Masaaki Hatsumi


34th Soke Togakure ryu ninjutsu

28th Soke Gyokko ryu koshijutsu

28th Soke Kukishinden ryu happo hikenjutsu

26th Soke Shinden Fudo ryu dakentaijutsu

18th Soke Koto ryu koppojutsu

18th Soke Gikan ryu koppojutsu

17th Soke Takagi Yoshin ryu jutaijutsu

14th Soke Kumogakure ryu ninpo

15th Soke Gyokushin ryu ninjutsu


Hatsumi Yoshiaki was born on 2nd December 1931 in Noda-shi, Chiba prefecture, Japan. He later changed his name to Masaaki. His father gave him his first bokken at age 7 and this was his first contact with martial arts, specifically: Kendo. He also studied Aikido, Judo, Jukendo and Karate. In primary school he practised gymnastics and boxing, and was the captain of his school's soccer team which helped him develop a very good form of keri (kicking technique). He studied social dances, which he now says, have helped him very much with his body movements. In his junior-high school he continued his boxing training, as well as Judo, and started to learn drama, and theatre art. He graduated in theater art and medical osteopathy, at Meiji University in Tokyo, and founded his own clinic for osteopathy.

During his time in medical school, at age twenty, Hatsumi achieved the rank of 4th dan in Judo, which was very unusual for his age. He was asked to teach Judo to American soldiers in Yokote army base and accepted. The Americans who were learning from him were bigger and stronger and within a few months they were able to easily defeat their Japanese opponents, who would have needed several years of practicing to achieve the same level of effectiveness. Hatsumi began to question the martial arts he had studied "I have always loved Budo, since I was a child in fact. I was a spectator to many dojo in order to learn how to become stronger. When I was twenty years of age I taught judo at an American base. One day in a small combat studio a soldier applied extreme force to one of my arms, in a way similar to onikudaki. Although I made it look as if it was nothing I knew that he had won. Since that occasion I started to doubt some of what I had learned". He then started his search for a true martial art, or koryu. He trained under Ueno Sensei in Kobujutsu Juhappan (Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Shinto Tenshi Ryu, Bokuden Ryu, Kukishinden Ryu, Takagi Yoshgin Ryu and Takagi Gyokushin Ryu) and mastered them in three years. Ueno Sensei told him at that time that he couldn't teach him anything else, so he suggested to Hatsumi that he go to Nara, Kashiwabara, western Iga to learn from a teacher of his.

Hatsumi was 26 years old when he met Takamatsu Toshitsugu, who was called Moko no Tora, "The Mongolian Tiger". "I went to see the master that everyone spoke to me about. He was seventy years old and I was twenty-six and full of confidence. I entered with care and with a certain anxiety, but he soon told me to relax. During the following years I trained with him every weekend. The anguish that I experienced provoked by his ability was certainly different from any previous one. I had only experimented some cold sensations, this was something much warmer. It was like an internal explosion- I do not know exactly how to explain- it was as if all my blood had been extracted and someone was attempting to kill me afterwards. It was a combination of multiple sensations that could not pinpoint its source. I knew that this was what I was looking for. I asked him to be his student, this was in 1957 and at that time he was not taking students. However, from that moment until the time he expired he taught no one but me. Some people received manuals and opened schools with similar names, but I was the only fortunate one to have learned personally with him. I was chosen as his successor, so to speak. At that time I was still in Noda and had a practice to mend broken bones. I would leave home at the weekends to train with my master and would return home Sunday evenings”. Hatsumi has since said that while training with Takamatsu Sensei he constantly had a feeling of walking under a blade. “With master Takamatsu I learned a lot but above all as he used to say " If you do not want to die, work to survive, it is not a sport in which you loose or win, it is a question of life or death. You have to survive this is Budo. This was particularly true with the Ninja, those that were spies, without learning to survive they could not complete their missions".

"One day, I went over to Takamatsu-sensei's and he told me to sit down, and that he had something for me. I was wondering what it could be and was kinda nervous about getting something from him. I felt something was strange, so I rolled to the side, then fell down flat on the floor. I rolled away from there and looked around. Takamatsu-sensei was holding a sword and had just tried to strike me down. He smiled and said, 'Good.' He passed on his scrolls to me then. A year later, he passed on."
Before his death, Takamatsu-Sensei told Hatusmi that he had taught him everything he knew and after fifteen years of teaching, he decided that Hatsumi should be the next Soke (bearer of tradition, and head of the family or organization) of:
Togakure ryu ninjutsu
Gyokko ryu koshijutsu
Kukishinden ryu happo hikenjutsu
Shinden Fudo ryu dakentaijutsu
Koto ryu koppojutsu
Gikan ryu koppojutsu
Takagi Yoshin ryu jutaijutsu
Kumogakure ryu ninpo
Gyokushin ryu ninjutsu
(see The Nine Traditions)

To honour his teacher, Hatsumi founded the Bujinkan, “The Place of a Divine Warrior”. Its Hombu dojo (the main dojo) was located in Soke's house for many years. Recently he has built a new Hombu dojo named Bujinden dojo.

Until 2003 Soke traveled outside of Japan several times per year, to teach, and these seminars were called Tai Kai. He continues to teach at his Dai Komyo Sai seminars in Japan. These are actually birthday celebrations as well as seminars. He has also published an official Bujinkan magazine called "Sanmyaku".
He received many awards for his work, from many military and official institutions, and from many governments around the world. He also received "Black Belt's Instructor Of The Year Award" in 1986. He participated on several movie projects with ninja thematics, such as "Shinobi No Mono", "You Only Live Twice" (James Bond serial), and as an actor in the films "Jiraya" and "Suteki No Mama".
Hatsumi Soke is a scientist, painter, actor, musician, singer and writer, and he is the author of dozens of books, videos and DVDs concerning ninjutsu.
Today he is considered a national treasure of Japan and is highly respected throughout the world.

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