Bujinkan Dōjō Kobudō

Thank you to Stan for allowing me this opportunity to say a little about my training group based in Dundrum, the Bujinkan Shugyō Dōjō.

We are a branch of the Bujinkan, a martial arts organization which was founded in the 1970's. Masaaki Hatsumi, who leads the Bujinkan, is the head or ‘Sōke’ of an array of Japanese martial arts schools, most notably those he inherited from his teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu, which include:

Togakure Ryū Ninpō
Kotō Ryū Koppōjutsu
Gyokko Ryū Kosshijutsu
Kukishin Ryū Bujutsu
Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtaijutsu
Shinden Fudō Ryū Dakentaijutsu
Gyokushin Ryū Ninpō
Gikan Ryū Koppōjutsu
Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō

The martial art taught in Bujinkan is Budō Taijutsu (also know as Bujinkan Dōjō Kobudō or Bujinkan Dōjō Happōbiken), but the material taught in Budō Taijutsu is drawn from these aforementioned schools or 'ryūha'. In general Bujinkan students are licensed in Budō Taijutsu, although very occasionally traditional licenses are issued in the schools themselves, or more recently, specific areas of study. The most widely disseminated and studied information is that of the unarmed techniques of Togakure Ryū Ninpō, Kotō Ryū Koppōjutsu, Gyokko Ryū Kosshijutsu, Kukishinden Ryū Dakentaijutsu, Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtaijutsu and Shinden Fudō Ryū Dakentaijutsu. In addition the various weapons of Kukishinden Ryū Happō Biken and sword system of Togakure Ryū Ninpō are also commonly practiced.

While there are several sword systems amongst the ryūha that fall under the umbrella of the Bujinkan organization, probably the best known is that of Kukishin Ryū Happōbiken, so I'll mention a little about it in particular. Kukishin Ryū is a sogo bujutsu which was reputedly founded in the 14th Century and there are still several extant lines of this tradition, including the Happōbiken line. The name makes reference to 8 military sciences studied in the system (Happō) and secret teachings related to sword (Biken), and the art itself encompasses several weapons systems including extensive swordwork.

A full discussion of Kukishin Ryū could fill volumes (and has!) but in relation to sword my understanding is that Kukishin Ryū sword was considered a very high level sword art in its time and is well regarded amongst the koryū community in contemporary Japan. At various times kenjutsu was what the school was famous for and best represented its approach, and to this day the correct study of sword is essential to the proper understanding of the Kukishin Ryū overall. By way of example it informs the study of the other weapons in the system and even is the vehicle by which a lot of the philosophy of the school is taught.

Correct study of sword is equally essential to the correct study of Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu. In light of this each class in my Dōjō has a component of unarmed work or taijutsu, chiefly ryūha material, and a component of weapon study, principally sword. Both areas involve cultivating correct fundamentals before examining each kata in their correct order, and with all the minutiae. As part of our study of sword, test cutting is a regular feature on the Dōjō calender, as is the study of battōjutsu, along with regular day long workshops on Bujinkan sword systems, which include sections on sword care, appreciation, correct etiquette and so on.

For my own study I spend several weeks a year in Japan attending the class of the senior students of my organization, and I do my best to transmit the knowledge and 'feeling' of the ryūha material that comprises Bujinkan Dōjō Kobudō to my students back home.

If anyone is interested in coming down to watch training you can contact me via the Dōjō website www.shugyoudojo.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/BujinkanDublin or by email - Shugyoudojo@gmail.com.

Anyway I hope that gives a brief but fair account of Bujinkan and its sword component, thanks for reading.

All the best,

Matthew Harvey

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