Bujinkan Basics

Bujinkan Sanami Dojo

Austin, TX • 512.773.9952

Bujinkan Basics

Note: the technique list is not complete or accurate, this is intentional.
Come to class if you want to learn correctly. This is only a reference page.
Not meant to be instructional in any way.


Rei Shiki: Etiquette


At the start of the lesson, we sit in sieza according to rank from left to right and say the following phrase. (Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo) This is followed by two claps and a bow then followed by one clap and a bow. The teacher will then turn to the class and speak.


(Onegi Shimasu) This is repeated by the class. At the end of the class, we bow out in the same manner instead of saying Onegi shimasu we say (Domo Arigato Gozaimashta) This means thank you very much. Onegi shimasu in one translation means will you help me learn. Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo) has many translations, in light of this I will just pick a few of my favorites. SHI-KIN HARA-MITSU DAI-KO-MYO”

(This phrase cannot be translated directly into English. One interpretation is: “A moment of true interaction between mind and spirit may lead to enlightenment.” Another is: “The sound of the words in our reach for enlightenment creates the divine cosmic light.” Basically, every encounter experience has the potential to be that one thing that brings you to enlightenment. You could also look at it as saying that every experience is a learning experience (well, sort of). There are many other translations.)

Junan Taiso:


Body flexibility and muscle conditioning.




Breath work and mental development exercises.




Ukemi could be understood as receiving, the technique being applied or even receiving the ground. It is a way to absorb things and could also be considered on more advanced levels to contemplate conflicts and resolutions on many levels,


UKEMI GATA TAIHENJUTSU (ground hitting skills, breakfalls, rolling and leaping)
Zenpo Ukemi (forward breakfalls)
Zagata (kneeling)
Shizen (standing)-Ryote (two hands) Katate (one hand)
Tsuki (punching/kicking from breakfalls)
Koho Ukemi (backwards breakfalls)
Yoko Nagare Ukemi (sideways breakfall)
Zenpo Kaiten (forward rolling), Naname (diagonal)
Ryote (two hands)
Katate (one hand)
Mute (no hands)
Koho Kaiten (backwards rolling breakfall without raised leg)
Ryote (two hands)
Katate (one hand)
Mute (no hands)
Sokuho Kaiten (side roll)
Oten (Cartwheels)
Ryote (two hands)
Katate (one hand)
Hicho Kaiten (both height and distance rolling breakfalls)
Yokonagashi Zenpo Ukemi (ground drop)
Sanpo (walking)
Kiten (handsprings)
Kuten (front and back flips – no hands).
Shiho Tenchi Tobi (directional Heaven-Earth leaping techniques)
Sokuho Tobi (sideways leap)
Fudoza Tobi (leap up with legs tucked)
Zenpo Tobi (front leap)
Koho Tobi (backwards leap)
Shoten No Jutsu (running up surfaces)
Kuhi (flying techniques)
Shinobi Aruki (silent movement)
Tai Sabaki (body evasion)
Nobori Kata (climbing buildings, trees, poles)
Stealth (ground crawling)
Inton (concealment/escape)


Postures, Kamae, Attitudes


1.Ichimonji no kamae-figure one posture

2.Jumonji no kamae-cross posture

3.Hicho no kamae-leaping bird posture

4.Kosei no kamae-attacking posture

5.Hira no kamae-flat posture

6.Hoko no kamae-bear/encircling posture

7.Shizen no kamae-natural posture

8.Doko no kamae-angry tiger posture

There are many other kamae, these are just the basics.


Seated potures:

