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Yushuu Shihan Brad Hutchinson – 15th Dan

On April 2 2016, the 42nd year of Takamatsu Sensei celebration, Hatsumi Sensei promoted Brad Hutchinson to Yushuu Shihan Certification. Brad Hutchinson is also turning 50 years old this year, so it is a very special year for him.

Sensei Brad began his training in the 1980’s. In his over twenty years of training, he has seen the art grow in North America from a scant few participants to hundreds of dedicated practitioners. Sensei Brad was one of the first people to study the martial art in this area of the world and establish a school. Having obtained the rank of 15th Dan (one of the highest ranks available within the Bujinkan), and receiving the¬†golden dragon award from Massaki Hatsumi, ¬†Sensei Brad is one of the highest ranked Shihan in Canada. Many of his students have also obtained high ranks within the Bujinkan, some having trained under Sensei Brad for over ten years. Several students have even moved to Japan in order to train directly under the Grandmaster.

Highly trained and a qualified instructor in firearms, defensive tactics, and knife defense, Sensei Brad has taught military, law enforcement, government, and civilians the skills and abilities necessary to defend themselves and others.

Sensei Brad continues to teach today. He travels yearly to Japan with his students in order to study under the 34th Grandmaster Soke Masaaki Hatsumi.

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi -34th Grandmaster

hatsumi1Masaaki Hatsumi was born in December 1931 in Noda city, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. He grew up with an avid love of the martial arts and in his youth studied many martial art styles. Hatsumi began practicing when he was seven years old and found his fathers Bokuto (“wooden sword”). From that point on he began studying many popular Japanese martial arts and earned ranking in Karate, Aikido and Judo.

After he attained a 4th degree Black Belt in Judo he was asked to teach at a United States Army base. He was in his early 20s and found that the big Americans seemed to have size and natural ability and Hatsumi found that they were learning in months what took the typical Japanese years. He began to question his training… What good is a martial art if a bigger or stronger person could easily defeat you? Hatsumi began searching for a true warrior tradition.

While studying kobudo (“ancient weapons”) with a renowned instructor Hatsumi learned about a teacher named Toshitsugu Takamatsu, of Kashiwabara City which is to the west of the Iga region of Japan. As a last hope of finding a teacher who could impart the essence of a living warrior tradition and not just some recreational sport or lifeless art form, Hatsumi traveled across Honsho island to seek out the teacher he had searched for his whole life.

The train ride took over half a day to get from Hatsumi’s home to that of Takamatsu. In 1957, upon meeting Takamatsu, Hatsumi felt a strange aura emanate from him. Takamatsu was well into his 60’s when the two met. Hatsumi was only 26 years old . Full of confidence, Hatsumi had a match with the veteran battler and learned the true meaning of training.

In Hatsumi’s own words:

“The pain of his technique was different from any pain I had ever suffered before. I had only felt a cold, momentary pain, while with Sensei I was exposed to a hot, burning pain. It was as if something would explode, if my blood would be sucked up and I would die right away. He didn’tjust apply one GYAKU but four or five. I immediately knew this is what I was looking for. I asked 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. For Takamatsu the meeting was more like a reunion than a first meeting. In a poem to Hatsumi, Takamatsu wrote:

“In the days of the Tenei era there was great master of Koppo.
He was calm and peaceful like the flowers of springtime.
Yet he was so brave that not even 10,000 enemies could make him show fear.
He could even strike down a wild animal with but a single blow.”

SokeHatsumiFor over fifteen years Hatsumi trained under the supervision of Takamatsu and in 1972, with the death of his teacher, Hatsumi Sensei became the heir to the last and oldest ninja tradition existing.

A doctor of osteopathic medicine, and a renowned artist, Hatsumi Sensei is the author of over a dozen books and 40+ video tapes 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 and on living a productive life.

Hatsumi Sensei has also received countless awards, certificates, and honorary degrees from some of the most elite organizations in the world. Among them are Honorary Doctorate degrees from the USA in Human Sciences and Philosophy, Honorary Texas Ranger, Title of Knighthood from Germany, Blackbelt Magazine’s Instructor of the Year, and Honorable Citizenship from the state of Texas and cities of Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Dublin, Ireland; etc.. In 2000 Soke was awarded Japan’s highest honor, the Cultural Award, by the Emperor of Japan for his worldwide martial arts contributions.

