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Tsukamaki-shi – Where To Start

I have always had this obsession with Japanese swords (Nihonto), I never knew what it was about them exactly but no other sword ever had the same aesthetic appeal. Maybe it was growing up during the Ninja boom of the 80’s and 90’s where invincible warriors weilding these mystical weapons wrought shadowy vengence on their enemies or maybe i just watched too much TMNT when i was a kid and wanted to be Leonardo 😂

Naturally when i started studying martial arts one of the major things i wanted to learn was how to use a Katana (Samurai Sword) and by the time i was 13 my family finally allowed me to have an Iaito (Blunt) Ninjato (Ninja Sword). This sword was ok for my first sword and i absolutely loved it! I used to finish school, go home and train for a few hours everyday and my sword was always in the vacinity. I think i was studying Jujutsu at the time as i seem to remember wearing a white Gi.

One day me and a friend of mine were training and being a bit stupid we decided to spar with our Iaito (NOT A GOOD IDEA!) and i remember we clashed swords and the end of my Ninjato flew off! My blade had snapped! That was when i realised 440 stainless is not the material for a functional sword!

I was gutted to say the least that i broke my first sword so i started learning how to fix it and convert it into a Wakizashi of sorts. Needless to say it was terrible lol! I just crushed the end of the metal Saya (Sheath) closed and attacked the end with a metal file to make it have some resemblance of a sword. This was when i first started to look into Tsukamaki as my sword was knackered and i would have done just about anything to fix it. After a lot of fiddling i figured it out and the process of perfecting it has taken me years, I’m still learning to this day.

It’s important to mention that its not easy to make Tsukamaki look elegant and its quite a complex process which is why i have never written about it until now. Patience, persistence and excellence are the true requirements to properly perform Tsukamaki, It can’t be rushed and takes a lot of practice.

You will need some tools to properly perform Tsukamaki like a Mekugi-Ana, 2 dental picks or metal tools (I use two converted watchmakers files), Rubber and amber hammer, hacksaw, some paper or tape, Hishigami (Paper wedges), rice glue, scissors and maybe some pliers. A basic Tsukamaki tool kit looks like this:

I will explain what each tool is for when going throught the Hinerimaki technique later in the post but the key tools are the picks and the Hishigami. Some people also use clamps to hold the Tsuka Ito (Cord) in place while performing Tsukamaki but I don’t personally, I learnt to clamp the Tsuka Ito in place with my left thumb and forefinger whilst tying it but this is difficult and very strenuous on your hands at first. The clamps are fairly standard spring loaded grips.

This is a good idea at first but i find them annoying as they get in the way so you may want to drop the grips once you become more proficient.

You can also use a fake Nakago G clamped to a table but these are not readily available you have to make them yourself.

Nihonto Terminology

One of the fundamental aspects of learning Tsukamaki is familiarising yourself with the terminology used and the parts that comprise all Japanese Nihonto. Tsukamaki is a Japanese art, Therefore you need to learn some Japanese or you won’t know what your working with.

I have provided a list below of the most common terminology used in Tsukamaki:

Fuchi/Kashira – Pommel caps
Ha – Cutting edge
Hishigami – Paper wedges
Ito – Cord
Maki – To wrap
Menuki – Hilt Ornaments
Mekugi – Peg that secures the handle
Mekugi Ana – Holes in the Hilt
Mune – Back of the blade
Nakago – Tang of the sword
Omote – Outside
Ura – Inside
Tsuka – Handle
Tsuka Ito – Cloth braid covering Tsuka
Same – Shark or ray skin

Materials Required

The basic materials used for Tsukamaki are the Ito, paper and glue.

The glue needs to be sticky but not absorbable as if you use Gorilla Glue or superglue you will ruin the Ito as it will soak up the glue and solidify. The best glue for Tsukamaki is produced by boiling rice, working it into a paste while its warm and adding a very small amount of water to create rice glue.

When making Hishigami the paper can be almost any weight, I tend to use A4 but ideally it should be relatively close to a newspaper thickness. You have to be careful using newsprint though as the ink can run and again mark the Ito.

You should moisten the Hishigami before placing them as this will allow the Hishigami to conform easier to both the Tsuka Ito and the Samegawa.

Tsuka Ito is available from the shop (Ningu) in a wide variety of colours and is only manufactured using two different types of fibres, Natural and synthetic. If you are unsure what your Ito is made from then a burn test is often helpful to indentify it.

Tsuka Ito Lengths

This varies according to the length of the Tsuka that you are wrapping and the Ryuha of the sword, Its best to overestimate rather than underestimate how much Ito you will require as although their are a number of techniques and forumlas to estimate the required length, their isn’t one thats infallible. A simple guideline is:

Tanto – 4” Tsuka – 6ft of Tsuka Ito
Wakizashi – 6” Tsuka – 8ft of Tsuka Ito
Katana – 10” Tsuka – 12ft of Tsuka Ito

However if the Tsuka is for a Kukishinden Ryu Katana or Oniyuri Bujinkan Katana the Tsuka are alot longer so the Ito required would be approximately 16-18ft.

Tsuka Shape

One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of Tsukamaki is the shape of the Tsuka itself. When you buy a production sword its somewhat like buying an iPad with factory settings, you have to add your apps and info to make it yours. One of the most common complaints people make about their swords is that after a while the Tsuka becomes uncomfortable to hold or it feels too thin.

This is easily remedied by removing the Tsuka Ito and adjusting the Tsuka itself.

This is done in a number of ways but the easiest is to apply paper strips to the Ha (Blade Edge) and Mune (Blade Spine) edges of the Tsuka to pack the handle out and make it thicker.

It’s important that you glue each strip down like paper mache as this will keep the Ito in place and also stop the paper moving around and messing up your Tsukamaki. The paper should be wide enough to touch either side of the Samegawa but not obscure it once the Ito is applied. This will also stop the Ito snaring on the rough face of the Samegawa.

Continue layering the paper until the edges are flush with the Fuchi and Kashira once the Tsuka Ito has been applied. This is done by taking a length of Tsuka ito and checking the depth as pictured below.

This process is also known as preparing the Tsuka. I have owned more Nihonto than i can count and until i realised that the Tsuka needed shaping i believed i’d only ever found the right sword for me a few times as all the rest didn’t feel quite right. Turns out i just prefer a fatter Tsuka personally as factory made Tsuka feel uncomfortable in my hands as they are quite big. My point is that if your sword feels uncomfortable in the hand, your Tsuka probably needs packing out.

