Martial Arts - Ninjutsu - Beginner Foundation
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- Stress positions for willpower and posture
- Stretching exercises for flexibility and speed
- Acrobatic techniques for agility and evasion
Bujinkan Ikari Dōjō Online (武神館奭道場) presents a beginner foundation for ninjutsu, the martial arts of the ninja. Ikari Dōjō (Majestic Hall 奭道場) is affiliated with the Bujinkan organisation (Divine Warrior Temple 武神館). The Bujinkan teaches Budō Taijutsu (Classical Martial Arts of the Way of War 武道體術) and is based in Noda, Japan, and headed by grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi. The Bujinkan teaches nine traditional Japanese martial arts schools including:
Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術) [Hidden Door School]
Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術) [Jade Tiger School]
Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術) [Nine Fierce Gods School]
Koto Ryū Koppōjutsu (虎倒流骨法術) [Tiger Felling School]
Shinden Fudo Ryū Dakentaijutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術) [Immovable Heart School]
Takagi Yoshin Ryū Jūtaijutsu (高木揚心流柔体術) [Willow Heart School]
Gikan Ryū Koppōjutsu (義鑑流骨法術) [Virtues Paragon School]
Gyokushin-ryū Ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法) [Jade Heart School]
Kumogakure Ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法) [Hidden Clouds School]
Beginner foundation for ninjutsu (shinhenjutsu shoden 心変術初伝) is part of the the Bujinkan Unified Fundamental Curriculum (Touitsuteki Kihon Katei 武神館統一的基本課程 [TKK]) and is a general curriculum made up of multiple modules to prepare students for the practice of the nine schools of the Bujinkan. The TKK contains foundational basics for the three general aspects of the Bujinkan; taijutsu, jujutsu and ninjutsu. It also prepares students with specialist modules for further training in preparation for the denshou (transmission 伝承) of the nine schools.
This course is part of a sub-section of the TKK called 'body, mind, spirit' (Taishinki 体心気) designed to prepare a student physically, mentally and spiritually for the practice of the nine schools of the Bujinkan. Taishinki includes nine modules focusing on developing physically and mentally for martial arts training. The Taishinki is split into three general areas, 'body changing methods' (Taihenjutsu 体変術), 'mind changing methods' (Shinhenjutsu 心変術), and 'spirit changing methods' (Kihenjutsu 気変術). Taihenjutsu are body development methods that focus on muscles, skeletal structure and nerves. Shinhenjutsu are mind development methods focused on willpower, flexibility and agility. Kihenjutsu are spirit development methods that focus on breathing, circulation and mindfulness. Together these three areas promote the development of the martial artist for the successful practice of the physical and mentally challenging activities in martial arts.
Taishinki modules are split into three levels; beginner level (shoden 初伝), intermediate level (chuuden 中伝) and advanced level (jouden 上伝). Shoden modules are designed for solo practice. Chuuden modules involve paired exercises and techniques. Jouden modules are practiced by a group of three or more people. The idea of these modules is to develop personally, but also to practice leadership skills to empower others and understand the dynamics of groups and teams.
The module levels of the Taishinki correspond to module levels of the other courses in the TKK. Shoden courses in the Kihon Katei assume prerequisite knowledge and practice of shoden courses in the Taishinki. This also applies to chuuden and jouden modules in the Kihon Katei.
Taishinki is only a training guide and baseline; students should continue to explore training systems to improve their physical and mental health.
Taishinki Katei (Body, Mind, Spirit Curriculum)
Taihenjutsu Shoden (体変術初伝)
Taihenjutsu Chuuden (体変術中伝)
Taihenjutsu Jouden (体変術上伝)
Shinhenjutsu Shoden (心変術初伝)
Shinhenjutsu Chuuden (心変術中伝)
Shinhenjutsu Jouden (心変術上伝)
Kihenjutsu Shoden (気変術初伝)
Kihenjutsu Chuuden (気変術中伝)
Kihenjutsu Jouden (気変術上伝)
Shinhenjutsu shoden contains three general areas for the development of willpower, flexibility and agility, necessary for the more advanced practice of ninjutsu; stress positions (kuroshigamae 黒構), stretching exercises (juunan taisou 柔軟体操) and acrobatics (taigi 体技). Kuroshigamae are isometric exercises that reinforce posture and develop the willpower to push through pain and physical stress. Juunan Taisou are fundamental stretching exercises to improve the pliability of the body. Taigi are basic acrobatic techniques to develop agility and become comfortable with rolling, tumbling and falling.
Stress Positions [Kuroshigamae] (黒構)
[一] Sun Clasp Posture [Tentou Gasshou no Kamae] (天等合掌の構): Place both hands together then bring the feet together. Raise the heels off the ground and stretch both hands up above the head.
[二] Broad Straight Line Posture [Hira Ichimonji no Kamae] (平一文字の構): Drop into a low squat so that the knees are sitting above the ankles and the lower legs are perpendicular to the ground. Bring the arms out and wide so they are parallel with the ground.
