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Bujinkan Ninjutsu, Japanese Martial Arts & Self Defense

Explore articles and insights on Japanese Martial Arts, Self Defense and more in these articles.

Understanding the Righteous Heart

Understanding the Righteous Heart

A student in class recently asked why I don't say the entire Tadashi Kokoro no Kaisetsu. The answer was simple: I didn't know it by heart. I also explained that I would be uncomfortable saying the phrase without knowing what it means. So I decided to find out what the...

The Martial Arts Instructors of Japan

The Martial Arts Instructors of Japan

Nothing can replicate training in Japan; the immersion in the Japanese culture, the amount of training one squeezes into a trip, the practitioners your surrounded by - a few days changes your movement forever. The most important part of training in Japan is the...

Shikin Haramitsu Daikoumiyo

Shikin Haramitsu Daikoumiyo

If you’ve ever taken a Martial Arts class at a Bujinkan Dojo, you’ve heard those three somewhat difficult Japanese words shouted at the beginning and end of class: Shiken Haramitsu Daikoumyo. These words have profound significance – but only if you understand what they mean (much less say them). Here we’re going to translate this Buddhist mantra, and the meaning behind one of the most often used phrases in Bujinkan training.

Shu-Ha-Ri: Phases of Training

Shuhari – “Preserve, Break, Transcend”
There are considered 3 phases of training in Bujinkan Ninjutsu (and most Japanese Martial Arts) – “Shu, Ha & Ri”. These phases focus on what the intention and the approach of the student should be towards their training at a particular level.

5 Ways Martial Arts Fights Depression

5 Ways Martial Arts Fights Depression

I can speak from personal experience how Martial Arts can be a powerful tool in the fight against anxiety and depression. Before I began training in Martial Arts, I was struggling with anxiety induced depression. A combination of huge stress, existential crisis and feeling of inadequacy was leading to unhealthy places mentally and physically. It wasn’t until I started training in Martial Arts that I started to see light at the end of the tunnel.

What is (and isn’t) Bujinkan

There was an interesting topic in a Bujinkan Facebook Group that someone posted: "What exactly constitutes what is part of Bujinkan?" What is the Bujinkan really? The Bujinkan is usually defined as the collection of nine ryuha that connect to the Iga and surrounding...

The Shape of Happo

The Shape of Happo

m always obsessed with understanding the name of a gata. I believe the name can often provide insight into the intention of the form, or describe the proper movement.

In some cases (and ryuha) it’s pretty straight forward. Take Takagi Yoshin Ryu for example; many of the techniques simply describe what you’re trying to do. The clearest example is Ude Ori, or arm break. Not surprisingly, the forms discuss various methods of breaking the arm.

But some names can be quite esoteric.

Ninja: 9 Myths and facts

Ninja: 9 Myths and facts

Few groups in history are as iconic as the Ninja of Japan. The word itself conjures images of black clad silent assassins that seem capable of impossible feats. Their mystery adds to their intrigue, even 500 years later.

The Secrets of Koryu Martial Arts

The Secrets of Koryu Martial Arts

Studying Koryu (lit. "Old School") arts are more about gaining trust of the teacher rather than developing skill per se. Most of what is in a Koryu art is kept secret from the majority of practitioners, with the most sensitive or secretive information reserved the...

Beware the McDojo

Beware the McDojo

For many of us interested in Martial Arts, part of the allure is belonging to an exclusive group. Martial Artists hone their body and mind through physical challenge and dedication. It builds confidence in ourselves. It sets us apart. It makes us unique. However,...

The 2 types of Japanese Martial Arts

While there are countless ways to catagorize martial arts in general, Japanese martial arts typically fall within two distinct catagories based on age: Koryu Bujutsu and Gendai Budo. Koryu vs Gendai Literally translating to "Old School", a Koryu is any martial arts...

Best Weapon for Home Self Defense

The other night I was at a get together for a friend's birthday. While there, one of my long time friends brought up that he was thinking of getting a gun, but was unsure of what to get. I am a gun advocate, and own several. "What do you think? Should I get a revolver...

