March 1996:
A Talk On Takamatsu Sensei

given by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi; translated by Benjamin Cole

“I first met Takamatsu-sensei when I was 27 years old. He had such an air of wisdom about him. Not anything frightening, but a wisdom. Takamatsu-sensei spent ten years wandering around China using techniques in real battle. So when he taught, he was speaking from experience. How the body convulsed this way, or died that way.”

And so began Masaaki Hatsumi-sensei's February 13 speech on his mentor Takamatsu-sensei. The talk, which was videotaped for later release (an English overdubbed version will also be available some time in the future), was one man’s account of an unfortunately relatively unknown master. The evening was to begin with Hatsumi-sensei’s talk, continue with film footage, and conclude with about 30 minutes for Questions and Answers. As all photography and recording were prohibited, this account will be from memory and includes my interpretation of Hatsumi-sensei’s Japanese (a feat in and of itself for those who know Japanese and have heard him speak). If, when the professional English translation is released, some of what I thought was said turns out to be not so or out of order, please go easy on me. I am but human and don’t have a taped account to rewind and check. I have done my best to make a coherent translation, but all is at the mercy of memory. Comments in quotation marks are Hatsumi-sensei’s, those in parentheses are my personal thoughts and comments, and narration is anything else. And without further ado...

Hatsumi-sensei began talking of Takamatsu-sensei’s love of painting and stated that he believed that painting was a means to longevity. “That’s why I myself took up painting.” When one first entered the room of the presentation, one couldn’t help but notice the photographs and paintings on display. Hatsumi-sensei had brought with him a collage of old black and white photos of his mentor, including a couple featuring himself doing kuji (hand positions) with Takamatsu-sensei. Several of them have been featured in some of Hatsumi-sensei’s books. Also on the table were two framed paintings about 2 ft. x 3 ft. One was a portrait Hatsumi-sensei had completed of his mentor about a year before he died.

Hatsumi-sensei took about ten minutes to show us the works he had brought with him, including comments when necessary. To Hatsumi-sensei’s left hung several hanging Japanese paintings, one on top of the other. When he had finished talking about one, he would have it removed, revealing another. (Peeling away an onion, so to speak.) The one that struck me as the most beautiful was of a lone crane, standing nobly with a touch of red accenting its feathers. (I was surprised when he told us that he had painted it in only 200 minutes!) All of the paintings focused on nature. His comment later that “Taijutsu is... nature” shifted more than a few eyes toward the beautiful works that Hatsumi-sensei had been so kind to share with us.

At one point, he called up an elderly gentleman to inspect one of the works closely. It was of a person clad in kimono, I believe. The old man suddenly expressed surprise at what he saw. Hatsumi-sensei explained that he had incorporated hundreds of couples in various sexual positions into the design of the kimono! (How’s that for a pleasant surprise, folks!)

“Although I didn’t bring them today, I have all the letters Takamatsu-sensei gave me in a trunk at home. I still pull them out every once in a while and read them over. I discover new things he was trying to say even today!” (Hatsumi-sensei has made similar comments about reading and re-reading Sanmyaku. He urges all of us to get copies of each of them, and to review them as our training progresses.)

(At one point during the evening, the microphone decided to start belching and whining. It completely threw off the rhythm of his speech. Three harried organizers ran around apologizing, leaving, and running back and forth in front of him, but Hatsumi-sensei never showed any impatience.) “I’ve gotten used to such things, dealing with the media and appearing on television. These things always happen.” He called for questions, but the audience was silent and more annoyed by the screaming microphone than he. Rather than waste time waiting, however, Hatsumi-sensei decided that because the microphone was off anyway, he would mention some personal experiences not related to Takamatsu-sensei.

He talked of Dublin... of good Guinness. “The stuff we had in those tall glasses over there was so good. So unlike the Guinness we find in Japan. Here the drink is always too warm, the establishment too hot, and the taste terrible. But in Dublin, with the dank, cold weather and the perfect serving temperature, it is delicious. If you say that you have come from certain areas of Ireland, in fact, people will comment that their local Guinness is terrible, and that the area you come from offers the most delicious in the land. Gosh, we got so drunk... There are actually people in the U.K. who use Guinness for medicinal purposes.” (Obviously, more than a few of us were not expecting to hear of the health benefits of beer from a Ninjutsu grandmaster, but as everyone knows, Hatsumi-sensei is just full of surprises.)

(He also talked about a Dublin incident which many of you may have already heard about.) “I was going to be showing some sword techniques. I picked up a nearby metal sword, drew out part of the blade, and checked it with my finger. It was not sharp, so I decided to use it for the demonstration. My gravest error was not checking the entire length of the blade. I had the sword laid across the back of Noguchi-sensei’s neck and then — rip! — I had cut a two inch gash into his neck,” Hatsumi-sensei laughed lightly. (Noguchi-sensei, who laughed as well, still bears the scar today. As Hatsumi-sensei reminded us a few weeks ago during practice: “Remember there is a difference between swords for practice and swords for battle. Always check the blade for dullness.”)

As soon as the men had finished fixing the microphone, they pinned a new one on him. He said the words, “Test. Test. Is it working?” then without waiting for an answer, he turned back to the audience, and continued his stories about Takamatsu-sensei — exactly where he had left off over ten minutes prior! It was extremely entertaining to see someone so unconcerned about insignificant things. And he obviously wasn’t concerned whether the camera was on or not. He never even pondered, “Now, where was I?” as most of us would.

“One day, I went over to Takamatsu-sensei’s and he told me to sit down, and that he had something for me. I was wondering what it could be and was kinda nervous about getting something from him. I felt something was strange, so I rolled to the side, then fell down flat on the floor. I rolled away from there and looked around. Takamatsu-sensei was holding a sword and had just tried to strike me down. He smiled and said, ‘Good.’ He passed on his scrolls to me then. A year later, he passed on.”

Here are a few things Hatsumi-sensei touched on during his talk, which remain superficially in my memory:

1. Healing without medicine, like in times of war. (see Q&A later)
2. A man who got cut open in China, pulled up all his intestines, got sewn up, and lived a long and fruitful life.
3. The fact that he himself never drank when he was young. Despite that, Takamatsu-sensei’s wife would always pour him a drink every time he visited their home, even though he would never touch what was offered to him.
4. Protecting the feet from cold (see Comments at end)
5. Virility and Po...tency (see Comments at end)

Unfortunately, this part of the evening will not be available on the retail video. Sorry. The cameras were turned off for this part and people got up from their seats to stand along the walls in hopes of getting a better view.

“It was originally taken on 8-mm film. I had it transferred to video tape.” Because the video lacked sound, Hatsumi-sensei provided personal narration. He talked of how Takamatsu-sensei was explaining how the techniques were done as he was doing them. (Obviously, it was not intended as a training video for the general public. We were being invited to watch an intimate exchange between a master and three of his students.) The video was maybe fifteen minutes long, black and white. Seeing as one of the students was always filming (initially it was Hatsumi-sensei) Soke’s first appearance came after five or so minutes. (One thing that I found interesting was that they all wore white gi. I sat there wondering just when the penchant for black and patches came in, but that mundane question remained unasked.)

Hatsumi-sensei brought attention to Takamatsu-sensei’s fingers again once when the camera zoomed in on him holding a bo. Earlier, after the microphone had been fixed, Hatsumi-sensei mentioned his mentor’s fingers. “His fingers were really thick, probably 3 mm or so. But his hands were so strong and extremely flexible.” (This statement sounded very strange, so I looked into this point further. I found that Hatsumi-sensei had mistakenly used the word “finger,” when he had meant to say “fingernail.” Evidently, Takamatsu-sensei frequently trained by pulling the bark off trees, and his fingernails showed it.) The figure on the screen spun and whipped the bo so quickly and fluidly it was amazing. Practice was being held outside on the grass. There were three students, including Hatsumi-sensei, who... how should one say this... was not yet 30 years old and has obviously improved. (Seeing a young Hatsumi-sensei working through things as we all do when we train lifted my spirits and strengthened my will. I realized something inanely obvious, yet usually ignored: that the only way to improve is to practice, and if Hatsumi-sensei can move from the level he was on the video to his present grace, even I can improve. Sometimes it takes such things to motivate.)

Many weapons were covered: bo, naginata, sword, jutte, and rope with a weighted end (a practice kusarifundo). When the footage of Takamatsu-sensei spinning the rope came on, Hatsumi-sensei laughed and commented. “This one was the most dangerous. That rope was rotting away, so as Takamatsu-sensei spun it, pieces of it were dropping off. I thought it would break, but Sensei handled it remarkably. It’s very important to know your weapons when you use them.”

About halfway into the video the Taijutsu footage began. I found this to be the most interesting aspect of the film. Some of the techniques were Kihon Happo, but they looked different from the way most people do them now. For example, ganseki nage began with the hand on the outside rather than on the inside.

Afterward, several of us gathered outside in the hall. Several people commented on the differences, but were equally impressed with Takamatsu-sensei’s speed and power, despite his age. “I wish I had hours just to pore over those few techniques on that video, but that footage won’t be available commercially, will it?” an eager, yet defeated, acquaintance asked rhetorically. I truly hope all of you have an opportunity to view the footage some day.

Takamatsu-sensei’s movements were markedly different than any I have seen till now. You could see the fighter in Takamatsu-sensei, despite the seemingly 5 foot, 100 pound, slight build. He must have been 70 or 80 years old, balding and thin. I sit here trying to find a good comparison in terms of height, weight, and stature, but the only man that really comes to mind is Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Imagine Ueshiba sans the beard and you get an idea of Takamatsu-sensei’s build. If one were to see him without a weapon or without a gi, he would look like one of those frail little men who sweeps up at the train station every night; but he was in no way frail. His appearance in no way revealed the greatness of his martial arts. His techniques were smooth, but the physicalness of him surprised me. Bodies were flying and weapons whizzing. Reverting to my American colloquialisms, Takamatsu-sensei was the type of guy you would not want to mess with, even if he was 80.

