Dayton Bujinkan Dojo History



The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo Martial Arts School had its first class on Nov. 3, 1997. Many factors contributed to the opening of the dojo. The following explains how it came about....

The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo senior instructors began training under Shidoshi Kurt Rittenhouse in 1992. Kurt began his Bujinkan training under Stephen K. Hayes and Shawn Havens at "the Barn" in 1983. At the time, Kurt was the youngest student to receive a blackbelt in the old Kasumi-an system. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, Kurt began visiting Japan multiple times a year to train with Hatsumi Soke, Muramatsu Sensei, Manaka Sensei, Oguri Sensei and Noguchi Sensei. In addition, within the United States it was Jack Hoban, Don Smith, Bud Malstrom and Will Meijer who were an influence on Kurt's training.


(Picture below is of Kurt with Muramatsu Sensei in the late 1980's.)





From 1990 to 1997, Kurt ran "Kurt Rittenhouse Martial Arts" (KRMA) and at its peak had 250 students between two schools (Kettering and Columbus, Ohio). Kurt's Taijutsu was based on strong striking skills and knowing the kihon happo (basic techniques); every class encompassed this methodology regardless of the techniques taught.

In the summer of 1997, Shidoshi Rittenhouse closed his dojos and stop teaching publicly in Dayton, Ohio. Many of his students wanted to continue training in Budo Taijutsu after the dojos were closed. Tony Maddin & Jeff Ochester, both students of the now-closed Kurt Rittenhouse Martial Arts, were able to establish training classes twice a week at a local recreational center. As time went by, the need to open a small training studio became obvious. Greg Sherwood, whose son trained at the Kurt Rittenhouse Martial Arts School, knew Jeff from training. Greg was a Lieutenant at a local fire department, & Jeff had joined the same fire department to work volunteer & part-time. Greg's son wanted to keep training in Budo Taijutsu, so the opportunity to co-partner in a dojo was offered. As a few months passed, Greg Sherwood & Jeff Ochester had figured out a way to open a school using their own money and the money donated by many of the students. They approached Kurt Rittenhouse with the idea to open a small dojo, and he gave them permission to do so. By October 1997, a small 460 square foot studio was found and a rent agreement was signed.

On November 3, 1997, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo Martial Arts School was opened with an incredible amount of help from Tony Maddin and the recreational center students. From 1997 to 2000, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo moved twice to larger facilities (600 & 800 sq ft) in order to provide larger training space for its students. It also regularly brought in senior Bujinkan instructor Dan Klug for special seminars in order to help senior students continue to grow in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.


(Image below is of Shihan Dan Klug teaching in 1998 in the 12-tatami Dayton Bujinkan Dojo.)





From 2000 to 2005, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo moved to a 1500 square foot facility south of Downtown Dayton and expanded its training mats from 18 to 27 tatami. Training expanded to seven days a week, and guest instructors Dan Klug and Sean Askew taught regular seminars at the dojo. A children's program also began twice a week.

In 2005, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo moved to a larger 5600 sq ft facility in Kettering, Ohio. With 100 mats and plenty of training space, the Dojo held 40+ seminars and 1000's of hours of training at this facility including the 2008 Midwest Bujinkan Tai Kai Event (120+ attendees). Additional adult training classes were offered in Budo Taijutsu, groundfighting & sparring classes, and firearms classes. The Children's program expanded to twice a week. The Dojo stayed at this location until 2016 when the building owner changed management.

In February 2016, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo purchased a building and relocated to Moraine, Ohio. Renovations took four months. On May 21, 2016, the Dojo held a grand opening seminar to celebrate its move and reopening of the Dojo. The current location is 9200 sq ft and has 107 tatami training mats, a yoga room, two large changing rooms, four offices, and a kitchenette. Air conditioning too!

Since 1997, the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo has moved five times, each to to larger facilities as it has continued to grow. In 2004, Greg Sherwood retired from "running the books" at the dojo, and three new co-owners merged with Jeff Ochester: David VandenBos, Marty Dunsky, and Pam Dunsky. The four new owners are making positive changes to insure the success of both the dojo and the students who train within it. We look forward to see what lies ahead!