I tend not to do this last part but its relevant for applying Hishigami. Measure and mark the Ha and Mune sides of the Tsuka in sections of 1 width of the Tsuka Ito. The distance between the Fuchi and Kashira should measure an odd number of width units along the Ha and Mune sides. If the width measurements are not odd then the Tsuka may have to be altered or a different weight of Tsuka Ito may have to be used in order to fit with the odd number of spaces. This also largely depends on the style of Tsukamaki your are practising as some styles simply won’t fit if you don’t use this guideline but its not so much of an issue for Hinerimaki Tsukamaki (Diamond Wrapping). It is an issue for Katate Maki for example as the end knots won’t fit on the Tsuka.

At this point you usually produce you Hishigami ready to start wrapping however i will discuss making Hishigami in a later blog post. Hishigami are small paper triangles used to space out the Tsuka Ito and keep it symmetrical when wrapping. An example is provided below:

Hinerimaki Tsukamaki – Where To Start

Once you have finshed preparing your Tsuka and Hishigami its time to start Tsukamaki. It should be mentioned that its tradition for the Tsuka Ito to be placed on the Omote side of the Tsuka regardless of the style. You can determine the Omote side of the Tsuka by looking for the Kurigata (hole for the cord) on the Saya which always faces out from the body when the sword is worn.

Before you start wrapping the Tsuka theirs a few steps to go through:

1. Take the Tsuka Ito, find the middle and fold perfectly in half.

2. Place the first two Hishigami on the Ura (Inside) of the Tsuka and align them with the marks on the paper strips packing out the Ha and Mune sides of the Tsuka.

3. Place the middle of the Tsuka Ito on the Omote side of the Tsuka  and make the first two Tsuka Ito folds overlap the Hishigami on the Ura side of the Tsuka. The left side of the Ito is folded first and the right side of the Ito overlaps the left.

4. Bring the two lengths of Tsuka Ito around to the omote side and make the next two folds. Hishigami should either be placed already or placed as you perform the Tsukamaki.

5. Continue the Tsukamaki process alternating the direction of the folds as you go.

Bare in mind that earlier i mentioned their are a variety of ways of doing this, I do it by hand but many people use clamps 🗜

Its important that your Tsukamaki is tight, after each fold its important to pull fairly hard and draw the Tsuka Ito into shape around the Hishigami. It’s really important that your Tsukamaki is not loose or you will have to start again.

Throughout the process continually monitor and adjust the symmetry of the folds and spacing and try to maintain a smooth surface along the Ha and Mune edges of the Tsuka.

Perfect Tsukamaki is extremely tight and precisely positioned, you should not be able to move the folds in the Tsuka Ito once drawn over the Hishigami on the Tsuka.

Placing The Menuki

Placing the Menuki on your Tsuka in the Hinerimaki style is fairly simple, The Menuki are placed 3 folds up on the Omote side of the Tsuka and 3 folds down from the Ura side knot of the Tsuka.

In the case of a Wakizashi or Tanto the Menuki are usually placed after the second set of folds on the Tsuka.

It varies according to the style of Tsukamaki being performed, the size of the Tsuka, the size of the Menuki, Ito width and the placement of the Mekugi Ana.

Tying The Ura Side Knot

Once you have reached the Kashira end of your Tsuka you will need to tie the Ura side knot.

Pass the end of the Tsuka Ito coming from the Mune side, over and under the fold formed by the crossed Tsukamaki.

Then pass the end from the Ha side over the Mune side Ito and under the Tsukamaki folds on the other side locking the Mune side Ito in position.

Take the Ha side Ito and fold into a loop and then bring it back under the Tsukamaki folds.

Thread both ends through the Shitodome and the Kashira so that both ends of the Tsuka Ito are poking through the Kashira on the Omote side.

Tying The Omote Side Knot

Pass both lengths of the Tsuka Ito under the top set of Tsukamaki folds.

Then take the Ha side length and loop it under the top Tsukamaki folds to form a tight band around them. Cut off excess and tuck into the band.

Now take the Mune side lenght of Ito and fold it into a loop passing it back under the Tsumakai folds on the other side of the band.

The Ito should now be pointing towards the Kashira, simply repeat the process of folding into a loop and passing the Ito back under the Tsukamaki folds on the other side on the band around the centre of the Tsukamaki folds.

Now cut off the excess length of Ito as close to the now formed Omote side knot as possible and tuck in any excess.

Your Tsukamaki is now complete and should look like this:

Finally if the folds of your Tsukamaki aren’t quite symmetrical, take a spoon or a ruler and use the edge to push the base of the folds into your Hishigami. DON’T use your picks! If you slip you will pull the weaving of your Tsuka Ito and form a loop which will effectively ruin all the work you have just completed. Use something rigid but with a round edge.

This post is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of the entire art of Tsukamaki but an insight into one of the most common styles (Hinerimaki/Ito No Maki) of Tsukamaki. It quite literally only scratches the surface but it is a good place to start.

I will write more about the differing styles of Tsukamaki, Making Hishigami, Tying Sageo and anything else Tsukamaki related in my following blog posts but this post will turn into a book if i continue 😂

It takes time and practice to get it right but after your first few failed attempts you will get to grips with it! It’s a fiddly process but if your an avid practitioner of Kenjutsu its an essential skill.

Its suprising how many martial artists own Nihonto but let them fall into a state of complete disrepair, It’s been more than a few times that i’ve walked into a Dojo and seen the Nihonto on the wall has the Tsuka Ito hanging off, with the instructor clueless on how to tie it back into position. I always assumed it was part and parcel of the art.

However…..

Should you need restoration work done on the swords in your dojo please do not hesitate to contact us (www.ningu.co.uk) 😆

I hope you find this post useful in your training.

I will add pictures of how to tie the Ura and Omote side knots shortly.

Jutsu Vs Jitsu


 

A question I keep getting asked is whats the difference between the Japanese terms Jutsu and Jitsu?

The explanation is fairly simple, Jitsu is an English term for a martial arts system its not Japanese and when used in the Japanese language Jitsu means something entirely different translating as “Real/Fact/Truth” 事実.