Hatsumi-sensei commented, “As you can see, back then teaching and training were man-to-man. My teaching is no longer man-to-man because of the sheer numbers, not just in Japan, but throughout the world (nearly 10,000 practitioners). I shouldn’t be saddened by this, though. But to go back to the idea of man-to-man teaching, we must come together as one, not split apart into factions. This is why I do not wish to create an “organization,” but rather an overlying tenet.” (I just wish we could do so. Hint. Hint.)

Q: You mentioned earlier that there are ways of healing in times of war when there is no medicine? Could you go into more detail on this?
A: Yes. There is acupressure, and acupuncture. (This met with nods of acknowledgment from many.) And other things, such as kikou (controlling the body’s energy). We all know there are instances of people healing without any explanation. (Pointing to an audience member, he continued.) I went with that man to America. What was it? The Atlanta Tai Kai? It was his first time abroad. He worked very hard. Well, anyway, during that visit, he met Stephen (Hayes) and Rumiko. That was the time wasn’t it? Yeah. Well, at one point Rumiko (I believe) cut her finger. But (someone did something and) the bleeding stopped. (I am sorry that I can’t recall who did what to whom, but the result was the same -- the bleeding stopped without conventional medical care.) There is another story of a woman who had not walked in something like 10 years. Someone visited her and by the end of the day she was able to stand and walk. Things such as this happen all around us, and that is a fact. Does that answer your question?

Q: In films, we see ninja using shuriken. Where did they get them?
A: They made them themselves.

Q: You mean like blacksmiths?
A: Yes. Every ninja was adept at many “trade” skills. People normally think of metal throwing stars, but just about anything can be used as shuriken. Like these. (Draws out his business card.) It seems flimsy, but it flies. Go on try it. (Throws a few at the audience.) And the corners can take out an eye. I was once arguing with my wife and got upset. I picked up a card and threw it at her. She ran around the corner to escape, but it had followed her. It hit her in the eye. And my wife has bad eyes. I felt bad and decided that I would never take out my anger on her physically again... Anything with four corners will fly. Attach some needles to the corners of your business card and dip the tips in poison. It becomes a very effective weapon.

Q: What was the cause of the Ninja Boom in the U.S. and Europe a few years a go?
A: Someone must have lit a fire. When I went to America, there were a lot of people making comments about Ninja this and Ninja that. I told them that I came to apologize to them. I said that “Ninjutsu” of the Ninja Boom had become a nuisance, and that I wanted to show them what true Ninjutsu was. After that, within about a year, the depiction of “bad” Ninja disappeared and the “good” Ninja prevailed, even to today. They’ve even got turtle ninja. (He smiles) You know them, right? Turtle ninja... I have also changed the name of what I teach from Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, to emphasize that Ninjutsu is just part of the whole.

Q: I have a question about Ryu-ha. When you teach, do you focus on particular Ryu-ha?
A: Many people are overly preoccupied with the differences in the Ryu-ha. But if you look at things, you will notice that they are all the same. Ryu-ha are there merely to accentuate different ways of applying the same techniques. The way in which Ryu-ha approach techniques are different, but not their fundamentals. People can use the different Ryu-ha to express their personalities in their Taijutsu, but we don’t focus on just one Ryu-ha or the other; we just let the options be known. That allows for more freedom (moving between Ryu-ha without getting pinned down.) The way we teach is like a compass, once the point is in place, the possibilities (within and among the Ryu-ha) draw a circle around it.

Q: In movies, there have been depictions of people able to leap up a story of a building. There are also documented cases of people in China who traverse walls of great height. Is there anything similar in Ninjutsu?
A: Yes. I can still scale walls myself. And that man sitting over there is very adept at scaling. It is usually done when no one is looking.

Q: Also in films were such things as Kunoichi, or female ninja. Do such women exist now?
A: Oh, yes. There is a very strong practitioner in Russia who is a woman. She would always walk by this group training in another martial art. I won’t mention the art, because that would be bad. But anyway, they kept taunting her every day she walked by, making fun of her because she was a woman practicing martial arts. Well, one day she just lashed out and set a few of them straight, physically speaking, that is. From that day on, they stayed on the other side of the street and didn’t say a word. (He laughs)

Q: So you’re saying it’s physical strength?
A: No, not necessarily physical strength. In many ways, it’s mental strength. And besides woman have something extremely beautiful (He smiles again). And men are extremely weak to such beautiful things.

Q: I am sure there are many things you learned from Takamatsu-sensei, but what was the one thing you remember the most? The one thing you think is most important?
A: That men live to die. Ever since I was young, I had always feared death. But I never actually thought Takamatsu-sensei would die. Maybe it was because of the way he lived.

(At several times throughout the talk, he mentioned that not letting one’s feet get cold was important to health. Even in the conclusion, when he read from a Japan Sports article which was written about Takamatsu-sensei, the point of covering the feet at night and making sure to keep one’s feet warm came up. )

[(Hatsumi-sensei also chose to address the significance of virility several times throughout his talk. At the embarrassment of the older women in the audience, Hatsumi-sensei detailed the significance of potency in Takamatsu-sensei’s teachings. (In fact, I think he actually enjoyed making the women blush.) He mentioned that Takamatsu-sensei’s motto was to “Stand tall” (in more ways than one) and that in his elderly years, sometimes people would greet him in such a way that he could play with his language and state that he could still “Stand tall.” Personally, I will do my best to master this aspect of the Bujinkan’s teachings.]

(Interestingly, Hatsumi-sensei never once said, “He was a great man,” in respect to his mentor. Throughout the entire presentation, I kept expecting him to say it -- to run into doldrums of speech and say something similarly generic, especially in his conclusion. People always do that. There is a tendency in giving speeches to use sound bytes or quickly formed, banal sentences. Such sentences, however, unfortunately distract from one’s message. Hatsumi-sensei never strayed, and never made any part of Takamatsu-sensei’s life generic. For this, I am thankful.)

For his conclusion, Hatsumi-sensei chose to read from a Sports Japan news article which featured Takamatsu-sensei. His final comment, directed at the man who had asked earlier about the most significant thing Takamatsu-sensei had taught him, was the most poignant. “That was a very good question you asked earlier. Takamatsu-sensei taught me that men cry. And that men die.”

Brought to you by Benjamin Cole. Ben trains with Nakadai-sensei at the Aoyama dojo and is frequently perplexed during his weekly sessions at Ayase. When not aggravated by the distilled idiocy of the Japanese bureaucracy and the over-valued yen (He is paid in yen and would like to save for his future in dollars), Ben enjoys music and long evenings of debate over beer. He can be reached at


The History of the Go-Dai no Kata
by Stephen K. Hayes

When I first began training with Masaaki Hatsumi over twenty years ago, his Bujinkan Dojo was but a small room in his residence. In those days, there were fewer than two dozen of us training with the grandmaster. Masaaki Hatsumi made it very clear to me at that time that he was not “teaching”. He and the students were training, practicing the methods that had been taught to him by his recently deceased teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu.

There were no classes for beginners. New students just joined in with the seniors and attempted to pick up the techniques from one class to the next. The closest thing to a starter collection of basics in the 1970s was a set of techniques that we called the Hatsumi-ha no Kata (the word ha in this case indicates “branch” a good translation might be “the Hatsumi-branch” or “Hatsumi-style training examples”). These were a few kata that Hatsumi-sensei had selected from the nine historical martial arts lineages he had been given by Takamatsu-sensei.

After several years of training in Japan, I returned to the USA and began teaching as a way of training in what I had been studying with Masaaki Hatsumi. Though my residence was once again in the USA, my wife Rumiko and I continued to return to Japan once or twice a year for continued training with the grandmaster. In 1982, Masaaki Hatsumi even came from Japan to live with us in our house in Ohio for a few weeks.

In those early 1980s, I had to come up with some sort of systematic way to introduce the basics of nin-po taijutsu to new students in America and Europe. We needed a way to present the kihon, the basic techniques. The Hatsumi-ha no Kata really were too advanced, and there actually was no clearly prescribed set. The specific contents of the Hatsumi-ha no Kata seemed to shift and alter from season to season. My teacher Masaaki Hatsumi encouraged me to devise my own teaching plan for my students.

While training in the dojo in Japan, I had become familiar with a classification device called the go-dai, a set of “five great“ elemental dynamics that was an important part of Japanese metaphysics. In old Japan, these five elements of earth, water, fire, wind, and formless void were such a mainstay of the culture that they were often used as a counting device, so familiar were they to the people. However, at that time I was convinced that because I was a foreigner, I was the only one who did not understand the significance of the go-dai. My curiosity turned into a form of obsession for finding the real meaning behind the cultural idiom.

I worked to grasp the deeper meaning of the go-dai by means of late evening talks with Dr. Hatsumi, and much exploration with two of the seniors at that time (these two men have since gone their own way and no longer train with the Bujinkan Dojo, so it would be disrespectful to list their names here). Everyone else at the dojo assured me that the five elements were just a device for counting as far as they were concerned. Convinced that there had to be more, I continued my cultural detective work. I sought out descendants of the monks and mountain priests allied with the roots of ninjutsu who referred to the five elements in the form of mandala graphics that described like blueprints the human psyche. As the years of study went by, the meaning of the go-dai five elements became more and more clear to me.

Hatsumi-sensei often referred to a set of five techniques we practiced in the dojo as the go-gyo no kata. Go-gyo refers to a Chinese Taoist set of five elements: earth, water, fire, metal, and wood. However, the elements of Dr. Hatsumi’s go-gyo no kata were listed as earth, water, fire, wind, and formless void — the set that makes up the go-dai Indian tantric five elements familiar to students of Japanese and Tibetan vajrayana Buddhism. Awkwardly, the name of the collection did not match the contents. For the sake of consistency then, I came to refer to the five elements as the go-dai.