[三] Transition Posture [Ihen no Kamae] (詒変の構): Drop into a low squat and turn to the side. Keep the knee over the ankle and the lower leg perpendicular to the ground. Straighten the back and move into ichi no kamae, placing weight onto the lead leg.
[四] Bird Posture [Hichou no Kamae] (飛鳥の構): Drop into a low squat, then raise one leg placing the foot below the knee, while shifting weight onto the other leg. Bring the arms into ichi no kamae.
[五] Prone Posture [Utsumu no Kamae] (俯向の構): From a low squat, bring the arms into a triangle position, then drop forward into a prone position supported by the arms.
[六] Downward Facing Dog Posture [Kudari Inu no Kamae] (猫の構): From a standing posture, lower the hands to the ground and shift the legs back slightly bearing weight on the arms. Push the shoulders up to the ears.
Stretching Exercises [Juunan Taisou] (柔軟体操)
[一] Foot Stretching [Ashi Nobi] (足伸び): From a seated position, stretch out the legs and bring the foot across. Massage the pressure points on the soles of the feet then pull the toes back and forward. Finish by rotating the ankle. Do the same for both sides.
[二] Forward and Back Bend [Koukutsu Zenkutsu] (後屈前屈): With the heels together, bend forward touching the toes. Hold, then lie back and bring the feet over the touching the ground behind, then hold.
[三] Pelvis and Leg Bend [Awaze Ashi Zenkutsu] (合わぜ足前屈): Bring the soles of the feet together and push down on the knees, then stretch forward and hold. Then open the legs and stretch forward, hold.
[四] Forward and Back Spine Stretch [Sesuji Nobi] (背筋伸び): From a kneeling position, drop back and bring the arms forward, hold. Pull forward and push up, hold. Reset back to kneeling position. Hold legs and push pelvis forward, hold.
[五] Arm Stretching [Ude Nobi] (腕伸び): From a kneeling position, stretch the arms forward and rotate the wrists separately clockwise and counter clockwise. Grab the wrist and rotate in while pulling up to stretch the elbow, do this for both sides. Bring the opposite arm under and around, pulling the arm back to stretch the elbow. Pull the arm across the body and catch with the other arm, stretching the shoulder, do this for both sides.
[六] Neck Stretching [Kubi Nobi] (首伸び): From a kneeling position, hold one leg and pull the neck the other direction, rolling gently. Do this for both sides.
Acrobatics [Taigi] (体技)
[一] Forward Tumble [Zenpou Korogari] (前方転がり): From a squatting position, roll forward in a straight line over the back, tucking the knees to the chest, then returning to a low squat.
[二] Backward Tumble [Kouhou Korogari] (後方転がり): From a squatting position, roll back using the arms to push up, tucking the knees to the chest and then returning to a low squat.
[三] Handstand [Sakadachi] (逆立ち): From a standing position, step forward and place hands on the ground, lifting up the body in a straight posture. Hold.
[四] Cartwheel [Sokuten] (側転): From a standing position, step forward and place one hand on the ground, lifting the body and transitioning into a side handstand, then landing on the lead foot.
[五] Bridge [Hashi] (橋): From a prone position on the back, bring the arms back and the legs in, then raise up.
[六] Back Bend [Nokezori] (仰反): From a standing posture, squat down and roll back, then push up and come into the bridge posture.
Shinhenjutsu shoden is based on concepts and ideas of the Togakure Ryu school of the Bujinkan. The Togakure Ryu school is an ancient tradition that dates back to feudal Japan. Each grandmaster in the lineage is called soke. The current head of the Togakure Ryu school is grandmaster Hatsumi Masaaki. The lineage of the school is as follows:
Daisuke Togakure (1162)
Shima Kosanta Minamoto no Kanesada (1180)
Goro Togakure (1200)
Seiryu Nobutsuna Toda (1624–1658)
Fudo Nobuchika Toda (1658–1681)
Kangoro Nobuyasu Toda (1681–1704)
Eisaburo Nobumasa Toda (1704–1711)
Shinbei Masachika Toda (1711–1736)
Shingoro Masayoshi Toda (1736–1764)
Daigoro Chikahide Toda (1764–1804)
Daisaburo Chikashige Toda (1804)
Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda (born 1824 – died 1909)
Toshitsugu Takamatsu (born 1887 – died 1972)
Masaaki Hatsumi (born 1931)
In 1182, during the Japanese Gempi war, Minamoto Yoshinaka, a general from the mountainous Nagano region of Japan, captured the capital city of Kyoto. After this victory, he found himself under attack by his cousin Yoshitsune. When Yoshitsune's troops successfully crossed the Uji river, a key strategic defense for the capital, Yoshinaka withdrew, only to be killed as his horse fell through the ice of a frozen rice paddy.
