I have been quite a fan of Bujinkan Ninjutsu for a while now and in fact, been researching quite a lot about Ninjutsu and its history. Unfortunately, as I started researching more into Ninjutsu, I discovered some interesting views from people regarding Bujinkan and to my surprise most of them were negative, calling Bujinkan Ninjutsu fake and ineffective. To some extent, I do believe that Bujinkan Ninjutsu as a whole, completely and absolutely, can't be a guaranteed form of self-defence, especially due to their lack of pressure testing. However, there are certain gems in this art form that I believe can be used practically and on a resisting opponent.

From my research of what the critic says about Bujinkan, I have understood this:

Ninjutsu itself is not a martial art but rather an art of espionage, spying, stealth and all things unconventional in warfare. But they did have to go through some martial arts training, as plan B to say protect themselves if they were caught from their covert operations. Given there wasn't any record of any special martial arts attributed to ninjas or that they focused more on the stealth and the espionage, they really didn't care to make their own form of martial arts but instead, dealt with the martial arts everyone was dealing with at the time. Which includes classical jiujitsu, swordsmanship, etc etc. While Bujinkan claims their form of martial arts was undergone by the ninjas of feudal Japan and that it is a special form devised by the ninjas.

  • EPIC Tube HD, I'm not pushing for an accept since my answer doesn't feel entirely definitive to me, but is there anything more I can add to better handle your question? Aug 19, 2020 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


Outside of the question of efficacy, the authenticity of the Bujinkan system is indeed disputed. Masaaki Hatsumi claims to have received the teachings directly from Toshitsugu Takamatsu, who claimed to be heir to ninja traditions. However, as per Wikipedia:

The 1963 version of the Bugei Ryūha Daijiten indicates of Takamatsu's Togakure-ryu: "this genealogy refers to various written records and oral transmissions and there are many points/places where embellishments have been added and people appearing in the genealogy are also made older than they actually are. Thus the genealogy can be considered to be something that [Takamatsu's teacher Toda] Shinryūken newly arranged around the end of the Tokugawa shōgunate." The Iga-ryū Ninja Museum lists as the only legitimate inheritor of authentic ninjutsu as Jinichi Kawakami, although this is likely to be a biased opinion as Jinichi Kawakami is also the honorary director of the Iga-ryū Ninja Museum, a commercial enterprise and tourist attraction. In the words of martial arts author Donn Draeger: "The late Fujita Seiko was the last of the living ninja, having served in assignments for the Imperial Government during the Taisho and Showa eras. Modern authorities such as T. Hatsumi are responsible for most research being done on ninjutsu."

It may be worth noting that, of the nine traditions, or ryū that comprise Bujinkan teachins, only three are claimed to be ninja arts with the other six being claimed to be from samurai teaching. This does not preclude ninja from having learned such arts, especially since, as you note, ninjutsu is primarily about espionage and stealth.

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