When I began to teach in America and then Europe in the early 1980s, I used the go-dai no kata, a collection of fighting examples based on the original Hatsumi-ha no kata and classified by the five distinct dynamics of the go-dai five elements. My own experience in the martial arts in the 1960s convinced me that the one most important and most consistently missing piece of self-defense training was an honest approach to developing the mental state needed to make the techniques work against an attacker who was larger and more hostile than the victim. All the schools I had ever visited simply assumed or hoped that the physical training alone would suffice to turn a worrier into a warrior. More often than not, such assumptions were insufficient. For authentic self-protection training then, we needed to acknowledge the mental state of the fighter. We needed a way to approach understanding the role of spirit in the fight. The go-dai was and is the perfect vehicle. Therefore, as a means of teaching a Japanese cultural collection and as a way to prepare for self-protection in the violent Western world, I chose to base my students’ early training on the motions and emotions of the Go-dai no kata five tantric elements. (Details of the five element system can be found in the 15 books authored by Stephen K. Hayes)

As a direct result of the books I published in the early 1980s, foreign students began to travel to Japan in search of training with Masaaki Hatsumi. I had started the great gaijin rush to Noda City. By 1983, so many foreigners were coming to Japan that the seniors there had to come up with some sort of systematic approach to teaching the basics. Since the old Hatsumi-ha no Kata really was just a temporary classification, some of the seniors agreed on some of the striking methods from Gyokko ryu koshi-jutsu and some of the locks and throws from the Takagi Yoshin ryu and Kukishin ryu jutaijutsu. The collection of basics was referred to as the kihon happo, kihon meaning “fundamentals” and happo meaning “collection” (literally “eight directions”). It is important to note that these kihon fundamental techniques were not yet firmly set by the early 1980s. Different techniques made up the kihon happo at different times. The number 8 was eventually established by Hatsumi-sensei as a kind of play on words involving the happo literal translation as “eight directions.” Eventually, by the mid 1980s, there developed a more consistent pattern.

However, at the time of the establishment of the Bujinkan Dojo Kihon Happo, I had already been teaching the Go-dai no Kata for several years. Rather than change all the material that by then had appeared in several books and that made up my students’ curriculum, I simply adopted the “new” kihon happo into my training plan and incorporated the 8 techniques as part of my curriculum, which I still do to this day. Our instructors teach the kihon happo along with the go-dai.

What of worries that “Stephen K. Hayes isn’t teaching the way they do in Japan”? There is nothing to worry about. Our students learn every bit of the Japanese curriculum, from the kihon happo to the san-shin gata to the scrolls of kata that make up the nine historical lineages of the Bujinkan Dojo. No other dojo teaches “more” Bujinkan material than the Bujinkan Kasumi-An. We have it all. And… we also have the powerful go-dai concept for teaching how to mobilize the fighting techniques of the Bujinkan Dojo under the pressures of real life street self-defense that is likely to be encountered in the Western world.

What of whispered accusations that the Kasumi-An and the Bujinkan are “different” entities, that Stephen K. Hayes’ students are not part of Masaaki Hatsumi’s Bujinkan? Again, false assumptions on the part of some silly troublemakers who are trying to scare our students into leaving the high quality of our program. The rumor mongers of course want our students to transfer over to their programs, even though these teachers are far junior to the teachers that make up our Kasumi-An branch of the Bujinkan Dojo. Of course all of my students and my students’ students are fully licensed by Masaaki Hatsumi and receive hand-sealed Bujinkan Dojo certificates for every grade from kyu-kyu ninth class license on into black belt degrees. As students of the man responsible for bringing Masaaki Hatsumi and his Bujinkan Dojo to the Western Hemisphere, they expect no less.

Stephen K. Hayes is a pioneer in this martial training. The first American to travel to Japan to study the art of ninjutsu, he is a Shihan Shidoshi, under the tutelage of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. Through his writing, his training organization, the Nine Gates Institute, and his teaching, he strives to bring this martial tradition to those seeking it. He has a forum on the Microsoft Network and may be reached via e-mail at:


The Nature of Spirit
by Ken Harding; written especially for the one year anniversary of Ura and Omote

Much confusion exists in the martial arts community regarding the true nature of what we as warriors call the spirit. This confusion is fueled by those who would capitalize on the mystic image of the martial arts, and by those who only pretend to understand. Any such references refer to not only the Bujinkan, but the martial arts world in general.

The spirit has often been misrepresented as an invisible energy, projected out from the body, or something ethereal composed of subatomic particles. Some consider it the same as ki, or possibly chi kung. There are a few teachers, in our art as well as others, who would have you forever chasing something that you can never derive any tangible benefit from. (Of course anyone who does not agree with their beliefs is “not high level enough to understand or feel it.”) They create through their rhetoric a need that only they can fulfill, cultivating their students until they are ripe to buy tickets to high priced energy-channeling or psychic-type seminars.

On the other hand I have heard teachers and students insist that there is no real difference between the mind and the spirit, and that this ancient philosophy is based on a lack of knowledge of human physiognomy.

Neither of these extremes comes close to the classical Japanese warrior’s understanding of the spirit. First let’s take a look at what they mean by mind. This is fairly obvious and easy to grasp. The mind is the seat of your intelligence, alertness, concentration and creativity; all necessary components for those pursuing the warrior’s way. It is also where is stored, both consciously and subconsciously, the techniques and fighting methods you have learned. It is the struggle of the mind to access these techniques from an empty yet alert state. I have written about this extensively elsewhere, and I only include it here only to differentiate it from the spirit.

If the mind is where strategies are formed and where techniques are chosen, the spirit is that part of us which allows us to execute our techniques in actual combat. A simple western way of equating it would be to call it courage, yet that is far too simple and shallow an explanation for our purposes. Your spirit also encompasses your opponent’s spirit, and there are many ways of manipulating, absorbing and destroying another’s spirit. I will not address those here, because it is pointless to discuss them until many other things are achieved. A martial artist who has no strong spirit is someone who can perform well only when the training environment is safe and controlled. It is the strength of the spirit which will determine the real warrior.

Unfortunately, like most facets of our art, there is no easy, quick way to develop a strong spirit. There is a small percentage of our population who are born with it, but that is not the case for most people. Only through years of hard, painful training can this be achieved. Body, mind and spirit. Spirit is always spoken of last. That is because the other two must precede the development of the spirit. Strong spirit will develop naturally on its own in someone who has spent many years training the body to move in a natural way, and who’s mind has also reached the state of uncluttered, free movement. Spirit cannot be found in a book, on a video or in a seminar. It is like a seed within you, and only with the right nourishment and conditions will it have a chance to grow. This is the true nature of spirit.

This article will be included in the next revision of the book “Shadow Words” by Ken Harding. Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Bujinkan Dojo in St. Louis. He began Taijutsu training in 1984, travels every year to Japan to study directly under Hatsumi Sensei, and studies Japanese language, Yoga, shiatsu, and herbology. He may be contacted via E-mail:


Austere Sublimity, Subtle Profundity
by David J. Bockman

‘WABI’ and ‘SABI’
There are two fundamental principles which permeate Chinese and Japanese culture and art: the concepts of wabi and sabi.

Wabi literally means ‘poverty’, although this translation does not begin to convey the richness of its true meaning. Poverty, in this sense, means not being dependent on material possessions, rather than simply not having them. A person who is poor in these terms can still be inwardly rich because of the presence of something of higher value than mere possessions. Wabi therefore is poverty that surpasses immense riches. In practical terms, wabi is exemplified by the contentment of a family living in very spartan conditions with simple food and few possessions, but surrounded by and in tune with the events in every day life. In artistic terms, wabi is found in the person who does not indulge in complexity of concept, over-ornate expression, or the pomposity of high self-esteem.

In contrast, sabi connotes loneliness or solitude — in aesthetic terms it has a much broader meaning. An antique element is also implied, especially if it combined with a primitive lack of sophistication. The utensils used in cha-do are a good example of sabi. The essence of sabi therefore is gracefulness combined with antiquity. Watching two practitioners moving through Gyokko Ryu kata never fails to impress me when I realize that the centuries have done little to change the perfection of these ‘antique’ movements.

There are several other elements which make up the foundation of Zen expression in a work of art — and I ardently believe Ninpo is art — but for this article I would like to elucidate on the concepts of Austere Sublimity, Subtle Profundity, and their relationship to taijutsu. The other elements are: asymmetry, simplicity, naturalness, freedom from attachment, and tranquillity.

All surplus movements or parts are discarded, leaving behind only the barest of essentials required to convey meaning, or the message of the artist. There is a wonderful story about one of the Japanese Shihan being physically accosted by a yakuza hoodlum while riding on a train. The sensei replied with a series of boshiken strikes to the man’s midsection with predictable results — the thug left him alone! We all have experienced the startling pain of these strikes, even though they might not be permanently incapacitating. (although they give new meaning to the term ’ribbing’!) The message sensei conveyed was pure sublimity: “It would be wise to leave me alone.“ That yakuza had felt only the barest of essentials in technique and power that sensei had at his disposal — yet it was enough to convey the message. Therein also lay the concepts of Subtle Profundity.

This is an even more difficult concept to convey, but it involves intimations of inexhaustibility and endless reverberations. There is a suggestion of deep space implying some hidden ability or quality.

It is easier to detect this quality in a physical work of art like a painting rather than taijutsu, because depth and perspective are plainly laid out. Nevertheless, as you become more ‘discriminating’ in your techniques and observations of the masters of our art, you will begin to sense this feeling in certain movements they make. My own instructor, for example, is wonderful at demonstrating this concept. He’ll often show the gross mechanics of a technique, and then subtly suggest ways to strip away the physical to get to the spiritual aspects of what is happening. Shutting an attacker down through Body, Mind, and finally Spirit is the highest expression of good taijutsu. How many hundreds of times had I executed osotogake before it dawned on me that underneath where my hand rested on the uke was a kyusho?