Bujinkan History



Below are common questions about the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo & Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.


What is the Bujinkan?


The Bujinkan (translated as "warrior spirit hall") is the platform Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Soke (literally "head of the family", but commonly called 'Grandmaster'), teaches his martial art, Budo Taijutsu from. Dr. Hatsumi created the Bujinkan after his teacher, the late Takamatsu Sensei, died in 1972. Takamatsu Sensei was the Soke of nine ryu, or lineages, of which he taught to Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi over the course of 15 years. The nine ryu & approximate dates of their historical beginnings are:


  1. Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu | Hidden Door School
    1161 | 戸隠流忍法体術
  2. Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu | Jewel Tiger School
    1156 | 玉虎流骨指術
  3. Kukishinden Ryu Happo Bikenjutsu | Nine Demon School
    1336 | 九鬼神伝流八法秘剣術
  4. Koto Ryu Koppojutsu | Tiger Knocking Down School
    1532 | 虎倒流骨法術
  5. Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu | Immovable Heart School
    1113 | 神伝不動流打拳体術
  6. Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu | High Tree, Raised Heart School
    1625 | 高木揚心流柔体術
  7. Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu | Truth, Loyalty, and Justice School
    1558 | 義鑑流骨法術
  8. Gyokushin Ninpo Taijutsu | Jeweled Heart School
    1532 | 玉心流忍法体術
  9. Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu | Hiding in the Clouds School
    1532 | 雲隠流忍法体術

It is the culmination of these nine ryu that Dr. Hatsumi uses as the basis for the Bujinkan. Three of the nine ryu are of ninpo decent (Togakure Ryu, Kumogakure Ryu, & Gyokushin Ryu), making the history of the Bujinkan slightly more difficult to understand without proper historical interpretation by an authentic teacher.





Although students are taught multiple techniques from the nine ryu, Dr. Hatsumi teaches the culmination of these lineages as one martial arts body, of which he has titled Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. Therefore, students of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo are tested & licensed in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, not the specific lineages. It is true that a few senior students of Dr. Hatsumi have been licensed in some of the specific ryu, but this is not very common today.


What are the instructor credentials of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo instructors?


The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo is a Shidoshi Kai (teacher's guild) affiliate as defined by the rules and regulations of the Bujinkan Hombu in Nodashi, Japan for schools that issue rank. Furthermore, instructors and staff members renew membership cards
yearly every spring with the Bujinkan, a requirement dictated by the Hombu. These
cards and shidoshi-kai menkyo are available for viewing at the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo.


In addition, most senior instructors of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo visit Japan yearly
for guidance and training from Hatsumi Soke and the Bujinkan Shihan. This information is then shared with the students of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo, which raises the level of training for all students.


What can I expect during a class?


Each class is approximately one hour long. The class starts with a bow-in procedure, then proceeds with five minutes of warm-ups, stretching, and rolling. Striking, body dynamics, and body alignment are then taught for the rest of the first half of class. The second half of class consists of taihenjutsu, dakentaijutsu and/or jutaijutsu (body work, striking & throwing) training. Each student works with a partner on the instruction given by the teacher. Each student practices the techniques or movements equally on both sides of their body. There is typically one to two breaks per class, to allow everyone a chance to get a drink of water, rest, or ask questions.


Each class ends with a bow-out procedure, thanking their classmates for help during the class. After class, all students are invited to stay for another half hour or so, to train on their own. Because Budo Taijutsu does not participate in competition-style training, most students find the noncompetitive atmosphere the best part of training. No one will ever force a student to do something they do not feel comfortable with. Many times a new student will find themselves working with an advanced practitioner of Budo Taijutsu. The concept of a family atmosphere is very important to the lead instructors of the dojo.


What kind of uniform do I wear when training?


