Fresh Ninjutsu Secrets from Hatsumi Sensei

I had a great training trip to Japan and I wanted to discuss something I experienced during class with Hatsumi Sensei.  I always thought learning ninjutsu would be the ultimate goal of our training.  This year I saw something beyond that.  A new horizon for me.

Students often ask me when I am going to teach them ninjutsu.  It's a valid question for an art that claims the ninja heritage.  So to answer, let's look to Hatsumi Sensei for inspiration.

When I first began training in this art in 1988, most people didnt' call it  Bujinkan.  We called it Togakure Ryu, or, more often Ninjutsu.  Out of the 9 schools we study in the Bujinkan, Togakure Ryu is one of the 3 "Ninja" schools.  The funny thing was Hatsumi Sensei was teaching us many things like Koto ryu and Gyokko Ryu, but we all called it Ninjutsu since we didn't know any better.  Or maybe he was teaching that if you had eyes to see it.

As Paul Masse recently pointed out in his blog post: Daruma, Hatsumi Sensei showed us some of his artwork during Daikomyosai.  One piece was a a picture of the Daruma with a spider on his eyebrow.  The inscription reads, "Ninjutsu is on your eyebrow."  It would be hard to see if it were on your eyebrow.  But it could be felt!  Hatsumi Soke's teachings have to be felt!  Then you may witness the spider crawling on your own brow.

Togakure Ryu was never really meant to stand on it's own, but rather alongside our other schools of budo like Gyokko and Koto ryu.  What this means in our training is that Ninjutsu is not a separate area of study.  It is more of a way of being, as the word "Ninpo" suggests.

This isn't a mistake.  Ninjutsu is something that Sensei is always teaching.  In any of his classes he will explore ideas of Ninpo no matter what we are working on.  Sometimes the secrets are right in front of your eyes but you don't see them.  To discover Ninjutsu, you have to really train hard to understand Sensei's budo, then your eyes may open to the secrets contained there.

This year,  Sensei continues to show us lessons on disappearing and becoming "zero."  Please see Doug Wilson's blog for more on this: Ninjutsu: 最高の武道 ”The Ultimate Martial Art.  Sensei is teaching us about Kukan and how to disappear within it.  Various strategies to achieve this include:

Issen Ken
Fumetsu no fusei
Kami hito e
Kukan no Tate

If you don't know what these are, they are examples of some of the "secrets" to be discovered in class. If you subscribe to my training notes (you aren't a subscriber?! you miss a LOT of free Bujinkan notes), you have already learned about some of these, and I will share more soon.

But there is always something more.  I watched Soke use the kukan to capture the attacker's spirit.  This is something else beyond just disappearing.  When I understand this, I will get back to you!

In my class, as we continue our study of Soke's Bujinkan, we will be including Ninjutsu as part of our study.  Please be aware and attend to this in your training.  The secrets will not always be spelled out.

Here is a hint: Some of the biggest secrets are contained in the character of "Nin"  Please think on this and share your thoughts in the comments below..

Ninpo Ikkan

Michael Glenn



Fantastic Read!
Thank you for helping make the seemingly complicated so "obvious"!
Enjoyed reading your blog!
Cheers from India

Bujinkan Santa Monica

You're welcome! It took me a long time to understand these things. One reason I write this blog, is that I wish I had something like it to read when I first started training in the '80s. So i made for whoever may find it useful today. Now if I could only time travel!

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