Sieza no kamae-true seated posture

Fudoza no kamae-immovable seat posture

Hanza no kamae


Fists (Hoken Ju Roppo)-sixteen striking treasures

1.Kikaku ken-demon horn strike

2.Shukei ken-waking up arm strike

3.Fudo/kongo ken-immovable/clenched fist

4.Kiten/shuto ken-wake up rolling strike

5.Shishen ken-finger needle strike

6.Shitan ken-fingertip strike

7.Shako ken-claw strike

8.Shito/boshi ken-finger sword- thumb drive fist

9.Koppo ken-thumb knuckle fist

10.happa ken-eight leaves strike

11.Sukki ken-elbow fist

12.Sokuyaku ken-sole of the foot-sokuho-sideways-koho-rear tobi leaping

13.Sokki ken-waking up leg strike

14.Sokugyaku ken-toe strike

15.Taiken-body fist

16.Shizen ken-natural weapons- nails teeth ect…

17.Shinken-voice and spririt fist


Sanshin no kata-three hearts method


Chi no kata-Earth

Sui no kata-Water

Ka no kata-Fire

Fu no kata-Wind

Ku no kata-Void or ethereal


Kihon Happo-Eight Fundamental Techniques


Koshi Kihon Sanpo-Three fundamental ways of Kosshijutsu






Torite Kihon Goho-Five fundamental hand capture forms

1.OMOTE GYAKU-outside reverse

2.OMOTE GYAKU TSUKI-outside reverse receiving a strike

3.URA GYAKU-inside reverse

4.MUSHA DORI-warrior capture

5.MUSO DORI-capture without intention


Other basic fundamentals practiced regularly at Sanami Dojo


Hon Gyaku

Take Ori-Breaking the bamboo

Ganseki Nage

Ura Musha Dori

Oni Kudaki

Ura Oni Kudaki


Juji Dori


Muto Dori-empty hand capture


These techniques and exercises usually consist of avoiding a cut from a sword with no weapon of your own. Beginners are taught with a shinai/bamboo sword.


Ten Chi Jin- Scrolls of heaven earth and man


These scrolls are a mixture of many techniques from the various schools of the Bujinkan and give the practitioner as wide grasp of the basic movements. At Sanami dojo there is no set curriculum of techniques that students are ranked from. Everyone is an individual and is treated as such. Remembering lots of techniques by name does not make one proficient in taijutsu, only perseverance and dedication. Everyone will take something different from every lesson. It is the quality of character and movement that are accessed which leads us to ranking.

HAJUTSU KYUHO (Breaking Out Art Nine Methods)
Tehodoki (freeing the hands)
Taihodoki (freeing the body)
Oyagoroshi (killing the thumb)
Kogoroshi (killing the little finger)
Koshi-kudaki (crushing the hips)
Happo-geri (eight directional kicking)
Keri-kudaki (kick crusher)
Ken-Kudaki (fist crusher)


GYAKU WAZA (Reversal Techniques)
Takeori – (outside/inside)
Omote-gyaku (outside reversal)
Ura-gyaku (inside reversal)
Hon-gyaku (base reversal)
Omote Oni-kudaki (outside demon crusher)
Ura Oni-kudaki (inside demon crusher)
Musha-dori (warrior take)
Muso-dori (warrior pair take)
Ogyaku (great reversal)


SHIME WAZA GO-KATA – (Five Strangulation Techniques)
Hon-jime (base strangle)
Gyaku-jime (reverse strangle)
Itami-jime (pain strangle)
Sankaku-jime (triangular strangle)
Do-jime (torso strangle)


NAGE WAZA (Throwing forms)
Ganseki nage (rock throw)
Ganseki-otoshi (rock drop)
Ganseki-oshi (rock press)
Ganseki-ori (rock break)
Hari goshi (sweeping hip throw)
Gyaku Nage (reversal throw)
Taki-Otoshi (cataract drop) waterfall straight down
Seoi-nage (back throw)
Koshi-nage (hip throw)
Osoto nage (great outside hook throw)
Uchi-Mata Uchi-Gake (inner thigh inside hook throw)
Hane-Koshi Nage (snapping hips throw)
Itami-Nage (pain throw)
Ryusui-Nage (flowing water movement)
Tomoe-nage (whirl throw)
Tachi-nagare (standing flow)
Yoko-nagare (sideways flowing)
Temakura (hand pillow)
Kuruma-nage (wheel throw)


These are just some of the curriculums and will do you no good just knowing the names. There is a big difference between knowing of and knowing how. We strive to know how by doing at Sanami Dojo and keeping the connection with our teachers in Japan and other mentors and peers. A teacher should just be a student further down the path than you. Sensei simply means (one who has gone before).  This is something to look for in anyone you learn anything from. The Japanese term for this is (En No Kirinai) It means don't sever the connection in simple translation.