In one of my other great passions, bonsai, I often find myself drawn to a particular tree which imparts in me a deep sense of respect. It could be its great age, its sheer beauty, or its regal bearing. Whatever it is, some bonsai are able to communicate subtle profundity in their own special way.

All fine Japanese art contains the above elements. Looking for them, embracing them, and exemplifying them will make us all better artists.

David J. Bockman is a member of Actor’s Equity, SAG/AFTRA, a certified Fight Director, and studies taijutsu at the Illinois Martial Arts Academy in Schaumberg, IL. He can be harangued on-line at


Ninpo in New Zealand
by Stuart Campbell

After the last Americas cup, New Zealand is probably seen in many different lights, good or bad, but one thing is for sure, we are now on the world map. However, even for those who are familiar with the name, you may be a little bit lost as to it’s location.

Situated in the South Pacific ocean some 1200 miles south east of Australia, New Zealand is a relatively small country, with a population of some 3.4 million people. It is called “Aotearoa“ by the Maori people, which means “Land of the long white cloud”. It consists of two main islands, appropriately named North and South islands respectively, and a smaller island called Stewart island. It’s main claim to fame, apart from it’s sporting achievements, is it’s dramatic scenery, with tourism being it’s main industry. Some famous people from this small country include:

  • Sir Edmund Hillary — First man to climb Mt. Everest.
  • Bruce McLaren — Formula on racing driver and pioneer of the McLaren F1 racing car.
  • Dame Kiri Te-Kanawa —World famous opera singer.
  • The All Blacks — One of the worlds best Rugby union teams.
  • And, of course, the crew from Black Magic — The winners of the Americas cup, to name a few.
So where does Ninpo fit into this culture? Soke says that you should train according to the requirements of your environment. If you live in a potentially dangerous environment, then you need to prepare yourself for any dangerous situation. Lots of guns — lots of techniques for disarming a gunman, lots of knives — lots of Muto Dori practice. So what are the requirements for training and living in NZ?

Of course like any country, there are areas where you don’t walk the streets alone at night and always lock your doors. But in the whole we are a relatively peace loving country and having such a beautiful landscape, we genuinely care for the environment. The latter being reflected in our “No-nukes” stance and our protests against French nuclear testing at Muraroa Atol.

Ninjutsu is relatively new to this part of the world, less than 10 years old. In fact I did the first known seminar here in 1986, although the first school was not founded until 1987 by Michael Gent. Both of us initially training under Wayne Roy from Australia. The art has seen many different phases and changes during this period, as I would suspect with any other country, and I would still consider that the art is coming of age.

The most dramatic change to the art, apart from various individuals traveling to Japan, would have to be the event our first Tai-Kai held here last March; this was also only the third to be held in Australasia. With these Tai-Kai, we have seen 13 New Zealanders graded to Shidoshi, with the usual side effects. In fact Tsunami (tidal wave) would be a more appropriate term for the last Tai-Kai, due to effect it has had, not only on individuals, but on the country as a whole. Call it coincidence, call it inevitable and predictable, call it whatever you like, but it has certainly made an impact.

We have a very successful multi-cultural society, some say model, with 12% of the population being Maori (the indigenous or aboriginal people). Interesting that their roots have now been traced right back to Japan, via the Pacific Islands. Also interesting that Soke said he felt a very close affinity with these people, after watching a demonstration of their Martial Arts and culture. (The Maori is also a warrior race who fought the British settlers between 1860 and 1872 for their land and rights). And if you were fortunate enough to see a NZ movie called “Once were Warriors” (although slightly exaggerated), you would find that this movie is about the Bujin within the Maori people and their frustration to express it in a modern society.

The introduction of Bujin (The Warrior Spirit) by Soke into this small country has seen some interesting things happen since March. As always there is the inevitable confusion and introspection that accompanies Soke wherever he goes. Being Soke (Zero as he explains) seems to pick people up, twirl them around and leave them with the thought “What happened”? Never being fortunate, or accessed skillful enough to have this experience myself, you can see it in the eyes of anyone on the receiving end of Soke’s waza. As in Ninpo and expressed in great works of strategy, the strategy applied to an individual is a no different to applying this to a thousand individuals (or an army) and this effect thereby flows on. As Sensei explained at the beginning of the last Australian Tai-Kai, he was doing this (teaching) not for the sake of the people attending the training, but for the countries of Australia and New Zealand.

So what did New Zealand as a country get out of the Tai-Kai last March? How can you tell what was the effect of this event? Here I personally look at the principles of Ninpo and the effect of Bujin in peoples lives, namely mine. I have found that the feeling for this art has changed (as it always is), but more dramatically so. There is more of a feeling of responsibility, not only to this art, but also to life and the environment in general. The Maori race, having basically lived in harmony with nature to survive, up until the white man came along, still have a great affinity with the Bujin. Here we have seen more and more protests taking place, to get back the land that was taken by the white man, some say unlawfully. This action has seen the emergence of a far more radical (warrior like) approach, than we have ever seen before. At the forefront of these protests we see the pictures of warriors from another time, right down to the Moko (facial tattoos) and the intimidating Haka (war dance), brandishing traditional weaponry. We have experienced things such as earthquakes, not too uncommon in these so called “shaky isles“, but coincidentally, at the peak of a particular confrontations between Maori and Pakeha (a Maori term to describe the white man). Why is this significant? Because the natural phenomenon of an earthquake is caused by the friction between two plates (bodies), the friction apparent between our two races is exactly the same.

This observation compels me to move and listen more to the subtle things in life and to look more at what nature is trying to tell us. This is the same as the Godan test, you are given the experience to see things in another dimension, and to appreciate the more subtle things in life. On a broader sense, we are seeing more and more of this natural phenomenon daily. Dramatic changes in the weather, earthquakes, floods and the like. To nature, an earthquake is no big thing. The earth moves a little, and things are realigned. To us meek and relatively insignificant human beings, who reside on the very crust of the earth’s surface, a major upheaval such as an earthquake destroys cities and kills thousands. These are also subtleties to nature that we should maybe take more notice of. We will spend thousands of dollars and a great many sacrifices to travel to Japan to train with Sensei, to see the same thing. A subtle natural movement here, and you are sent flying across the room (a major upheaval). If you learn to harmonize with the forces of nature, you will be invincible, he reminds you.

So we live and train in a relatively unspoiled environment, by world standards and have a “Clean Green” reputation. We are an easy going people (sometimes too easy going) and enjoy the simple things in life. Nearly one year down the track, we are still seeing and feeling the polarizing effects of Bujin here, and look forward to the next Tsunami when Soke next visits.

Stuart Campbell is a Godan who has been training in the Martial Arts since 1975 and Ninpo since 1984. He heads Seishin Dojos, and can be contacted by E-mail at


Don’t Underestimate Kuji-In Training
by Joseph Giannattasio

Since my first training session with my Sensei, Stephen K. Hayes, my fellow Shadows of Iga training members and I have been made aware of the historical background of the seemingly mysterious “esoteric” aspects of ninjutsu — the ability to “see and control” the intentions of an enemy; to “will” a successful outcome of encounters and “know” future events. We learned that the original ninja had the ability to tune into the scheme of totality and thereby become receptive to subtle input from beyond the five senses. Also, by using their knowledge of the laws of nature and the character of an adversary to anticipate the outcome of a series of events, the ninja developed the reputation of being able to foresee and control the future. Through lecture, demonstration and practical training we gain insight of what is actually transpiring and instructed how it could be related and applied in everyday life.

For years, I have often thought the instruction we were receiving was nothing more than minor examples of a more dynamic procedure that would be revealed later in our training or a well-guarded secret only to be instructed at a certain level or rank. In some respect I thought we could learn the ways to “zap” an aggressor into a compliant zombie, or cloud their minds.

As a dutiful student, I incorporated energy-channeling, visualization and empowerment techniques into my regular ninjutsu training. It wasn’t until after several years of incorrectly accepting the notion that what was being taught were only guidelines, I stumbled on just how truly powerful only several years of kuji-in training can be.

A few years ago, I worked undercover in a corporate office setting where there was indication of white-collar fraud being committed. During the assignment I had to convince a group of managers and co-workers who suspected I was a spy, that I was not an undercover agent. While they had no actual proof, they resorted to verbally intimidate me in a conference room. Although I was well briefed for the assignment, I was caught unprepared for such a scenario and found myself resorting to kuji-in as a last resort: When being barraged by accusations, I would apply a “wind mode” frame-of-mind to respond in avoidance; during direct inquiry, I would resort to a “water mode” to make their efforts pointless. During this process I attempted to achieve the appropriate mind-set, breath and voice accentuation, and to my surprise it seemed to be working!

However, the most profound result was when I needed to effectively express my words and assert my position. “Grounding” myself, I stated in “earth-mode” my words, accenting them with a discreet one-handed ketsu-in finger symbol as I tapped the desk. The result was truly amazing: Although I spoke in a calm demeanor and a normal-volume voice, my audience seemed to respond as though I shouted my points and even postured away from me. They also seemed to literally jump when I tapped my positioned fingers on the table.

It achieved my desired result and I was eventually able to successfully complete the assignment without anyone realizing I was an operative.

I am lucky being able to augment my training with my line of work, consequently, I also reinforce my profession with my martial art instruction. I have also experienced many amazing accomplishments in both my life and profession since I began practicing ninjutsu. However, I continue to realize what we’re learning is a timeless, effective and vibrant skill in which a seemingly insignificant technique can have quite the contrary results; whether it be kuji-in, taijutsu or saiminjutsu. I believe that this is my most profound example of the subtle power of ninpo and it continues to inspire my training and prompts me to utilize all I learn from my teachers.