This is most likely to down to a translation error when it was first transcribed as Jutsu is the correct way to romanise it, but when pronounced it could sound like Jitsu. It could also be down to a lack of solidarity in romanisation of Japanese in the past which has since been rectified by the Japanese Language Council who established one system of romanisation. The direct translation of Jutsu is “Art” 術 but it can also be “technique” or possibly “way – Do 術” in some instances.

Another common western practice not seen in Japan is the use of a hyphen to seperate the the name of the art “Ju-Jitsu” instead of “Jujutsu”. This one is a bit of a mystery as theirs no legitimate basis for doing this! It’s most likely being done by whoever has translated it to show some awareness of Kanji but it makes absolutely no sense other than how many kanji are used! To demonstrate i have included the Kanji below:

Kanji   Actual Trans.   Mystery Trans.   Wrong Trans.
柔術     Jūjutsu                Ju-Jutsu                  Ju-Jitsu
忍術     Ninjutsu             Nin-Jutsu                  Nin-Jitsu
空手     Karate.               Kara-Te                    Ka-Rate
柔道     Judō                    Ju-Dō                      Jiudo/Jyudo
合気道 Aikidō                 Ai-Ki-Dō                    Aikijutsu/Aikijujutsu

So you see the Kanji for Jūjutsu is comprised of two Kanji so when translated for some reason people are placing a hyphen in between the words to make Jū-jutsu but this is totally unneccessary, its simply Jūjutsu.

Jiu-Jitsu is another mistranslation and is simply wrong when translated from Japanese into English but theirs a possibility it could have links to the way the Kanji are translated in the Brazillian language which is why its mostly associated to BJJ (Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu). Japanese Jūjutsu is not Jiu-Jitsu, although for some reason instructors claiming to have connections to Japan use Jiu-Jitsu all the time when they apparently run a Jūjutsu Dojo.

Upon further research i have discovered that what actually happened was Rorion Gracie copyrighted Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to seperate it from Japanese Martial Arts as its not Japanese.

With this in mind doesn’t it make sense that your either an instructor of Japanese Jūjutsu or an instructor of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu?! Their is no Jiu-Jutsu, Jū-jitsu or Jūjitsu!

The reason this is important is if the instructor doesn’t know how to spell the name of the art being taught correctly or it origins, Then how effective is whats being taught?! Using the term Jujitsu suggests a school of enligtenment somewhat like a monastery so effectively those schools are offering enlightenment, which is kind of funny really when you think about it.

I tell my students regularly to “check the source” because if you follow the art up the chain and find it has no connection to a legitimate martial arts linage or Ryuha then 9 times out of 10 your learning off Sensei Bob who has never actually met anyone Japanese let alone trained with them.

Its the same with Ninjutsu! If a school is claiming to teach Ninjitsu its fake! No legitimate Ninjutsu practitioner will call our art Ninjitsu but Ninpo, Ninjutsu or Budo Taijutsu. We don’t use the names of dead lineages either like Koga Ryu Ninjitsu or Fuma Ryu Ninjitsu as they died out centuries ago and Ninjitsu isn’t a word! Theirs some arguement for Fujita Seiko being the last real Koga Ninja but even then he died decades ago before training any students to continue the lineage. Koga Ryu Ninjitsu translates as “Lieing Wannabe Ninja” to any legitimate practitioner because we learn Japanese from day 1 in the dojo, It’s integral to the art!

As i mentioned previously much of the confusion can be traced back to the 1950’s-1960’s when westerners were translating the Kanji for martial arts and misunderstood the romanisation of the Kanji. Judo became Jyudo, Jiudo, Jujutsu, Jujitsu, Juiido and numerous other varitations that all are apparently more accurate translations of the original Kanji 柔道 Judō. These instructors then refused to accept their individual translations could possibly be wrong so branched out into splinter organisations which all use different spelling for the name of original Japanese art of Judō 柔道.

I’m not saying that just because a name of a martial art is mispelt from the translation of the Kanji that it invalidates the art itself but more that you can determine alot about a dojo and its standards by the name it uses. If they are advertising traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Then thats fairly impressive considering the art itself doesn’t actually exist in either Japan or Brazil! It’s the equivalent to saying we teach traditional Japanese Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.

As martial artists and especially martial arts instructors we have a responsibility to understand the intricate details behind everything we do and teach. If your simply practicing mechanical techniques in the dojo and not asking “Why am i doing this? What am i doing to the Uke when performing this technique?” Then you are completely missing the point of training in the first place!

Training should be performed in a realistic manner with intention, to simulate actual combat and when you perform a technique you should understand the ‘Kuden’ or concept behind it otherwise obtaining any sort of proficiency in the art you practice will be extremely difficult. Their are loads of factors to consider when performing a technique, I often use the legal term that your causing a chain of causation, You attack or lock one part of the body whilst watching for the reaction that will occur somewhere else in the Ukes anatomy to break them down when they are structurally at their weakest. Its all part of the process of Shu Ha Ri which i will explain in a later post.

My point being attention to detail is extremely important in martial arts, so if you can’t get the name of your style right then what else has been overlooked?

In conclusion figure out what you are! Either your a Japanese Jūjutsu Dojo or a Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu School! If you practice Judō its Judō not Juido, Jyudo or whatever else you may call it. Japanese is a language so its a fairly simple process to clarify how the Kanji should be romanised with modern technology leaving very little room for open interpretation. You can’t argue with the Kanji!

As a student you should never be affraid to question what you are being taught and check the source. It will make you a better student overall and it helps your instructors stay on their toes and dig deep into what they represent and how they teach you. After all they learn as much from you as you do from them whilst training in the dojo!

Finally, Attention to detail is key! Understand the “why?” Behind every technique you perform and what the end game is. This is really important as its what helps you become a better martial artist with effective technique. Its not all about brute force and rigid mechanical movements but technical proficiency and scientific application of the art you practice. I say to my students “If its not natural, It’s not Ninjutsu” by which i mean when a technique is performed correctly it should feel effortless because all the little details click into place to break the opponent down. Thats Ninjutsu in action, Not Ninjitsu 😆🙇🏼‍♂️

 

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Knife Attacks

💥⛩ DO NOT TRAIN WITH LIVE BLADES! ⛩💥

We looked at Muto Dori (Unarmed defence against a blade) in the dojo yesterday and moved away from the kata to look at real world application. Theirs a number of factors to take into consideration.