Ranking within the Bujinkan



In the Bujinkan Dôjô students are periodically promoted as a reward for their progress, efforts, sweat and blood, and their dedication. Contrary to most martial arts Bujinkan’s Grandmaster, Hatsumi Sensei, says there are no specific requirements or techniques that are needed to be learned for any particular level of promotion. This is very different than virtually all other martial arts and emphasizes our focus on “real technical skill” and not just “technique memorization” as is the case with almost all other martial arts. The “technical skills” that we learn are really the “threads” that connect each and every technique together. In the Bujinkan we work on many different techniques and countless variations on each of them, even with our beginning students. Our students focus on things like the “management” of timing, distance, balance, leverage, proper body movement and similar principles by practicing many different techniques all the time, and not by doing the exact same techniques over and over again, and in a “mirror” image of the instructor.


We at the Bujinkan Sanami Dojo follow Hatsumi Sensei’s guidelines in this matter and do not have a “set curriculum” for students to learn, although other Bujinkan instructors have very specific techniques for each level of promotion. Some Dôjô have a very specific and detailed curriculum for each promotion. This “checklist” is fine, but please keep in mind that these guidelines for promotion are those of the Dôjô’s instructor, and not by Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi. Based on how Hatsumi Sensei teaches, and how he suggests that we do too, we believe there are good reasons for NOT teaching by a set curriculum, so we teach in a similar manner to Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi.


In the  Bujinkan Sanami Dôjô each student is promoted based on three areas that are constantly evaluated. This evaluation is performed by the Primary Instructor. All promotions in our Dôjô should be looked at as recognition for one’s “personal progress and improvement” and not used to compare one person to another, even if they have the same rank. As everyone knows, each person has their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Students are promoted based on their “personal” progress, and not on the progress, or lack of progress, of their peers. Each student is evaluated on the following areas:

• Overall Technique and Skill Application (of skills learned so far)
• Ability to fill in the very important “details” of their techniques
• Overall personal character and disposition towards fellow students, instructors, and society in general.


After a student is promoted, he or she receives a certificate for their new rank. Students receive “official” certificates are that are issued by Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster of the Bujinkan System! Hatsumi Sensei has clearly stated that only certificates issued by the Hombu Dôjô are valid, and we strictly follow this rule. According to Hatsumi Sensei, certificates not issued directly by him are not allowed, by any instructor. Please note that some instructors do not follow Hatsumi Sensei’s rules on the issuing of certificates. Hatsumi Sensei has specifically stated that “fake” certificates are not valid!


Promotions – A Historical Perspective


Historically Japanese martial arts have had a number of different ways of promoting or ranking students. Originally there was no ranking system at all, everyone just trained and learned together, as a very close-knit group. Later, a three (3) tier system of Shoden (low / beginner), Chuden (middle / intermediate), Jôdan (high / advanced) was probably the next progression from the original “no promotion” system. Sometimes this three-tier system had a fourth Hiden (hidden) tier that contained secrets that were passed on only by Kuden (oral transmission) to a few select students. Of course, the actual Japanese words used for these subdivisions could have been different than those used in the above illustration, but the overall structure is the same.


As time passed, the dan system came into being, along with different colored belts signifying various levels of rank. This “colored belt system” is reported to have been directly influenced by the bureaucratic system of the Heian culture in Japan, and that was copied from the Sui dynasty of China, of the same time period. This is a more formalized and complicated system of promotions and is still in common practice today with most martial arts, Japanese and otherwise. It is interesting to note that a number of qualified authors of recent times have suggested that the current methods of promotions seem to be more geared towards “institutional formalism and organizational requirements” of the martial arts then with the learning of the true essence of martial arts – The techniques.


The Bujinkan Ranking System


In the Bujinkan Dôjô, Obi (belts) are worn to provide a very broad based, or general idea of a person’s skill level. Hatsumi Sensei has indicated that only three (3) colors of belts be used in the Bujinkan. Those colors are white, green, and black. Each color belt except for white has several different levels or steps. These three (3) colors belt system is used exclusively in all Japanese Bujinkan Dôjô, but it is not standard in some Bujinkan Dôjô in the US and abroad.


