The Study of Ninjutsu

In the early days of the modern Ninjutsu when Dr. Hatsumi was first beginning to teach persons who were not Japanese, movements were very much exaggerated. Those same techniques today are very concise and require very little movement. The rather obvious conclusion is that in the beginning we were being shown "how to learn the art" not how to do the art.

The same is true of the important parts of this art of Ninjutsu. The Sanshin teaches movement and we learn five forms of this which are all separate movements. These are ways to learn the essence of movement. They are "kata" in which the principles are contained. It is these principles that must be learned. Eventually any strike can exist alone and any "block" can precede any strike. The important aspect to learn is how the body flows as one to create the most "power" at a given point. As in all of this art, relaxed movement is the key to power. Each part of the body moves in coordination with all other parts, nothing moves in isolation from the remainder of the body.

The kihon happo is another way to learn Ninjutsu, it is not how you "fight" with it. You "fight" with the information contained in the kihon happo. For example there are three kamae, ichimonji, jumonji, and hicho. Each of these teach a separate principle. Ichimonji teaches how to "get out of the way" by moving off line at the 45 degree angle. Eventually the 45 degree angle no longer becomes a limiting factor because the principle of "off line" has been learned and any angle that gets you clear is what is used. Jumonji teaches a shifting of weight and a twisting of the body with hips and shoulders aligned to "get you out of the way". This is the type of movement that must be used in close where there isn't time to step. It also permits one to prevent a second attack by being already in the attacker's space. Hicho teaches how to "get out of the way" by single weighting. This is shifting all your weight to one foot freeing the other to both attack and defend. A kamae is simply the most effective posture for the situation you are in at that instant of time. It is the most effective both defensively and offensively.

The next part of the kihon happo are joint locks. These teach how to lock the wrist, the elbow and shoulder. In so doing they also teach how to lock the ankle, knee, and hip as these joints work the same as those on the arm. The realization that both the arm and leg can be used to acquire these locks expands the possibilities. When understood the student will be able to use that knowledge when an opportunity presents itself during the course of a fight. One does not "fight" with these joint locks, one uses them when an opponent gives you the chance. It is an accepting of his gift. Only by completely understanding the "locking" principles taught in these joint locks will the student be able to take full advantage of opportunities presented by the opponent.

The last technique of the kihon happo is Ganseki. This is a throw. What it teaches is much more important. It teaches balance, how to retain your own balance while taking your opponents balance. If you do not understand balance, if you cannot control your opponents balance, you will not be able to throw your opponent. The other side of the coin is there too. If you do understand balance, you can throw from many positions.

In short the kihon happo is a way to learn the principles that are critical to learning the art of Ninjutsu. This is why every time the student goes back to the kihon they will gain a new insight.