Hatsumi Sensei continues to teach Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu today, sharing his immense skill and wisdom with those who are willing to “play”.

Toshitsugu Takamatsu – 33rd Grandmaster

takamatsu_3Toshitsugu Takamatsu was born in the 23rd year of Meiji (March 10, 1887) in Akashi, Hyogo province. His given name was Hisatsugu but he later changed it to Toshitsugu.

The Takamatsu family originated from Matsugashima in Ise. It is believed that at some point in their family history the Takamatsu’s had been Daimyo of this area and owned the Hosokiubi Castle. Takamatsu was given a makimono scroll called Amatsu Tatara. This scroll connected the Takamatsu family with the Kuki family. (The Kuki family are heirs to Kukishin Ryu).

Toshitsugu’s Grandfather was Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu. He had a bone clinic and a Budo Dojo in Kobe. He was of Samurai rank and Soke of Shindenfudo Ryu and a direct descendent of Tozawa Hakuunsai, the original founder of Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu. Toshitsugu’s father sent him to train with Toda because Toshitsugu was weak as a child. His classmates would often pick on him until he cried. They would call him “cry baby”.

Toda taught Toshitsugu Shindenfudo Ryu. Later he learned Koto Ryu and Togakure Ryu. He was fond of Koto Ryu but had little interest in Togakure Ryu.

During his first year of training he was taught nothing, instead he was thrown around by the other students continuously. He would bleed from the elbows and knees. Nobody would comfort him, they would just continue to throw him around the dojo. But every night he came back for more. After a year of this he was taught his first techniques. By the age of thirteen he mastered the techniques of the school.

Koto Ryu training involved strong conditioning of the hands and feet, especially the fingers and toes. As a result of constant striking of rocks and hard objects, Toshitsugu’s finger nails were 4 to 5 millimeters thick. He could not cut them with nail cutters. It is said he could tear the bark off of a tree with a simple sweep of his hand. He later said that this kind of training is of no use today.

When he was thirteen he left High School to go to the George Bundow English School in Kobe. While there he learned Takagi Yoshin Ryu from Mizuta Yoshitaro Tadafusa. When he was seventeen he was given the Menkyo Kaiden to the Ryu.

While seventeen he was also taught Kuki Happo Biken no Jutsu from Ishitani Matsutaro Takekage. It was from Ishitani that Toshitsugu also learned Hon Tai Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu. Before Ishitani’s death he passed the scrolls of these Ryu on to Toshitsugu.

Toshitsugu received his Menkyo Kaiden from Toda in 1909 when he was 22 years old. Toda died that same year. He once told Takamatsu, “Even when you are faced with death, die laughing”.

Toshitsugu made several trips to China and abroad when he was young. There are countless stories of his adventures and martial prowess. Takamatsu once said he fought 12 fights to the death (the result of challenges) and 7 competitive matches.

takawithboIn the 1950’s Takamatsu took a new student named Hatsumi then in his 20’s. Hatsumi had been studying Kobudo under a teacher named Ueno, who had told him that there was nothing more he could teach him. Hatsumi trained with Takamatsu every weekend for 15 years. Hatsumi said that when he first met Takamatsu he was frightened of him.

One day Takamatsu and Hatsumi were sitting in a room in Takamatsu’s house. Takamatsu told Hatsumi to close his eyes while he left the room, and to keep them closed. Hatsumi heard him leave the room and go downstairs. He did not hear Takamatsu re-enter the room. Takamatsu attacked Hatsumi from behind with a live Katana using Jumonji Kiri, one vertical and one horizontal cut. Hatsumi later said that as he sat in the room with his eyes closed, he felt something was wrong and moved to the side. Then, for no reason, he somersaulted forward. Takamatsu told Hatsumi that he had the “feeling” (sakki) and presented the sword to Hatsumi. After this Takamatsu gave Hatsumi the Menkyo Kaiden.

Takamatsu died on April 2, 1972 at the age of 85. He is buried in the Kumedra cemetery near Nara.