Taijutsu (体術, literally “body technique” or “body skill”) is a Japanese blanket term for any combat skill, technique or system of martial art using body movements that are described as an empty-hand combat skill or system. The term is commonly used when referring to traditional Japanese martial art but has also been used in the naming of modern martial arts such as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.
More specific names than Taijutsu are typically used when describing a martial art, such as Jujutsu (focusing on throwing, grappling, and striking), Judo (focusing on throwing and grappling), Aikido (focusing on throwing, striking, and joint locks) and Shorinji Kempo (focusing on striking and grappling).
Taijutsu is a method of using the body for unarmed fighting. Before there was Aikido, Judo, Karate etc, many believe there was the Japanese art of Taijutsu.
Actually, Taijutsu is the collective name for any martial art that relies on body dynamics. In some lines of aikido, the word taijutsu denotes all aikido work without weapons.
Taijutsu is a martial art which may include strikes, kicks, joint locks, throws and many of the techniques found in the above mentioned (Aikido, Judo, Karate, etc), it depends on the particular ryuha. While most of its aspects appear external, the dedicated student will find many internal aspects as well.
Taijutsu is commonly associated with the schools that supposedly teach Ninjutsu, although there are many ryuha with no relation to Ninjutsu that have Taijutsu in their curriculum. Asayama Ichiden Ryu is just one example, there are far too many to list them all.
Taijutsu was used by Bushi/Samurai, some Ninja also used their own version of Taijutsu.
- Budo and Ninpo Taijutsu (Unarmed fight or body skill)
- Junan Taiso (Body Conditioning)
- Taihenjutsu (Body movement)
- Ukemi (Breakfalls)
- Kaiten (Rolling)
- Tobi (Leaping)
- Dakentaijutsu (Striking Methods)
- Koppojutsu (Bone attacks)
- Koshijutsu (Muscle attcks)
- Jutaijutsu (Grappling methods)
- Nage (Throws)
- Hajutsu (Escapes)
- Gyakuwaza (Locks and controls)
- Shimewaza (Chokes)
- Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術)
- Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術)
- Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu (虎倒流骨法術)
- Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentaijutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術)
- Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtaijutsu (高木揚心流柔体術)
- Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu (義鑑流骨法術)
- Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術)
- Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法)
- Kumogakure-ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法)
The Ninja and his or her skills
The 18 Disciplines of Ninjutsu – “Ninja Juhakkei”
The 18 disciplines were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure Ryu, describing a complete training of the warrior in various fighting arts and complementary disciplines. Ninja Juhakkei (18 Ninjutsu skills) was often compared with Bugei Juhappan (the 18 samurai fighting art skills). Though some of them are the same, the techniques of each discipline were used with different approaches by both samurai and ninja.
- Seishin teki kyoyo (spiritual refinement)
- Taijutsu (unarmed combat)
- Ninja ken (ninja sword)
- Bojutsu (stick and staff fighting)
- Shurikenjutsu (throwing blades)
- Yarijutsu (spear fighting)
- Naginatajutsu (halberd fighting)
- Kusarigama (chain and sickle weapon)
- Kayakujutsu (fire and explosives)
- Hensojutsu (disguise and impersonation)
- Shinobi iri (stealth and entering methods)
- Bajutsu (horsemanship)
- Sui ren (water training)
- Bo-ryaku (strategy)
- Cho ho (espionage)
- Intonjutsu (escape and concealment)
- Ten-mon (meteorology)
- Chi-mon (geography)
Seishin teki kyoyo (spiritual refinement)
The first and the most necessary of the skills presumes a self-knowledge level of the warrior that will be able to control the senses, motivations, and intentions, both his and opponent ones. From this point, the Ninja warriors developed a mystical discipline, with its own philosophy and mental doctrine, known as Ninpo Mikkyo.
NINJUTSU: HISTORY AND TRADITION (Unique Publications).
Soke Hatsumi states:
I believe that ninpo, the higher order of ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artists. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalized by Japan’s ninja were, in fact, one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today’s martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than, mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living.
By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear or injury or death, and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations, the practitioner of ninjutsu can gain strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others, and contentment with the presence of peace in society. The attainment of this enlightenment is characterized by the development of the jihi no kokoro, or “benevolent heart”. Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that find expression in the unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, ninpo’s benevolent heart is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds.
