From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia
Edited By Rock Ape
BUJINKAN BUDO TAIJUTSU (NINJUTSU) FAQ
This FAQ is an attempt to curtail all of the Bujinkan ranking system/fighting ability/ historical accuracy/ lineage claims/lack of aliveness threads that crop up now and again.
Q. What is Ninjutsu?
Classically Ninjutsu was the section of various different Weapons and Jujutsu Ryu-Ha that included Stealth and Covert tactics that have either been outdated or lost through the generations. Modern Ninjutsu consists of Ryu-ha descending from the Iga/Koga Region of Japan.
Q. What organizations teach Modern Ninjutsu that descend from this region?
A. Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, Genbukan Ninpo Bugei, Jinenkan, Tanaka Fumon, Kaminaga Shigemi. There are NO legitimate organizations teaching Koga region arts anymore.
Q. What is the ranking system of the Bujinkan?
A. The Bujinkan follows the kyu/dan ranking system 9th to 1st Kyu and dan ranks 1-15.
Q. How long to reach Shodan/Godan in the Bujinkan?
A. It depends on who you train with. However, in the United States in is not uncommon for 14 months to Shodan (1st degree black belt) and 3 years to Godan (5th degree Black Belt). While there are still some school that require a certain fighting and skill level, its not required for the organization. The only required test for rank is the Sakki Test in which the Bujinkan member will dodge a wooden sword from behind. The test is usually taken on Japan. After the test each subsequent trip to Japan usually has the member being given another Dan rank, creating numerous 15th dans. While this isn't true for everyone it happens a non-trivial percentage of the time.
Q. What is the historical accuracy of the Bujinkan claims to Koryu legitimacy?
A. Kukishin-ryu/Takagi Yoshin-ryu: Sister Samurai Arts that have been handed down together an have MANY branches of their tree. Gyokko-ryu/Koto-ryu: Sister Arts for the Iga Region associated with Modern Ninjutsu Shinden Fudo-ryu: Samurai Art that have a few legitimate branches Togakure-ryu: Originally intended to be billed as Kukishin-ryu Ninpo (didn't get approval from the Kuki family) it is a collection of Ninjutsu techniques Takamatsu collected and organized into a Ryu-ha so the techniques wouldn't be lost to history. While the techniques are old, the Ryu-ha itself is only 60 years old. Gyokushin-ryu/Kumogakure-ryu: Don't exist, Aren't taught. Gikan-ryu: Legitimate Line passed Akimoto Fumio then to Akimoto Koki. The Bujinkan doesn't teach it even though Hatsumi has trained in the art, but is not the recognized Grandmaster. Gikan-ryu is still taught in Japan through its legitimate lineage.
Q. What is the training like in the Bujinkan?
A. Bujinkan 15th Dan Dale Seago was once quoted saying "I don't let my students spar. If they did they would hold back or kill or maim each other in seconds." That is the opinion of a large section of the Bujinkan. Slow no-contact training is a common training method. This is not true for all Bujinkan school however, they are in the minority and often attacked verbally (because they are too deadly to attack physically) by the majority of members.
Q. I heard Hatsumi's Sokeships aren't as clean cut as he claims. What is the story there?
A. Takamatsu's successor was a man named Ueno Takashi. This happened long before Hatsumi heard of Takamatsu. As some point later Hatsumi traveled to train with Takamatsu and was sent to Ueno's dojo. Shortly after, Ueno kicked Hatsumi out of his school. Hatsumi as this point went back to pay for private lessons with Takamatsu. After Takamatsu died, Hatsumi claimed that Takamatsu removed Ueno as his successor and placed Hatsumi there, a claim never confirmed by Takamatsu and not recognized by anyone other than Hatsumi and his students. Ueno later on passed his Sokeship to Kaminaga Shimegi who teaches the arts today. Lineage wise and scroll wise Kaminaga Shimegi holds the Sokeships, Hatsumi scrolls remain unverified.
Q: Why do people at Bullshido seem to look down on Bujinkan?
A: Bullshido favors alive training as a method of testing martial art's. Alive being defined as attempting to spar/roll/kumite with a fully resisting opponent, both of whom are intending to defeat the other person, preferably with as few a rules as possible in order to emulate a real fight.
Bujinkan for the majority lacks such training, although this is not always the case.
Q: My Bujinkan dojo trains in an alive method, but people don't believe me. What can I do to be viewed as different?
Simple solution here. Evidence.
Post a vid of you/your class training. Expect a critique, but you'll get a little more respect if you say you can spar and pull off a muso-dori when there's a vid of it.
Even better, turn up to a throwdown.