Some non-Japanese Dôjô have, for one reason or another, decided to add additional colors to Hatsumi Sensei’s system of promotions. Some have added a brown belt level to replace the traditional higher level green belt, and yet others have added a wide variety of colors. It is my experience that there is no reason for additional colors, for it simply further “segregates” people into rank-based categories. Our real goal should be to make everyone friends and training partners or the highest quality, and not divide everyone into a subgroup. Why should we add additional barriers (more belt colors) that separate students from each other. One should be striving to unite out students into a “close knit family”. Of course, some have argued that additional colors assist the “beginners” in knowing who to ask when they are having problems. This seems like a perfectly reasonable answer, but it has been found that beginners don’t need a “belt beacon” to tell them who to seek with questions. They can usually figure this out in a very few classes. In our Dôjô the primary instructor is always on the training floor and available.


A “white belt”, or Mu Kyû (no Kyû, or rank) is simply someone who has not yet been promoted in the Bujinkan system. Usually, they are persons just starting their training. As a general rule persons are white belts for the first 2 or 3 months of their training, after which they are promoted to the first level of green belt.


A “green belt” indicates that one is basically a beginner and working to learn the core material of this art. There are nine (9) different levels of green belt. The lowest level is 9th Kyû (pronounced “Q”) and the highest is 1st Kyû. Kyû means “class” in Japanese. As each student advances through the various levels of green belt they learn more and more of the fundamental principles that underlie all of the Bujinkan training. After passing through each of the Kyû levels one reaches the Dan, or black belt, level.


The first level of black belt is called Shodan, and we feel that at this level one has finally grasped the “basic skills” of the Bujinkan, and is now ready to really begin their learning! Now is the time for one to take the vast skills and knowledge they have learned so far and begin to use those “basics” in more advanced levels. This is also the time to really mix the basics together into new skills, and to learn more advanced techniques too. Of course, all of these things are taught while persons are in the green belt stages of their training, but by black belt these skills are really beginning to come together, and their training really progresses even faster than before.


Contrary to many other styles of martial arts, in the Bujinkan, one’s training has really just begun at the level of black belt. This does not mean that new black belts have not learned much up to this point, but at this point most students have now finally learned the “basics” well enough to really begin to grow in leaps and bounds. It’s like a farmer preparing a field for planting, a lot of work has to go into the process of “preparing the soil” before even one seed can be planted.


There are fifteen (15) levels of black belt in the Bujinkan. After one achieves the level of Yon Dan (fourth Dan), Hatsumi Sensei is the only person within the Bujinkan that can promote someone to higher Dan levels. After passing the Godan (5th Dan) test (administered by Hatsumi Sensei) he is the only person that can promote this student to higher levels of black belt. Recently, Hatsumi Sensei has also been promoting persons based on recommendations from Senior Instructors that are Judan (10th Dan) and higher. As the size of the Bujinkan increases it becomes harder and harder for Hatsumi Sensei to follow the progress of each and every mid to upper-level black belt, so he has been seeking assistance from his Senior Instructors in this matter.


Hatsumi Sensei has also divided the Black belts into three (3) larger subcategories that are listed below.


Ten Chi Jin

1st dan

5th dan

10th dan

2nd dan

6th dan

11th dan

3rd dan

7th dan

12th dan

4th dan

8th dan

13th dan

9th dan

14th dan

15th dan


Much of the information above provided by the Bujinkan York Dojo.


 Ranking layout


One must pay for their Bujinkan membership annually to be elligible for ranking. This is set out in the Bujinkan rules set forth by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi and upholds the integrity of the organization. The ranking system in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu varies slightly from most other Japanese martial systems as it does not use multicolored belts to denote rank, but instead uses Wappan (patch) and Hoshi (stars) to denote what rank a student or practitioner is.


The student ranks are divided into ten kyu (levels) and consisting of 2 obi (belt) colors. a beginning student is called Mu Kyu No Level.   The beginning student starts with traditional obi-shiro (white belt) with no Wappan.

Upon their advancement to ku-kyu (9th level) they are awarded the obi-midori (green belt) and white-on-red student Wappan.

