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MASAAKI HATSUMI

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Masaaki Hatsumi (初見良昭 Hatsumi Masaaki, born December 2, 1931) is the founder and current head of the Bujinkan Dojo martial arts organization.

Beginning in childhood, Masaaki Hatsumi studied many of the more popular martial arts, including judo, karate and western boxing. While instructing American soldiers in the art of judo, he noticed that because of their superior size and strength, the Americans were learning in months what typically took a Japanese practitioner years to master. As a result, he began to question the legitimacy of modern martial arts training. It was after this time, while studying ancient Japanese weaponry, that he learnt of a martial artist named Toshitsugu Takamatsu.

In 1957 he began making regular trips to train with his new teacher (who resided at the time in Kashiwabara, in Nara), taking a train ride that would last some 15 hours from his hometown of Noda in Chiba. This man-to-man training continued for 15 years until the passing of Toshitsugu Takamatsu in 1972.

From his teacher he inherited the position of sōke (headmaster) of 9 ryū (schools of martial arts):

  • Togakure-ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (戸隠流忍法体術)
  • Gyokko-ryū Kosshijutsu (玉虎流骨指術)
  • Kuki Shinden Happō Bikenjutsu (九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術)
  • Kotō-ryū Koppōjutsu (虎倒流骨法術)
  • Shinden Fudō-ryū Dakentaijutsu (神伝不動流打拳体術)
  • Takagi Yōshin-ryū Jūtaijutsu (高木揚心流柔体術)
  • Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu (義鑑流骨法術)
  • Gyokushin-ryū Ninpō (玉心流忍法)
  • Kumogakure-ryū Ninpō (雲隠流忍法)

Unlike many martial arts and their instructors, Masaaki Hatsumi focuses the training of the Bujinkan on what he terms the "feeling" of technique, or perhaps more accurately, the feeling of real situations. While technical knowledge of an art is considered important, the direction of this feeling-based approach guides the practitioner towards a "natural understanding" of what links various martial lineages as well as what is most effective in real situations.

Masaaki Hatsumi's experiences include holding training seminars for law enforcement organisations, including the FBI, CIA, the Mossad and for police in Britain, France and Germany. He conducted bi-annual training seminars throughout North and South America, Europe, Oceania and Africa. He has also served as a martial arts advisor to various films and television productions, including the James Bond thriller You Only Live Twice and the highly popular Japanese movie Shinobi no Mono. Among the awards he has received are the 1999 Japan Culture Promoting Association's Grand Prize, the 2000 World Culture Grand Prize as well as being the first martial artist to receive an Apostolic Blessing from the Pope (2001).

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