About the art
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.
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:
Any one of these schools is a martial art in its own right and would be sufficient, however studying all of them gives us a very wide base of understanding to work from. The formal history of these arts can be traced back over 900 years, but they were in existence long before that. The schools were inherited by Masaaki Hatsumi from his teacher Takamatsu in 1972.
For more information there is an excellent summary on wikipedia here
There are also several excellent books on the subject here Bujinkan Books
Unlike many martial arts in the West, Bujinkan Budo has not been converted into a sport or academic exercise in modern less turbulent times and is still taught in its entirety.
It is my personal belief that there are very few true martial arts taught in the world and there is a real danger that practitioners of martial arts which have lost their original focus (eg sports orientated martial arts) often place themselves at more risk in a dangerous situation than someone who has never practiced any martial art at all..
The Fundamental Principles of Japanese Martial Arts
Different styles of Ninpo / Ninjutsu
Please note that there are many organisations and instructors claiming to teach these arts (particularly ninjutsu). However, relatively few are qualified to do so. Of course there many well be merit in what they teach, but I would recommend a cautious approach to finding a club/instructor and organisation. In my opinion it is best to train with someone who maintains a strong relationship with Japan.
Broadly speaking there are 4 styles of Ninpo / Ninjutsu taught
in the UK
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
style in their area and chooses the class that best suits them
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.
This is the art as taught by Mr Fumio Manaka
Mr Manaka was one of Dr Hatsumi's original students 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.
BBD (Bujinkan Brian Dojo)
This is the art as taught by Brian Mcarthy
Brian visited Dr Hatsumi in Japan 4 times and trained under the Bujinkan for just over 10 years. He was the senior Bujinkan instructor in Ireland and was graded 8th Dan. In 1992 he decided to go it alone and continue his training without the guidance of Dr Hatsumi.
Please note that despite leaving the Bujinkan Brian continues to use the Bujinkan name for his organisation..
There are other instructors / organisations in the UK, but I don't have any experience of them so it's not appropriate to comment on their credibility.
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.