Little is known to the general public about true Ninjutsu. Many think that Ninjutsu is a martial art, like karate or judo. But that’s not the case. Ninjutsu or Ninpō is the generic term for different styles, schools, and views of Ninjutsu. Each of these Ryū had different techniques, wisdom, and specialties. During the sengoku jidai there were probably around 250 different Ryū, some of which had their fighting styles, but sometimes several Ryū had the same or similar fighting styles.

However, most of the Ryū were gone by the end of the war. Some were no more than mercenaries, assassins, or spies.

I think it is important to accept this point. Often Ninja teachers and historians try to emphasize that Ninja were only scouts. But that is wrong. Just like today, the balance of in and used to be balanced. Some unscrupulous people would accept any job for money, as well as Ryū under the wise guidance of a jōnin. In such a time of war, it was important to guide a Ryū with philosophical foresight, for the difference between foe and friend could change in the blink of an eye.

However, we do not identify with the crimes that have been committed in the past but take the ideals of the teachings that stood at the beginning of the Ryū as a model.

Honesty, humility, humor, strength, curiosity, self-control, understanding, and altruism. A Ninja always lives by the rule that happiness, joy, and personal fulfillment are inherent rights of every human being, regardless of race, religion, or beliefs.

Our task is to preserve these ideals and to ensure that these ideals are adhered to. We focus our entire lives on maintaining peace in word and deed. Ultimately, this can also mean having to fight, but a true Ninja tries the path of non-violence first.

The Nine Schools

under dr Hatsumi Masaaki summarized nine different schools that have been passed down from teacher to student for generations. In honor of his teacher Takamatsu Toshitsugu, he named the summary of the 9 Ryūha Bujinkan. Bu means war, jin means god, heart, or soul, and kan means palace, building, or great house. So one possible translation is the hall of the god of war.

Bujinkan Logo

Bujinkan Logo

The oldest schools look back on a good millennium past. The techniques have been used often enough over time to test and prove their functionality and effectiveness. Ninjutsu is not a Zen system, the technique is not the goal, but solely a quick and effective defeat of opponents. There are no fancy techniques or superfluous movements, Ninjutsu is effective and does not have to compete with any other martial art.

The nine Ryūha of the Bujinkan are:

  1. Togakure-Ryū Ninpō
  2. Gyokko-Ryū koshi jutsu
  3. Kukishinden-Ryū happōhikenjutsu
  4. Shinden Fudo-Ryū daken taijutsu
  5. Gyokushin-Ryū Ninpō
  6. Koto-Ryū koppō jutsu
  7. Takagi-yoshin-Ryū jutaijutsu
  8. Gikan-Ryū koppō jutsu
  9. Kumogakure-Ryū Ninpō

Text: Stefan Imhoff