Bujinkan is one of many styles of martial arts that have come out of Japan. Perhaps most similar to Ninjutsu, the style draws upon several different schools of combat techniques. The organization, headed by Masaaki Hatsumi, has spread around the world as a promising combination of defense and self-improvement. Bujinkan has no official competitions and focuses on training its practitioners to avoid and disable attackers. As a true example of martial arts' design for self-preservation, Bujinkan revolves around utility rather than spectacle.
The origins of Bujinkan are unclear, but it no-doubt extends back further than the 17th century. Because of the historical nature of Ninjitsu related martial arts and the reliance on oral tradition rather than written, the history of the style is undefined before recovered early writings in 1676. Asian martial arts, historically, have been fluid and malleable until relatively recently when specific overarching sports were created. Martial Arts masters passed down their knowledge to students, and students founded their own schools and passed on their own "flavor" of martial arts.
Bujinkan (at least more than most martial arts) is still a very fluid system focused on maximizing self-defense. Drawing from a variety of different schools and training students how to respond dynamically rather than stick to rigid techniques have made it a viable system for protection.
- Kata - pre-defined series of motions and physical training
- Henka - Fixed drills with built-in variation. Students learn to respond to changes in typical situations
- Randori - Students then progress into a fully dynamic fight using safe and controlled techniques to prepare a response to a potential attack.
This pre-determined structure means that the style of training will often be very similar regardless of where you practice. However, since 1988 Hatsumi has focused on a specific "theme" of knowledge each year. Depending on which times you practice, you may find that your training and techniques may vary from other practitioners.
With that said, there are no official rules or regulations to Bujinkan. As stated above, it's very much a method where skill is measured by self-preservation and de-escalation rather than winning a controlled "spar".
Although the majority of Bujinkan focuses around modern self-defense, Ninjutsu has historical origins revolving around espionage. These techniques, collectively known as "Ninpo", are still taught to this day. They're not standard in every Bujinkan training, but the ancient knowledge is still there.
Stealth, spying, and avoidance of combat are taught in this technique, with the primary weapon of a lasso.
Although Ninpo may not have many practical applications in this day and age, the tradition of the Japanese "Ninja" still lives on as masters pass down their knowledge.
Bujinkan is a martial art with a rich, and sometimes unclear, history, and remains a viable method of self-defense to this day. Like many arts, it has evolved from its beginnings, and Bujinkan continues to be dynamic and fluid. If you're looking for an interesting and unique way to defend yourself, Bujinkan may be right up your alley.