The focus of the Bujinkan is the transmission of warrior thought and culture refined by the samurai during Japan's feudal era. The samurai had a broad curriculum of martial skills in which they trained. In addition to becoming familiar with these skills, warriors would then further certain abilities that related to their specific duties. The Bujinkan contains nine historic arts that focused on different needs and abilities of the samurai. These arts complement each other and lead to a complete balance of martial training. Though different in their philosophy and execution these schools can roughly fall into two categories.


Bujutsu or Military Arts, refer to the martial training of the samurai warrior class. The samurai were the nobility class that ruled feudal Japan creating a unique warrior society for hundreds of years. It was from this society that the skills, strategies and philosophies of the samurai were refined and perfected into complete martial arts. Samurai training consisted of unarmed and weapon training along with philosophy, large unit tactics and open war strategies. Their unarmed training needed to be for all situations of combat and includes strikes, throws, chokes, locks, pressure points and submissions. Weapon training consisted of all the common weapons of war for the day, including, swords, staffs, spears, halberds, and projectile training.

This training makes up half of the Bujinkan arts and is found in the following schools:

  • Kukishinden Ryu Happo Bikenjutsu
  • Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu
  • Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu
  • Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu


Ninjutsu or Stealth Arts, refer to the special tactics and espionage utilized by the ninja. Warriors who showed a particular talent for skills of a more stealthy nature were assigned to units responsible for special warfare. Later these units were referred to in terms such as ninja and shinobi. Though some old Japanese martial arts have ninjutsu aspects in their curriculum, the Bujinkan contains the only authentic schools dedicated to those studies that are still in existence today. These schools, while containing orthodox martial training also emphasize specific skills and tactics that were appropriate for their style of guerilla warfare. These skills include acrobatics, stealth, infiltration, small unit tactics, disguise, espionage, specialized weaponry, camouflage, terrain evaluation, and elemental training such as fire and water arts.

This training makes up the second half of the Bujinkan arts and is found in the following schools:

  • Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu
  • Koto Ryu Koppojutsu
  • Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu
  • Gyokushin Ryu Ninjutsu
  • Kumogakure Ryu Ninjutsu