The Bujinkan


Bujinkan – “Divine Warrior Training Hall”

The Bujinkan (lit. “Divine Warrior Training Hall”) is the name of the world-wide organization under the direction of Masaaki Hatsumi. Soke Hatsumi chose the name Bujinkan to honor his teach Takamatsu Toshitsugu who passed on to him the nine martial traditions that we continue to study to this day.

Takamatsu Toshitsugu

O’ Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu (10 March 1889 – 2 April 1972)

Takamatsu (Chosui) Toshitsugu was a well-known Martial Artist. He traveled to parts of China teaching Martial Art and engaged in numerous life and death battles. This earned him the name of Moko no Tora (Mongolian Tiger). He even lost an eye in a fight, and has said that – in his view – the two most dangerous fighters were Shorinji Kenpo and Shaolin Kung-Fu practitioners.

Takamatsu O’ Sensei had nine martial art traditions that he bestowed unto his successor, Masaaki Hatsumi. These nine traditions are both Ninja and Samurai in origin, and form the foundation for our training today.

The Nine Martial Traditions

The nine traditions that Takamatsu O’ Sensei passed down are:

Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術) “Hidden Door School”

Gyokko ryū Kosshi jutsu (玉虎流骨指術) “Jeweled Tiger School”

Kuki Shinden Ryū Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術) “Nine Demon God School”

Koto Ryū Koppō jutsu (虎倒流骨法術) “Knocking Down Tiger School”

Shinden Fudo Ryū Dakentai jutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術) “Immovable Heart School”

Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtai jutsu (高木揚心流柔体術) “High Tree, Raised Heart School

Gikan Ryū Koppō jutsu (義鑑流骨法術) “Truth, Loyalty, and Justice School”

Gyokushin-ryū Ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法) “Jeweled Heart School”

Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法) ” Hiding in the Clouds School”

Togakure, Gyokushin, and Kumogakure are believed to be predominantly in Ninja orgin, while the remaining six lineages are traditional Samurai schools. We collectively refer to this as “Ninjutsu”, since Ninja were trained in both Samurai techniques and methods exclusive to Shinobi training.


Masaaki HatsumiSoke Masaaki Hatsumi

Masaaki Hatsumi studied many different Martial Arts before finding Takamatsu O’Sensei, including Karate, Aikido, Judo and western boxing. After achieving 4th degree Black Belt he was asked to teach Judo at an American Army Base. He found that the larger Americans had a distinct advantage in training.

While studying kobudo (traditional weapons techniques) he heard about Takamatsu O’Sensei, and sought out to become his student. The young Hatsumi, 26 years old at the time, met Takamatsu who at the time was well into his 60′s. The two engaged in a match that Hatsumi would later describe:

The pain of his technique was different from any pain I had ever suffered before. I had only felt a cold, momentary pain, while with Sensei I was exposed to a hot, burning pain. It was as if something would explode, if my blood would be sucked up and I would die right away. He didn’t just apply one GYAKU but four or five. I immediately knew this is what I was looking for. I asked to be his student.

Hatsumi would dedicate the next 15+ years to training under Takamatsu O’Sensei’s supervision. And when Takamatsu passed away in 1972, Masaaki Hatsumi became heir to the 9 traditions. He founded the Bujinkan to continue the nine traditions and grow the art to the world.

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi would become a well-known Martial Artist and practitioner of Ninjutsu. He was the Martial Arts advisor to many films, such as the Japanese film “Shinobi-no-Mono” and the James Bond film “You only Live Twice”. He is also an accomplished writer and artist.

With his reputation growing, western Martial Artists began traveling to Japan to inquire about his Martial Art – the most well-known of these being Stephen K. Hayes. Possibly influenced by his earlier experience teaching Judo to Americans, Hatsumi decided to train the larger westerns to determine if the art is effective on larger opponents. And unlike Judo, Ninjutsu proved to be effective regardless of opponent size.

Todai Lineage Art

Artwork depicting the Bujinkan lineage as it connects to Todai Dojo. Artwork by Scott Hamilton

Ninja Boom of the 1980′s

With the influx of Westerners studying Hatsumi’s art in the 1970′s, the art was being brought back the west and growing in popularity. This lead to the ‘Ninja Boom” of the 1980′s as Ninja became a huge component in pop-culture with numerous films of the Ninja. Aspects of the Ninja became embellished for the sake of entertainment, especially their role as an assassin for hire. This continued until the Ninja in pop-culture became a caricature of itself.

From Ninpo to Budo

With the negative connotations being associated with the Ninja, and increasing focus on the hand-to-hand combat of training, Soke Masaaki Hatsumi decided to distance the art from the Hollywood depiction of Ninja by changing the name from “Ninpo” Taijutsu to “Budo” Taijutsu, so that the art itself may be focused on.

The Bujinkan Today

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi continues to teach these traditions to students from all over the world, at the Hombu Dojo in Noda City, Japan. He focuses training on “feeling”, as in “the feeling of being attacked”. The Bujinkan also has yearly themes  to guide practitioners to continue to build their proficiency in this Martial Art.

Todai Bujinkan Dojo continues to spread Soke Masaaki Hatsumi’s teachings to the Southern California area. Our instructors frequently travel to train in Japan under Soke Masaaki Hatsumi and the other Japanese Shihan/Sensei.




Try a Class for Free

See if this is what you’ve been looking for by being a guest in one of our classes.

%d bloggers like this: