What is Bujinkan Dōjō?
Basically it is a Japanese martial arts school, which incorporates nine traditional martial arts ninjutsu 忍術 and bujutsu 武術. Bujinkan Dōjō 武神館道場 is led by Mr. Masaaki Hatsumi 初見良昭, who has gained a title of grandmaster (sōke 宗家) in those nine schools. You can find more information at Bujinkan section on our website.
So ninjutsu is a part of what you teach in Bujinkan?
Yes, exactly. In the past, martial arts taught by Mr. Hatsumi were presented solely as ninjutsu. Nevertheless, Hatsumi has gained the title of sōke (grandmaster) in nine traditional martial art schools, of which three are of ninjutsu origin.
Are there any other ninjutsu schools aside of Bujinkan Dōjō organization?
That is a very difficult question. There are schools where some ninjutsu techniques were historically taught, for example Katori shintō ryū 香取神道流, but nowadays they are not taught in this or any other school. However you can find many smaller schools that claim to be ninjutsu schools. Some of them have historical roots and can be considered authentic, but most of them do not. A deep knowledge of history is necessary to distinguish them and to understand the reality.
Bujinkan schools are very old. Do they have anything to offer in modern era?
It is not true that these schools emerged centuries ago and their development stopped shortly after. They carried on developing and adapting new times and situations. This naturally continues and it is very important.
Basically I think studying Bujinkan Dōjō martial arts is nowadays focused on three basic topics – training martial techniques, studying history and philosophy. Ideally every student tries to improve at all of these areas.
Does that mean that techniques taught here are suited for realistic situations?
Yes, of course. Techniques gathered by Hatsumi sensei are practical and effective. History itself has shown us, whether those techniques are functional or not. Moreover there are many people amongst all students of Bujinkan Dōjō that serves in the ranks of police, army or other security subjects and those say that they train Bujinkan for its complexity. Of course, whether a student is able to use defensive techniques in real situation depends on his attitude to training and understanding of many important aspects. It is also important to have good luck, as it is important everywhere else.
Personally I think many people underestimates realistic forms in their training and that is not good.
Are there any sport competitions in this martial art?
No. Techniques of these schools are trained the same way throughout history. That means even with attacks to vital body parts. It would be very dangerous to use these techniques in a competition. If safety rules were established and protection wear like gloves were made mandatory to make it less dangerous, the whole way of training would have to be changed and techniques adjusted. Because of this, it is very difficult to compete in a sport match.
Even though, various randori 乱取り exercises are included in our training, with respect to original meaning of all techniques.
While training Bujinkan, is it suitable to practice another martial art?
Of course, there are many people training another martial art while studying Bujinkan. It can be very interesting and helpful, if you have the ability to perceive it properly all at once. Personally I think that if you want to choose another martial art, it should be a Japanese one with similar basics. Combining martial arts that are too different can make your training complicated.
It also depends on reasons why you want to train something else. Sometimes I meet people who want to practice other martial art to improve in Bujinkan. Honestly I think that they should reconsider their Bujinkan training attitude rather than seeking help somewhere else. On the other hand, a desire to learn about other bujutsu and its traditions is a proper reason and there should be no problem with that.
Do you also practice with weapons?
Yes, of course. There are various aspects of our training, of which taijutsu 体術, unarmed techniques are most important. We later use the same motions of body while practicing with weapons. For training purposes practice weapons are used, for example fukuro-shinai 袋竹刀 (sword made of bamboo and leather), bokkens 木剣 (wooden swords), rubber shurikens 手裏剣 (throwing blades) and many more. Those weapons allow us to practice all techniques to the fullest without the risk of injuries. After some time it is recommended for everyone to get in touch with real weapons. That is a natural development.
Many people think that martial arts lead to violence …
The true idea of martial arts is not war, but peace. People that think otherwise have understood nothing from the true principles of martial arts. Training enriches not only your knowledge of techniques, but also your spiritual aspect.
From personal experience I know that if someone comes in a bad faith, which can happen, he will decide to leave after some time. The surrounding atmosphere at trainings will not allow him to grow his bad intentions and ego.
I am a girl, is this training suitable for me? Can I study this martial art? Or is it just for men?
Of course you can study this martial art. There are girls and women in our dōjō 道場, who are deeply interested in Bujinkan. Some of them have already gained high technical ranks. It is up to you what your goals are.
When it is best to start with Bujinkan training?
At any time. Studying martial arts is possible in every age, there are no restrictions. The way we exercise allows every student to adjust it to his age and physical capabilities. In our dōjō there is only a lower limit on age and that is 6 years of age, since when children can start training.
How to choose the right dōjō?
Well, that is not an easy question. It is not that difficult though. It is always good to visit multiple dōjōs where the martial art is taught. Not only the closest one. If you want to study something as complex as Japanese martial arts, it is worth travelling further to dōjō of teacher who suits you and can teach you in a proper way. I would personally never waste time with those dōjōs, which have websites full of words how they are the only real, best, most traditional an so on, even if its teacher had a high technical rank. When someone writes things like that about himself, then there is something wrong. Japanese martial arts are mainly about RESPECT and when someone writes how “great” he is there is usually a problem with his character. I would never want to waste my time with an EGOISTIC individual. Much more important aspect for me are students exercising in a dōjō. Not only their count (although that can be a hint) but also their level of training. Even with limited knowledge we can decide whether we would like to reach the same level of movement and martial skills as those exercising beside us. There is also another important factor for me and that is the relationship between instructor and his students, the way how he talks and behaves on his lessons.
I admit that it is not trivial and I understand why some beginners can be left in doubts.
What I have to do to start training this martial art?
First, you have to come to a dōjō where it is taught. I personally think there are huge differences between trainings in individual dōjōs so I would recommend visiting more of them before deciding. All you need then is a desire to study this martial art. You will learn everything else during training from your instructor.
What do I need to have with me at my first training?
A passion and desire to exercise, nothing more. Although we exercise wearing black kimono 着物 (gi) and traditional Japanese tabi 足袋 shoes, you can have any sportswear and shoes. Concerning other equipment, you don’t have to have it with you at first training. Some dōjōs are well equipped and you can borrow there everything at the beginning.
I have never exercised, I don’t have a good fitness …
Don’t worry, that is not necessary for studying martial arts. Every student chooses how physically challenging his training will be. Nevertheless the training itself is put together to gradually improve flexibility and muscle endurance of every student. It is clear that a healthy body can train longer in a proper way and moreover – “Sound in body, sound in mind” ;-).
I am unable to attend all training sessions, is it a problem?
No, it is not. Everyone attends training sessions according to his free time possibilities. A 100% attendance is not necessary. It is beneficial to find your time to train though, which is important for you progress. You cannot expect big improvement while attending one training session per month.
How long will it take for me to be able to defend myself?
That is a common question of newcomers. The answer is very difficult though. Basically, studying martial arts is considered to be a whole life process. There is always something to improve and it is important to never stop.
It is impossible and unprofessional to calculate a minimal training period necessary for being able to defend yourself. It always depends on individual student, his capabilities, his character and his goals. Everyone has his own pace.
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