Who Is Stupid?


There is a new trend recently that is developing amongst the high ranks of the Bujinkan.
Searching for the true and original Bujinkan they are unearthing the past and reactivate unfinished programs discarded by Sôke.
Maybe because of our Christian origin, we think that “printed matter” is truth, and that the oldest the material is, the more we can trust it.
But concerning the Bujinkan program this is not the case.
Hatsumi sensei developed a syllabus called the Tenchijin basic program (aka bushinkan shinden kihon gata) and that it took him many years to come up with a (nearly) finished set of techniques.
Here is the genealogy of the Tenchijin program (the way I see it):
  1. In the sixties, Hatsumi sensei tells Takamatsu sensei that he wants to create a program regrouping the nine ryûha into one single one. Takamatsu sensei rejected the idea adding something like: “each system is important and they are all different, this is why they should be taught separately”.
  2. Fourty years ago, in April 1972, Takamatsu sensei leaves us. Hatsumi sensei is now alone, he begins to develop the Bujinkan system.
  3. Having had time to think it over, Hatsumi sensei abandoned the idea of a common program for the nine ryûha but takes the decision instead of regrouping all the basics of the ryûha into one set of techniques: this is the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki  天地人 略 の 巻. The title says it all as 略 (ryaku) means shorten, abbreviation, outline. His idea, therefore is to create a simplified program to prepare for the study of the nine Ryûha.
  4. At the end of the 70s, Hatsumi sensei creates his first Tenchijin program. It is presented in the form of 3 stencil like booklets and is only in japanese, no pictures.
  5. In1983, Hatsumi sensei publishes, in Japanese only, the evolution of the first paper version. He calls it: “Togakure Ryû Ninpô Taijutsu”. It follows the tenchijin structure. This published version of the Tenchijin contains 267 pages and presents three parts: Ten ryaku no Maki, Chi ryaku no Maki, and Jin ryaku no Maki. Shuriken and kakushi buki are added in the Jin Ryaku.
  6. In 1987, some western students receive from Japan a photocopied booklet written on a typewriter and entitled: “Bujinkan Shinden Kihon Gata”. The subtitle is Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki. It contains many changes to the 1983 version. The Kyûsho are gone, the weapons are gone, and the techniques are reshuffled and simplified.
  7. In the “official” Kihon Happô, Ganseki Nage is replaced by Musô Dori.
Since then the tenchijin of 1987 became the basic programme of the Bujinkan to teach the basics. It is the third and final evolution of the first tenchijin amended by Soke and this is the more developed programme of the three versions.

As you know to put out a comprehensive program is not an easy task and it took Sensei nearly 20 years to come up with a final tool. We can see the creation of this program as a famous painting like “Mona Lisa la Gioconda” by Leonardo Da Vinci, who spent 4 years to paint it. According to Leonardo’s contemporary: “after he had lingered over it four years, (he) left it unfinished”. Leonardo, later in his life, is said to have regretted “never having completed a single work”*.
This is the same with the Tenchijin.

The first version (tcj1) was a sketch.
The second version of 1983 (tcj2) a prototype. A beta version.
The third version of 1987(tcj3), the Tenchijin 1.0. Unfinished but good enough.

Today in 2013, some 30 years after the Beta version (tcj2), I am surprised to see many high ranks trying to discover a new hidden truth by basing their teaching on the first tries by sensei.

Unable to exist by themselves they try to create some kind of “competitive advantage” by putting back to light the first unstable versions created by sensei. Many base their syllabus on version tcj2 or even worse on version tcj1. This is why we see many old terms unearthed from these pre versions of the tcj reappearing today.

But I wonder how can these high ranks be so wrong in their analysis?

Do they think that created first the perfect programme and that he destroyed it version after version?
Do they think he is stupid?

The tenchijin was an attempt to summarize all the basics of the nine schools into a single tool to make it easier to enter the specific study of the Bujinkan Ryûha.

Please keep in mind that:

  1. The terms used in the tenchijin are generic (or became generic).
  2. Similar techniques in various Ryû can be named differently.
  3. A technique is a mix of several basic generic moves
  4. Techniques “look like” some basic techniques but are not to be done fully to the end.
  5. Some concepts, some techniques are missing from one version to the other.
  6. Some concepts, some techniques are added from one version to the other.
  7. The structure if the tenchijin is evolving from one version to the other.
  8. Some techniques from the Chi enter the Jin.
  9. Some techniques from the Jin are now into the Ten, etc.
To me it is as if Sensei through trial and error had been tuning and adjusting his first programs (tcj1 the tcj2) in order to make a common platform for learning the schools. The Tenchijin is only a tool designed to help the practitioner to undda erstand the Bujinkan. The last version tcj3 (1987) is the best one to do that.
But like Leonardo Da Vinci’s  “Gioconda”, please keep in mind that the Tenchijin of 87 is still unfinished so it is correct to mix with the tcj3 some of the concepts and techniques from tcj2 (the Kyûsho for example). Like in the Pareto distribution it should still respect the 80-20 ratio no more. Remember Sensei tried to make it simple.

