The Bujinkan is a system of martial arts made up of nine separate family martial traditions (ryu ha), some being over 1000 yrs old. Together they make up the Bujinkan method, more properly known as Bujinkan budo. Masaaki Hatsumi is the current grandmaster of the Bujinkan Hombu dojo located in Noda, Japan. Toshitsugu Takamatsu was his teacher.

Takagi Yoshin Ryu                        Tall tree felling heart                                 Jutaijutsu
Shinden Fudo Ryu                        Immovable heart                                       Dakentaijutsu
Kumogakure Ryu                          Hidden cloud                                              Ninjutsu
Kukishinden Ryu                          Nine demon gods                                       Hikenjutsu                
Gyokushin Ryu                              Jeweled heart                                             Ninjutsu
Togakure Ryu                                Hidden door                                                Ninjutsu
Gyokko Ryu                                   Jeweled tiger                                               Koshijutsu
Gikan Ryu                                      Example of justice                                      Koppojutsu
Koto Ryu                                        Tiger kingdom                                             Koppojutsu

Each of these nine schools is based around one of six separate arts:

Dakentaijutsu - Striking arts (Shinden Fudo Ryu)

This art focuses on any form of striking (punching, kicking, etc.). Members of the Bujinkan learn not only how to perform these techniques correctly and efficiently, but also how an opponent will react to receiving such an impact, and thus will learn what types of openings occur, making their subsequent movements smooth and flowing.

“More than delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple outwitting of an enemy, Ninpo is the way of attaining that which we need while making the world a better place. The skill of the ninja is the art of winning.”   - Toshitsugu Takamatsu

Jutaijutsu - Soft arts (Takagi Yoshin Ryu)

In contrast to dakentaijutsu this art was designed to deal with opponents that were wearing armor where punches and kicks may prove to be less effective. Softness and subtulty overcome strengh and power.

“Don’t break your opponent’s balance. Take him to a place where he has no balance.”    -Masaaki Hatsumi

Hikenjutsu - Hidden weapon arts (Kukishinden Ryu)

This art focuses on the use of a wide variety of battlefield weapons, ranging from swords (ex. katana, tsurigi) and spears (yari) to the halberd (naginata) and staff (bo). Even learning how to properly throw shuriken (throwing stars) teaches the student how to use the entire body to create accuracy. While these are not implements that one is likely to encounter every day, learning their use and principles teaches proper movement and footwork, as well as timing and distance, some of the most critical aspects of any martial art.

“Breathe life into the weapon, don’t take life away from it. Keep walking, because walking is life.”    -Masaaki Hatsumi

Koppojutsu - Bone attacking arts (Gikan Ryu, Koto Ryu)

This art revolves around breaking an opponent’s structure by taking control of one of the body’s many joints (wrist, elbow, shoulder, etc.). Members of the Bujinkan learn that even the largest and strongest opponent can be subdued by something as seemingly small and simple as a finger or wrist lock.

“Let him cut your skin, and you cut his flesh. Let him cut your flesh, and you cut his bones. Let him cut your bones, and you cut off his life.”    -Toshitsugu Takamatsu

Koshijutsu - Muscle attacking arts (Gyokko Ryu)

This art focuses on striking the body’s many weak areas, nerves, and pressure points. This is especially useful for defense against a physically superior opponent. While not necessary lethal, these techniques can and will create openings that can lead to subduing and defeating an attacker. Like koppojutsu, koshijutsu gives the student a greater understanding of how the human body is designed and works.

“Remember that for every technique you think you can fall back on, there is a counter for it, or there are times when it cannot be used. When real battle comes, you must remember some things will not be applicable. Don’t think that any one technique is quintessential.”
-Masaaki Hatsumi

Ninjutsu - Hidden arts (Gyokushin Ryu, Togakure Ryu, Kumogakure Ryu)

A very diverse art, ninjutsu includes everything from armed and unarmed combat, to body movement, maneuverability, and survival. Three out of the nine schools of the Bujinkan are centered around ninjutsu. Knowledge and appreciation of nature is also a large objective of this art.

“At night, the moon casts shadows much like the sun. By using those shadows, you can gain much information. You can tell where your opponents are and where they will attack you from. You can even tell time. Other arts don’t teach this type of training; it is limited to the ninja.”    -Masaaki Hatsumi