The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo provides you with your own do-gi training uniform when you join the dojo. The uniform is very similar to a karate training do-gi. For the first four kyu ranks (9th kyu to 6th kyu), a white uniform is worn. From fifth kyu on, an optional black uniform may be worn. The separation in colors allows for junior and senior students to be easily distinguished. From a student's perspective, while wearing a white uniform they can rest assured that their senior training partner will work slowly and assist them with capturing the essence of the techniques in class. Once a student wears a black uniform, the student has moved on to middle rank status, and are more responsible for their ukemi (receiving techniques) and comprehending the movements shown in class.



How do I advance at the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo?


The art of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, as taught by the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo, is broken down into Kyu colored belt ranks and Dan black belt levels. There are nine Kyu ranks and four Dan levels a student can earn at the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo. Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu has a total of ten Dan levels. Only Dr. Hatsumi can award beyond the fourth Dan level. A student who trains twice a week and practices basic exercises at home will typically advance through the Kyu ranks every three to four months. The Dan levels take much more time, usually 1-3 years per level, until Godan (5th Degree Blackbelt). Although advancement in the Bujinkan is a great goal for any student, it is more important to focus on the training itself, rather than worry about rank. By continuously training, and not dwelling on the reward of a belt, a student can excel toward self-discovery and reach a deeper understanding of Budo Taijutsu.


What makes The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo Martial Arts School different from other schools in the area?


First, the dojo is owned and run by staff who have full-time careers. Making money was not the idea behind running the dojo. They opened the dojo to continue training their family, friends and each other in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. (It's a great excuse to go to Japan, too!)


Second, the instructors of the dojo are dedicated to a family atmosphere. There is no tolerance for sports-like aggression, competition or performance in the dojo. All of the instructors have known each other for many years, making for a tight-knit staff interested in the well-being of dojo members. Finally, the dojo staff enjoys training. The "bug" you get once you have been training in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu for awhile is addictive. It makes you want to train harder, help others, and keep stretching yourself to be better than you are now.


I have a blackbelt (or other rank) in a different art, how will I be ranked in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu?


Rank in the Bujinkan is different than rank in other arts. Just as a blackbelt student in Judo would not be seen as a blackbelt student in Tae Kwon Do, new Bujinkan students with previous experiences in other martial arts are seen in the same light. Normally, students with training experiences outside Budo Taijutsu are asked to focus solely on Budo Taijutsu in class, in order to understand the principles that make up the Bujinkan (this is commonly called the "tupperware affect" - place what you know in a tupperware container, and store it for future use). At some time in the student's training, they will be asked revisit what they already know and determine how it can be balanced with the methods of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.





What is a Shidoshi?


Shidoshi is a word that Hatsumi Sensei in Japan uses for his 5th Degree Blackbelt (godan) and above students. It means, "teachers of the warrior ways". It is unique to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. Technically, only a Shidoshi of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu can grade and promote students. The highest level a Shidoshi may grade students to is 4th Degree Blackbelt (yondan). Above yondan, only Hatsumi Sensei can grade.


A Shidoshi-ho is a student who is not yet a godan, or full-fledged shidoshi, but is able to grade & promote students up to one level under themselves. A student can earn a Shidoshi-ho at 1st Degree Blackbelt in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. At the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo, we award Shidoshi-ho to students who are nidan or above, and actively teaching.


What is a Bujinkan Judan? What does Happo Biken Menkyo mean?


A Bujinkan Judan is a student of Hatsumi Soke who has earned their tenth degree blackbelt in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. In order to earn this, the student must be a 9thdan and have three letters of recommendations from other Judan+ seniors. Without these recommendations, Soke will not issue the student their Judan.


Happo Biken Menkyo are certificates earned once a student becomes a Judan. There are five levels within Judan called:


  1. Chi-i Happo Biken Menkyo (commonly called ju-ichidan)
  2. Sui-i Happo Biken Menkyo (commonly called ju-nidan)
  3. Ka-i Happo Biken Menkyo (commonly called ju-sandan)
  4. Fu-i Happo Biken Menkyo (commonly called ju-yondan)
  5. Ku-i Happo Biken Menkyo (commonly called ju-godan)

Hatsumi Soke is quoted in his Sanmyaku newsletter saying this about students who are Judan or above:

"[...] Those who have achieved the Tenth Dan are expected to master the traditional techniques of the Shinden Happo Biken and seek enlightenment within divinely transmitted martial areas. [....] The Ten Dan rank is classified into the five world levels of Chi-Sui-Ka-Fu-Ku. These five world levels also represent the natural world, and show life within the theme of nature and humankind. [...] Put simply, one can see this as meaning Chi equals Shoden, Sui equals Chuden, Kaequals Okuden, Fu equals Menkyo, and Ku equals Kaiden."