Joseph Giannattasio is a Private Investigator in the U.S. Virgin Islands and New Jersey. Joseph has been studying under Shidoshi, Stephen K. Hayes since 1985 and may be reached at 74131, or


Taijutsu’s Effect On My Life
by John Poe

About a year ago, I was looking for a style of Martial Arts to help me with my profession. I am a Police Officer, working near Detroit, a city that has a high crime rate, and many serious felonies. Now, I am by no means a small person — I am 6ֵ“ and 250 lbs. The problem was that the self-defense training that I had received from the police academy was very ineffective. So, I, like many other Police Officers had to rely on instinct, which sometimes was not the most prudent way to go. I not only feared that I would be held civilly liable, but criminally liable as well for any injuries I caused while apprehending a suspect. I had no previous martial arts training, but, I was looking for the right style — something humane and effortless. I had always been interested in Ninjutsu, but was unable to find a real instructor. Then one of my fellow officers told me he had located a school about 1/2 an hour away. I immediately jumped at the chance.

From the first lesson I was hooked. I began taking classes in Canton, Michigan, from Terry McKelvey. I soon learned that I had techniques at my disposal, which were not only much more humane, but, easier to learn and remember. Since taking the classes, I was able to instantly put these techniques into practice. I have not had a single complaint for using unnecessary force, and have even found myself more disciplined and able to apprehend about 90 percent of all my arrests without using any force at all. I have watched others around me who have no Martial Arts training and I realize that they continually have to rely on their physical abilities. I see that they are undisciplined, and unable to communicate. They are uncertain in themselves and their ability. I have tried to bring more of them to Ninjutsu or at least show them that there are other ways to deal with people, while leaving them with a since of dignity or at least leaving them with the feeling that they are human.

Unfortunately, due to my work schedule (16 hours a day in most cases) I have not been able to become more involved in my training, other than practicing at home. But, I feel more secure in myself and my abilities and will hopefully be able to rejoin my training group.

January 3rd marked 1 year for me in Ninjutsu. I had recently attended the Shadows of Iga Festival in 1995 and was really excited about getting back into training. But, on January 4th my wife and I lost our first child, and we learned that we will never have a child. So I have been burdened with not only my loss, but, also with helping my wife heal both mentally and physically. My dream is still alive and I will return, to the art that has given me the strength to persevere through this. I hope I will never be taken away from it again.

John Poe may be reached at:


Excerpt from Ninja Secrets From the Grandmaster
submitted by Dave Bockman

The following is an excerpt from the book, Ninja Secrets From The Grandmaster, written by Stephen K. Hayes. Long out of print and impossible to find, the book in its entirety may now be downloaded from the Nine Gates Institute Forum on the new Microsoft Network. Reprinted here by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

“Beginning with the basics of bodily actions, the artist continues to refine and perfect his crusade for the elimination of the crude, ineffective, inaccurate, and inappropriate. Perhaps it could be said that the true goal of the artist is to let go of all aspects that serve as obstacles to his own ability to successfully deliver direct personal self-expression. To commit myself to the perfection of the art of martial technique is to confront myself, and in so doing, confront all those aspects of myself that I have allowed to get in my way for a lifetime. It is a form of art that demands total honesty. It is a form of art in which the relentless search for areas of personal weakness and vulnerability takes precedence over the indulgence of enjoying areas of strength and accomplishment.

I am exposed totally every time I move with another practitioner. My body condition is exposed, my attitude is exposed, my fears are exposed, my history is exposed, my vulnerabilities are exposed, my perceptions are exposed, and my sense of humor is exposed. I nakedly show all observers how I relate to pressure with my timing, distance, and awareness of the other’s movements against me. The martial art is the art of facing truth at the razor’s edge. I cannot lie with my technique. I cannot blur the edges, I cannot cover inability with clever diversions. I tell my truth every time I move.”

Submitted by Dave Bockman.


A Warrior’s View Of Justice
by Ken Harding

What do I, as a teacher, want to impart to each of my students? There are many things that I strive to give. Among these are a connection to a powerful tradition, inner calm through meditative action, and other areas of inner growth. More fundamentally is the self-sufficiency and self reliance which can provide a sense of complete security. Most importantly, however, is the ability to ensure justice for themselves. I offer this so that other teachers may consider this as an important principle when they teach, as do I.

Law enforcement cannot guarantee justice. In the event of a violent crime, the police rarely arrive in time to stop the act itself. Police officers are not required by law to endanger themselves to save you. During the LA riots, police stood by while people were beaten because it was too dangerous for them to enter the area.

The criminal justice system cannot supply justice. The image of justice is a statue of a blindfolded woman with a sword and scales. Yet the politicians have stolen away the sword from the blindfolded bearer of justice. Criminals have no fear of punishment these days, and don’t mind walking through the revolving door of the justice system. They know their rights are protected more strongly than those of the victims.

The victim of a violent crime can only experience justice at the moment of the transgression. As an example, Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman will never know justice; their chance for that is long gone. Their only opportunity for that occurred when the attacker drew the knife and slashed with it. If Ron Goldman had been a warrior (or if Nicole had been), then they would at least have had a chance to experience justice. Maybe their families could have felt some sense of retribution if the court system hadn’t let them down. But the victims — their chance for justice will never come. At the moment of the crime there is no doubt of who is the transgressor. After the crime, however, when the trail becomes cold, doubts can arise and confuse the issue, making the possibility of justice more and more unlikely, and the wrong person can be accused and the guilty can run free.

I am not advocating vigilantism. If the victim takes violent action against the criminal long after the incident, then it can only truly be called revenge, something not entirely the same. Remember what they say about that: if you set out seeking revenge, first you must dig two graves — one for your intended and one for yourself. What I am advocating is developing the ability to grant yourself justice and not rely on someone else to give it to you. Real justice, in a warrior’s mind, is taking the blade away from the enemy and turning it against him. You will only have one opportunity for this. It can only happen on the edge of the abyss; on the border between life and death.

This is the gift I hope that each student receives, but it should be remembered that there is a long road to walk before receiving it.

This article appeared in the February issue of Shadowgram. Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Bujinkan Dojo in St. Louis. He began Taijutsu training in 1984, travels every year to Japan to study directly under Hatsumi Sensei, and studies Japanese language, Yoga, shiatsu, and herbology. He may be contacted via E-mail:


My Growth and Personal Development Through The Martial Arts and Associated Oriental Philosophies
by Don Siclari, Jr.

I began to restudy martial arts in August of 1994 after a seven year interval at which time I started reading books pertaining to the martial arts and Oriental Philosophies. This interest has taken me further than I envisioned at that time. I realized that I was searching for a philosophical art that would provide guidance for living and personal, rather than just physical, development.

One evening, while I was browsing at the local Barnes and Noble, I found a book that really caught my attention. I sat there and read the entire book that night. It seemed that I had accidentally stumbled upon something special.

I continued to study the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and read books. In the spring I became aware that my current instructor was studying the art in New York City that I had read about many months earlier. After a long talk in early June, I convinced him to pass on to me what he was learning. On June 18th, I embarked on a life path of growth, discovery and enlightenment. In early September of this year, I began to make the hour and forty minute trip to New York weekly by train so that I could study and expand my knowledge of this art under a master.

The art to which I refer is Bujinkan Dojo/Kasumi-an Nin-po. The Bujinkan Dojo is comprised of nine warrior lineages from medieval Japan. The largest, the Togakure Ryu (school) was founded in 1181 by a warrior wizard who was driven into the mountainous region of South Central Japan. The foundation of the art extends back to the 5th century composed of various Chinese, Tibetan and Himalayan influences. This particular art professes winning or overcoming in all areas of life through understanding. Because Nin-po is no longer needed to oversee the stability of the government, as it was in feudal Japan, it has returned to its original roots as a system of personal growth and enlightenment.

The movements of Nin-po Taijutsu (body art) are soft, subtle and quiet as opposed to the martial arts exploited by television which appear hard, rigid and noisy. Taijutsu allows the body complete freedom to protect itself rather than imposing the set, rigid, restrictive methods of many other contemporary fighting systems. By training in Nin-po, one develops danger prevention skills and freedom from limitations in all areas of life. Moreover, by freeing the senses from acquired hindering perceptions and viewpoints (such as prejudice), Nin-po allows a person to soar through new plains of consciousness.

From my studies so far, I have learned that flexibility and softness will triumph over rigidity and hardness. One concept that I attempt to apply to my endeavors is that of “effortless effort,“ which simply refers to just doing things rather than thinking about and trying to do them. Such concepts and methods become very deep and mystical, as they were developed by mountain warrior priests practicing warrior asceticism and mysticism.

It is important to point out that although this art is a way of life and not a hobby, one doesn’t have to become so immersed that he loses touch with the outer world. My training is very private to me and it has certainly been a life-changing experience already. However, it has not enveloped me so much as to affect my relationships with my friends or those around me. To all but the people who are closest to me, I appear the same person as before, but personally I can feel the positive changes.

From Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi’s statement, “Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo,” I have learned that in every encounter there is the potential for enlightenment or good — it being the mind that determines the experiences to be positive or negative. Additionally, once one learns to work with, instead of against, nature, life can be much more fulfilling, not to mention easier. I have stopped looking back as much as I used to and try to enjoy the present moment as much as possible.

One common misconception about the martial arts is that they promote violence. Nin-po has the potential for promoting incredible peace and benevolence. When I see the reactions of my peers to insignificant matters and their willingness to fight over trivial things, I question why I was once led by that mentality.

Nin-po is not magic and at the early levels is very physical. By training actively and intensely in Taijutsu, we develop effective self-protection skills, and learn the freedom from limitations spoken of previously that form the basis for the mental and spiritual development later.

In the Kasumi-an, we learn the basics of ninjutsu while using the five element theory — a theory that states that all things can be viewed as a manifestation of the following elements: EARTH - stability or “holding your ground;” WATER - flexibility or defensiveness; FIRE - intensity and expansiveness; WIND - acceptance or mobility; and VOID or the source element. The ultimate goal of the higher ranks is to be able to prevent conflicts before they even start; to become a “wizard” of sorts.

In the West, we tend to look at things very mechanically. From the viewpoint of “clinical science,” the Eastern spiritual view as offered by Nin-po provides a very insightful and perfect compliment.

