Updated: Sep 8
Traditional Japanese Combative Arts
Taijutsu is an umbrella term in Classical Japanese Martial Arts to refer to unarmed techniques, but more deeply, it refers to the way of moving the body naturally. Our lineage of Taijutsu is the method practiced by the Shinobi Warriors of Iga, Japan, with a deep and rich history. Our art involves techniques of fighting with weapons, unarmed techniques for striking, kicking, blocking, grappling, and throwing, and methods of escape, evasion, exfiltration and infiltration, including climbing techniques, running and walking techniques, breakfall, rolls, and leaping. Please get in touch if you would like to ask about guidance for your Taijutsu training or inquire about the next fundamentals course.
"Tai" is a term that refers to the body, or body movement in this case, "jutsu" as described above implies the technical application of its prefix. Taijutsu hence, is the technique of body movement, and Budo Taijutsu is that technique applied to martial arts.
There are elements of Kyushojutsu (pressure point study), Jutaijutsu (joint locking, throwing, choking, and grappling), Dakentaijutsu (striking, kicking, and blocking), Taihenjutsu (rolling, falling, leaping, running, etc..), Junan Taiso (stretching, mobility conditioning), and a variety of different weapons once a basis in unarmed movement is established.
The Bujinkan is an international martial arts organization founded and headed by Masaaki Hatsumi in Japan. The combative system in the Bujinkan is comprised of nine separate martial schools (known as ryuha); these 9 ryuha are referred to collectively as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. The ryuha are the living traditions descended from samurai martial technique and strategies of the shinobi, due to this, the Bujinkan has become most commonly associated with ninjutsu and the ninja.
Bujinkan is comprised of two characters, "Bujin" being a term used to describe a "divine warrior" or the embodiment of warrior spirit. It is also said to have been Masaaki Hatsumi's predecessor, Takamatsu Toshitsugu's pen name. "Kan" is a Japanese term used to describe a hall, or the heart of an organization. Therefore, the Bujinkan means "Hall of the Divine Warriors".
Above all things, training is done in a safe and controlled manner to prevent serious injury. The approach to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is to utilize potentially damaging techniques in order to survive a dangerous life situations, and little is done to limit actions or techniques during training. This is what sets combative training apart from competitive martial arts. The intention isn't on winning an evenly matched, and controlled competition, but on surviving when your life or the life of loved ones are at stake. Due to this, our training does not involve participation in competitions or contests, and is rather focused on training techniques for escaping a confrontation, or disabling an attacker as efficiently as possible.
Our training mostly involves practice with a predefined attacker (called an uke), and a defender (called a tori) practicing a specific response to a variety of attacks, progressing from a grab, to a punch, to other variations. These patterns are also broken down and their base elements are practiced as conditioning drills. Once the basic movement is learned to a proficient level, the practice of henka is applied. Henka means to respond to variations or unexpected changes in the opponent's movements, or other situations. These skills, once honed, are practiced at special seminars with Shinken Gata, meaning with the feeling of a realistic conflict.
Randori practice is sometimes also used in which two or more practitioners attempt to apply dynamic techniques on resistant opponents. This is similar to sparring, but more controlled and tapered to a speed appropriate for the practitioners. The purpose of randori is not to compete or test your skills, but to learn how to apply what you have learned smoothly in real time against a non-compliant opponent who doesn't know what you are going to do.
Beyond this, training also involves psychological manipulation in a confrontation, martial tactics and strategy, optional lifestyle suggestions, breathing and meditation practice and practical stretching system. Though largely focused on taijutsu, the Bujinkan also emphasizes Ninpo strategies and tactics, and Happo Bikenjutsu, which teaches how to apply Taijutsu to a variety of traditional and modern weapons.
The "Bu" in Budo is an interesting character. It's general meaning is to refer to the martial, combative context, but the Kanji symbol representing the term can be interpreted as stopping a spear. It does not simply refer to the context of combat, but looking at it more deeply, it seems to more specifically mean to stop violence using martial means. "Do" is a character that symbolizes a way, or a path to follow, usually one with a higher meaning. My understanding of Budo is that it is the way to stopping violence through combative means. The term Budo takes its roots from Bujutsu; "jutsu" referring to the science, or application of the technique of combat.
The 9 Ryu-Ha
Masaaki Hatsumi has inherited the nine ryuha of the Bujinkan through the teachings of Takamatsu Toshitsugu. He himself has been entrusted with the survival of these traditions as the Grandmaster of each lineage. The unarmed methods of these Ryuha include:
Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu
Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu
Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu
Kukishinden Ryu DakenTaijutsu
Alex Schenker is a qualified instructor in the practice of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, having received his Godan (5th degree black belt), and Shidoshi (instructor qualification) during his trip to train in Japan in 2017. He has been practicing the art since 2004.