Stephen K. Hayes

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Stephen K. Hayes
Born (1949-09-09) September 9, 1949 (age 65)
Wilmington, Delaware
Occupation Martial arts, instructor, author, and Buddhist priest
Spouse(s) Rumiko Urata Hayes[1]
Children Daughters: Reina and Marissa[2]

Stephen K. Hayes (born September 9, 1949) is an American Bujinkan ninjutsu master, Buddhist priest and writer.

Early life[edit]

Stephen K. Hayes was born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Fairmont West High School, Kettering, Ohio in 1967.[1] He began formal training in the martial arts as a teenager in the mid 1960s. He attended Miami University in nearby Oxford, Ohio reportedly because he "heard they had a judo club".[3] It turned out to be a Korean Tang Soo Do school, not judo, but Hayes remained. In 1971 he graduated from Miami with a Bachelor's of Arts, having majored in Speech and Theatre.[4]

Martial arts career[edit]

In the 1970s Hayes traveled to Japan to seek out authentic ninja masters.[5] In June 1975, he met and began training under Tsunehisa Tanemura and then after Tanemura left Masaaki Hatsumi,[6] who refers to himself as 34th Grandmaster of Togakure-ryū ninjutsu and is the founder of the Bujinkan (武神館) organization. Hayes returned to the United States with his wife Rumiko in late 1980 when his Japan residency visa expired, and began teaching and authoring numerous books and magazine articles.[7]

In 1985, he was entered into the Black Belt magazine's Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year.[8] He was again featured on the cover of Black Belt in the March 2007 issue;[8][8] which contains a chapter from his book Ninja Vol 6, Secret Scrolls of the Warrior Sage.[9] The magazine’s opening editorial described him as "one of the 10 most influential living martial artists in the world".[10]

In 1993, Hayes was awarded the rare judan (tenth-degree black belt) in Togakure-ryū ninjutsu from Hatsumi.[2] In 1997, he founded the martial art of To-Shin Do,[11] an art based in his experience of budō taijutsu. In 2006 Hayes' name was removed from the display of active Bujinkan teachers, ending his official role within that organization. That Hayes' name plank was removed from the Bujinkan Honbu wall has been documented by both parties. However, the specifics regarding the motivation for the removal are in dispute. Some suggest Hayes was expelled from the organization.[12] Hayes explains that he simply no longer participates as an active Bujinkan instructor.[13] To-Shin Do is taught through his SKH (Stephen K. Hayes) Quest locations. The SKH Quest network now spans 31 schools across North America, Europe, Australia and Africa. Teacher of the famous ninja master of Maui Hawaii Shihan Jonathan Allen. [14]

Hayes acted in the 1980 TV miniseries Shogun[15] and in 2004 was featured in the Discovery Channel documentary Unsolved History regarding ninja and their practices.[16]

Hayes resides and works in Dayton, Ohio. He and his wife[17] Rumiko have two daughters, Reina and Marissa.[1]


Hayes is an ordained practitioner of esoteric Tendai mikkyo Buddhism.[18] He apprenticed under Dr. Clark Jikai Choffy, an ordained Tendai priest and personal disciple of Jion Haba, the bishop of Tokyo's Reisho-in temple.[19] He received empowerments and teachings from Dr. Choffy, received transmission in the Homan Ryu school of Tendai esoteric Buddhism, and in 1991 he received Tokudo priesthood ordination in Tendai Buddhism.[18] Hayes has founded a Buddhist Order based on his teachings and experiences with Tibetan Buddhism and Tendai, called the Blue Lotus Assembly.[18]

When traveling in Tibet, Hayes met the Dalai Lama in 1987. The two were at a conference in the United States when the Dalai Lama learned that he had received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize and Hayes assisted with the unexpected security concerns as reporters arrived.[20] For many years in the 1990s, Hayes served as the Dalai Lama's personal protection escort and security adviser, especially during visits to the United States.[21]



  • The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art (1981), Charles E. Tuttle Co.
  • Ninja: Spirit of the Shadow Warrior (1980), Ohara Publications
  • Ninja vol. 2: Warrior Ways of Enlightenment (1981), Ohara Publications
  • Ninja vol. 3: Warrior Path of Togakure (1983), Ohara Publications
  • Ninja vol. 4: Legacy of the Night Warrior (1985), Ohara Publications
  • Ninja vol. 5: Lore of the Shinobi Warrior (1989), Ohara Publications
  • Ninjutsu: The Art of the Invisible Warrior (1984) Contemporary Books
  • Wisdom from the Ninja Village of the Cold Moon (1984) Contemporary Books
  • The Mystic Arts of the Ninja: Hypnotism, Invisibility, and Weaponry (1985), Contemporary Books
  • Ninja Realms of Power: Spiritual Roots and Traditions of the Shadow Warrior (1986)
  • The Ancient Art of Ninja Warfare: Combat, Espionage, and Traditions (1988), Contemporary Books
  • Enlightened Self-Protection: The Kasumi-An Ninja Art Tradition: An Original Workbook (1992), Nine Gates Press
  • The Ninja Defense: A Modern Master's Approach to Universal Dangers (2012), Tuttle Publishing
  • The Complete Ninja Collection (2013), Black Belt Communications


  • Tulku, a Tale of Modern Ninja (1985) Contemporary Books


  1. ^ a b c Biography of Hayes at the Wayback Machine (archived October 3, 1999) (1999), his business website
  2. ^ a b Treadway, Marcia J. "Dream Big, American Ninja Says", The Dayton Daily News, 23 November 2000, p.24.
  3. ^ Biography at his official website; accessed 24 December 2010
  4. ^ Hayes, Stephen K. Enlightened Self-Protection: To-Shin Do Martial Art Tradition, SKH QUEST Publications, 1992, p. 80. ISBN 0-9632473-9-5
  5. ^ Skittone, Lisa Susan. "Ninjutsu: The Power of a Dirty Look." CHOICES. Spring 1994. Vol. III, No. 2; Pg. 38-43; ISSN: 0895-6014.
  6. ^ Hayes, Stephen (1989). Lore of the Shinobi Warrior. Ohara Publications. ISBN 0-89750-123-3. 
  7. ^ About Bud Malmstrom There is some evidence that he visited and taught in the United States on ninjutsu as early as 1976.
  8. ^ a b c Warrior Education: The Classical Japanese Method of Teaching the Martial Arts
  9. ^ ISBN 0-89750-156-X /ISBN 978-0-89750-156-9
  10. ^ Young, Robert (March 2007). "Editorial". Black Belt. 
  11. ^ Toller, Dennis. "Once the West's Most Celebrated Ninja, Stephen K. Hayes Has Moved Beyond the Assassin Image", Black Belt (magazine), October 1998, p. 32.
  12. ^ Hamon, Welcome to Ichinen Dojo
  13. ^ Questions and Answers Part 4 at his official website
  14. ^ Licensed Instructors, SKH Quest
  15. ^ "Japan's Hatsumi Will Highlight Burbank Martial-Arts Event". Los Angeles Times. 30 April 1988. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  16. ^ Unsolved History: Ninjas,
  17. ^ "Happy in Your Home and Dojo" at his official website
  18. ^ a b c Tendai Buddhist Institute
  19. ^ Choffy[dead link]
  20. ^ Srivastava, Spriha. "The Dalai Lama: War and Peace", The Daily Indian, 5 December 2010.
  21. ^ Zezzo, Mickey. "Dedicated Toward His Quest; Stephen K. Hayes Will Help With Security For The Dalai Lama", The Dayton Daily News, 9 April 1998, p.Z3-10.

External links[edit]