Understanding the Sanshin

I have to confess: I haven’t been the best teacher. I rarely do the Sanshin in class. I figured it was super simple, and takes away the precious time we have in class from the “real training” where techniques are applied. Frankly, I thought it was a little boring and a bit redundant. Then I started noticing Hatsumi Sensei putting a lot of emphasis on the Sanshin, and saying how important it was for training. So I decided to take a second look.

The Progression of Bujinkan Training

As we mention in our article Shuhari, there is a Japanese philosophy to studying a craft. However, this philosophy describes the process of learning, but not necessarily gives direction. In this article we are going to tackle our opinion on progressing through...

Why Japanese is Tough

The other day we had a guest in class who happened to be Japanese. He spends lots of time with his family in Japan and so is fluent. I always like to talk with native speakers since it helps me improve my Japanese which is...well...less than perfect. But I try to...

MMA is not new

Many consider MMA as a revolution in Martial Arts - the concept of studying different things simultaneously. And while MMA as a Sport is a recent development, the mixing of Arts is much older. UFC and MMA The UFC has reinvigorated sporting martial arts. In the...

Masaaki Hatsumi: Teach only 50%

I heard a quote of Soke Masaaki Hatsumi saying "teach only 50% of what you know." Without context, this might be viewed in a negative, as if something is being withheld to the detriment of the student. However, the reality is that in Japanese culture, it is to the...

Martial Arts Contracts

The Potential Dangers of Martial Arts Contracts The other day, my neighbor was asking about my Martial Arts School, and during that conversation came up the subject of contracts. Turns out, she used to sell gym contracts, and said she never liked to sell them. "I...

The Truth Behind Gun Control

In this, our second article on the Second Amendment, we will be looking at the efficacy (or lack thereof) of gun control. If you read our first article on the history behind our Second Amendment right to bare arms, you'll know that it was formed by compromise between...

The Truth Behind the Second Amendment

Here is our two-part discussion on the Second Amendment - as it relates to our rights as Americans and it's implications for self defense. The Second Amendment is one of the more controversial Amendments in our Bill of Rights. Opposition to the right to bear arms...

The Rules of Self Defense

We often talk about our martial art not being a sporting art, since there are “no rules to self-defense” or “no refs in a street-fight”. However, that is not entirely correct. In fact, there are quite a few rules regarding self-defense and impacts that extend beyond a physicality of the encounter.

Passing the Godan

Few events are as a mind blowing, mystical, and life changing in Ninjutsu training as when the time comes for a student to pass the Sakki test to achieve Godan. It’s a rite of passage that culminates after a decade of studying our art. I came to a realization about the science about such a meta-physical type of event after passing mine in September of 2012.

But what is the Sakki test, and how does it work?

The Martial Art of Tennis?

Now normally, when we think of sports as being related to martial arts, Tennis is not the first to leap to mind. Yet the other day, I had the opportunity to take a lesson from my uncle, Dick Wagner, who is a former Tennis pro. Pretty soon into the lesson, I started noticing similarities between things my uncle Dick said, and things that Soke talks about when we train in Japan, as well as aspects of learning tennis itself. And by taking a Tennis lesson, I was able to gain some insight into our martial arts training. So here are some thoughts on the connection between two seemingly unrelated activities.

Finding the Kukan

If you have ever trained in Japan, you have heard Soke talk quite a bit about the Kukan. Kukan roughly means “space” or “opening”. This can (and is) often be interpreted in a number of different ways. I find it easiest to think about it as “an opening where your opponent is vulnerable”. As simple as that sounds, it can be difficult to find that opening since it is so fluid.

The Price of Ego

In my last trip to Japan, Soke Hatsumi talked about the concept of “letting go”. He was specifically referencing when to let go of a technique when it has fulfilled it’s usefulness, or when the situation changes. He said that it was important to remain free to let go in order to succeed. But like so many of his lessons, it applies to much more than martial arts.