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 includes striking, joint locks, throws, and chokes.  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.

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.

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 minutes 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.