What is Ninjutsu?

Ninjutsu is a catch-all term for Japanese styles of martial art that were not just used by Samurai, but used by villages and families to defend themselves against the Samurai. Typically held together in clans, groups of villages or families, these fighting arts adapted over time into the Ninjutsu we know today. As with many martial arts of the region, there are strong influences from early Jujutsu and from Chinese arts (Most notably the Gyokko Ryu) Ninjutsu today is free-flowing martial art, which emphasises the feeling of technique, adaptability, improvisation, and a strong spirit with a good nature.

What is the Bujinkan?

The Bujinkan is run by Hatsumi Masaaki, current Soke (Grandmaster) of the nine schools which make up the style. It’s a rapidly growing international organisation, with people on every continent. Despite being large, it’s still a friendly group, as you can see by turning up to any of the Tai Kais – a large international seminar run by Soke Hatsumi. The atmosphere is very positive, everyone there is friendly and open.

What does training involve? What happens in a class?

Just to give you a general idea, a class normally starts with everyone lining up and bowing, as a matter of respect to Soke Hatsumi, and to the people we train with. Then we have a warm up, where we make sure we’re fully stretched and ready to do exercise. For the main part of the class, you’ll usually get a training partner, and spend time practicing with them. Every so often the instructor will stop the class to demonstrate, or give new instructions, and then you’ll carry on. You might be partnered with a complete beginner one week, and a 5th degree black belt the next, it’s all part of the fun.

From time to time we run courses especially for beginners, which are run along mostly the same lines, but are not part of the main class. Keep watching the news page for more information!

What sort of things do you learn in a class?

We cover a huge variety of things in class, which can seem daunting at first! We cover striking (punches, kicks, elbows, knees), grappling, throwing, traditional and improvised weapons, and the most important part: staying alive.

If it’s a really old martial art, how is it still useful?

The world changes, but people stay the same. We do train with a lot of traditional weapons that you’re not likely to encounter today, but the things you learn from using them are still relevant. Defending yourself against a person with a baseball bat, stick, or barstool uses the same principles as defending against a sword, short staff or unarmed attacker. We concentrate on learning why we do things, on the core principles of each technique, so that we don’t rely on set forms, but instead on our own experience, intuition and ability to improvise.

Do I have to be physically fit?

No, you don’t have to be physically fit to start training with us. If you’re unfit to start with, you’ll get fitter the more you turn up. If you haven’t done any exercise for a long time, or you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to do a martial art, then please consult with your doctor beforehand. Feel free to turn up and watch a class, and to talk with the instructors to get a feel for what it’s all about, and to get their experiences of teaching the wide variety of people we’ve had through our doors.

Who turns up? Will I be really bad compared to the others?

Everyone starts somewhere, and everyone feels like they’re terrible at it when they first start. It’s true of anything, not just Ninjutsu. The truth is, we’re all learning – you never stop. Some people in the class have been training in the martial arts for over thirty years, others might be on their first lesson. What matters is that if you turn up and genuinely want to learn things, then we’ll welcome you. If you’re partnered with someone who seems better than you, they’ll be more than willing to help you. Everyone in the class benefits by helping others to improve.

When and where are the classes?

Keep an eye on the Times & Locations page for details.

What should I wear to class?

If you have a Gi (martial arts trousers and top) from another style, that’ll do fine to start with. If you don’t, then a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms is probably best. Remember to take off any watches, jewellry and so on that may get damaged, or cause you damage, during class. Most of the class wear the Gi trousers with a t-shirt, and sometimes the jacket on top.

How much does it cost?

Membership costs are approximately £20 a year (depending on the exchange rate), running from January to January. Classes are currently £6 per session.

As for equipment – you can either acquire your own, or the instructor to put an order in the next time the club buys some kit. We recommend the first thing you get is a Gi – the jacket and trousers. If you’re buying your own, make sure to ask for a black, medium weight gi. If you keep at it, you may want your own wooden training weapons, too.

Am I too young to train?

Unfortunately, we do not accept students under the age of sixteen. This is for various reasons, including the cost of insurance, and the fact that many aspects of our training carry an increased risk when applied to people whose bodies have not finished growing. There are some Bujinkan dojo that run a safe and specialised curriculum for younger members, for instance the Hemel Hempstead Dojo.

How do I get in touch?

Our contact details are here.

Some useful words and phrases

“Onegaishimasu” – Literally, “Please assist me”
“Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo” – Translation difficult, but the general meaning is “Everything holds the start of understanding”, or variations. This is the phrase said at the start and end of class.
“Arigato Gozaimashita” – Thank you very much

There is also a good glossary at kihon.com

Contact Details

Please contact John for any questions about the club or website, by emailing sendall.john@gmail.com or calling 07732 974760

Mailing Lists

Seminars Group
For information about upcoming seminars all across the UK, you can visit the Facebook group called Bujinkan UK Seminars