Definition of Kihon

It is of utmost importance to master the basics in order to move onto more “advanced” training. But what defines basic training (kihon; 基本) for us?
Within the Bujinkan the word kihon is an oxymoron, because the most basic is also the most advanced.

Masaaki Hatsumi demonstrating Ichimonji no kamae

In Japanese, one can write the word kihon with three different sets of characters;
[基本] – the fundamental
[起本] – initially; what you start with
[奇本] – authentic; with an esoteric origin

Also compare these three kihon with kiso (underlying; 基礎) which also typically translated into basic, but given an important cornerstone. Kihon has a broader metaphysical significance compared with kiso that is more natural to the origin.

In order to reach an understanding of what kihon is, one must have an understanding of what is “based” on the ground. One must “begin with the end in mind“. Everything you do in class must be reconciled with the end goal.
And in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu it symbolized the ultimate goal of Hatsumi Sensei!
Hatsumi Sensei is by definition the Bujinkan, so our skills compared and measured against his skills.

It is actually irrelevant if one believes that the goal is achievable. For a student it is about trying to be like Hatsumi Sensei, but above all it’s about his Shidoshi teaching Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, with Hatsumi Sensei as a role model. To achieve this, one can not just look at how Hatsumi Sensei has done, but also lift their eyes and try to see where he is going.

If your movements are not similar or looks different from Hatsumi Sensei’s movements, then you have not corrected yourself – perhaps even doing it completely wrong!
This does not mean that what you are doing is bad, just that it is not the Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

Dr. Kacem Zoughari demonstrating Gyokko-ryu Ichimonji-gamae

The term kihon (基本) is relatively new and is derived from the Meiji period (ca. 1868-1912) according to Dr. Kacem Zoughari, who has studied Japanese martial history. In older documents makes use of the terms “moto gata” (基型) and “furi gata” (振型) if they even mention them at all.

In the martial arts world kihon has come to mean “basic techniques”, which is comparable to the same term in weightlifting, athletics, etc. In martial arts, there is probably a way to kick and punch, because the regulatory system has limited choices for both defenders and attackers. Within our Budo no such restrictive rules apply. The substrate can be asymmetrical, the opponent may be armed, or that I have armed myself. There may be all sorts of unfair advantage to one of the combatants, and it is these situations that our Budo is for.


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