Hatsumi, Masaaki (Yoshiaki)

Hatsumi, Yoshiaki born on December 1931 in Noda city, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. His warrior names areTetzusan, Hisamune. Grandmaster Hatsumi is the founder and International Director of the Bujinkan Dojo with its Hombu Dojo, the Bujinden (Divine Palace), residing in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan and has an administration office attached to his downtown home. He is married to his lovely wife, Mariko, a famous Japanese dance teacher and 10th dan director of women’s training for the Bujinkan.He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, with a major in theater studies, and osteopathic medicine (bone doctor). Soon after graduation he opened a bone clinic in his home town and his practice continued on a steady basis until about 1990 when his travel and movie schedule seemed to take over all his time. 

Young Hatsumi was 7 years old when he first held his father’s wooden sword and took up training in the martial ways. That Bokken training blade was made of biwa wood, and his father was very proud of it. That was in the late 1930’s and that day became the inspiration of his martial arts life. As a young boy growing up he deeply involved himself in training in the martial arts of Japan. It was his love and passion. He studied everything he could, Judo, Kendo, Karate, Aikido, Okinowan Karate (Zen-Bei Butokukai) and Jukendo (rifle and bayonet combat). By the time he was 20 years old he had obtained the rank of 4th degree black belt in Judo. In 1951 this was a very high rank and rare for such a young student of the arts. This proves his dedication and perseverance since he tested against those much older and bigger than he. He found Judo to be sport oriented.

After the war years he took a break from martial arts for awhile. During his late teenage years he trained in western style boxing, continued playing soccer, and worked hard at his academic studies. Missing the dojo world of training he so loved and immersed himself into as a youth, he again returned to martial arts. He kept looking for something; he was not sure what it was but it seemed to be missing. 

While studying kobudo (“ancient weapons”) with a renowned instructor Hatsumi learned about a teacher named Toshitsugu Takamatsu, of Kashiwabara City which is to the west of the Iga region of Japan. As a last hope of finding a teacher who could impart the essence of a living warrior tradition and not just some recreational sport or lifeless art form, Hatsumi traveled across Honsho island to seek out the teacher he had searched for his whole life.

Eventually he found himself at the door step of a man who would change his life and someday renew the world of martial arts, Master Toshigatsu Takamatsu, the last of the true Ninja. Master Takamatsu took him under his wing for the last 15 years of his life, taught him the Nine secret traditions and passed them on to him as the sole heir. Today these studies have become what we know of as the Bujinkan Dojo. Grandmaster Hatsumi has granted Shidoshi Van Donk full permission and authority to represent his Ninjutsu / Budo Taijutsu art outside of Japan. Therefore the American Bujinkan Dojo was formed and now offers the teachings of Grandmaster Hatsumi to the general public. 

The train ride took over half a day to get from Hatsumi’s home to that of Takamatsu. In 1957, upon meeting Takamatsu, Hatsumi felt a strange aura emanate from him. Takamatsu was well into his 60’s when the two met. Hatsumi was only 26 years old . Full of confidence, Hatsumi had a match with the veteran battler and learned the true meaning of training. In Hatsumi’s own words:

The pain of his technique was different from any pain I had ever suffered before. I had only felt a cold, momentary pain, while with Sensei I was exposed to a hot, burning pain. It was as if something would explode, if my blood would be sucked up and I would die right away. He didn’tjust apply one GYAKU but four or five. I immediately knew this is what I was looking for. I asked to be his student.At that time, Takamatsu did not accept any new students, and yet, seeing something special in this young man he agreed to teach him. For Takamatsu the meeting was more like a reunion than a first meeting.

In a poem to Hatsumi, Takamatsu wrote:”In the days of the Tenei era there was great master of Koppo. He was calm and peaceful like the flowers of springtime. Yet he was so brave that not even 10,000 enemies could make him show fear. He could even strike down a wild animal with but a single blow.”For over fifteen years Hatsumi trained under the supervision of Takamatsu and in 1972, with the death of his teacher, Hatsumi Sensei became the heir to the last and oldest ninja tradition existing.Hatsumi is a Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter and has had exhibitions in Noda, Ginza (Nagai Gallery), etc. During his many years of training he has also supplied martial arts guidance for numerous film, (Ninja Nights) TV (Jiraiya, Ninja-boy-Fujimaru) & theater events.

Grandmaster Hatsumi is the author of over a dozen books and 40+ video tapes on the art of Ninjutsu. He has been featured in almost every magazine relating to this subject in Japan, and throughout the entire world. He has authored countless magazine and newspaper articles on Ninjutsu and on living a productive life. He wrote, directed and acted in 50 episodes of a television series called ‘Jiraya’ which was the number one watched kid’s program in Japan. He is now what is called a historiographer of martial arts for various plays and movies, acting as a consultant to ensure that what is being portrayed is done correctly based on true history.

He is a past President of the Writers Guild of Japan. He is sought out as a speaker and television personality in Japan. He is an accomplished musician and singer who plays guitar and ukulele. For several years he played night clubs in a Hawaiian band as a singer and musician. The walls of his 3 story brick home display an elaborate collection of signed photos from presidents and leaders of many countries around the world, along with awards, certificates, and honorary degrees from some of the most elite organizations in the world. Among them are Honorary Doctorate degrees from the USA in Human Sciences and Philosophy, Honorary Texas Ranger, Title of Knighthood from Germany, Black Belt Magazine’s Instructor of the Year, and Honorable Citizenship from the state of Texas and cities of Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Dublin, Ireland; etc.. In 2000 Soke was awarded Japan’s highest honor, the Cultural Award, by the  Emperor  of Japan for his worldwide martial arts contributions.The list is long and grows every month as he travels around the world teaching at international Tai Kai events hosted by senior Bujinkan students in their countries. 

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