About the Grandmaster (Soke)

About the Grandmaster (Soke)

Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi senseiSoke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi sensei

Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭 Hatsumi Masaaki, born December 21931) is the founder and current head of the Bujinkan Dojo martial arts organization. Beginning in childhood, Masaaki Hatsumi studied many of the more popular martial arts, including judokarateand western boxing. While instructing American soldiers in the art of judo, he noticed that because of their superior size and strength, the Americans were learning in months what typically took a Japanese practitioner years to master. As a result, he began to question the legitimacy of modern martial arts training. It was after this time, while studying ancient Japanese weaponry, that he learnt of a martial artist namedToshitsugu Takamatsu. In 1957 he began making regular trips to train with his new teacher (who resided at the time inKashiwabara, in Nara), taking a train ride that would last some 15 hours from his hometown of Noda in Chiba. This man-to-man training continued for 15 years until the passing of Toshitsugu Takamatsu in 1972. From his teacher he inherited the position of sōke (headmaster) of 9 ryū (schools of martial arts):

  • Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術)
  • Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術)
  • Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術)
  • Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu (虎倒流骨法術)
  • Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentaijutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術)
  • Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtaijutsu (高木揚心流柔体術)
  • Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu (義鑑流骨法術)
  • Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法)
  • Kumogakure-ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法)

Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi senseiSoke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi sensei Unlike many martial arts and their instructors, Masaaki Hatsumi focuses the training of the Bujinkan on what he terms the ‘feeling’ of technique, or perhaps more accurately, the feeling of real situations. While technical knowledge of an art is considered important, the direction of this feeling-based approach guides the practitioner towards a natural understanding of what links various martial lineages as well as what is most effective in real situations. Flowing on from this approach, Masaaki Hatsumi’s many experiences include holding training seminars for various law enforcement organisations, including the FBICIA, the Mossad and for police in BritainFranceand Germany. Until recently, he conducted bi-annual training seminars throughout North and South America, Europe, Oceania and Africa. He has also served as a martial arts advisor to various films and television productions, including the James Bond thriller You Only Live Twice and the highly popular Japanese movie “Shinobi no Mono”. Among the many awards he has received are the 1999 Japan Culture Promoting Association’s Grand Prize, the 2000 World Culture Grand Prize as well as being the first martial artist to receive an Apostolic Blessing from the Pope (2001).

Essence of Ninjutsu Words from the 34th Grandmaster

Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi senseiSoke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi sensei I believe that ninpo, the higher order of ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artists. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalised by japan’s ninja were in fact one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today’s martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living. By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear or injury or death and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations. The practitioner of ninjutsu can gain the strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others and the contentment with the presence of peace in society. Soke Toshitsugu Takamatsu sensei with Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi senseiSoke Toshitsugu Takamatsu sensei with Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi sensei The attainment of this enlightenment is characterised by the development of the jihi no kokoro or “benevolent heart.” Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that finds expression in unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, ninpo’s benevolent heart is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds. After so many generations of obscurity in the shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so that mankind may continue to grow and evolve into the next great plateau. by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi 34th Grandmaster of Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 28th Grandmaster of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo Biken 18th Grandmaster of Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Biken 26th Grandmaster of Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Taijutsu Happo Biken 28th Grandmaster of Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu Happo Biken 17th Grandmaster of Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Biken 14th Grandmaster of Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 21st Grandmaster of Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken 15th Grandmaster of Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Biken

Essence of Ninjutsu Words from the 33rd Grandmaster

Soke Toshitsugu Takamatsu senseiSoke Toshitsugu Takamatsu sensei The essence of all Martial Arts and military strategies is self protection and the prevention of danger. Ninjutsu epitomizes the fullest concept of self-protection through martial training in that the Ninja art deals with the protection of not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well. The way of the Ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one. More than merely delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple out-witting of an enemy; Ninjutsu is the way off attaining that which we need while making the world a better place. The skill of the Ninja is the art of winning. In the beginning study of any combative art, proper motivation is crucial.Without the proper frame of mind, continuos exposure to fighting techniques can lead to ruin instead of self-development. But this fact is not different from any other beneficial practice in life carried to extremes. Medical science is dedicated to the betterment of health and the relief of suffering, and yet the misuse of drugs and the exultation of the physician’s skills can lead people to a state where an individual’s health is no longer within his or her personal control. A nutritious well-balanced diet works to keep a person alive, vital, and healthy, but grossly over-eating, over-drinking, or taking in too many chemicals is a sure way to poison the body. Governments are established to oversee the harmonious inter-working of all parts of society, but when the rulers become greedy, hungry for power, or lacking in wisdom, the country is subjected to needless wars, disorder or civil and economic chaos. A religion, when based on faith developed through experience, a broad and questing mind,and unflagging pursuit of universal understanding, is of inspiration and comfort to people. Once a religion loses its original focus, however, it becomes a deadly thing with which to deceive, control and tax the people through the manipulation of their beliefs and fears. It is the same with the martial arts. The skills of self- protection, which should provide a feeling of inner peace and security for the martial artist, so often develop without a balance in the personality and lead the lesser martial artist into warped realms of unceasing conflict and competition which eventually consume him. Soke Toshitsugu Takamatsu sensei with Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi senseiSoke Toshitsugu Takamatsu sensei with Soke Dr. Maasaki Hatsumi sensei If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego’s desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible – the attainment of the “mind and eyes of god”. The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate. In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce. The vast universe,beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja. by Toshitsugu Takamatsu 33rd Grandmaster of Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken A great colletion of photos of Toshitsugu Takamatsu can be seen here

Want to Read More?

A good collection of articles, interviews, biographies can be found in our links section. You can learn more about Soke from his website and also go to the official Bujinkan website 

Videos of Soke

You can view many videos in the public domain on YouTube and Google Videos. Clicking these links will take you to see a search result on “Hatsumi” for each site. Continue Reading – Weapons and Clothing »»