The first being that you need to be aware of some important aspects before engaging an assailant armed with a knife:

1. If you can escape! RUN! Call the Police!
2. If you can’t escape, can you negotiate? It’s better to lose you wallet than you life. What do they want?
3. If its unaviodable can you arm yourself? What may assist you in defending yourself? Have the Police been called?
4. Stuff you’ve seen in a movie will NOT work! It WILL get you killed!
5. NEVER allow the opponent to grab you! The WORST situation you can be in is with the assailant holding your shirt with the left hand whilst stabbing with the right hand!
6. You WILL be terrified! Its 100% natural! Its called fight or flight!
These are just the basic precursory aspects you need to understand but the most important is rule number 1, Run and call the Police!

The second factor is the legal ramifications or what could potentially happen and the impact it will have on your life moving forwards. I can’t stress this point enough its NOT a good idea to confront anyone who is armed EVER!

If however its completely unavoidable then all rules go out the window, their is no room for reasonable force as the slightest hesitation could have devastating consequences. Make sure that your actions are 100% justified as you will have to explain yourself and will likely be arrested for further questioning and with good reason.

Its difficult to comprehensively define reasonable force in a life threatening situation but the legal definition is that your justified to use reasonable force to disarm and restrain the assailant if they pose a significant threat to you of others around you.

In short reasonable force for them trying to stab you with a fixed blade knife would be somewhere in between disarming them, hitting them with a table, to a firearms officer shooting them in the leg. Its kind of broad 😂

On a serious note though the situation could also go VERY BADLY! If you don’t know what your doing and i mean REALLY know with continuous training you could easily end up becoming the victim of a knife attack. It really doesn’t matter what martial art you have studied or how many kata involving knife disarms you’ve practiced because all that will go out the window. Don’t be a hero!

The third factor is knife attacks happen fast! The opponent will not leave their arm extended for you to perform a fancy technique like Kote Gaeshi unlike your partner in the dojo. The most common attack is the sewing machine, the assailant latches on with the left hand and repeatedly stabs to the victims abdomen with the right hand. This happens VERY quickly, don’t be under any miscinception a knife is every bit as deadly as a firearm! The key is not to allow the opponent to latch on in the first place! If the assailant grabs you its highly likely you are going to be stabbed so this is VITALLY important! DO NOT LET THEM GRAB YOU!

This grab is often also how you get clear of the knife by using effective Taisabaki and barring off the grabbing arm to restrain the opponent but thats impossible to explain in this post. If you can position yourself out of reach of the stabbing arm behind the shoulder of the grabbing arm whilst in Ura Gyaku for example then it provides the split seconds needed to drag the opponent to the ground to pin the shoulder of the grabbing arm using the knee to then disarm them.

This brings me back to factor 2 the law, Theirs no room for reasonable force as such, you need to dominate the assailant with controlled aggression or you legitimately risk being stabbed. This doesn’t mean using the knife either should you disarm them! Definitely not! Thats murder/manslaughter no matter what way you look at it! You need to do whatever you need to do to neutralise the situation without doing significant lasting damage to anyone! However a broken arm only lasts 6 weeks 😂

This subject is extremely extensive so i will continue it in a later post but don’t be stupid when it comes to an assailant armed with a knife, It’s a very real and significant threat in modern society and that knife doesn’t care how hard you THINK you are! Steel is harder than flesh no matter how you look at it and it only takes one mistake for the consequences to be devastating. If you can run, THEN RUN! Call the Police! Don’t ever train with live blades either, training should always be done with wooden, rubber or foam knives under the supervision of a fully qualifed and insured instructors.

Kyusho – Pressure Points

  • Kaku – This point is the knee and the painful point on the inside and outside of the knee joint.

  • Koshitsubo – Hip Pot – You can find this Kyusho point at the base of the spine where it joins the hip, also called the sacrum.

  • Koe – Voice –This Kyusho point is between the centre of the thigh and the groin and is where the Femur joins the hip. This point is also where the femoral artery and femoral nerve begin, before they run down the leg. It is possible to dislocate the hip if this point is kicked hard.

  • Yubi Tsubo – Finger Healing Point – This point is found at the base of the thumb, between the thumb and forefinger. It should be hit or squeezed in towards the forefinger.

  • Ura Kimon – Inside Demon Gate – You can find this Kyusho poin on the ribs just below the nipple and below the pectoral muscles.

  • Suigetsu – Watermoon – This point is just below the xiphoid process and is the solar plexus. This area affects the diaphragm when hit.

  • Kinketsu – Forbidden Hole – This is the length of the sternum and is impossible to protect with muscle. This point lies over the heart and is very influential over the governing of Ki.

  • Wakitsubo – Side Bowl – This Kyusho point is the hollow of the armpit where there are some lymphatic glands.

  • Murasame – Village Rain – This Kyusho point is found on the notch at the top of the Sternum. This Kyusho can be hooked or struck with the forefingers.

  • Matsu Kaze – Wind in the pine trees – These Kyusho are the inside ends of the clavicles.

  • Ryumon – Dragons Gate – This Kyusho point is the space behind the clavicle or collar bone, going down into the body.

  • Uko – Door of Rain – This Kyusho is at the side of the neck and is also known as Amado, and is found level with the adams apple. Located by the artery, Jugular vein and the vagal nerve that regulates the heart. It should be struck inwards towards the spine.

  • Jinchu – Centre of A Human – This Kyusho point is located at the base of the nose and the tip if the philtrum, between the nostrils. This point can be struck, but it is more painful if rubbed in a lateral motion. Note: It is not advisable to strike the Jinchu as if struck with enough force it can kill. Don’t do it!

  • Hadome – End of the Teeth – You can find this Kyusho point by moving to the area where the back of the teeth or Molars are located, the muscle of the Jaw is also positioned there. This area also goes into the cheek tissue below the eyes.

  • Tenmon – Heaven’s Gate – This Kyusho point is located on the ridge of the bone above and below the eye socket. It is sometimes massaged to alleviate headaches, but if pressed hard is painful and is useful for controlling the Ukes head.

  • Hiryuran – Flying Dragon Confuser – This Kyusho point is the eyeballs.

  • Menbu – Face – This Kyusho point is located on the bridge of the nose, when hit it causes a reflex that causes the eyes to water, which affects Ukes sight like biological Metsubishi. It can also refer to the face in general.

  • Yugasumi – Evening Mist – This Kyusho point is located on the sensitive point about an inch behind the lower ear in the base of the skull.

