The Martial Art / Style  

The martial art is made up of 9 schools of Japanese budo (ie skills / philosophy of warfare). Some of these schools were developed by ninja and some are associated with the samurai. Collectively they are known as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

The core principle of our schools is that it is possible to survive attacks from larger, stronger, more aggressive and potentially armed attacker(s) without the use of physicial strength or speed.

The schools are:

  • - Togakure-ryu Ninpo Taijutsu 
  •    (Ninjutsu - 34th Generation)
  • - Gyokko-ryu Kosshijutsu 
  •    (Specialising in the muscular system - 28th Generation)
  • - Koto-ryu Koppojutsu 
  •    (Specialising in the skeletal structure - 19th Generation)
  • - Shindenfudo-ryu Dakentaijutsu 
  •    (Specialising in natural movements - 26th Generation)
  • - Gyokushin-ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 
  •    (Ninjutsu - 24th Generation)
  • - Kukishinden Dakentaijutsu Happo Biken 
  •    (Samurai school - 28th Generation)
  • - Gikan-ryu Koppo Taijutsu 
  •    (Specialising in the skeletal structure - 18th Generation)
  • - Takagiyoshin-ryu Jutaijutsu 
  •    (Samurai style jujutsu - 17th Generation)
  • - Kumogakure-ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 
  •    (Ninjutsu - 14th Generation)

Any one of these schools is a martial art in its own right and would be sufficient. However studying many related styles gives us a very wide base of understanding to work from. Several of these arts have long, illustrious histories in Japan that can be traced back over hundreds of years. They were inherited by Masaaki Hatsumi from his teacher Takamatsu in 1972. 

There are several excellent books on the subject here Bujinkan Books


Different styles of Ninpo / Ninjutsu

There are 3 organisations in the UK that include Ninpo / Ninjutsu in their curriculum and are headed up by qualified Japanese instructors. These organisations all share the same source for their arts and consist of several old style Japanese martial arts (known as koryu), including those from the region of Iga and famous for their historical use by the ninja

Each of these styles teaches similar techniques and the associated organisations are made up of people who sincerely want to teach & learn real martial arts. For most of the organisations below the differences are largely ones of emphasis and teaching style. 

I would suggest that any prospective student visits dojos of each style in their area and chooses the class that best suits them personally.


This is the art as taught by Dr Masaaki Hatsumi (and the style taught at this dojo)

Dr Hatsumi was a direct student of Toshitsugu Takamatsu who is the ultimate source of all styles considered here. Mr Takamatsu was the previous grandmaster (soke) of the nine schools. He chose Dr Hatsumi as his successor (soke). 

As soke Dr Hatsumi was given the sole responsibility to take the teachings of the nine schools of martial arts into the 21st Century.

(Note: the BBD is not part of the Bujinkan)


This is the art as taught by Mr Fumio Manaka

Mr Manaka was a student of Dr Hatsumi's and one of the most senior members of the Bujinkan until in 1996 he decided to leave and set up his own organisation called the Jinenkan. He held 10th dan in the Bujinkan.


This is the art as taught by Mr Shoto Tanemura

Mr Tanemura was orginally a student of Dr Hatsumi and was graded 8th dan in the Bujinkan system.  He left the Bujinkan in 1984 and set up his own organisation called the Genbukan. He also learnt martial arts from several respected teachers in Japan including other people who had trained with Takamatsu sensei.

Mr Tanemura also teaches other martial arts such as karate.


Different Styles of Samurai Martial Arts (Jujutsu or Bujutsu)

With all old Japanese martial arts it is best to train with someone who maintains a strong relationship with Japan.

There are many old styles of Japanese martial arts (bujutsu) that are still active in Japan. Three of the samurai martial arts included in the Bujinkan curriculum, Yoshin Ryu, Kukishinden & Shinden Fudo Ryu are also taught by other organisations.

Yoshin Ryu Style of Jujutsu

During the 1800’s the Yoshin Ryu split into three branches under the three main proponents of the time. These branches are usually referred to as: Fujita, Ishitani and Seito styles of Yoshin Ryu. Within the Bujinkan we study two of these lines (Fujita and Ishitani). The Ishitani line has further split under different masters since 1800 and there are several teachers of the Yoshin Ryu style of jujutsu in Japan. A few styles of Yoshin Ryu are taught in the UK and London. Sometimes the art is referred to as Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu

Kukishinden Style of Bujutsu

This style is very old and, like the Yoshin Ryu, it has a few branches that are still active in Japan.

Shinden Fudo Ryu Style of Bujutsu

This style is very old and, like the Yoshin Ryu, it has branches that are still active in Japan.

The Grading System

10th Kyu: White belt
Beginners (you automatically start at this level)

9th to 1st Kyu: Green belt
(Ladies can opt to wear red or purple belts if they like)
As graded by the instructor

1st to 4th Dan: Black belt
As graded by the instructor

5th Dan: Black belt, Shidoshi
As graded by Hatsumi Sensei in Japan

6th Dan and above: Black belt, Shidoshi
Recommendation to Hatsumi Sensei by the main instructor or a shihan in Japan

There is no formal syllabus, and students study the art in its entirety from day one. However, any student who is graded should be familiar with the techniques covered in the basic workshop.

As a rough guide a student who trains hard would be expected to attain 1st Dan (black belt) in 3 to 4 years.