Finally, to further my study of Nin-po, I am studying the Japanese language at Yale University and I have also begun to study Chinese medicine and acupuncture through a class I am involved in with health professionals. I am learning the art of Chinese cooking from an older Chinese friend, as well. These activities serve to deepen and expand my knowledge of Eastern Philosophy. This essay only begins to delineate how rewarding I have found all of these experiences to be.

Don Siclari is a seventeen year old high school senior. Besides ninpo and the other things listed in his article, Don plays high school hockey — he coaches little kids, too! — and teaches amateur radio. He is into nutrition, fitness, religious and spiritual philosophy, the unknown, politics, electronics and just about everything else. He may be contacted through the editor at:


Guidelines for Participation in the Bujinkan

The Bujinkan shall be open to only those who agree with and uphold the guidelines of the Bujinkan Dojo. Those not doing so shall not be allowed to join. Specifically:

  1. Only those who have read and agreed with these guidelines shall be allowed to participate.
  2. Only those able to exercise true patience, self-control, and dedication shall be allowed to participate.
  3. A physician’s examination report shall be required. Specifically, individuals with mental illness, drug addiction, or mentally instability shall be barred from joining. The necessity of such a report concerns individuals who may present a danger to others, for example, those with infectious diseases or illnesses, individuals with clinically abnormal personalities or physiology, and individuals lacking self-control.
  4. Individuals with criminal records shall be turned away. Trouble makers, those who commit crimes, and those living in Japan who break domestic laws shall be turned away.
  5. Those not upholding the guidelines of the Bujinkan, either as practitioners or as members of society, by committing disgraceful or reproachable acts shall be expelled. Until now, the Bujinkan was open to large numbers of people who came to Japan. Among them, unfortunately, were those committing violent drunken acts, the mentally ill, and trouble makers who thought only of themselves and failed to see how their actions might adversely affect others. Through their actions, such people were discarding the traditional righteous heart of the Bujinkan. From this day forward, all such people shall be expelled.
  6. Regarding accidents occurring during training (both inside and outside the dojo), one should not cause trouble to the Bujinkan. This is an extremely important point. Those unwilling to take personal responsibility for accidents occurring during Bujinkan training shall not be admitted. Reiterating for clarity, the Bujinkan shall not take responsibility for any accidents happening in the course of training, regardless of the location.
  7. All those joining the Bujinkan must get an annual member’s card. This card not only preserves the honor of the Bujinkan members, it indicates you are part of a larger whole — one whose members come together with warrior hearts to better themselves through training and friendship. It evinces the glory of warrior virtue, and embodies both loyalty and brotherly love.
  8. The tradition of the Bujinkan recognizes nature and the universality of all human life, and is aware of that which flows naturally between the two parts:

“The secret principle of Taijutsu is to know the foundations of peace.
To study is the path to the immovable heart (fudoshin).”


  1. To know that patience comes first.
  2. To know that the path of Man comes from justice.
  3. To renounce avarice, indolence, and obstinacy.
  4. To recognize sadness and worry as natural, and to seek the immovable heart.
  5. To not stray from the path of loyalty and brotherly love, and to delve always deeper into the heart of Budo.

To follow this code is part of the dojo’s guidelines.

Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
Showa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryu


  • Kyu levels: beginners
  • First to Fifth dans: Ten (heaven)
  • Fifth to Tenth dans: Chi (earth)
  • Tenth to Fifteenth dans: Jin (person)
  • The eleventh to fifteenth dans are broken into Chi (earth), Sui (water), Ka (fire), Fu (wind) and Ku (the void); the Happo Hiken will be taught at these levels. The fifth dan test shall only be administered by Soke. True shihan can be given fifteenth dan.

Recently, the Bujinkan has become truly international. Just as there are various time zones, so exist various taboos among the world’s peoples and nations. We must respect each other, striving to avoid such taboos. We must put the heart of the warrior first, working together for self-improvement and for the betterment of the Bujinkan.

Those not upholding the above-mentioned guidelines shall be forced out of the Bujinkan.

The Bujinkan Dojo
Soke: Masaaki Hatsumi
Title: Hisamune
636 Noda Noda-shi
Chiba-ken 278 Japan
Tel: 0471-22-2020 Fax: 0471-23-6227

Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken, 34th Grandmaster
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo Hiken, 28th Grandmaster
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken, 18th Grandmaster
Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Taijutsu Happo Hiken, 26th Grandmaster
Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu Happo Hiken, 28th Grandmaster
Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Hiken, 17th Grandmaster
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken, 14th Grandmaster
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Hiken, 21st Grandmaster
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Hiken, 15th Grandmaster

The Bujinkan Headquarters publishes “Sanmyaku”, the Bujinkan publication. All members should own every copy, and read and re-read them consistently as part of your training. Reading them soon after you join, a year later, and then several years after that, will afford you with different interpretations and different feelings. “Sanmyaku” also contains information concerning the worldwide practice of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu and the various materials (printed, video, or otherwise) available for training.

Translated for the Bujinkan Dojo by Benjamin Cole.


Did you know...?

The following is a portion of the "Ninjutsu A to Z" (available from the Bujinkan Dojo Belgium WWW-Site.)

jirai — land mines
jo — 4 feet staff
joei no jutsu — to move without making a noise or shadows
jonin — ninja leaders
juji no ho — method of ten syllables
jutaijutsu — throws, locks, holds, methods of ninjutsu

kaginawa — grappling hook with one to four hooks
kai ki — methods of gaining access
kaiten — rolling
kama — sickles
kama ikada — water crossing device or rafts
kamayari — spear with downward hooks attached
kamigakure no jutsu — gaining access to a castle by befriending an enemy
kasha ariel — runway
kasugai — iron clamps for holding doors closed
katagatae no jutsu — a chikairi tactic for spreading fires
katonjutsu — the use of fire for escapes
karsura otoko no jutsu — a toiro tactic within enemy territory
kayaka no jutsu — use of fire and explosives
kiaijutsu — power of the voice
kikaku ken — head butt
kinton jutsu — use of metal for escape
kiri — single boring spikes
kisha — taking advice of an enemy’s sensual appetite to bribe him
kitsune gakure no jutsu — imitating a fox to hide under water
ko ashi — small steps for walking through foliage and water
koppojutsu — bone breaking techniques of ninjutsu
koshijutsu — organ and muscle strikes of ninjutsu
koshizashi — hip held gun
kozutsu — wooden guns which fire metal balls
kuda bashigo — tube ladder
kuji — nine syllables
kuji goshinho — nine syllables method of protection
kuji in — nine syllable seals
kuji kiri — nine syllable slashes
kuji no ho — method of nine syllables
kumo bashigo — cloud ladder
kunai giri — digging and leverage tools
kunashi — spade like digging device
kunoichi — female ninja
kusari dogu — chain weapons
kusari fundo — weighted chain
kusarigama — sickle and chain
kyojutsu tenkan — theory of alternating appearances of reality
kyoketsu shoge — hooked blade weapon with weighted chain or cord attached
kyoman — observation and perception
kyomon — religious teachings
kyonin no jutsu — taking advantage of fears and superstitions


Perspectives on Training
by Luke J. Molitor

In any form of training there comes a time when one must experience changes in the environments that we are familiar. This meaning, one must break the confines of familiarity i.e. the dojo, and train in other environments. This will help increase realism not only in technique, but other conditions that could be factors in a fighting encounter.

When one continually practices in a training area, usually indoors, then that could lead to becoming too familiar with the practice area. Therefore, attempt techniques that your are familiar with in different varied locations.


  • If you train in a traditional dojo, meaning you have a hard wood training area, practice while wearing socks. Not only does it feel like training on a slick surface, such as ice, but also helps one to find the most appropriate footwork for a particular body type, not to mention a better sense of balance.


  • Attempt techniques on uneven terrain such as hills, stairs, inclines, etc.
  • Train on different types of terrain. i.e.- ice, rocks gravel, low levels of water, sand, etc.
  • Training outdoors in general is a great way, at least I find, to “mix up“ one’s training. This helps to motivate one to train, refreshes perspectives on training, and just for a change of scenery.

One should train in different types of climates other than those experienced in the dojo. Not only will it help one to increase the sensitivity and awareness in the techniques practiced, but is also stimulating and enjoyable as well.

  • Training in the cold is a good way to test one’s prowess. The cold amplifies pain significantly, as well as slows one down. Another factor to consider is ice, which can be a hindrance as well. Also, when it is cold, you and your opponent will more than likely be dressed for the occasion (bundled up in many layers). As a result, many techniques used in this environment will have to be altered in some fashion to accommodate for these factors. Any strikes that are utilized will probably be less effective, due to the extra clothing articles worn, especially if one’s taijutsu is not that good.
  • It is also beneficial to train in low or no light conditions. In this medium one must use other senses more readily than just sight, as well as finding ways to use one’s vision in this condition. One way to do this is to drop your body posture in order to see your opponent silhouetted against the night sky. Another is called “off center“ vision which is looking 6-10 degrees away from the image you want to see. This action causes the image to form on the rod cells, which are sensitive in darkness. Also, many assaults occur at night, so training in this environment can prepare you should that happen.

In addition to regular dojo training, one should train at various times of the day, and in different physical and mental states of the body. This will help you experience what factors could influence one’s responses in that state.

  • Train or shadowbox as soon as you awake from sleeping. This will help test the limits of your techniques when your body is “cold“ meaning you internal body temperature is not raised.
  • The opposite of the above is to train when you have taxed yourself to your limits. An example of this could be if you just a finished a vigorous workout, such as weight training or jogging, to immediately train afterwards. This will show you how well your body will respond to extreme physical demands. A scenario that illustrates this point is when an acquaintance of mine who holds a black obi in tae kwon do was being chased by a group of thugs who were intent on finding out who was the toughest person around. After he sprinted a few blocks trying to escape his attackers he was backed into a corner and had to fight, but was so winded that he had little energy to combat his assailants.
  • If you wear corrective lenses when you train, try practicing without them and see how it affects your awareness.
  • Since most practitioners of this art are used to training in dogi’s, try training in clothes that you would normally wear. In other arts this is not stressed, and therefore some students find out the hard way that a jumping, spinning, crescent kick in tight wrangler jeans does not work all that well. Believe me I have seen this happen before, and it was not pretty.


