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Below is a brief history of Budo Taijutsu. As in the sections on Masaaki Hatsumi and Toshitsugu Takamatsu, this information has come from various sources, including books by Dr. Hatsumi. This information is not meant to be definitive in any way, nor can I even guarantee that it is 100% accurate. Budo Taijutsu has a long tradition steeped in legend and folklore. As with all things in this art, each student must learn to sift through the evidence to find the truth.

The information on this page was compiled from various sources, among which is the book "An Introductory History To The Schools Of The Bujinkan" by Paul Richardson and Richard Van Donk. The book can be purchased from the American Bujinkan Headquarters. (See the Links page.)


For many years the art that we study was known around the world as Ninjutsu. This is a limited term, however, considering that the Bujinkan consists of nine ryu and only three are Ninjutsu ryu. The Bujinkan was long known for Togakure Ryu Ninpo, but in truth the majority of the techniques that were being studied were from other schools. Keeping this in mind, let's delve into a very condensed and simplified overview of Budo Taijutsu/Ninjutsu.

Ninjutsu was developed in the Iga and Koga regions of Japan. It is believed that the art is a result of the training methods of the Shugenja and Yamabushi mountain ascetics.

Contrary to the common Hollywood stereotype, most ninjutsu ryu were not comprised of assassins. Some were even of samurai status, or had at one time held such office. The majority of the ninjutsu clans were founded by warriors who had the misfortune of being on the losing side of a war and chose to live by taking their families into the mountains, rather that facing ritualistic suicide as the samurai code would demand. Other ryu were founded by simple peasants and farmers who were basically considered less than human by the military government. Many traditional Japanese Bujutsu Ryu contained a ninjutsu curriculum.

Their only chance of survival was to flee to outlying regions and develop skills that would not only help them survive the elements, but the aggression of the samurai as well. It would be reasonable to view the ancient ninja as guerrilla warfare specialist, experts in all aspects of combat and strategy, intelligence gathering and networking, and seekers of spiritual enlightenment and truth.

In ancient times, membership in a ninjutsu ryu was restricted to those who were born into the ninja families Every day was spent ensuring the families' survival: farming, martial training, outdoorsmanship, etc.

Ninja clans were despised by samurai and peasant alike. Legend and myth surrounded them and their tradition. They were feared, and many common folk believed them to be nothing more than fairy tale. More than one samurai general set about to rid Japan of ninjutsu clans, most notably Oda Nobunaga. For an excellent write up on this event and more ninjutsu related facts, visit "Mats Hjelm's Bujinkan WWW" page. (See the link section on our homepage.)

Daisuke Togakure was a samurai in the mid 1100's. He was on the losing side of a battle and escaped to the mountain region of Iga. It was here that he is credited for founding Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu.

The lineage of Soke of Togakure Ryu is as follows:

1. Daisuke Togakure 18. Heizaemon Kataoka
2. Shima Kosanta Minamoto No Kanesada 19. Ugenta Mori
3. Goro Togakure 20. Gobai Toda
4. Kosanta Togakure  21. Seiun Kobe
5. Kisanta Koga 22. Kobei Momochi
6. Tomoharu Kaneko  23. Tenzen Tobari
7. Ryuho Togakure  24. Seiryu Nobutsuna Toda
8. Gakuun Togakure 25. Fudo Nobuchika Toda
9. Koseki Kido 26. Kangoro Nobuyasu Toda
10. Tenryu Iga  27. Eisaburo Nobumasa Toda 
11. Rihei Ueno 28. Shinbei Masachika Toda
12. Senri Ueno 29. Shingoro Masayoshi Toda
13. Manjiro Ueno 30. Daigoro Chikahide Toda
14. Saburo Iizuka 31. Daisaburo Chikashige Toda
15. Goro Sawada 32. Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda
16. Ippei Ozaru 33. Toshitsugu Takamatsu
17. Hachiro Kimata 34. Masaaki Hatsumi



Budo Taijutsu is comprised of nine schools, only three of which are actually ninjutsu ryu. The nine schools are:

Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu (Hidden Door School)
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu (Jewel Tiger School)
Kukishinden Ryu Happo Hikenjutsu (Nine Demon Gods School)
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu (Tiger Knocking Down School)
Shindenfudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu (Immovable Heart School)
Takagi yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu (High Tree, Raised Heart School)
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu (Truth, Loyalty and Justice School)
Gyokushin Ryu Kosshijutsu/Ninjutsu (Jeweled Heart School)
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo (Hiding in the Clouds School)

The Japanese ideogram for "Nin" of Ninpo is composed of two lesser characters. The character for "blade" is placed over the character for "heart". This has been interpreted in several ways. One meaning is that the warrior will persevere although a blade (or any adversity) is held over his heart.

Another meaning is that the heart (or will) will be channeled in ways to give it the effectiveness of the blade as a tool for accomplishment.

So, in conjunction with Ninjutsu, the other ryu of the Bujinkan form what is known as Budo Taijutsu.

Unlike many martial arts, Budo Taijutsu has continued to evolve and adapt to each passing generation. As some styles are locked into practicing techniques designed to be effective against now defunct weapons and strategies, Budo Taijutsu teaches the practitioner how to deal with the dangers of an ever-changing modern society.

Hatsumi Soke often refers to what he calls "dead technique". This is like performing kata for the sake of the kata. It is doing techniques without understanding why. Technique must have spirit and feeling. This is difficult to explain, and unless you train, you will not understand. Many people involved in martial arts feel as though learning a new kata means that they are progressing in the art, or that they are "preserving" the art for posterity. This is not so. To learn a new kata without understanding the application is the essence of this "dead technique". To mindlessly perform repetitive movements does nothing to preserve a traditional martial art. It is good for little aside from aerobic exercise.

Living martial traditions must change and adapt with the times. Budo Taijutsu is the antitheosis of this idea. The basic idea, or "feeling" remains the same, the applications change. Budo Taijutsu is effective whether you're fighting unarmed, with a traditional weapon, or a modern weapon.