  • Kenkotsu – Healthy Bone – These Kyusho points are located on the four parts of the skull positioned front, back, left and right of Tento on the top of the skull.

  • Tsuyugasumi – Drop of Mist – This Kyusho point is located under the jawline and is where the lymphatic glands are situated. Also, just below the ear into the Cochlea Jaw is a very sensitive area.

  • Inazuma – Thunder – This Kyusho point is located to the left side of Ukes belly Button.

  • Tsuki Kage – Thrusting Shadow – This Kyusho point is located on the right side of the Ukes belly button.

  • Tento – Heaven Head – This Kyusho point is located at the top of the head. It is the area that is soft when children are born.

  • Kasumi – Fog – This Kyusho point is located on the temples on either side of the head. Due to the arteries and their proximity to the surface of the skin, this is a very dangerous area to strike.

  • Happa – Eight Leaves – This Kyusho point is located on the ear canal and also the ear drum. It can also incorporate the bone just behind the ear that protects the inner ear. Shock to the latter point can affect the Ukes balance.

  • Asagasumi – Morning Mist – This Kyusho point is located under the bottom of the chin.

  • Gokoku – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the back of the hand or Kote between the middle finger and the forefinger. It is the point used when performing Omote Gyaku.

  • Ryu Fu – Dragons Wind – This Kyusho point is located on the Adams apple. Hitting here causes severe pain and can cause swelling that could block the airway so care must be taken.

  • Daimon – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the shoulder joint or head of the humorous and if struck correctly can dislocate the shoulder.

  • Dokkotsu – Single Bone – These Kyusho points are located on either side of the adams apple. If you hit the Ukes right side it is more effective that hitting the left.

  • Jujiro – Intersection – These Kyusho points are located at the front of the shoulders just below the anterior deltoid muscle, and on top of the clavicles.

  • Hoshi – Star – This Kyusho point is located on the underside of the elbow, striking here can have an effect on the Ukes grip and is very painful as it pinches the Medial Ulnar nerve against the bone.

  • Jakkin – Weak Muscle – This Kyusho point is located on the inside upper arm and is found between the Bicep and Tricep muscles. It is possible to damage the Median and Ulnar nerves when striking here, and also can affect the Ukes grip.

  • Kimon – Demon Gate a.k.a Omote Kimon – This Kyusho point is located above the nipple and is the spot between the two chest muscles, the pectoral major and minor. This point should be hit inwards toward the spine.

  • Seitaku – Star Mud – This Kyusho point is located on the top side of the elbow joint, with the thumb up. Grabbing here can make Ukes knees buckle and head peck forwards.

  • Kage – Shadow – This Kyusho point is the protuberance at the bottom of the sternum called the Xiphoid process.

  • Butsumetsu – Buddha’s Passing – This Kyusho point is located on both sides of the ribs and is midway down the ribcage below the armpit. It is an area that is impossible to protect with muscle and also includes the end of the floating rib. It should be struck inward towards the centre of the body.

  • Go Rin – Five Rings – These Kyusho points are located around the belly button.

  • Sai – Crush – This Kyusho point is located on the inside or outside of the mid-thigh. It has been said that if you are hit here hard you can’t stand up for a few days.

  • Kosei – Force of a Tiger – This Kyusho point is located in the groin, specifically the testicles, although this area is a sensitive place for women as well.

  • Kyokei – Strong Tendons – These Kyusho points are located on the top of the foot, just above the base of the toes.

  • Yaku – Press – This Kyusho point is located in the middle of the calf muscle. It is extremely painful when hit.

    Note: This subject is quite difficult to compile because some of the Kyusho points have historically been wrongly translated and named, and positioned incorrectly on the diagrams, also different Dojos use different names for the Kyusho and document different affects, from Kyusho that can make you immobile for a few days, Immobile for a moment and those that just hurt momentarily. Please note that although the Kyusho points on the diagrams are marked on one side, they actually apply to both sides of the body unless positioned along the centre line of the body. You should also be aware that the knowledge of Kyusho is useless without the proper Taijutsu necessary to strike them correctly

Bujinkan Rank Structure

The grading system in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu differs by comparison to other conventional martial arts that operate by presenting students with different colored belts with each grade acheived.

In the Bujinkan we operate on a system of Wappen (Patches) and Hoshi (Stars) to make it easy to understand at a quick glance what grade someone is. Most traditional schools of martial arts would present a student with a white belt and then through years of training in the Dojo it would eventually become a black belt, the concept of colored belts is a very western concept popularized by Karate, Judo and Jujutsu during its introduction into western culture.
​The rank structure is outlined in the image below:

Ku Ryuha – The 9 Schools

Soke Hatsumi founded the Bujinkan in 1970 and he was born on the 2nd of December 1931. The Bujinkan is comprised of nine schools or Ryu-Ha (martial arts lineages) which are listed below:

  • Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu

  • Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu

  • Kukishinden Ryu Happo BIkenjutsu

  • Koto Ryu Koppojutsu

  • Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu

  • Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu

  • Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu

  • Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo

  • Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo

     

Note: Koshijutsu – Joint manipulation

Koppojutsu – Bone manipulation

Jutaijutsu – Throwing, grappling and ground fighting

Dakentaijutsu – Striking

Happo Bikenjutsu – The study of and use of weapons

Ninpo – Ninjutsu tactics and strategies

Taijutsu – Unarmed combat.

Bugei Juhappen – 18 Samurai Fighting Arts

Ninja Juhakkei were often studied along with the Bugei Juhappen (the 18 samurai fighting art skills). Though some techniques were used in the same way by both samurai and ninja, others were utilized differently by the two warriors. The 18 disciplines are as follows:

  • Seishin Teki Kyōyō – Spiritual Refinement
    The Togakure Ryu Ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate understanding of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. The Ninja had to be very clear about his intentions, his commitments and his personal motivations in life. Personality traits could often mean the difference between life and death in his line of work. Exercises in mental endurance, ways of looking at things, were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By evolving into a mystics understanding of the universal process, the historical Togakure Ryu Ninja would became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love or reverence and not by mere thrill of violent danger or need for money.

  • Taijutsu – Unarmed Combat
    Skills of Dakentaijutsu or striking, kicking and blocking, Jutaijutsu or grappling, Jime (chokes) and escaping the holds of others, Taihenjutsu or silent movement, rolling, leaping and tumbling (Kurowaza) assisted the Togakure Ryu Ninja in life threatening defensive situations.