  • When practicing ukemi, especially kaiten, practice on hard surfaces such as hard wood floors, asphalt, concrete, etc. This will condition your body to perform the ukemi correctly as well as experiencing the feeling of rolling on a hard surface.
  • When practicing body drops throw some kicking techniques in once and awhile. This can be extremely effective in close quarter combat.
  • Ukemi also changes the shape of the human body, we are the only creatures that walk upright, so this makes the body less perceptible to the human eye, especially in low-light conditions.

These are just some observations on training that are applicable in any art, not just ours, and by no means a complete list, for there are many others to be sure. These are just simply some perspectives that I have had over the years in the martial arts that make training, especially in our art, much more invigorating, worthwhile and fun.

Budo Ikkan!

Luke Molitor greatly enjoys his training in ninpo taijutsu. He may be reached at:


Iga no Ran
text and research by Peter Carlsson; translated by Mats Hjelm

The Iga province was invaded twice by the Oda family in the late 16th century. The background to that is not so much the Iga region was invaded as the whole Ise region. Ise was ruled a long time by the Kitabatake family. Kitabatake, and the ruling family Nikki in the Iga region, were well aware of the Ninjas’ activities, but they did not interfere because of their respect for the Iga Ninjas’ great skills in combat. Kitabatake Tomonori even built a castle on Mt. Maruyama inside the Iga region in order to be able to rule the Iga region from there. He however did not fulfill that mission, probably because of the connection the Iga people had with the Ninja families.

It all began in the 1560s when Oda Nobunaga and his army achieved great success. In 1568, he dethroned the last Ashikaga Shogun in Kyoto. He ordered his troops to invade Ise because he was still surrounded by his enemies Mori, Takeda and Uesugi. He needed to have control over the main central Japan Tokaido road that passed the north Ise region. Kitabatake Tomonori lost the Kanbe and Kuwana castles. Kuwana castle was particularly important since it was strategically placed to defend the Tokaido road. Oda’s success on the battle field continued and he occupied Okawachi in fifty days to force Kitabatake Tomonori to agree on peace. The condition was that Kitabatake adopted Oda’s second son Nobuo, who was 12 years old at the time.

Kitabatake lost many areas in Ise as rewards to the Oda generals, but he remained like a “marionette Daimyo”. He was later assassinated, probably by one of his earlier vassals — Tsuge Saburozaemon. This meant that Oda Nobuo inherited the control of the Ise province.

The Kitabatake family with Kitabataki Tomoyari in the lead gathered all their loyal Samurais and supporters from Iga to revenge Oda Nobuo. Tomoyari had been a priest in Nara, but returned to Ise when Tomonori was murdered. It is believed that Tsukahara Bokuden’s (one of Japans most famous sword fighter) son was one of Tomoyari’s supporters, but the uprising was beaten by Oda Nobuo’s general Takigawa Saburohei Kazumasu. The surviving Samurais fled to Iga, where they pleaded for help by Mori Motonari. Motonari’s region had not been involved in the battle against Oda, but Motonari’s troops began advancing east which threatened Oda Nobunaga’s advance. This was an excuse for Oda to do something against Motonari’s threat.

What was to be called Iga No Ran, was a revolt in Iga that started 1579 when Shimoyama Kai No Kami came to Nobuo complaining about the rest of the Iga population. Nobuo felt that he had a reason to prepare his campaign by rebuilding the castle his stepfather Kitabatake Tomonori never finished. He ordered Takigawa Saburohei as the Fushin Bugyu (construction chief) over the castle on Mt. Maruyama.

Mt. Maruyama was seated 180 meters (500 ft.) above the Hijiki flood, although Takigawa Saburohei used his own Ninjas to prepare and plan the invasion, many Iga Ninjas succeeded to get a job with the building of the castle, for which in return they learned all the castles weak points.

The leaders in Iga decided to attack before the castle was complete. Samurais and Ninjas from Iga attacked together, which forced the Takigawa soldiers to retreat down the villages to retain their troops since the castle did not give them enough protection. There they were attacked by small groups of Iga Samurais. The Takigawa soldiers that remained in the castle soon discovered that the Iga soldiers also knew how to penetrate the castle.

They fled to unite with the rest of the Takigawa troops. Takigawa’s forces were driven out in the flooded rice fields and the forests. The battle kept going long into the night until they was defeated. Takigawa himself fled to Matsuga-Shima and therefore survived the battle. The next day the Iga Ninjas and Samurais burned down the castle.

After the defeat in Maruyama, Takigawa of course decided to revenge for his lost honor and therefore supported Oda Nobuo when he decided to invade Iga. Oda decided to go to battle against the rest of his vassals advice. His plan was to attack with 12.000 men through the best three passes from Matsugashima. Nobuo himself led the first attack through the north Nagano pass. The Iga people had used their Ninjas to gather information successfully, and could easily attack the Nobuo’s army and defeat them.

Takigawa attacked further south through the pass called Oniboku-Goe (the devil’s pass). They were defeated in almost the same way as Nobuo himself. At the same time the Iga troops had an extra triumph when they had their revenge on Tsuge Saburozaemon who accompanied Takigawa.

The third and last front attacked somewhere between where the first and second front previously attacked. The troop was led by Nagano Sakyo Tayu and Akiyama Ukyo Tayu, when they reached Iseji they were lured into a fight against the village. They had already passed the hidden Iga troops and were attacked from the back, which cut off all the possibility for retreat and they were all defeated completely. Nobuo who had barely survived fled back to Matsushiga.

The original Text and research was made by Peter Carlsson who may be reached at Translation was made from Swedish to English by Mats Hjelm who may be contacted at

This is absolutely not to be taken as “true fact” since it is quite impossible to prove the Kuden. We would be happy for any kind of creative and serious research that you have found out, so if you have noticed some errors in this text or would like to point out something else worth a note please let us know so we could update and make this even more accurate. And if possible, please try to back up your claims with some sort of verification or serious references.

A big problem when one do research about the history of ninja and Bujinkan is when one compare information in books about those subject with general acknowledged history in history books. This means that all information in circulation are to be considered as gossip until it can be compared and proven against general history. This includes the text above.

Some of the people we wish to thank for the sources are here listed in no particular order...
Sveneric Bogsaeter • Perti Ruha • Stan Skrabut • Mariette V. D. Vliet • Charles Daniels • Bernadette V. D. Vliet • Stephen Turnbull • Ben Jones • Paul Richardson • HATSUMI Masaaki • Gothenburg ninposaellskap (and possibly many others)

For more information like this get hooked to Internet and browse over to or phone ++46-8-985948 to MokoNoTora FidoNet BBS.

This translation is allowed to be posted electronically or printed as long as it is left unedited or changed in any way. It is not allowed to be reprinted in any way for commercial purposes without permission. (c) MATS HJELM 1996


Kihon Happo
by Don Houle

According to Soke Hatsumi, the basis of all our taijutsu in the Bujinkan Dojo is the kihon happo. What are these techniques and how can they help us to create a firm foundation for our taijutsu?

Most of us know the kihon happo as a collection of eight techniques. Dr. Hatsumi has stated however, that these eight techniques are really just the beginning. From each of these eight spring eight more, and then eight more from each of these and so on into infinity. Herein lies the limitlessness of Bujinkan taijutsu. Hatsumi sensei has often said that by turning the number ׆“ on its side, we get the symbol for infinity - this is a good way to think of the kihon. As we master each technique, we should be able to move from the fundamentals to henka (variations) at will. Of course, this ability comes only with years of training in the basic forms.

The kihon happo are taught a little differently by each teacher. Many of Dr. Hatsumi’s shihan will show different versions of the same techniques. Sometimes the techniques included in one teacher’s kihon happo are not the same as in another teacher’s kihon happo. For example, sometimes hongyaku is added to the eight techniques to make a total of nine. Sometimes these changes cause a bit of confusion. The techniques that I describe below are the way Manaka shihan and my teacher teach the kihon happo.

Kihon Happo literally translates to “basic eight ways”. The first three techniques, known as the Koshi Sanpo Waza (finger striking three ways) are thought to be from the Gyokko ryu and are: ichimonji no kata, jumonji no kata and hicho no kata. These three also happen to be three of the basic kamae (stances) which we use. These kata are basically made up of defensive movements in response to an opponent’s attack and then an offensive counter.

The next five techniques are known as the Torite Goho (arm attacking five ways) and originated from the Kukishinden ryu or Takagi Yoshin ryu. As the name for this group of techniques implies, these movements usually attack an opponent’s arms and involve taking the attacker to the ground in ways that do not allow him to land safely. The five techniques are: Omotegyaku dori, Uragyaku dori, Gansekinage (Muso dori), Onikudaki and Musha dori. Gansekinage is often replaced with Muso dori as the two techniques are rather similar. An interesting point here is that Manaka sensei has stated that onikudaki does not appear anywhere in the Gyokko ryu, so that technique must have come from another school.

How can we use the kihon happo to create good taijutsu? Well, the most obvious answer is practice...a lot of practice. Manaka shihan says that he starts every training with go gyo no kata and kihon happo. Anyone who has ever done the kihon happo as warm-up drills with Manaka knows that he has obviously practiced them a lot (especially that hicho no does he do that?). Major Manaka often relates the stories of times when he was away from Hatsumi sensei due to his military commitments. He says that the kihon happo were all he would practice for months at a time. No variations, just the basic forms. That should be a lesson to us all.

