All About Japan

Japan’s Best-Known Ninja Lives in Chiba

Ninja Sports Greater Tokyo Chiba

At first glance, the neighborhood around Atago Station in Chiba Prefecture’s Noda City appears nondescript—a typical suburb in the greater Tokyo area. Mere meters away from the tracks sits an inconspicuous, black-walled Japanese-style building. Stepping through its sliding doors, however, reveals a host of foreign faces, men and women alike, interspersed with a few Japanese. These are practitioners of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a martial art that local Masaaki Hatsumi devised and is passing on.

The term budo generally encompasses Japan’s diverse array of martial arts and the character engendered among their practitioners. While their styles and purposes vary to some extent, these arts provided skills in feudal Japan that samurai and mercenaries alike needed to prevail in conflict. Some martial arts like kendo are oriented toward fighting with weapons; forms such as karate emphasize empty-handed combat. Others seek to quickly subdue the opponent and minimize actual fighting altogether, as in judo and aikido.

Hatsumi calls the form of budo he teaches at his dojo (training hall) taijutsu, to denote the skill (jutsu) of using one’s body (tai). Hatsumi founded Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu in 1970, yet the skills he imparts are ancient—he drew on samurai practices and ninjutsu (ninja tactics) to create this new form of modern combat.

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