Bujinkan Kyūsho: 呼吸 Kokyuu, 指 Yubi, and 目 Me

柴又八幡神社 Shibamata Hachiman Jinja, photo Michael Glenn
In the past few years, Hatsumi Sensei has been exploring more than one theme every year. And some of the Bujinkan yearly themes have actually stretched across more than one year. For example, one Bujinkan theme this year of “skipping stones” I first heard from Hatsumi Sensei during one class back in September of 2014: The 間 Aida of Skipping a Stone Across Water

Another Bujinkan theme that Hatsumi Sensei has been expressing the last few years is the use of 呼吸 kokyuu (the breath), 指 yubi (the fingers), and 目 me (the eyes). These three are not to be taken individually. They must be connected in the same way that the ripples on a pond are connected by the stone that skipped across it.

In one cold December class Hatsumi Sensei described this for us,
"(the eyes and the breath are) connected like skipping a stone. It’s connected together but really you disappear. Take the eyes and the fingers for jissen. In a real situation you don’t want to just go for them, you just kind of let them happen along the way. Take the eyes, the fingers, and stop the breathing."
These three things can be thought of as kyūsho. They are weak points on even the strongest opponent. If you attack the eyes, you destroy his ability to fight. The fingers are very sensitive to pain and break easily. And if you stop or interrupt the breath, the entire body and mind stops with it.

As always, Hatsumi Sensei embeds layers of meaning and wordplay into the things he shares with us. The word 呼吸 kokyuu means breath, but it also can be translated as a knack, a  trick,  or a secret for doing something. Hatsumi Sensei described one of these secrets in another class I went to,
"Don’t grab and hold, just move like this with the body.  The finger hooks on here. With this timing, with this rhythm."
Even though it wasn’t translated directly, Soke actually said 呼吸から愛人 kokyuu kara ai jin, this is the harmony of the breath between lovers. This means you match your movements or your breath to the same rhythm as the breath of your opponent. You harmonize and become one with him. Then when you break that rhythm, it shatters him like a wine glass.

In case you haven’t seen that happen, a wine glass can be shattered by sound (the breath or voice of a singer). This happens because the glass has a natural frequency at which it vibrates. The singer first resonates with this frequency, then breaks that by going beyond it.

Hatsumi Sensei said we can use the finger to attack the rib cage in a way that interrupts the breath. I witnessed this, but since it is a kuden, I would have to show you in person. Don’t be afraid to ask me to hurt you next time you see me!

Hatsumi Sensei added that this is why we don’t have to avoid a strike. Instead we interrupt the opponent's breathing. This becomes like sutemi. Here we find the feeling of being able to control with just one finger.

The word for eyes or eyesight in Japanese can use different kanji as well. One of them is 目 me which can be translated as insight. Another is 明 mei which is a brightness or clarity of vision.

And the finger indicates the connection or link between these things. We must open up to these connections when we train on the Bujinkan themes. Remember the real training happens in your own breath and your own insight.
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中今(Naka Ima) Here and now are the only realities.



When my good friend Willy Iglesia went to Japan at the tender age of 18 to train with Ninja Master Hatsumi Masaaki, his first lesson was an unexpected one.  Hatsumi Sensei took him to a restaurant and ordered two plates heaping with vegetables for the two of them.  Willy, being a young man from Argentina, (people form Argentina eat a lot of meat! How much? Well, think of a whole hell of a lot of meat and then think even more!) So Willy, looking at the plate of greens, says “Sensei, I don`t eat vegetables.”. The reply from Ninja Master Hatsumi, “First lesson, now eat vegetables!”.

We often forget the foundation upon which our Ninpo is based.  A healthy body/mind organism.  In his very first books on Ninpo, Hatsumi Sensei stresses the importance of proper nutrition and exercise.  Yet often we are controlled by our senses, eating and partaking in activities solely to please the greedy senses. My yogi teachers would say, “you are eating donuts to please the tongue while the liver dies in silence.”. These words I can never forget.  If you look deeply at this one sentence, you may grab the essence  of the Rokon Shojou 六根清浄  (禄魂笑浮)teachings of several years ago as well.

I  train a small Bujinkan group in Yokohama and have had the good fortune to meet Matthew Dons who became an ardent supporter, student and good friend. Matthew was recently diagnosed with stage four cancer having spread to many systems in his body. He is 36 years old with two small children. The prognosis is that he most likely has only a few months to live.  We live our life as if we have an unlimited amount of time.  Once I was speaking with Hatsumi Sensei about the later years of life. He said, “Don`t think about the later years, right now, these are the later years of your life.  live now. this is naka ima! (中今).”. Be in the middle of right now. The Buddha once said, “life is but a single breath.” How deeply can we live and love in this moment.  Often we feel, when I get there, I will be happy then.  Remember, there and then are only fictions. Here and now are the only realities.

If you are able and would like to help, here is a link  to help Matthew fund his treatment and other expenses in this difficult time. We are hoping to extend his life for a few more moments to be with his family.  Wishing you all health and happiness, Now!