Said another way, the ten blackbelts and five levels of Judan in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu represent the fifteen years that Masaaki Hatsumi, Bujinkan Soke, trained with his teacher Takamatsu Sensei. The rank represents the potential a student has in developing the spirit and heart that Hatsumi Soke sees as important in understanding Budo Taijutsu. As previously indicated, rank from 9th kyu through yondan are earned through a Shidoshi; rank from Godan and above are given by Soke based on his views or his senior shihan. Please ask a senior instructor for clarification.


If I start training in Budo Taijutsu at the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo and had to move, would I be able to find another school that offers Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu?


There are over 2000 certified instructors of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu under Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi throughout the world. The Dayton Bujinkan Dojo will assist any student find another Budo Taijutsu Dojo if they were to move away.



Bujinkan Guidelines



The Bujinkan Guidelines from the Bujinkan Honbu (headquarters) in Japan, are applicable to all students and teachers. Students should agree to these guidelines before joining the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo Martial Arts School. As defined and written by Hatsumi Sensei, Soke of the Bujinkan, the guidelines are:

  1. The Bujinkan shall be open to only those who agree with and uphold the guidelines of the Bujinkan Dojo. Those not doing so shall not be allowed to join. Specifically: Only those who have read and agreed with these guidelines shall be allowed to participate.​
  2. Only those able to exercise true patience, self-control, and dedication shall be allowed to participate.
  3. A physician's examination report shall be required. Specifically, individuals with mental illness, drug addiction, or mentally instability shall be barred from joining. The necessity of such a report concerns individuals who may present a danger to others, for example, those with infectious diseases or illnesses, individuals with clinically abnormal personalities or physiology, and individuals lacking self-control.Individuals with criminal records shall be turned away.
  4. Trouble makers, those who commit crimes, and those living in Japan who break domestic laws shall be turned away.
  5. Those not upholding the guidelines of the Bujinkan, either as practitioners or as members of society, by committing disgraceful or reproachable acts shall be expelled.




Until now, the Bujinkan was open to large numbers of people who came to Japan. Among them, unfortunately, were those committing violent drunken acts, the mentally ill, and trouble makers who thought only of themselves and failed to see how their actions might adversely affect others. Through their actions, such people were discarding the traditional righteous heart of the Bujinkan. From this day forward, all such people shall be expelled.

Regarding accidents occurring during training (both inside and outside the dojo), one should not cause trouble to the Bujinkan. This is an extremely important point. Those unwilling to take personal responsibility for accidents occurring during Bujinkan training shall not be admitted.

Reiterating for clarity, the Bujinkan shall not take responsibility for any accidents happening in the course of training, regardless of the location.

All those joining the Bujinkan must get an annual membership card. This card not only preserves the honor of the Bujinkan members, it indicates you are part of a larger whole--one whose members come together with warrior hearts to better themselves through training and friendship. It evinces the glory of warrior virtue, and embodies both loyalty and brotherly love.

The tradition of the Bujinkan recognizes nature and the universality of all human life, and is aware of that which flows naturally between the two parts:

"The secret principle of Taijutsu is to know the foundations of peace. To study is the path to the immovable heart (fudoshin)."

The Code of the Dojo:

  1. To know that patience comes first.
  2. To know that the path of Man comes from Justice.
  3. To renounce avarice, indolence, and obstinacy.
  4. To recognize sadness and worry as natural, and to seek the immovable heart.
  5. To not stray from the path of loyalty and brotherly love, and to delve always deeper into the heart of Budo.
  6. To follow this code is a part of the dojo's guidelines.

- Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
​- Showa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou



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