What is Ninpo Taijutsu, anyway?

What is Ninpo Taijutsu?  Ninpo Taijutsu is an unarmed fighting system developed over 900 years ago in Japan.  It is a defensive mixed martial art which incorporates striking, grappling and pressure points.  Taijutsu techniques rely on natural movements, strategic thinking, and knowledge of the human body in order to negate the importance of size and strength.   Ninpo Taijutsu is commonly referred to as “ninjutsu.”  It was originally developed by the peasant class in order to combat the better trained, armed, and armored Samurai.  It is closely related to other Japanese martial arts, particularly jujutsu.

Why isn’t it called Ninjutsu?  Linguistics, mostly.  In Japanese, “jutsu” is most often translated as “skill” or “technique”.  “Nin” is commonly understood as “patience and perseverance”.  “Ninjutsu” combines these to become “patience and perseverance skills”.  This term is correctly used in a historical context and refers not only to the practice and development of ninpo taijutsu and the three other components of ninjutsu and but also its practitioners… NINJAS!  Furthermore, the character “po” (ho) is often interpreted to mean “way” or “law”.  This term has very philosophical connotations that we won’t get into for the sake of brevity, but when combined with “nin” it becomes “the way (law) of patience and perseverance”.  The character “tai” means “body,” hence “taijutsu” translates to “body skill”.  Ninpo taijustu, then, can be understood to mean “body skills in the way of patience and perseverance”. 

What’s with all the bowing?  At Wash Park Martial Arts part of our mission is to preserve the art of ninpo taijutsu.  To that aim, we practice not only the techniques that make up the art but also the traditional Japanese etiquette associated with it.  This is common difference between many traditional and modern martial arts and allows us to better understand the context in which the techniques were historically practiced as well as the spirit in which the art was developed.

Will it hurt?  We pride ourselves in providing a fun, safe and constructive environment in which to train.  Safety is of the utmost importance to us and we teach self-control and precision from day one.  That being said, like most physical activities, and life itself, you may end up a few minor bumps and bruises.  Joint techniques are applied in a slow and controlled manner and only practiced “to the tap” (tapping in order to communicate surrender) and do not cause injury when applied in this way.

But, it looks like it hurts!  Will I have to let others practice on me?  The short answer is yes.  If you want to study ninpo taijutsu (or any martial art) you will have to practice with others.  Our primary practice method is partner-based for several reasons.  First, a large portion of our techniques rely on manipulating the balance and structure of an opponent.  This can simply not be practiced effectively without a partner.  Second, it is important to feel each technique in order to truly understand it.  It might be said that doing a technique will allow you to understand half of it and to understand the other half you must receive the technique.  Finally, a major component of any martial art is conditioning the body.  Receiving techniques, learning how to properly break a fall, and even take a punch or two are all important skills should you ever find yourself in a threatening situation.

Will I be “sparring” with my partner?  We do not spar in the traditional sense.  A majority of our training patterns begin with your partner attacking or grabbing you.  In the beginning stages of your training, your partner will be compliant (provide structure without resisting or assisting the technique) so that you have an opportunity to study how and why the technique works without added complications.  At later stages, once you have gained understanding of the technique itself, further degrees of resistance are added.  We have found that introducing resistance in the early stages of learning a technique often stokes the ego into “muscling” and speeding up which impedes understanding and can result in injury.  At all stages of training, we encourage working with a variety of partners so that you can study how differences in physiology affect each technique. 

 How do I get started?  The best way to get started is to try a class!  Check our schedule and join us for any of the classes listed.  Please arrive 5-10 early if possible.  Or give us a call and set up a time to meet with one of our instructors for an introductory private lesson.  We also welcome you to come and observe a class prior to participating if you’re not quite ready to jump in.

Will I need to buy any equipment?  No equipment is required to participate.  We have a selection of gi (training clothes) available to those that are trying a class or have just started studying with us.  We ask that once you have committed to studying at our school you purchase a gi.  Most students find it aides in their studies to purchase a curriculum book.

Will I be expected to compete?  Ninpo taijutsu is not a sport and there are no competitions.  Sports have rules: targets/moves that are off limits, time constraints, weight classes, points, etc.  Examples of martial sports are wrestling, fencing, boxing, judo, kendo, karate, taekwondo, and Brazillian juijutsu.  Sport martial arts can often be traced back to combat martial arts and often arose as a way to practice and entertain during peace-times.  In ninpo taijutsu and in other non-sport martial arts there are no points and one “wins” simply by going home safely, whatever form that takes. 

Don’t see your question?  Send it to us!  We will be happy to answer promptly.