  • Kenjutsu / Bikenjutsu – Sword techniques including Tojutsu
    The ninja’s sword (shinobigatana) had a short straight single edged blade, and was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required by the ninja, “Fast Draw” techniques centred around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous defensive or offensive action. “Fencing” skills used the drawn sword in technique clashes with armed attackers.

  • Rokushakubojutsu / Bojutsu – Stick and staff techniques
    The Japanese stick fighting art, practiced by Samurai and Peasants alike, was also a strong skill of the ninja. Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to use the Bo (long staff – 6ft), Jo (4ft staff) and Hanbo (half-staff – 3ft) as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed Shinobi-Zue or Ninja canes were designed to look like normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be used against the enemy.

  • Shurikenjutsu – Throwing weapons techniques
    Throwing blades were carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Togakure Ryu used a special four pointed throwing star called a Senban Shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The blade was thrown with a flat spinning motion and hits its target with a sawing effect. Bo Shuriken or straight shaft darts and spikes were also constructed for throwing. Throwing stars in general are called Hira Shuriken.

  • Sojutsu / Yarijutsu – Spear Techniques
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as middle-range fighting weapons. Spears and Lances were used for stabbing and piercing attacks, and rarely ever thrown in normal combat. The Togakure Ryu also used a unique spear weapon called a Kama Yari or “Sickle Lance”, which consisted of a spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The lance point could be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point could be used to snag and pull the opponent or his weapon.

  • Naginatajutsu / Binaginatajutsu – Halberd Techniques
    Virtually a short sword blade mounted on a Rokushakubo, the Japanese Naginata was used for cutting and slashing attacks against adversaries at medium range. Togakure Ryu Ninja were also proficient in the use of the Bisento, A huge heavy bladed version of the Naginata. Based on a Chinese weapon the broad bladed weapon was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armour and ground the horses of mounted Samurai.

  • Kusarigamajutsu – Chain and Sickle Techniques
    The Japanese Kusarigama was adopted into the arsenal of the Togakure Ryu Ninja. A chain, six to nine feet in length with a Fundo (weight) attached at one end, was attached to the handle of a Kama (sickle) a traditional grain cutting tool. The chain could be used to block or ensnare the enemies weapon and the blade then used to finish off the attacker.

    Kyogetsu Shoge – Over the fields and plains
    A weapon similar to the Kusarigama, It was favoured by the Togakure Ryu Ninja. The Kyogetsu Shoge is commonly thought of as the predecessor to the Kusarigama. The weapon consisted of a straight blade with a secondary forward facing hook blade protruding from the hilt, attached to a fifteen foot resilient cord usually made from a woman’s or horses hair. A large steel ring was attached to the free end of the cord with the other end attaching to the Kashira/Pommel of the blade.

  • Kayakujutsu – Pyrotechnics
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were experts in the placement, timing and rigging of explosive devices for demolition and distraction predominantly utilizing fire and smoke. In later years, the use of black powder or Bakuyaku and other explosives were supplemented with knowledge of firearms and their strategic applications. Kayakujutsu was generally taught in three stages Katon No Jutsu – the use of fire smoke and heat for infiltration, evasion and deception, Kayakujutsu – The use of gunpowder, firearms and explosives, Shinobi Kaki – Fire Tools

  • Hensojutsu – Disguise and Impersonation
    Essential to the ninja’s espionage work was his ability to assume false identities and move undetected through his area of operation. More than merely putting on a costume, Ninjutsu’s disguise system involves thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. Personality traits, areas of knowledge and body dynamics of the identity assumed were ingrained in the ninja’s way of thinking and reacting. He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman or wandering entertainer. This art of assuming alternate identities is called Shi Chi Ho De – (The Art of Seven Disguises)

  • Shinobi-Iri – Stealth and Entering Methods
    The ninja’s techniques of silent movement, breaking and entering, and gaining access to inaccessible areas became legendary in feudal Japan. Togakure Ryu Ninja learned special walking and running methods for covering long distances, passing over floors silently and for staying in the shadows while moving, in order to facilitate entry and escape.

  • Bajutsu – Horsemanship
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills.

  • Sui-Ren – Water Training
    Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross over water, and underwater combat techniques were taught to Togakure Ryu Ninja. Also training and fighting in icy conditions, most often performed by practicing Taijutsu wearing Geta (wooden sandals) on ice.

  • Bo Ryaku – Strategy/Tactics
    Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots and advantageous timing for use of current events were used by Togakure Ryu Ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the enemy around to doing what the Ninja wanted him to do, Ninja were able to work their will without drawing undue attention to themselves. This is an extensive area of study which cannot be summarized into a small caption

  • Cho Ho – Espionage
    Methods of successful espionage were perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and served as a guide for using espionage agents as efficiently as possible.

  • Intonjutsu – Escape and Concealment
    Togakure Ryu Ninja were experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to “disappear” at will. The Goton Po five elements of escape were based on a working familiarity with the creative use of Earth (Chi), Water (Sui), Fire (Ka), Metal (Kin) and Wood (Moku) aspects of nature and the environment.

  • Ten Mon – Meteorology
    Forecasting and taking advantage of the weather and seasonal phenomena was an important part of any battle consideration. Ninja were trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to predict weather conditions.

  • Chi Mon – Geography
    Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain were crucial skills in the historical art of Ninjutsu. High and Low points, Undulated Terrain, Horizons, Cover, Etc.

    Note: In the book Ninjutsu History and Tradition written by Soke Hatsumi, Kusarigama and Kayakujutsu are both labelled as the ninth level of training with their being 19 levels of training listed, Level 19 being Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho.

    Although not listed as a separate discipline in its own right, A crucial part of the Togakure Ryu Ninjas training was the application of Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho philosophy.

