Hatsumi, Soke has picked a training theme to focus on every year since 1988. Below is a list of those themes by year.
Since 1988 Hatsumi’s teaching has focused on a particular theme each year. This typically means that a specific ryū, or a certain set of techniques from specific ryū will be taught. Hatsumi announces the year’s theme, or focus, each year at the Daikomyosai.
Depending on what years a student has studied in Japan, they may find that their focus reflects the themes or schools taught during their time. This is one reason that there are often noticeable differences in techniques from different teachers inside the Bujinkan. Although Ninpo Taijutsu is an overall theme of the Bujinkan, 2008 marked the first time that a Ninpo Taijutsu Ryū was the focus of the year. Prior to founding the Bujinkan organization and teaching the nine Ryū collectively (with particular yearly focus), Hatsumi awarded his students rank certificates in individual Ryū.
The themes thus far are:
- 2019 – / Muto dori
- 2018 – 文殊慈心 / もんじゅじしん / Monju Jishin, Monju: Manjushri, Manjushri is the bodhisattva of wisdom. Jishin: merciful heart. / Muto dori
- 2017 Kannin Doshi (Perseverance of mutual respect. Respect yourself and respect your opponent.) / Muto Dori.
- 2016 katana and Continuation of Ken 刃 & nagamaki 長巻, literally “long wrapping.” traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) with an extra long handle. / Muto dori
- 2015 – nagamaki 長巻, literally “long wrapping.” traditionally made Japanese sword (nihonto) with an extra long handle. / Muto dori
- 2014 – 神韻武導 Shin In Bu Dou / 神 SHIN, JIN god, deity; mind, soul / 韻 IN rhyme; elegance; tone / 武 BU, MU martial, military arts, chivalry. Bu or Mu refers to the warrior, Bushi or Musha / 導 DŌ leading, guiding. / Muto dori
- 2013 – Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣) / Ken Engetsu no Kagami (“mirror of the fullmoon sword”)/ Tachi Hôken (“divine treasure sword”)— Ken, Tachi, and Katana/ Naginata and Yari
- 2012 – Jin Ryo Yo Go – Kaname, Sword, and Rokushakubo, separately and with one in each hand
- 2011 – Kihon Happo
- 2010 – Rokkon Shoujou
- 2009 – 才能 魂 器 ”saino konki”/ Talent, Heart, Capacity / Talent, Soul, Capacity
- 2008 – Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu
- 2007 – Kukishin Ryu
- 2006 – Shinden Fudo Ryu
- 2005 – Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (Bo and Tachi)
- 2004 – Daishou Jutaijutsu (Roppo-Kuji-no Biken)
- 2003 – Juppo Sessho
- 2002 – Jutajutsu (Takagi Yoshin Ryu)
- 2001 – Kosshijutsu (Gyokko Ryu)
- 2000 – Koppojutsu (Koto Ryu)
- 1999 – Kukishinden Ryu
- 1998 – Shinden Fudo Ryu
- 1997 – Jojutsu
- 1996 – Bokken
- 1995 – Naginata
- 1994 – Yari
- 1993 – Rokushakubojutsu
- 1992 – Taijutsu Power
- 1991 – Sword and Jutte
- 1990 – Hanbo
- 1989 – Taijutsu and Weapons
- 1988 – Taijutsu
No focus was announced for 2009, though Hatsumi talked about 3 things which are important for a martial artist, which may be loosely considered to be the yearly theme. He said that these things were going to become a bit of a theme for next year.
- Sainou (Ability/talent)
- Kokoro (Heart)
- Utsuwa (Capacity)
Soon after this theme as was announced, it was proposed by Hatsumi that the second aspect, Kokoro (Heart), be replaced by Tamashii (Soul). His reasoning was that the heart is in a constant state of change, whereas the soul is permanent and unchanging, and therefore is “essential to the person”, as was later stated on George Ohashi’s homepage.