With all that in mind, please see the overall logic followed by sensei since the death of his mentor:

  • Ninjutsu: Hatsumi Sensei develops the Bujinkan through 20 years of Tenchijin practice (1973-1992)
  • 1993-1997 – Budô Taijutsu Omote: He teaches the weapons, to emphasize knowledge of angles and distances (5 years),
  • 1998-2002 – Budô Taijutsu Ura: The five aspects of Taijutsu and body movement through five ryûha (5 years),
  • 2003-2012 – Juppô Sesshô: and then sensei continued with Ninpô Taijutsu: 5 years of Juppô Sesshô Omote and 5 years of Juppô Sesshô Ura.
  • 2013: This is where we are today with a Tsurugi in the hand.
When I look at it globally it seems to me that Sensei has been following some kind of very smart plan to bring us to his level of understanding. After all this is exactly what the word sensei means, no?
So please trust him, he knows what he is doing and he is the Tamashii (soul) of the Bujinkan.
If some high ranks in the West think they are smarter than Sensei, this is strange but after all they are adults.
If they decide not to follow Hatsumi Sensei’s vision and prefer to replace the Tenchijin programme 1987 (tcj3) by its former beta versions, let them continue. Everyone is responsible for his choices.
But if you are a dedicated Bujinkan instructor and if you want your students to grasp the essence of Hatsumi Sensei’s Budô, and to get a better chance to survive, then I urge you to think about it and to follow the only true and logical path: The one Budô path defined by Hatsumi Sensei!

Sensei can be called many names but “stupid” is definitely not the appropriate one!

This man is a fantastic human being who has been guiding us on the path for the last 40 years.
Choosing another path is like leaving the Bujinkan and his creator.
So, who is stupid now?

Author: kumablog

I share here on a regular basis my thoughts about the Bujinkan martial arts, training in Japan and all over the world, and

13 thoughts on “Who Is Stupid?”

  1. Just go and take your wooden oar down the beach and do 1000 cuts, 1000 sanshins 1000 kihons… and open your heart and train to the bone…. Time to also return to Soke… we know nothing…. smile…! Thank you Arnaud..




  3. Well put Arnaud. All one has to do is go train with Soke to see that he is also not only teaching, but training himself! Those that teach are not following what he is doing……we all train, all the time, and always in the context of following where Soke is at today, not yesterday. Change is the only constant, and Ninpo, Bujinkan or Hatsumi-jutsu will always evolve but HAS to evolve in the right direction or it ends up being like most other modern “martial arts” which have lost their way (in my opinion). The only person that is leading change today is Soke. Tomorrow, who knows?


  4. Thank you Arnaud. This is a good article. The Head (Soke) is leading from the front. The body (dojo) is following. The sense of planning and reviewing that Soke has done is massive. Not often will we meet someone of this capability. Appreciating your blogs immensely Sensei. Cheers.


  5. Good text Arnaud! If we think Bujinkan as a train ride,it´s of course good to know where the journey started and places we have passed during the years.But because the train is constantly going forwards,if we want to stop or return,we have to jump off.And then we see the train rolling away…


  6. So I know this is an old post but I feel my insight is helpful here. First off thank you for this info, it’s super helpful. So I was guilty of this (not teaching this way, but I was soon going to) until I read this. And I think it is helpful to explain why. While I know all too well that some people do this for the exact reasons you described, I was not, and I don’t think I am alone. So my story is this, My teacher was… not very… good. I have spent the last 7 years after my godan test and starting my dojo, trying to reverse the bad habits and incorrect techniques he taught. Because of this, only being financialy able to go to japan every 2 years, and lacking a personal relationship with Soke, I fond myself researching to find a more accurate account of the Tenchijin. I of course found MANY versions with different techniques listed, some were apparently these older versions of Soke’s, some shihan removed techniques they didn’t like to teach or couldn’t do themselves and other poor reasons. So this led me to search for the source material, which usually means tracking down the original source (often the oldest one). This unfortunately led me to finding what I now understand to be Soke’s latest version. But then I found an earlier version with older names and thought this must be the actual original version. This continued until I ended up with TCJ version one, thinking it was the true version Soke meant to be taught. Luckily before implementing it in my curriculum, I discovered this post by you which opened my eyes to the history and explanation for the changes. So again, thank you, this information has been invaluable.


  7. Hi,
    I have studied under a teacher who belongs to a particular “elite society” of Bujinkan. I don’t believe in elite societies. Techniques taught there were different from what you show in your videos. For example, what you presented as gan seki otoshi is gan seki nage in the syllabus I am trying to describe. You said that when Soke made the third version of ten chi jin, he changed names of techniques. Was Gan seki otoshi formerly known as gan seki nage? If so, does that mean that the organisation I studied in teaches techniques from the old syllabus?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: