Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster
Born Yoshiaki Hatsumi in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture on December 2, 1931 he would later change his name to Masaaki Hatsumi. 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 training schedule seemed to take over all his time. Grandmaster Hatsumi is the author of over a dozen books and 80+ videos 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.
Hatsumi 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 the guitar and the ukelele. For several years he played night clubs in a Hawaiian band as a singer and musician. He is also a recognized painter, whose paintings have been shown at important exhibitions around the world. He has also held training seminars for the FBI, CIA, the Mossad and for police in Britain, France and Germany. 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. Some of his various awards include:
MARTIAL ARTS BACKGROUND
As a young boy growing up he deeply involved himself with training in the martial arts of Japan. He began studying kendo at the early age of 7. Later he would expand on his passion for martial arts by learning other disciplines such as Judo, Karate, Aikido, Okinawan Karate (Zen-Bei Butokukai) , Jukendo (rifle and bayonet combat) and Western boxing. By the time he was 20 years old he had obtained dan rank (black belt status) in many of the common martial arts of the time including a 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 was.
With such a high Judo rank he began teaching martial arts to the U.S. soldiers stationed in Japan. While training these soldiers he noticed that the larger and stronger Americans had an advantage in bouts when using the same techniques. He began to question the legitimacy of modern martial arts training where years of training were outmatched by someone younger and stronger. This led him to start a search for more authentic, traditional warrior arts where skill, not size and strength, was the determining factor.
For the next 10 years he studied all the traditional arts he could find. He began with Yashiro Sensei of Shinden Ryu Jujutsu school. After learning various styles he studied Shido Tenshin Ryu and Asayama Ichiden Ryu with Takashi Ueno. Takashi Ueno traveled exclusively to Hatsumi Sensei's home town to transmit his teachings of Kobujutsu Juhappan, Seeing the special skills Hatsumi Sensei possessed, Ueno recommended him to a grandmaster of Budo named Toshitsugu Takamatsu. Takamatsu possessed an invaluable martial heritage and was the last to teach the ancient art of ninjutsu.
In 1957 at the age of 26 he began making regular trips to train with his new teacher (who resided at the time in Kashiwabara, in Nara), taking a 15-hour train ride from his hometown of Noda in Chiba. When Hatsumi Sensei is asked about his first encounter he says, "The way he applied the techniques was something quite special. Takamatsu Sensei attacked 3 or 4 vital points at the same time. This way I could not counterattack; I could not even move! The pain I felt was the most intense that I have ever suffered." Master Takamatsu took him under his wing for the last 15 years of his life, teaching him the Nine secret traditions and passing them on to him as his sole heir.
One day Takamatsu and Hatsumi were sitting in a room in Takamatsu's house. Takamatsu told Hatsumi to close his eyes while he left the room, and to keep them closed. Hatsumi heard him leave the room and go downstairs. He did not hear Takamatsu re-enter the room. Takamatsu attacked Hatsumi from behind with a live Katana using Jumonji Kiri, one vertical and one horizontal cut. Hatsumi later said that as he sat in the room with his eyes closed, he felt something was wrong and moved to the side. Then, for no reason, he somersaulted forward. Takamatsu told Hatsumi that he had the "feeling" (sakki) and presented the sword to Hatsumi. After this Takamatsu gave Hatsumi the Menkyo Kaiden. The tradition of the "sakki test" is now performed in the Bujinkan Dojo for the rank of Godan (5th Dan) and to be called a shidoshi (teacher of the warrior way).
Hatsumi came to the attention of the western world again when his students began appearing in martial art magazines in the late 1970s. The techniques demonstrated in these magazines were then referred to simply as the techniques of the Ninja. Westerners craving knowledge about these ancient systems of self defense sought out their teacher and, thus, Hatsumi-sensei was introduced to the west. Hatsumi first came to the United States in 1983 and later traveled and taught throughout Europe. In the 1990s Hatsumi-sensei began teaching the nine schools he mastered from Takamatsu Sensei under the banner of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. Today these studies have become what we know of as the Bujinkan Dojo.
THE NINE SCHOOLS OF THE BUJINKAN DOJO: