Private Investigations and Personal Security/Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu


What do you think of Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan combat system? Do you believe it has merit as a system of self-defence?

I am unaware of this exact system. There are well over 2000 traditional martial arts systems in China alone. When you mix in the number of hybrids and recently created arts with traditional sounding names hung on them you are well on your way to total confusion -- especially the ones that claim to be older, established systems that are, in fact, hybrids.

Having said that however, I can give you a few pointers to look for that you can assess the system's effectiveness. Before I begin though let me also point out that just because something is a hybrid doesn't mean it is ineffective. Although it should make you go "hmmmmm" that something that is a recent construction is being sold as an older, established -- but oh so obscure -- martial art.
That's marketing spin, pure and simple. Another point to seriously consider is the use of the term "combat" in the title. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?  Combat? What you mean combat? Modern combat involves weapons, specifically rifles, artillary,tanks and airstrikes. How you going to kung fu those things?

In short, combat is what results when men try to kill each other by the most effective means possible. Under combat there are very few legal, moral, social restrictions about what you do to survive (Although there are many about what you do after the enemy surrenders and/or to non-combatants). As such, combat is oriented on quick and efficient killing; this is NOT self-defense. Self-defense is a far more complex issue, involving legal, moral and social restrictions.

Unfortunately, what many people want to call "self-defense" is in fact, fighting. Again the distinction between self-defense and fighting is as vast as that and the difference between self-defense and combat.

Unfortunately, most places that I have encountered that are peddling the "combat" idea are not addressing these issues. As such, they are setting you up to get reamed legally if you use their killer combat system on an attacker -- that is if you survive that attack itself. Flat out, most of the hardcore, self-proclaimed "hardcore" and/or "reality based self=defense systems" that I have encountered are very, very much overkill approaches.

That is to say that they train you fight some kind of uber-boogey man bad guy that you must rain down on him 27 different deathblows before he even considers ceasing his attack. There are many problems with this approach, several of them legal, however, let's approach this from a physical aspect.

Why do you need to deliver 27 death blows? I mean after all if it is so effective and deadly, why doesn't it work on the first time out? Or, put another way, what is wrong with the move that it doesn't serve to stop the person immediately?

The reason that I ask this is that quite often I have seen "sports" moves presented as "combat" moves. They are not combat moves, they are sports move done hard and with attitude

These sports moves are in fact, designed NOT to harm an opponent by the removal of aspects that would inflict serious injury. For example, boxing has some of the most devastating punches of any fighting system out there. However, the removal/banning of certain other moves prevents serious injury to the contestants. Those same blows, if combined with twisting, grounding, trapping actions would cause bone breaking injuries. Injuries that would send most attackers fleeing while howling in pain with only one move.

This is why you have to look askance at any system that teaches you to do 27 killer moves. The reason they need to do 27 moves to stop a determined attacker is because one sport move -- even done with gusto -- will not immediately stop an attacker, "dedicated" or not. They simply lack the components to severly damage and/or stun an attacker.

With this in mind, I will give you a simple rule of thumb to use to judge a systems "combat" effectiveness.

Is it over in three moves?

Is your opponent down on the deck, critically injured after three simple moves? Moreover, is he incapable of immediate further attack to you after two moves? If he is still up and able to resist you by your second move, then you are not practicing a combat system.

But what about self-defense? Are you being taught "Stun and run?" Are you being taught to deliver a powerful, pursuit inhibiting blow and then to "run fiercely" towards safety?  In short, are you being taught to "break contact, continue mission?"

Or are you being trained to stand there and fight by raining those 27 deadly strikes on an attacker? Because if that is what you are being taught, then it is neither combat nor self-defense training. It is martial arts, possibly sport martial arts, being packaged and sold as something else.

Now having said all this, does it mean don't study this art? No. Not at all. It may be a very fine martial art system. While its study will be beneficial in a great number of ways its application for self-defense (except to escape a dangerous situation) will be limited.

But having said that, I should also point out that only focusing on the self-defense benefits of the martial arts is very self-limiting approach to the subject. It's like going to a gourmet buffet and insisting on ordering Macaroni and Cheese.  

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