founded in the mid-16th century by Sasaki Goeman Teruyoshi, who was also sōke of Gyokko-ryū, which explains the similarities between the two styles. Gyokushin-ryū is considered a style of koshi jutsu. Hatsumi is the 21st sōke.
According to Bujinkan members, Ninja Jūhakkei (the eighteen disciplines) were first identified in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū 戸隠流, or "School of the Hidden Door", founded during the Oho period (1161–62) by one Daisuke Nishina (Togakure), who learned a life view and techniques (ninjutsu) from Kagakure Doshi. Togakure ryu Ninjutsu Hidensho is a manuscript in Hatsumi's possession that is said to document Togakure-ryū. It is the purported origin of the "18 skills of Ninjutsu."
Ninja jūhakkei was often studied along with Bugei jūhappan (the 18 samurai fighting art skills). Though some techniques were used in the same way by both samurai and ninja, others were used differently by the two groups. The 18 disciplines are:
- Seishinteki kyōyō (spiritual refinement)
- Taijutsu (unarmed combat)
- Kenjutsu (sword techniques including Tojutsu)
- Bōjutsu (stick and staff techniques)
- Sōjutsu (spear techniques)
- Naginatajutsu (naginata techniques)
- Kusarigamajutsu (kusarigama techniques)
- Shurikenjutsu (throwing weapons techniques)
- Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics)
- Hensōjutsu (disguise and impersonation)
- Shinobi-iri (stealth and entering methods)
- Bajutsu (horsemanship)
- Sui-ren (water training)
- Bōryaku (tactics)
- Chōhō (espionage)
- Intonjutsu (escaping and concealment)
- Tenmon (meteorology)
- Chi-mon (geography)
The name of the discipline of taijutsu (体術), literally means "body skill". Historically in Japan, the word is often used interchangeably with jujutsu and many others to refer to a range of grappling skills. It is also used in the martial art of aikido to distinguish unarmed fighting techniques from others, such as those of stick fighting. In ninjutsu, especially since the emergence of the Ninja movie genre, it was used to avoid referring explicitly to "ninja" combat techniques.
Uniforms and rankings 
Kyu levels 
The Bujinkan Dōjō has a series of kyū (grades) below the level of shodan. The new student starts at mukyu ("without grade") and progresses from kukyu (9-kyu), the lowest rank, to ikkyu (1-kyu), the highest. Unranked (mukyū) practitioners wear white belts, kyu grade practitioners wear green belts, and those with ranks of shōdan and above wear black belts. In some dojos kyu-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, but this practice has largely been abandoned. Both male and female Bujinkan practitioners now wear green belts at most Japanese dojos. Outside Japan, some countries still follow the custom of green for men and red for women, while others use green for all practitioners.
Dan levels 
There are fifteen dan grades in the Bujinkan, although only ten are formally recognised. The rank above judan (tenth dan) are attained through advanced study in individual schools. The study of tenchijin ryaku no maki (arts of heaven, earth and man) guides progression from 9-kyu to shodan (1st dan) and comprises all the fundamental techniques required for advanced study thereafter.
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.
In order to attain fifth dan (godan), fourth dan practitioners must submit to a sakki (or godan) test before the sōke to establish that they are able to sense the presence of danger and evade it, which is considered a fundamental survival skill. After passing this test, a practitioner is considered to be under the protection of the Bujin, or Guiding Spirits, and is entitled to apply for a teaching license (shidōshi menkyo). A shidōshi (士道師) (person ranked from fifth to tenth dan) is entitled to open their own Bujinkan dōjō and grade students up to fourth dan. A practitioner between first dan and fourth dan may become a licensed assistant teacher (shidōshi-ho) if backed by and acting under the supervision of a shidōshi. In the Bujinkan, a person ranked eighth dan or higher is often referred to as a shihan.
In addition to the kyu/dan system, a few practitioners have earned menkyo kaiden "licenses of complete transmission" in individual schools. These establish that the master practitioner has learned all that there is to learn about the particular lineage. Whereas the kyu/dan ranks are often made public, those who have earned menkyo kaiden rarely divulge their status, sometimes even being reluctant to recognize their actual dan ranking to outsiders.
Togakure ryu genealogy 
There is some controversy regarding the provenance of claims related to Togakure ryu, one of the nine ryuha of the bujinkan. This is evidenced by the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, which indicates that Hatsumi's Togakure-ryu "genealogy refers to various written records and oral transmissions and there are many points/places where embellishments have been added and people appearing in the genealogy are also made older than they actually are". It should be noted that the other 8 ryuha that make up the bujinkan′s 9 schools are well documented and mostly accepted. There is some hearsay spoken of that Hatsumi may have been invited to join the Nihon Kobudo Shinkokai, the oldest koryu organization in Japan, but was refused entry when he declined to provide his scrolls for inspection. This has not yet been verified.
Training practices 
Some teachers and dojo within the bujinkan[who?] have come under scrutiny for practicing techniques in a way which puts undue responsibility for the techniques outcome on the attacker. The attackers lack of natural responses to situations can result in ineffective techniques being taught and bad habits of the defender being reinforced. Though techniques are designed to be taught beginning without resistance and once learned are to be practiced with the attacker resisting as he naturally would, this is not always executed correctly.
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-  primary source – offshoot of Bujinkan
-  primary source – Bujinkan organization
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- Masaaki Hatsumi, "Ninjustsu, History and Tradition", ISBN 0-86568-027-2; primary source
- web page content provided by Hatsumi; primary source
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- primary source – Written by Masaaki Hatsumi, Head of Bujinkan
- primary source – Written using Masaaki Hatsumi, Head of Bujikan as primary source of information
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