Many martial artists who have seen the kihon happo practiced have been known to say that the techniques would be useless in a real fight. When I hear this, I like to smile and say “Yes, they are useless in a real fight!“ Eventually, I get around to explaining that these eight techniques were never meant to be used exactly as shown in shinken gata (real combat) form.

Bud Malmstrom stresses that the movements don’t work unless something is added to or taken away from them. We need to set them up in order for the techniques to work for us. The basic forms are used to learn the movements and ideas behind the techniques. In a real fight, the techniques are never going to work just like they do in practice. That is why Hatsumi sensei stresses that each basic technique should lead to a minimum of eight more techniques, preventing the student from relying on the basic forms in a self defense situation.

This article was originally published in the winter 1996 edition of Heart, Faith & Steel - an awesome newsletter from Shidoshi Joe Maurantonio. Contact him at for subscription info.

Don Houle began training in Massachusetts in 1986 with Tim Dean. Having moved around a bit and now residing in New Jersey, Don continues his studies under shidoshi Joe Maurantonio of Yonkers, NY. Don can be contacted at for information on training or just to chat.


by Liz maryland

A great way to get acquainted with unfamiliar weapons and techniques, to focus deeply on certain aspects of your training, or to work on applications not usually handled in your dojo or training group is to go to a special seminar. There are many different types of seminars, all of which have their own particular charm and appeal. Some seminars offer “intensives“ — ranging from a day of solid bo-staff training to a full week of learning wilderness survival techniques. Other seminars showcase different instructors — each teaching from his point of view and showing the subtleties that he has discovered while training in this art. Seminars taught by Japanese Shihan or those who have recently come back from Japan can be very enlightening, as they tend to point out the differences in the styles of teaching and in the applications of the art.

Seminars can provide you with a “reality-check”, especially if you train with people who are not from your home group or dojo. Getting punched in the face by a total stranger points out a bad ichimonji much better than anything else. Or, you may find out that your Ganseki Nage was much better than you thought! Seminars also give you the opportunity to train with different body types that you may not have in your school or group. Attempting to do Uchi Mata to an uke who is 6" taller than you can be very frustrating if all your ukes have always been about your height.

Have you always wanted to know a little bit about Aikido or Tae Kwon Do? A seminar in another martial art can give you new insights into how people from these martial arts disciplines behave. These type of seminars give you a taste of what else is out there and the techniques you may have to defend against one day. Learning how to throw a round-house kick may not necessarily improve your taijutsu but it will definitely improve your ability to recognize that particular kick — especially when someone is throwing it at you. It will also give you a more subtle appreciation of the body dynamics involved for the attacker and may even give you clues that will help your timing, distancing, etc.

Seminars can “jump-start” your training again, getting rid of feelings of complacency or boredom. Since the material taught is usually out of the ordinary, training doesn’t seem as “blah”. Everything may seem new and challenging, giving you impetus to continue training and working on your material. New material or applications on how to do a technique may challenge and excite you even further.

Above all, seminars are fun! You get to meet new people and work on material in a friendly and, usually, non-competitive atmosphere.

The following suggestions may help you get more out of the next seminar you go to:

  • Keep an open mind during the seminar and look for new ideas, or ways of doing things. The way the seminar leader teaches may not be the same as your instructor. How does it differ? Is it easier for you to get the message or are you just not understanding the technique? If a technique is frustrating you, dissect it. Figure out what you are mechanically doing and how it differs from your partner. Ask for help. If you’re a taijutsu god at your dojo, but you turn into a klutz at seminars, explore that. Find out what makes you uncomfortable. Talk to people afterwards about your training experiences and compare notes. Above all, keep trying and working on the techniques that frustrate you.
  • Look for additional information on the subjects taught at the seminar. Are they selling a video of the seminar? Did the instructor write a book? Are there other books on this topic? Videos and books will help you to remember more, long after the seminar is over.
  • Seek out the seminar instructor with your questions during the breaks or during select Q& A periods. Also, look around you. If you see other students or instructors comparing notes or practicing a technique, determine if it is appropriate for you to approach them, then politely go over, introduce yourself and ask questions. It is often through this type of sharing that people get their best notes.
  • Take notes. If you’re not a good note taker, then copy them from someone else. If you go with a group, assign someone to be the note-taker for an hour, half-day, etc. Rotate amongst yourselves so that no one person takes all the notes. At the end of the session, sit down and go through the notes, fleshing them out further, each person adding their insights, observations, etc. Having extra eyes will make it easier for you to correct mistakes or omissions in kata.
  • Buy the practice weapon. Did you borrow a bokken all through a kenjutsu seminar? How will you practice at home? Having the appropriate training material at home will encourage you to practice and get better with it. This practice will then help you with the retention of the new material which you have just learned.
  • Finally, rest well before and after a seminar. Seminars tend to be emotionally as well as physically draining. Resting before you get back to the real world may not always be possible, but do try. I tend to get sick after seminars because of all the energy — emotional and physical — that I expend at them, so I now request an extra day off from work to get back to normal. After my last seminar, I went straight to work and was subsequently out sick for a week two days later. Take care and nurture your body. Give your mind a chance to come down from the elation as well.

Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She likes to go to seminars, make new friends and then beat them up. She may be reached at:


Thought of the Day
by Frances Hodgson Burnett

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done — then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.


End Notes
by Liz maryland

It’s 3:51 AM (New York City) on Friday, March 1st. I’m sitting in my office, with a space heater at my feet. It’s roughly 25 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but it feels much colder — the heat was turned off ages ago — and I’m typing with gloves on. I’m freezing, and saving my document every other sentence for fear that the computer will crash again. Yet, I’m so happy that I can barely contain myself. What you, fellow budoka, are reading are the End Notes to the one-year anniversary edition of Ura & Omote!

To borrow a phrase: “What a long, strange trip it’s been!” From trying to get this thing started in the first place... to pestering authors about deadlines... to threats of lawsuits... to heated debates over articles... to hate mail... to fan mail... to this moment in time. This newsletter shows me the “persistence of nin” in my life and especially in this endeavor. Only through perserverance could this task — one year’s worth of articles, insights and knowledge from training members worldwide — have been accomplished. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to enrich all your lives and, in so doing, to have enriched mine, as well, by serving you. I also feel fortunate to have made so many new friends in this wonderful tradition.

At this time, I wish to take the opportunity to thank a few friends — people without whom this newsletter would never have been started. Most of these people haven’t written or contributed to this newsletter (yet) but they have done as much as the authors to keep this project alive.

Thank you to:

  • Gary Lee — for teaching my first class, and making me laugh so much that I wasn’t scared to come back for another one.
  • Nick — for threatening me with bodily harm if I put myself down or doubted my ability.
  • Jason — for listening... and listening... and listening!
  • Holly — for teaching me to exhale (and to inhale when appropriate!)
  • Frank — for showing me that you can put a gun or handcuffs into ANY kata!
  • Hugh — for having extreme patience and kindness when I was paralyzed by my fears.
  • Carol — for being one of the best role models in the world for me. (We miss you!!!)
  • Matt (as in, “doormat׆ and Charles Eric (as in, “That was my spleen I just coughed up”) — for being my favorite, patient and faithful ukes (and for taking the beatings I’ve dished out!)
  • Tracy, Rob and Erskine — for being great sounding boards for my wacky ideas and for being truly wonderful and patient confidantes.
  • Nick and Emanuel — for still being my friends although our paths have diverged.
  • The Friday night crew (Jon, Pat, Mark) — for letting me be “one of the guys” and not cutting me off after my 4th pint of Guiness.
  • Tim, Mike, and the rest of the senior students — for giving me something to strive for... your skill and excellence.
  • All my friends at New York Budo (past and present members - y’all know who you are) — for giving me support and ideas; for reading the newsletter and giving me feedback; for letting me work on my skills and for challenging me when I needed it.
  • All my new friends — those of you I’ve met at seminars or over the internet or have visited — who’ve stayed in touch and touched my heart.
  • Dr. Hatsumi, Shidoshi Hayes, all the Shihan, my Sempai — for showing me what this art truly is about and for inspiring me to get better and to “keep going.”

Very special thanks go to:

  • Hannibal — for just being Hannibal... and for being just enough like my dad to make me feel a little less alone in this city.
  • Jean-Pierre — for being my teacher and a source of constant wonder and inspiration; for being a constant source of support and for allowing me the freedom to pursue this project — without attempting to censor me or my writers — and do it my way.
  • Most importantly, to the two fish, Brian and Greg — for... well, you both should know why (and if you don’t, you have my phone number...) Needless to say, I don’t think I would be as driven, critical, or directed without you behind me. Thank you so very much for everything you’ve done for me — as my friends and as my instructors.

    Two final “Thank yous” are in order: One to you, dear readers, for staying interested and for giving me a job to do. The final one, and one of the most important, is to you, the authors and contributors, for giving me something to publish. Here’s to another wonderful year in this training! Kampai!

See you next month!

This newsletter was started to connect budo/ninpo taijutsu practitioners from all backgrounds together. Ura & Omote’s goal is to provide a forum where we can easily gather and disseminate information (both “obvious” and “hidden”), ask questions and, more importantly, get answers, and share experiences while living the art.

We (the publisher and authors) are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following any instructions in this newsletter. Remember, these are martial arts techniques which may result in injury or death. Find a proper instructor wherever possible. Please consult a physician before engaging in the exercises described herein. Keep in mind that all articles herein are of their author’s opinion/research and the publisher of this newsletter will not be held liable for any errors or misleading information. If you need further information on any articles, or if you have questions for the authors, please contact them directly. If there is no E-mail address listed, please E-mail the editor and your request will be forwarded.

Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She is a graphic designer by trade and an information gatherer by choice (Yes, I’m nosy! So what?). She trains under the guidance of Jean-Pierre Seibel at New York Budo. When she isn’t working — to pay the rent on an apartment currently OWNED by two cats — Liz can be found desperately trying to find a crash test dummy, oops, an uke for her next test. She may be contacted via