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Make the Opponent Empty

a rare empty hall in Ameya-Yokochō, photo by Michael Glenn
I've been writing lots of articles for my personal Bujinkan mailing list which you can sign up for here: Bujinkan Training Notes

The other day I wrote about something very important in our Bujinkan training. It starts with a question that everyone forgets to ask:

Who is it that fights? When you are in a fight or an argument, who does the fighting? Is it you? Your opponent? Does it just happen by itself?

Obviously any fight requires at least two participants. Unless you are fighting with yourself. But in that case there are still two because you are divided against yourself.

What if you didn't participate? Remove yourself from the fight. What happens?

The fight dissolves. Almost as if it was never real. Leave the opponent to fight with himself.

In a recent class with Hatsumi Sensei, he told us how NOT to avoid a sword,
"If you evade, you will die. Move without any intention to fight. Make the opponent empty. Make him forget his own intent to fight. Make him forget that he’s fighting or trying to strike you."
Make the opponent empty. Make yourself empty. The fight is an illusion that you have created. You can stop believing in it.
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Kukishin-ryu Jo-jutsu


All 8 Kukishin-ryu Jo-jutsu techniques in HD quality, total playing time is 20 minutes. 1.08 Gb (H.264, AAC, 1280x720p)

This was filmed at the Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo during the summer of 2015. The theme was Kukishin-ryu Jo-jutsu.

There is no verbal instructions on this film. Each technique is demonstrated several times from all angles. For more information about this ryu-ha click here! Please notice there is several sub-pages to this page with more information.


The Jojutsu techniques was developed by Ōkuni Kogenta Yukihisa the 11’th Sōke of Kukishin-ryu in the Genna period (1615-1624). The length of the stick is individual, when placed on the ground it should reach up to your armpit.

We use the same Kamae, strikes and blocks as in Rokushakubōjutsu. The first Jojutsu technique is the same as the last technique in Bōjutsu Keiko Sabaki Kata.


1. 十文字 JŪMONJI
2. 六法 ROPPŌ
3. 九法 KYŪHO
4. 龍飛 HIRYŪ

Title: Kukishin-ryu Jo-jutsu with Mats Hjelm
Instructors: Mats Hjelm
Theme: Kukishin-ryu Jo-jutsu
Recorded: Recorded in Kaigozan Dojo, Stockholm July 2015

Kind: Apple MPEG-4 movie
Size: 1 075 472 723 bytes (1,08 GB on disk)
Dimensions: 1280×720
Codecs: H.264, AAC, Photo – JPEG, QuickTime Text
Duration: 20 min

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Inton Jutsu: Don’t Give What They Expect

Yesterday was my last class with Hatsumi sensei for this trip. 

After the class I had dinner with the CEO of Quest, and we spoke of sensei’s Budō. And that helped a lot because I must admit that I was a little lost after training. 

Hatsumi senseil didn’t reveal any nice philosophical concept to support my understanding (Sasae Nakusu?) 

On the contrary, he mainly taught at the technical level. Except that it was at his technical level, far beyond mine.

His movements are so subtle that it is impossible to get what he is doing. It resembled more to some magic trick, than to Budō moves.

I had the chance to attack sensei a few times. And whether it was with a sword or with a fist, I was unable to attack him properly, as if he was able to erase my intention and my ability to make a decision. That was weird. And I guess that Holger, Yabunaka, Paul, or Armando, who were his UK, would agree with me. 

There are two things that Sensei said during this class,  and that I do remember. Even though they seem paradoxical at first, they are in fact, the two sides of the same reality of Mutō Dori. The Omote and the Ura of Zero. 

He said:

1. “Get hit, in order not to be hit.” 

2. “Stab uke without intenting to stab him.”

“Get hit”. Too often, during training, we move too early, therefore we are not able to get the exact timing for our movements. This is the Omote.

Sōke explained that, to learn the perfect timing, we are in the dōjō, we have to accept moving too late and to get hit. Little by little, we develop the correct timing. This is learning by trial and error. 

“Don’t stab”. On a sword attack, don’t try to stab the attacker, let him come to you, and let him stab himself on your blade. This is the Ura.

Behave as if you’re not aware of him, emit no intent, and walk naturally and slowly past him. 

The Mutō Dori of 2016 is 隠遁術, Inton Jutsu, the art of concealing your escape, or your moves / your intent.

In his last dvd, Sensei writes “it’s Inton, where you don’t give the person the feeling they would normally expect. This is Ninpō.” 

As Uke, I was always stuck in the Kûkan and really couldn’t feel anything. 

He adds that “Ninpō Taijutsu is the highest level of Bujutsu. It means that you’re able to not show things.” Honestly, when I was attacking him, and even though I knew what he was going to do, I got defeated each time. He was Zero, showing nothing.   

Yesterday was my first class of Inton Jutsu, and I don’t know how to get it.

I guess I’ll have to come back next November. 


1. 隠遁/inton/retirement (from the world); seclusion

隠遁術/intonjutsu/Ninja art of escape

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