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
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:
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.
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.
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 魂 器 ”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
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
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
Two key points to start off with:
The Katana is not a baseball bat the right hand should be positioned a few centimetres down from the Tsuba in a wide grip to provide maximum leverage over the Tsuka (handle). The knuckles of the right hand should not be touching the underside of the Tsuba, any abrasions or scratching on the knuckle of the forefinger is an indication that the Katana is being held wrong when training, The Katana is not used in one hand either as is seen in Chinese martial arts, Leverage over the sword must be maintained at all times, with the right hand positioned under the Fuchi and the left covering the Kashira. The double V guideline is useful to ensure the Katana is being held correctly and involves aligning the V shape formed between the thumb and forefinger on both of the hands when gripping the Tsuka with the knuckle and forefinger of the right hand positioned just off to the right of the Tsuka’s centreline.
The Katana should always be on the left side of the body, whether held in the left hand when sheathed or positioned in the Obi (Belt), with the curvature of the blade facing upwards and Kashira (pommel) pointing forward. The thumb or the forefinger covers the Tsuba securing it in position to avoid accidental unsheathing of the sword or it being taken by an opponent. It should also be mentioned that the Katana was always kept lying across the front of the body with the curvature of the blade facing up and the Tsuka on the right, this was done for two primary reasons, firstly as previously mentioned it was for safety and security, the weapon could be better controlled from the body’s centre of gravity.
Secondly the body’s positioning for drawing the sword whilst keeping your intentions hidden, by having the sword lying across the body in the Obi, the Tsuba can be covered with the left hand and the forefinger of the left hand used to secretly push the Tsuba forward ready to draw with the opponent unaware. Also the curvature of the blade always faces up to avoid cutting the Kogoichi and loosening the fitting on the Habaki making the sword fall out of the Saya. It also enables smoother drawing of the sword following the path of least resistance.
Nuki Uchi – Drawing The Sword To Cut With Do Kiri
When drawing the sword, slightly push out the Habaki (Blade collar) from the Saya (Sheath). Do this with either the thumb (on top) or forefinger (below) pressing discretely on the Tsuba (guard). Make sure that the thumb if it is used is not directly over the edge of the blade, otherwise there is a chance that the thumb will be cut. When drawing pull the Saya back a little past the Habaki, then draw the blade two thirds of the way out of the Saya and turn Saya horizontally for the last third, pull the Saya right back out of the way and around the body whilst cutting horizontally to the right. This will make drawing the sword considerably faster. At the same time as drawing, step forward with the right foot (or back with the left foot depending on the intended direction of travel) to lengthen the stance making it easier to ensure the blade is clear of the Kogoichi (Karps mouth – opening at the top of the Saya). It should also be mentioned that the Kissaki (point of the blade) should not travel past Tori’s shoulder when the Do Giri is performed from the draw as this is over extension and opens up the guard.
Another method of drawing the blade is to hold the Habaki (blade collar) between the thumb and index finger (the Tsuba is between the index and middle fingers). The main reason for this is to enable the Tori to draw the sword in the event that a mistake is made while drawing, or if Tori goes to draw the sword and for some reason it is already partially out of the Saya. This can sometimes happen from merely moving the body sharply if the Habaki is not properly fitted in the Kogoichi of the Saya, which can naturally occur when practicing Battojutsu for an extensive period of time with the same sword.
If the sword is to be drawn to form a Men Uchi style cut, aim for the Ukes Tsuba with the Kashira as if you were going to poke at the Tsuba. Then flip out the blade cutting down whilst still aiming at the Tsuba. This will enable Tori to cut Ukes Kote, and provides an excellent target to aim for when drawing. In a confined situation, when Tori attempts to draw he can strike Ukes hand with the Kashira prior to drawing the sword. This can assist with creating distance between Tori and Uke and can also damage Ukes hand slowing his draw or prevent him from drawing altogether.
When the blade is out make sure the right knee is bent. Then you may drop back into Kamae. Having the right knee bent is the same position as when you cut normally. It also allows you to be able to move freely in any direction or back into a Kamae. Moving straight back into a Kamae only gives you the option of being in a Kamae, nothing else.
Shomen Uchi from Daijodan No Kamae – Drawing To Cut To The Top Of Ukes Head
When you cut down do so by dropping the blade straight down with the cut. However, it is important to lift the left wrist a little, which in turn lifts the Kashira, this is done to increase the leverage over the Katana when cutting. Tori then steps forward cutting with a Shomen Uchi finishing the cut keeping the blade level with the Kissaki pointing forwards. It is important to mention that when you have cut down do not finish at this point but continue the movement of thrusting forwards with the Katana performing a Tsuki (Gikan Ryu).
Noto – Returning the sword to the Saya
Hold the mouth of the Saya (Kogoichi) in the left hand and perform Chiburi with the right bringing the sword back to the centre of the body. Step forwards with the left foot, bringing the Kogoichi of the Saya to the Mune (back of blade) just above the Habaki (blade collar). Then as you pull the blade through the thumb and forefingers step back with the left foot, this helps with the movement of the sword passing between the fingers. Once the Kissaki of the blade reaches the Kogoichi it should be placed horizontally into the Saya and then two thirds of the blade sheathed. The Saya then turns vertically so that the curvature of the Saya is facing upwards and the blade continues to be sheathed until just under the Habaki where the Saya is then pushed forwards with the thumb and all of the fingers on the left hand raising up grabbing the Tsuba. The Katana is then brought back to its original position in the Obi (belt).
Note: Grip the Kogoichi of the Saya in the left hand. The middle finger runs along the underside of the Kogoichi and the folded index finger and thumb sticks up pointing out from the Saya. Run the Katana’s Mune along the piece of skin between the thumb and forefinger. Running it between these two fingers enables you to remove any debris that may still remain on the sword once Chiburi has been performed.