    In the world of combat survival, the superior fighter makes use of all advantages at his disposal, including the influence of the mind.
    As a means of increasing the difficulty for an enemy, Ninja of old developed the strategy of Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho or the interchange of the concepts of falsehood and actuality. A strategy for winning that relies on the presentation of truth and falsehood in ways that permit the antagonist to be deceived,
    Kyojitsu forms the basic approach for all Ninjutsu activities and thinking. Because the Ninja is dealing freely with the concepts of truth and falsehood, fluidly bending one into the other, he must be well grounded in his own concept of reality. To prevent becoming lost, misguided or swallowed up by his own deception or awareness altering, the Ninja must maintain Seishin, or purity of heart. In this sense, the word pure means “Complete” or “Total”. The ninja carries the truth in his heart, though he may appear in many psychological guises to others. His intentions remain resolute, though others may have no idea what those commitments entail. Because he is totally honest with himself at all levels of introspection, he can venture into the realm of falsehood and untruth without defiling himself or his spirit. He can willingly plunge into the cold darkness knowing full well that he has the power to create his own light from the brightness he carries in his heart – Soke Masaaki Hatsumi 34thGrandmaster Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu “

In summary I have included a list of the Bugei Juhappen for quick reference with Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho included:

1. Seishin Teki Kyōyō – Spiritual Refinement
2. Taijutsu – Unarmed Combat
3. Kenjutsu / Bikenjutsu – Sword techniques including Tojutsu
4. Rokushakubojutsu / Bojutsu – Stick and staff techniques
5. Shurikenjutsu – Throwing weapons techniques
6. Sojutsu / Yarijutsu – Spear Techniques
7. Naginatajutsu / Binaginatajutsu -Halberd techniques
8. Kusarigamajutsu – Chain and Sickle techniques
9. Kayakujutsu – Pyrotechnics
10. Hensojutsu – Disguise and Impersonation
11. Shinobi-Iri – Stealth and Entering Methods
12. Bajutsu – Horsemanship
13. Sui-Ren – Water Training
14. Bo Ryaku – Strategy/Tactics
15. Cho Ho – Espionage
16. Intonjutsu – Escape and Concealment
17. Ten Mon – Meteorology
18. Chi Mon – Geography
19. Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho –The Interchanging concept of truth and falsehood present in all.

Yearly Bujinkan Themes

Each year Soke Hatsumi selects a subject which is the primary focus for training that year, here is the list of subjects covered in previous years.

  • 2016 – “42” – The beginning of a new 42 year cycle, commemorating the 42 year anniversary of the passing of Takamatsu Sensei and the beginning of a new 42 year cycle. Arnaud Coursegue the Shitenno for France explains it as Sokes way of telling us that starting next year, Soke is going to leave the future of the Bujinkan to us. He is doing what Takamatsu did for him in 1971 when he inherited the nine schools. The circle is completed “maru no ichi”.

  • 2015 – Nagamaki

  • 2014 – Shin In Bu Dou

  • 2013 – Ken Engetsu no Kagami (“mirror of the fullmoon sword”)/ Tachi Hôken (“divine treasure sword”)— Ken, Tachi, and Katana/ Naginata and Yari

  • 2012 – Jin Ryo Yo Go – Kaname, Sword and Rokushakubo, separately and with one in each hand

  • 2011 – Kihon Happo

  • 2010 – Rokkon Shoujou

  • 2009 – 才能   ”saino konki”/ Talent, Heart, Capacity / Talent, Soul, Capacity

  • 2008 – Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu

  • 2007 – Kukishin Ryu

  • 2006 – Shinden Fudo Ryu

  • 2005 – Gyokko-ryū Kosshi jutsu (Bo and Tachi)

  • 2004 – Daishou Juutai jutsu (Roppo-Kuji-no Biken)

  • 2003 – Juppo Sessho

  • 2002 – Jutai jutsu (Takagi Yoshin Ryu)

  • 2001 – Kosshi jutsu (Gyokko Ryu)

  • 2000 – Koppo jutsu (Koto Ryu)

  • 1999 – Kukishinden Ryu

  • 1998 – Shinden Fudo Ryu

  • 1997 – Jojutsu

  • 1996 – Bokken

  • 1995 – Naginata

  • 1994 – Yari

  • 1993 – Rokushakubojutsu

  • 1992 – Taijutsu Power

  • 1991 – Sword and Jutte

  • 1990 – Hanbo

  • 1989 – Taijutsu and Weapons

  • 1988 – Taijutsu

Useful Japanese Phrases

Here is a list of some useful Japanese phrases that you will encounter in the Dojo:

Shiko – Walking in Suwari Gata
Migi – Right
Hidari – Left
Omote – Outside
Ura – Inside
Jodan – High
Chudan – Middle
Gedan – Low
Uke – Instigator or training partner
Tori – Responder
Ichi – One
Ni – Two
San – Three
Shi – Four
Go – Five
Rokku – Six
Shichi – Seven
Hachi – Eight
Ku – Nine
Ju – Ten
Ju Ichi – Eleven
Ju Ni – Twelve
Ju San – Thirteen
Ju Shi – Fourteen
Ju Go – Fifteen
Etc. until Ni Ju – Twenty, Ni Ju Ichi – Twenty One, Ni Ju Ni – Twenty Two, and so on. 100 being Hyaku. 1000 being Sen.

Ashi – Leg
Do – Body
Men – Head
Kasumi – Temple
Uko – Neck
Butsumetsu – Ribs
Suigetsu – Solar Plexus
Kimon – Below the collar bone
Mune – Lapel
Kyoshi / Kyusho – Pressure Points
Kote – Back of the hand
Sabaki Gata – Avoidance
Taisabaki – Footwork
Soke – Grandmaster
Shihan – Master Instructor
Shidoshi – Instructor
Shidoshi Ho – Deputy Instructor
Zen Wan – Forearm
Te – Hand
Sokkotsu – Instep
Koshi – Hip
Jo Wan – Upper Arm
Hiji – Elbow
Benkai – Inside Shin
Wappen – Patch
Hoshi – Star
Mu Kyu – 10th Kyu/ Unranked/ White Belt
Ku Kyu – 9th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen
Hachi Kyu – 8th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 1 Silver Hoshi
Nana Kyu – 7th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 2 Silver Hoshi
Rok Kyu – 6th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 3 Silver Hoshi
Go Kyu – 5th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 4 Silver Hoshi
Yon Kyu – 4th Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 1 Gold Hoshi
San Kyu – 3rd Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 2 Gold Hoshi
Ni Kyu – 2nd Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 3 Gold Hoshi
Ik Kyu – 1st Kyu – Green Belt – Red and White Wappen 4 Gold Hoshi
Shodan – 1st Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen No Hoshi
Ni Dan – 2nd Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 1 Silver Hoshi
San Dan – 3rd Dan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 2 Silver Hoshi
Yon Dan – 4thDan – Black Belt – Red and Black Wappen 3 Silver Hoshi
Go Dan – 5th Dan – Black Belt – SIlver, Red and Black Wappen No Hoshi
Rokudan – 6th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen 1 Gold Hoshi
Nana Dan – 7th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 2 Gold Hoshi
Hachi Dan – 8th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 3 Gold Hoshi
Ku Dan – 9th Dan – Silver, Red and Black Wappen and 4 Gold Hoshi
Ju Dan – 10th Dan – Green, Orange and Blue Wappen No Hoshi
Budoka – Student
Menkyo Kaiden – Licence of complete transmission 10th Dan and above.
Ryu Ha – School of Martial Arts
Bujinkan – Diving Warrior Training Hall / Palace
Shiken Haramitsu Daikomyo – Ancestoral Prayer – Let every encounter bring with it the enlightenment we seek.
Onegaishimas – Please assist me
Domo Arigato Gozeimashta – Thank You
Gomenesai – Excuse Me (if bumping into someone accidently)
Sumimasen – Excuse Me (if asking a question)
Do Itashimaste – Your Welcome
Konbanwa – Good Evening
Oyasuminasai – Good Night / Sleep Well
Retsuotskute – Line Up
Yamei – Stop
Hajime – Begin
Mo Ichi Do Kutosai – One more time please.
Choto Mate Kutosai – Just a moment please.
Sensei Ni Rei – Bow to the instructor.
Yukuri – Slowly
Daijoubu – Are you OK?
Hai – Yes
Iyo – No
Ninpo Ikkan – The spirit of the Ninja is the primary inspiration for us.
Soshin No Kamae – Taijutsu – Ichimonji with rear hand at waist in Boshi Ken