After Yoshinaka's defeat, one of his samurai retainers, Daisuke Nishina of Togakure Village escaped to the mountains of Iga in south central Japan. The mountains provided an easy place to hide from the enemy troops, who still searched for Yoshinaka's forces, and provided a familiar environment for Daisuke and his followers to continue their Yamabushi (mountain warrior) training. Daisuke Nishina, who subsequently changed his name to Daisuke Togakure, became known as the first Soke (family head) of the Togakure ryu of ninjutsu.
Ironically, Yoshitsune was later overthrown by his brother Yoritomo. After escaping capture by Yoritomo's forces, he founded the Yoshitsune ryu of ninjutsu. The Yoshitsune ryu later died out, along with many other famous ninjutsu ryu.
The ninja families of Iga grew to become a great part of Japan's military history. Lending their support to Tokugawa Ieyasa, they were able to aid in the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate and were recruited to many government posts, including police, bodyguards, and intelligence agents.
The methods of the Togakure ryu are still practiced under the direction of Soke Masaaki Hatsumi, the 34th in a continuous chain of Soke. No longer being hunted by government troops, modern students of ninjutsu practice their art in training halls all over the world. Ninjutsu is practiced by many police, security personnel, government agents and anyone with a need for an extremely effective and versatile form of self-protection.
Ninjutsu training emphasizes practical protection methods including both unarmed and weapons training. Easy to use concepts and strategies are taught in a series of scenario type exercises where the students practice responses to many types of attacks. The variety of techniques makes it easy for students to adapt the system to fit their individual needs, regardless of strength, age or ability.
What is Togakure Ryu Ninpo?
by Jean-Pierre Seibel
- Beginners interested in the martial arts of the Ninja.
Hidden Door School Ninjutsu Beginner Foundation (Shinhenjutsu shoden) is made up of 18 techniques split into three areas; isometric postures, stretching and acrobatics. These techniques are the basis of mental willpower, agility and muscle endurance for Ninjutsu training and should be trained daily.
Shinhenjutsu is designed to improve mental fortitude, improve flexibility and teach evasion methods.
The practice of shinhenjutsu is arranged into 9 levels, each level representing 1 minute (30 seconds for both sides) per technique. A person who does physical training three times a week should be able to complete a level 1 shinhenjutsu workout. Each level increases the difficulty of the shinhenjutsu incrementally by 1 minute. Level 9 should prove challenging to even elite olympic athletes.
When doing acrobatic techniques (Taigi), do 12 repetitions per set, 6 on each side for unilateral techniques (right and left). For each level, add a set; for example, at level one do 12 repetitions, at level two 24 repetitions and so on. Do not exceed 9 sets a day.
Start slowly if you are a beginner. If you cannot manage 1 minute, do 30 seconds and work your way up. Each day, push yourself a little bit further than the last.
1. Stress Positions
Sun Clasp Posture
Straight Line Posture
Downward Facing Dog Posture
Foot and Ankle stretching
Arm and Hand stretching
Shoulder and Neck stretching
Stress positions (Kuroshigamae) are isometric exercises similar to those found in workouts like yoga and calisthenics, the difference being that Kuroshigamae are directly related to combat postures. Kuroshigamae are practiced with the intent of close combat, evasion and defence.
There are 6 basic Kuroshigamae in this workout Sun Clasp Posture, Straight Line Posture, Transition Posture, Bird Posture, Prone Posture and Downward Facing Dog Posture. You should aim for 1 minute holding each of these postures (30 seconds for Transition and Bird posture on each side).
You should start each workout with these isometric exercises to warm up your body.
Sun Clasp Posture [Tentou Gasshou no Kamae] (天等合掌の構): Place both hands together then bring the feet together. Raise the heels off the ground and stretch both hands up above the head.
Stretching exercises or Juunan Taiso are critical for the development of speed and mobility. Juunan Taiso are also important for increasing range of motion in the joints and the body, allowing you to perform acrobatic feats.
There are 6 basic Juunan Taiso in this workout, split into two opposing exercises. These exercises start at the toes and move right up the neck, targeting each major area of the body. Stretching is only effective if the body has been warmed up, so ensure that you have engaged in either Kuroshigamae or a cardio warm-up before starting your Juunan Taiso routine.
Arm Stretching [Ude Nobi] (腕伸び): From a seated position, stretch the arms forward and rotate the wrists separately clockwise and counter clockwise. Grab the wrist and rotate in while pulling up to stretch the elbow, do this for both sides. Bring the opposite arm under and around, pulling the arm back to stretch the elbow. Pull the arm across the body and catch with the other arm, stretching the shoulder, do this for both sides.
Acrobatics or Taigi are mobility exercises that improve agility and allow you to evade damage when falling or tumbling. In Beginner Foundations of Ninjutsu, the main focus of taigi is to improve the range of motion and structure of the body to enable you to do more advanced techniques.
The core concepts taught in taigi are critical to mobility. Practice these techniques and master their structure before attempting more advanced techniques.