Bujinkan Rules of Engagement

Sometimes people want to adopt military or law enforcement tactics in the Bujinkan. Maybe they percieve these tactics as being the most real since these people are on the front lines testing their tactics everyday. While it's true their tactics are proven and tested, the reality their tactics address is not the same reality the Bujinkan is training us for. This can be seen clearly in the "rules of engagement" in the military or "use of force continuum" used by law enforcement.

standard police Use of Force Continuum:

1. Physical Presence
2. Soft Hands
3. Mace or Pepper Spray
(A K-9 unit would fall here)
4. Hard Hands
5. Police Baton, etc.
6. Threat of Deadly Force
7. Deadly Force

The 1999 Marine Corps Close Combat Manual (MCRP 3-02B) presents a “Continuum of Force” broken down as follows:

Level 1: Compliant (Cooperative). The subject responds and complies to verbal commands. Close combat techniques do not apply.

Level 2: Resistant (Passive). The subject resists verbal commands but complies immediately to any contact controls. Close combat techniques do not apply.

Level 3: Resistant (Active). The subject initially demonstrates physical resistance. Use compliance techniques to control the situation. Level three incorporates close combat techniques to physically force a subject to comply. Techniques include: Come-along holds, Soft-handed stunning blows, Pain compliance through the use of joint manipulation and the use of pressure points.

Level 4: Assaultive (Bodily Harm). The subject may physically attack, but does not use a weapon. Use defensive tactics to neutralize the threat. Defensive tactics include Blocks, Strikes, Kicks, Enhanced pain compliance procedures, Impact weapon blocks and blows.

Level 5: Assaultive (Lethal Force). The subject usually has a weapon and will either kill or injure someone if he/she is not stopped immediately and brought under control. The subject must be controlled by the use of deadly force with or without a firearm.

In Bujinkan training Hatsumi Sensei says:

Start each moment from zero. In a fight or in life.


Don't try to capture, let them get trapped. Remove yourself from technique. No form there. In real combat technique becomes a target.

Neither of these lists address the "zero" state Hatsumi Sensei often speaks about. Of course you could be in that state and still take the actions suggested by those rules of engagement. But, from a zero state the range of possible responses becomes infinite. And those that are contained in the "rules" above either arise naturally or become unnecessary.

My friend Paul Masse connects this idea to Banpen Fugyo:

Transcend the idea of the need to define things (life), of trying to control that which can not be controlled and move spontaneously and naturally in your natural state. The beginning of the Jyoraku of Gyokko Ryu states this most eloquently. “I, standing in the posture of Heaven and Universe with hands folded (as if in prayer) maintain the heart of ”10,000 changes, no surprises”(Banpen Fugyou). The whole of the universe, and all living things are in a constant state of Natural Change. Any occurrence may happen at anytime... This is the True Principle of Natural Change. Therefore resist not this natural truth, keeping a quiet and unsurprised heart. Holding firmly to the belief that all will be well, with a roar! (kiai), I enter the posture of Heaven and Earth, Darkness and Light”.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone



Very good article. Not many people understand this. Gambate..

Carlo Bonnie

Bujinkan Santa Monica

Thank you for the feedback Carlo. Our own perceptions of training are important. And more so if we are not learning what is being taught because of what we think "combat" is.


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