Learn Ninjutsu – What IS the Kihon Happo of Ninpo-Taijutsu?

Are you serious about learning the secrets to mastery within the art of the Ninja. Do you really want to learn ninjutsu?

This article explains a set of techniques within ninpo-taijutsu training, that are collectively known as the Kihon Happo, or 8 fundamental techniques. It will also help you to better understand how you “should” be training if you are truly seeking mastery, and not just some “cool ninja moves.”

First, let’s outline the set of techniques collectively known as the Kihon Happo.

The set of 8 basic techniques, as practiced today, is actually a collection of principles and concept ideas brought together from several of the schools that make up the Bujinkan Dojo. While the concepts and base idea can be found within the Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu tradition, the actual models from this school are quite different from what most students are used to seeing.

And, even though the list that I’m presenting is more or less the same as that which most students encounter in the art of ninjutsu today, it needs to be said that in the beginning, the techniques had no names. Not that they weren’t cataloged and listed in the scrolls – it’s just that most of us didn’t know about them – nor care.

Because the focus was on self-protection – not kata collection!

Anyway, here is the list of the techniques that make up the Kihon Happo:

1) Ichimonji no Kata
2) Hicho no Kata
3) Jumonji no Kata

Collectively, the above techniques are known as the Kosshi Sanpo Waza, or the foundational three-method techniques.

4) Omote gyaku
5) Ura gyaku
6) Ganseki nage (sometimes Muso dori instead – but it’s the same idea applied differently!)
7) Oni-kudaki
8) Musha dori

These five techniques are known collectively as the Torite Goho Kata, which deal with different types of grabs to the defender’s body and clothing.

It’s important to note that every lineage or school has a list of what could be called kihon gata – or basic techniques, strategies and tactics that appear again and again in their other kata. It’s important to understand that these kihon are “pieces” that are then linked to the techniques, which forms the foundation of the skills necessary for combat survival.

To understand one of the “secrets” of the kihon happo, you need to recognize that the identification of numbers in the list are subjective. That means that while sanpo can mean “3 ways,” and goho “5 ways,” anytime you see this idea, you’re simultaneously seeing much more than 3 or 5, or even the 8 of “happo.”

You’re seeing a written lesson from the past masters to the concept of infinity – of “any direction” – of “many ways!”

So, what IS the Ninja’s Kihon Happo?

Is it 8 technique models that beginning students need to learn, or not? Well, yes… and no.

The important point is to realize that they are models that point to so much more than the step-by-step strings that they appear to demonstrate. Just as the keys on the keyboard I’m using right now, and my ability to use a long vocabulary of words does not, in and of itself create this article – the movements of the kihon happo, including the strikes, blocks, kicks, and joint locks and throws they teach on a very basic level – do not produce the “ability” to survive a real-world attack situation.

However, the lessons that the movements – the pieces of the forms – convey, when combined with an understanding of what it’s like inside of a combat situation, and the ability to focus and apply the right technique at the right moment in the chaotic flow of attacks being thrown by one or more assailants…

…do produce the “capability” the training points to.