Ku kyu 9th kyu 9th level red & white wappan            

Hatchi kyu 8th Level one silver star above wappan

Nana-Kyu 7th Level two silver stars above wappan

Roku-Kyu 6th Level three silver stars above wappan

Go-Kyu 5th Level four silver stars above wappan

When the student reaches yon kyu 4th level the silver stars are removed, and the process begins again with gold stars.

Yon-Kyu 4th Level 1 gold stars

San-Kyu 3rd Level 2 gold stars

Ni-Kyu 2nd Level 3 gold stars

Ik-Kyu 1st Level 4 gold stars


After 1st kyu upon advancement to shodan (1st degree) the practitioner level black-on-red Wappan replaces the student Wappan and the obi-midori is replaced with the obi-kuroi (black belt). At this point with proper sponsorship, the practitioner levels can be awarded the position of shidoshi-ho (apprentice instructor). When the practitioner reaches nidan (2nd degree) one hoshi-gin (silver star) is added per level advanced ending at yondan (4th degree). A shidoshi ho is considered a jr. teacher and to be certified must be sponsored by a certified Bujinkan instructor and apply for an annual shidoshi kai membership which in essence is a jr. teacher's license.



The practitioner ranks are divided into ten dan’s (grades/degrees)

Shodan 1st Degree Black belt and res & black wappan

Nidan 2nd Degree one silver star above wappan

Sandan 3rd Degree two siver stars above wappan

Yondan 4th Degree three silver stars above wappan


After yondan (4th degree)  the next step is Godan 5th Degree black belt. The rank of godan is earned by passing the sakki giri (killing intent sword cut). This test can only be performed by (or under the supervision of) the Soke (family head) of the Bujinkan, Hatsumi Sensei. Upon passing the sakki giri the practitioner is then awarded the title of shidoshi (certified instructor) and replaces the practitioner Wappan with the black-with white piping-on-red instructor wappan.  Once the practitioner reaches rokudan (6th degree) the hoshi-gin (silver star) is removed and the process begins again with a hoshi-kin’iro (gold star), again adding one per level advanced through kudan (9th degree). %th dan thru 9th dan the practitioner is considered a teacher or shidoshi. One must apply for a teaching license to be a certified teacher.



Following Godan lays out as follows.

Rokudan 6th Degree one gold star above wappan

Nanadan 7th Degree two gold stars above wappan

Hatchidan 8th Degree three gold stars above wappan

Kudan 9th Degree 4 gold stars above wappan

Judan 10th Degree Black Belt

When the rank of judan (10th degree) has been attained the instructor Wappan is replaced with the blue-on-orange Wappan.

Once a judan one is now given the title of Shihan (master teacher)…


After reaching Juda/10th level black belt one is considered a Master teacher. One should not get too caught up in this idea of master and should have a child's mind. It is largely a title and does not suggest your training is done. The only true master is Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, and it is important to remember he still trains as well. A real martial artist's work is never done, and this attitude learned early on will allow you to progress and save you a lot of heartache. A martial artists life is one of pain and enduring, as well as love and loss. Never take ownership of things to tightly for you are already attached to everything so don't be afraid to let go.


There are 5 honorary ranks that can only be received from Hatumi Sensei after reaching Judan (10th level black belt) … These levels are also directly correlated with a theme of the five elements and laid out as follows.


11th dan – Chi Earth 1 gold star

12th dan – Sui Water 2 gold stars

13th dan – Ka Fire      3 gold stars

14th dan – Fu Wind    4 gold stars

15th dan – Ku Void or ethereal 5 gold stars





The gold-on-red Wappan is worn only by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, the Soke (Family Head) of the International Bujinkan Dojo.


Dr. Hatsumi holds the positon of Soke of the following nine ryu-ha that make up the system known as Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.


34th Soke of Gyokko ryu Koshijutsu
18th Soke of Koto ryu Koppojutsu
15th Soke of Gikan ryu Koppojutsu
26th Soke of Kukishinden ryu Happo Hikenjutsu
26th Soke of Shiden Fudo ryu Dakentaijutsu/Jutaijutsu
19th Soke of Takagi Yoshin ryu Jutaijutsu
14th Soke of Kumogakure ryu Ninjutsu
20th Soke of Gyokushin ryu Ninpo Taijutsu
34th Soke of Togakure ryu Ninpo Taijutsu