Shurikenjutsu Basics

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Principles of Shurikenjutsu and Distancing

Shurikenjutsu is one of the disciplines practiced in the Bujinkan that can sometimes seem almost impossible to obtain proficiency in. It is important to understand that the throw is generated from the ground up and that their are several key factors that contribute to developing proficiency in Shurikenjutsu but none of these can be controlled without the proper foundations. I often explain Shurikenjutsu as a primary example of Ken Tai Ichi Jo (using the body and weapon as one) and utilizing unified motion to generate power through correct technique and not simply through force mechanically throwing or flinging the Shuriken at a target. I will explain the principles of Shurikenjutsu as follows:

First start off by observing the target and working out your distancing as this is the first major factor, the general rule is that the Shuriken rotates every six feet travelled so if throwing within 6 feet the Shuriken/knife will usually be thrown holding the handle with the blade protruding from the hand, just outside of 6 feet the Shuriken is held blade first with the handle protruding out of the hand to allow for the necessary rotation while travelling towards the target. When the Shuriken/Knife is being thrown from 12 feet it flips over in the hand again so that the handle is being held and the blade is protruding and then the same action again when throwing from 18 feet flipping the blade to hold the blade with the handle protruding. In the case if Hira Shuriken (Throwing stars) as opposed to Bo Shuriken (Throwing Spikes) or TokenJutsu (Throwing Knives) the above guideline isn’t as relevant although it still maintains some importance for effective penetration at distant with Hira Shuriken.

Secondly the Tori pays close attention to his Taisabaki (footwork) and Kamae (Posture). It is important to ensure the body weight travels forward when throwing Shuriken so the feet must be positioned pointing towards the target to enable the momentum of the body to move forward via the path of least resistance. Also allow yourself enough room to step into the correct distance to throw the shuriken,

Thirdly it’s important to make sure that the spine is straight and good posture is maintained whilst throwing, keep the head up looking directly at the target.

Finally Tori should now be positioned in Kamae with the correct Taisabaki and posture to throw, Tori finds the balance point of the weapon and positions it so that the Shuriken is running along the inside of the forefinger then Tori steps forward and using the momentum of the step and body travelling forwards. This pushes the Shuriken rather than throwing it to allow it to rotate and hit the target effectively. It is important to emphasize the fact that the throw is a pushing motion and not a lobbing folded arm throw, the wrist flicks at the end of the throw just before the Shuriken is released as if pointing at the target. As previously stated it is a good example of Ken Tai Ichi Jo where the body must be moved in a unified motion to perform the technique effectively and as always requires a lot of practice. It is also important to remember that the Shuriken travels in a curvature when thrown and not in a straight line due to gravity so you must release the Shuriken slightly above your intended target.

San Shuriken Gata – Three Throwing Forms

  • Ichimonji No Kamae –Vertical Throwing – Ichimonji No Kamae to Dokko No Kamae throwing from Ichimonji.

  • Jumonji No Kamae – Throwing Across Body – Jumonji No Kamae with step throwing with Ura Shuto

  • Shizen No Kamae – Natural Throw – Shizen No Kamae stepping and throwing with Shi Tan Ken.

Note: Their were also a variety of Shuriken including Bo Shuriken (Straight Pencil Shaped), Juji Shuriken (4 Pointed Shuriken), Senban Shuriken (Diamond Shape/Moon Star), Happo Shuriken (8 Pointed), Nagare-en Shuriken (Coins).

It is important to practice throwing from varied distances, start just outside of six feet and then progress from their but do not become complacent and simply throw from one distance. Also vary and switch between throws to determine the most effective combinations whilst utilizing effective Taijutsu.

Utilize Aruki and reposition between throws rather than remaining a static target. Develop your awareness so that you can assess and determine your distance from the target at a glance.

Try to think of the system of positioning outlined above like a flowing circle of energy, with the energy coming from the bottom of the target (Distance/Positioning) hitting the feet (Taisabaki/Footwork) traveling up through the hips and spine (Low Kamae/Posture) up to the arms (Kamae/Positioning) to step through and throw (Ken Tai Ichi Jo) returning the energy back to the target. It is also worth mentioning that with all things it is worth experimenting and working with free flowing movement, I have seen practitioners throw Shuriken from Kaiten and from laying on the ground and even throwing Shuriken around obstacles.
Hira Shuriken are generally carried in sets of nine and are thrown horizontally in a backwards spinning motion in quick succession to shock and confuse an attacker. Hira Shuriken were also used in a manner similar to Teppan to assist with the applications of locks such as Omote Gyaku and could also be held utilizing one of the corners of the Hira Shuriken to hook and tear into sensitive areas of the body.

The techniques are listed below:

Nagaru Waza – Throwing Skills

  • Sei Jo Uchi – Side of the head throw

  • Yoko Uchi – From stomach throw

  • Gyaku Uchi – Throw from the hip