Here is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Bujinkan martial arts. . .
Q: What does the name ‘Bujinkan Dojo’ mean?
A: The word ‘Bujinkan’ means or ‘hall of the divine warrior’, or ‘hall of the warrior spirit’. The word ‘dojo’ means ‘way place’ or ‘place where the way is studied’ Put together, ‘Bujinkan Dojo’ means ‘The place where the way of the Divine Warrior is practiced.’
The Bujinkan Dojo is also the name of the international training organization based in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is headed by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, the current generation head of nine feudal-era traditions passed to him by his teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu.
Q: What does ‘Budo Taijutsu’ mean? What about ‘Ninpo Taijutsu’?
A: ‘Budo’ means ‘Martial path or way’ and ‘Taijutsu’ means ‘body methods.’ Taken together, ‘Budo Taijutsu’ means ‘Martial arts of using the body.’ The Budo Taijutsu studied in the Bujinkan Dojo actually encompasses lots of different kinds of Japanese martial arts, not just unarmed fighting, but the term Budo Taijutsu is used to refer to all of them as a sort of umbrella term.
‘Ninpo Taijutsu’ is another name for the martial arts we study. ‘Ninpo’ means ‘perseverance method’ and is a term used to describe the approach to martial arts used by ninja.
Q: What kind of martial art is Budo Taijutsu? What do you practice?
A: As explained above, Budo Taijutsu is an umbrella term for the arts practiced in the Bujinkan Dojo. As part of this study, we practice the following disciplines of Japanese budo:
Taijutsu (unarmed fighting)
Bikenjutsu (sword fighting)
Rokushaku Bojutsu (6ft staff fighting)
Jojutsu (4ft staff fighting)
Hanbojutsu (3ft staff fighting)
Sojutsu (spear fighting)
Naginatajutsu (halbard fighting)
Yoroi Kumiuchi (armoured grappling)
Juttejutsu (truncheon fighting)
Nawajutsu (rope and chain methods)
Teppan nage (projectile weapons)
Taijutsu (unarmed fighting) makes up the majority of the material studied, as the weapon and ancillary arts all strongly related to taijutsu.
Q: How is this material taught? Does the training include kata or forms, as in other Japanese martial arts?
A:Kata form an important part of the Bujinkan martial arts, but not in the way most people would understand. In traditional Japanese martial arts with older roots, such as ours, kata are generally performed by two (or more) partners and are quite brief, reflecting the reality of combat encounters.
They are rarely if ever performed solo (as is common in arts such as Karate) and they teach the art's basic concepts: typical attacks and common ways of dealing with them. Typically, students study the lessons contained within the various kata contained within the Bujinkan system, with the goal of internalising the teachings and being able to express them through henka, or variations.
Q: How does rank work? How long does it take to get a black belt.
A: Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu places far less emphasis on formal ranking than most other Japanese martial arts, but they are used. There are nine kyu grades (beginning with 9th and advancing through first), signified by a green belt worn by the practitioner. These are followed by ten dan grades, signified by a black belt, with the final rank, 10th Dan, further subdivided into five classifications.
The kyu ranks, essentially, are ‘preparation to become a student’ of Bujinkan budo and each rank takes an average of three to six months to achieve. The student is considered to be ready to really begin learning at first dan or first-degree black belt. This usually takes a dedicated student between three to four years of regular study to gain. Students may be licensed to open their own dojo from 5th degree blackbelt.
Q: What does the term ‘shidoshi’ mean? What about ‘shidoshi-ho’?
A:Shidoshi means ‘warrior way teacher’ and is the name of the teaching license conferred on practitioners who pass the test to be licensed for 5th dan black belt. Shidoshi-ho is a lesser title that can be awarded to people between 1st and 4th dan who would like to open a training group.