FAQ

What kind of martial art is taught in the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo?
Some people claim that the ‘ninja arts’ of the Bujinkan are not real, but were made up by the previous grandmaster Takamatsu sensei. Is there any validity to this claim?
What is the difference between what the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo teaches and Karate or Taekwondo ?
What is the difference between Budo and Bujutsu?
How does the Bujinkan’s techniques compare to other non-Japanese martial arts?
What’s wrong with sport training?
What about Chinese martial arts? Aren’t they supposed to be the original skills that all other Asian arts are based upon?
Is the Bujinkan the Ultimate martial art?
Is the training safe?
How long does it take to get to black belt?
Why do we have to fill out an application?

What kind of martial art is taught in the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo?
The Bujinkan organization was created by Soke Masaaki Hatsumi to teach nine warrior arts (bujutsu) of old Japan. Some of the arts practiced in the Bujinkan are Ninja warrior arts and some of the arts are Samurai warrior arts, so the Bujinkan teaches the best of the warrior arts of Japan.

Some people claim that the ‘ninja arts’ of the Bujinkan are not real, but were made up by the previous grandmaster Takamatsu sensei. Is there any validity to this claim?
The people who assert this are usually referring to the apparent lack of old menkyo in any of the ninja traditions of the Bujinkan.  Samurai arts began issuing menkyo (certificates) in the peaceful Edo period, when there were no more battles for samurai to earn distinction.  Instead they tried hard to earn certificates to demonstrate to their lord that they were good samurai.
Quite simply the ninja never did this, nor are there any surviving menkyo from any other (i.e. Non-Bujinkan) ninja traditions such as Iga ryu or Koga ryu.  The critics of the Bujinkan’s history make the mistake of assuming that the ninja operated just as the samurai did, which shows both ignorance and a lack of genuine desire to learn the truth.
Just like the CIA and Seal Teams today, the ninja strove to protect themselves with secrecy and did not produce documents that could be used against them.  The new emphasis on menkyo in the Edo period was the opposite of what the ninja did because they were outlawed in the Edo period (except for the ninja who worked directly for the Shogun).  It is laughable to assume that the ninja used menkyo.
The ninja arts of the Bujinkan were passed on by the Toda family in the Edo period.  They passed on the arts inside their family in an oral tradition and had no need for menkyo.  Those who practice samurai arts and criticize the Bujinkan’s ninja arts are just not likely to believe something other than what they expect history to be, and for the most part the senior practitioners in the Bujinkan do not care if they don’t believe our oral history.

What is the difference between what the Bujinkan Kocho Dojo teaches and Karate or Taekwondo ?
Karate and Taekwondo emphasize punching, kicking, and blocking and have little beyond these basic skills. In the Bujinkan, we have a wider range of striking and also incorporate a vast range of grappling, throwing, and restraining techniques. The advantage is that we do not rely on simply standing toe to toe with our opponents and slugging it out, with the winner determined by who can take the most abuse and dish it out faster. We get our opponents imobilized so that they cannot fight anymore.

What is the difference between Budo and Bujutsu?
In Japan, the word ‘budo’ can be used as a general word for martial arts, but it specifically refers to new martial arts like Karate-do, Taekwon-do, Ju-do, Aiki-do, Ken-do, etc., and these budo are martial arts that are watered-down versions of older arts that were created as basic self-defense for commoners. Usually the budo arts are made softer, less painful to train in (such as in solo katas practiced ‘in the air’) and generally tend to emphasize a particular aspect of martial art, such as striking in Karate-do, throwing and wrestling with sports emphasis in Ju-do, gentle grappling in Aiki-do. These arts then lack skills in other areas, so many modern martial artists try to learn various combinations of modern budo to try to cover all areas of martial skill.
The bujutsu are warrior arts that were created by professional warriors like the samurai and the ninja. The professional warriors spent their lives developing the skills they used in battle, whereas the commoners spent their lives as farmers, fishermen, etc. and needed a simplified set of skills. So the result is that the bujutsu are much more comprehensive arts that contain more knowledge and skills than the simple and newer arts like budo. Our warrior bujutsu have a wide range of techniques in all aspects of martial skill: punching, kicking, blocking, pressure points, grappling, throwing, and restraints, as well as a vast range of weapons skills that prepare one for any type of combat.

How does the Bujinkan’s techniques compare to other non-Japanese martial arts?
For various reasons such as long periods of peace and the desire for sports among commoners, most martial arts today are less effective than the skills that were used by real professional warriors in the medieval periods. Many arts developed specialties and neglected other areas of training. Some examples include: Taekwondo which has an emphasis on high flashy kicks, but contains very few techniques that manipulate pressure points and contain so significant grappling, throwing, restraining, or any weapons training whatsoever. Taekwondo is mainly practiced as a sport today, and the emphasis during training is usually sparring. There are also many Chinese martial arts that practice flashy looking patterns in the air, but this method of training can only develop skills to certain levels, and the time spent perfecting ‘performances’ would be better spent with ‘hands-on’ training to develop real skills to handle life-threatening situations.
Bujinkan techniques are gennerally more effective at ending a situation quickly. Anyone who applies oneself can gain skill at any martial art and be a dangerous opponent. But the same amount of time spent perfecting the Bujinkan techniques will produce a greater skill level with most people.

What’s wrong with sport training?
Competitions in Thai Boxing look fierce and the UFCW type of competitions with wrestling styles like the Gracie’s look very effective.
Sport training has nothing to do with real combat because there are no rules in real combat. The goal of combat is not to prove you are the strongest and toughest guy. We can’t all be the strongest and toughest guy, and the older you get the less you can rely upon techniques that require strength or speed to work. With enough time and effort one can learn to defend oneself with any style, and while any martial training is probably better than nothing there is a point of making your training effort as efficient as possible. The bujutsu rely upon experiential insight rather than physical prowess, so that a 60 year old man who is proficient in the Bujinkan’s arts can defeat a younger, stronger, and faster attacker. Where will those tough guys be when they get 40 or 50? Do you want to learn skills that require you to be strong and fast or do you want to learn a warrior art that truly uses brains over brawn, and which allows you to use experience to defeat stronger and faster opponents?

Click here for more info on the comparison between sport and combat arts:

What about Chinese martial arts? Aren’t they supposed to be the original skills that all other Asian arts are based upon?
The ancient Chinese arts were very effective because they were practiced by warriors at a time before China was unified during which many warlords fought constantly for power. Unfortunately it is war that develops great martial skills and peace is the thing that makes people forget the importance of warrior skills. Once China was unified and peace was interrupted only by occasional dynastic struggles, Chinese martial arts changed in emphasis. They began to emphasize artistic imitation of animals in elaborate forms against imaginary opponents. Forms training is very limited as a training method, and striking movements are emphasized because they were easiest to incorporate into forms, but that leaves a lack of development in other areas such as pressure point manipulation, throwing, grappling, restraining, etc. Recent history has been hard on martial knowledge in China as well, and the remaining practical martial knowledge of ancient China has been greatly reduced. Many masters have been killed and their styles have died out or become hollow shells of their former selves due to events such as the Boxer Rebellion, WWII, the Communist/Nationalist conflict and the Cultural Revolution. The complete Chinese martial arts that survive are rare.

Is the Bujinkan the Ultimate martial art?
No. What’s right for one person may not be right for another. Someone seeking sporting endeavor would be better off joining a Taekwondo school or MMA. Those who want to engage in the fancy forms would be better off studying Kung-fu. Also the training in the Bujinkan is difficult to endure and takes more time than simple styles of self-defense, so those who have little ability to stick to a pursuit might be wasting their time. For them, karate might be better.
However we feel that the Bujinkan offers the best warrior traditions available. The warrior insights of the Bujinkan stretch back over hundreds of years and offer not only the most effective and efficient body of martial knowledge, but also a real and meaningful philosophy. Humans aren’t perfect and there is no such thing as a perfect martial art, but the Bujinkan comes a whole lot closer to a perfect martial art than anything else we have seen or heard of.

Is the training safe?
Ironically, students at the Kocho Dojo who are suffering from injuries have almost always gotten them doing something else outside of the dojo, usually sports. There is the possibility of minor scrapes and bruises in any physical activity, but despite practicing techniques that are very dangerous, the controlled nature of the training prevents serious injuries.

How long does it take to get to black belt?
Rank is a very secondary consideration at the Kocho Dojo. A piece of paper or the color of the belt worn during training does not matter when faced with a life threatening attacker. The primary emphasis at the Kocho Dojo is to develop skills to keep one safe from violence. Rank is used as a tool to help students keep track of their progress, and the rate of promotions will depend upon how often the student trains and how diligently the student applies himself, but everyone is allowed to progress at their own pace and there is no need to try to keep up with anyone else.

Why do we have to fill out an application?
We want to know a little about people before inviting them to the dojo. There are a lot of idly curious people who might wander into a martial arts studio just on a whim. These people can often be little more than a distraction to serious training. The dedicated students can suffer from such interruptions. An application process helps to prevent this, since, in general, people who will take the time to go through an application process are more likely to be genuinely interested and follow through by putting significant effort into the training. It is the first step in separating the wheat from the chaff.

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