After so many generations of obscurity in the’ shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja_ is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so that mankind may continue to grow arid evolve into the next great plateau.
So many testimonials have been written about Dr. Hatsumi that, to list just a portion of them would entail the addition of countless pages to the magazine or warrant a special edition devoted to that subject alone. Barring that enterprise for the moment, we can happily accommodate the words of Yoshiteru Otani. Learning that his friend and teacher for 25 years was embarking on a series of articles for Ninja Magazine, Mr. Otani, 9th Dan, Jigen-Ryu, Founder and President of New York Iaikai acknowledged that:
“In the martial arts history of Japan, we have produced only a handful of major grandmasters. . . ” citing Ueshiba Morihei Sensei of Aikido fame and Mikune Kyuzo Sensei, 10th Dan of Judo, as two from the modern era. “Standing with them,” Mr. Otani asserts, “is Hatsumi Sensei, a real genius in his time, a modern ninja without equal.”
“His dedication to the art of ninjutsu and his devotion to his profession as a chiropractic doctor creates an example of a man who has harmonized body and spirit.”
Mr. Otani considers him ” . . . not only the greatest martial artist alive, he is also a master of kindness and spirit. During my 45 years of study in martial arts and 30 years as a teacher, I have not met a man like him in any country. I know that by reading his articles your readers will learn by his instruction and be inspired by his spirit.
” We, the editors, have no doubt that that will be the case. Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi is a treasure of information whose wealth can be shared by all. In this, the first of what we hope will be many articles, Dr. Hatsumi briefly discusses his reasons for speaking to us from Japan, his birthplace, and current residence.
The worldwide ninja movement is upon us. Because of this, many people have decided to call themselves’ “ninja”. Many (others) claim to know what ninjutsu is. Under these circumstances, I must explain the reason for my taking up a pen to write about this art.
Today, the pen is stronger than the sword. I am living in the modern world, so as the only true ninja alive today, I must fight with my pen, not my sword, to introduce this 900-year-old tradition of ninpo to those who are truly interested in the ancient art of the ninja.
The introduction of the ninja movement in the West, as I see it, is~moving in the wrong direction. Why? Because ninjutsu was originally taught in a secret manner, and this secrecy was kept and observed for many years. Ninjutsu was not exposed. (Yet), those who never learned ninpo, those who just read books, for example, started to practice even though they had very wrong conceptions. It is therefore often thought that ninjutsu is used for assassinations and other evil purposes and that those who practice it live in a `dark world’. Too many people believe that that is what a ninja is because that is the way it is being introduced.
Being a real ninja means living a good life, a life under the sun – a special place in the sun; to love people, to understand nature and animals, and to love the universe. This type of love I speak of must have a kind of balance in it: It is not only given and take, it is also given and return. The mind of a ninja is a mind of mercy, a mind of God. It is a state of mind that must be kept in order to live a straight, moral life.
Looking for the meaning of life, one man can discover the order of the universe. To discover the truth, to achieve. a higher spiritual state, that is the true meaning of ninja…
NINJA HACHIMON (Eighth method of the Ninja)
- NINJA NO KIAI: (This involves an explosive expression of spirit and energy to others and to oneself.)
- NINJA NO TAIJUTSU:(Involves the study and practice of body techniques.)
- NINJA NO KENPO: (This is the study of sword techniques.)
- NINJA NO SOJUTSU: (This is the study of methods evolving the spear or lance.)
- NINJA NO SHURIKEN: (This is the art of throwing knives, darts and star? shaped weapons.)
- NINJA NO KAJUTSU: (Involves the use of fire.)
- NINJA NO YUGEI: (This is the art of deception and disguises.)
- NINJA NO KYOMON: (This is the study of religion, philosophy, meditation, history, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and psychology.
Since ancient times, the study of the arts and sciences were as important to martial arts as the study of self-defense techniques. Ninja no kyomon, the study of all aspects of religion, medicine, mathematics and other disciplines are necessary, for correct judgment and self-understanding.
This has been a simple introduction to Hachimon, the basics of ninpo. In the following issues, I will go into greater detail concerning this very special martial art and way of life: What we call ninjutsu.