Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster
Grandmaster Hatsumi is the founder and International Director of the Bujinkan Dojo with its Hombu Dojo, the Bujinden (Divine Palace), residing in Noda City and has an administration office attached to his downtown home. His wife, Mariko, is a famous Japanese dance teacher and 10th Dan director of women's training for the Bujinkan.
Young Hatsumi was 7 years old when he first held his father's Bokuto (wooden sword) and took up training in the martial ways. That was in the late 1930's and that day became the inspiration of his martial arts life. As a young boy growing up he deeply involved himself in training in the martial arts of Japan. He studied Judo, Kendo, Karate, Kobudo (Kobujutsu Juuhappan), Aikido, Okinowan Karate (Zen-Bei Butokukai) and Jukendo (rifle and bayonet combat).
In Junior High School he was a gymnast, boxer and the Captain of the soccer team. He also studied social dancing which he believes helped him with the footwork in his Budo training. In his College years he continued to practice Boxing and Judo, he belonged to the Judo and Drama clubs and studied Theater Arts.
He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, with a major in osteopathic medicine (as a Hone-tsugi, Orthopedic Doctor) and in Theater studies. He is respected as an accomplished practitioner of the ancient Japanese medical techniques of Seikotsu (natural healing methods). His practice in his bone clinic continued on a steady basis until about 1990 when his travel and movie schedule seemed to take over all his time. In addition to medicine, Dr. Hatsumi is an accomplished artist of brush and ink in the Nihonga style.
During his studies in Medical School, by the time he was 20 years old, he had obtained the rank of 4th degree black belt in Judo. In 1951 this was a very high rank and rare for such a young student of the arts. This proves his dedication and perseverance since he tested against those much older and bigger than he. But he found Judo to be sport oriented and began searching for a true warrior tradition. While studying Kobudo (ancient weapons) with a renowned instructor Hatsumi learned about a teacher who could impart the essence of a living warrior tradition and not just some recreational sport or lifeless art form.
At the age of 26, Hatsumi Sensei met this teacher named Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the last of the true Ninja, in Kashiwabara City which is west of the Iga region in Japan. The train ride took over half a day to get from Hatsumi's home to that of Takamatsu. Takamatsu was well into his 60's when the two met. Hatsumi felt a strange aura emanate from him and asked him to be his student. At that time, Takamatsu did not accept any new students, and yet, seeing something special in this young man he agreed to teach him. Hatsumi had so full of confidence a match with the veteran battler and learned the true meaning of training. In his own words: “The pain of his technique was different from any pain I had ever suffered before… He didn't just apply one Gyaku but four or five. I immediately knew this is what I was looking for….”. For Takamatsu the meeting was more like a reunion than a first meeting. In a poem to Hatsumi, Takamatsu wrote:
Hatsumi traveled across the main island of Honshu every weekend for fifteen years to study with Takamatsu Sensei who taught him the Nine secret traditions and passed them on to him as the sole inheritor, as he died 83 years old in his home in Nara (just East of Osaka) on April 2, 1972. Hatsumi Sensei became so the "soke" or grandmaster in to the following last and oldest ninja Traditions existing, which is what we know of as the Bujinkan Dojo.
Since then Hatsumi Sensei elevated the art to new levels. He changed the grading qualifications from Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. It was done to reflect growing ability of students to train in a wider range of the Bujinkan arts.
Grandmaster Hatsumi is the author of numerous books in both Japanese and English and released an excellent series of training videos, which encompasses well over 50 volumes on the art of Ninjutsu. He has been featured in almost every magazine relating to this subject in Japan, and throughout the entire world. He has authored countless magazine and newspaper articles on Ninjutsu. He has been an advisory and fight choreographer for numerous films and Television programs, as the famous series called 'Jiraya' which was the number one watched kid's program in Japan. He is now what is called a historiographer of martial arts for various plays and movies, acting as a consultant.
For his worldwide martial arts contributions he has received numerous awards and recognition from all over the world, including Titles, Gratifications, Honorary Doctorate degrees and Citizenships. The list is long and grows every month as he travels around the world spreading his martial art and life philosophy.