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Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu (西洋流 合氣武術)

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History and Origin[edit]

Aiki Bujutsu, also written Aikibujutsu (合氣武術) is a system that is closely intertwined with other methods such as jujutsu and Aikijujutsu (合気柔術), depending on the school that taught the system, some are primarily unarmed schools.[1] Other styles more commonly use weapons and teach classic Bujutsu(武術) which are the fighting techniques used by samurai in warfare, these include but are not limited to systems like Kenjutsu (剣術), Sōjutsu (槍術), and Tantōjutsu (短刀術).[2] These systems have a rich history in warfare, but the major differences is that Aikibujutsu is more of an umbrella martial art that spans over several fighting methods, where as Aikijujutsu (合気柔術), Jujutsu (柔術), Sōjutsu (槍術), and so on all specialize in their respective system.

Other systems that similar in nature or are a part of the Bujutsu / Aikibujutsu teachings are Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu, Aiki no jutsu, Aikido, and Judo. Bujutsu and Aikibujutsu are very old and have been used for hundreds of years by the samurai class of Japan for one purpose, combat. Typically within the samurai, you would have different samurai that would be trained at different levels. These systems such as Aikijujutsu was based off of weapons and were to be used on the battlefield against soldiers that were wearing armor[3]. It was during this time that Jujutsu was not a primary art, but more of a secondary art that the Samurai used, in conjunction with weapon based arts to support their needs and efforts on the battlefield [3]. Within the style of Jujutsu that was taught to the Samurai, there were several segments that would be taught based on the individual Samurai and their individual ranking. For example, a lower ranked Samurai would likely to be only taught Jujutsu; however a Samurai of higher rank would have been taught Aiki no Jutsu and Aikijujutsu, in addition to Jujutsu. Aiki no Jutsu and Aikijujutsu are based on defense and were not typically used in an offensive format[3]. Aiki no jutsu and Aikijujutsu were primarily used as a defensive system because the Samurai relied on other primary fighting systems such as Sōjutsu (spear), and Kenjutsu (sword). Jujutsu was secondary and was typically to be used when a Samurai didn't have access to their weapon. Aikijujutsu and Aiki no jutsu was used as a defensive structure within the Jujutsu that some higher ranking Samurai were taught as a means to counter grapple an opponent that is trying to seize control of the Samurai or their weapons.[3] Takeda Sōkaku, credited as the founder of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu described his system and as the following:

"The purpose of this art (Daito ryu) is not to be killed, not to be struck, not to be kicked, and we will not strike, will not kick, and will not kill. It is completely for selfdefense. We can handle opponents expediently, utilizing their own power, through their own aggression. So even women and children can use it. However, it is taught only to respectable people. It's misuse would be frightening..." - Takeda Sokaku[3]

Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu (西洋流 合氣武術) is a Western engineered conglomerate of both traditional Japanese and non Japanese martial arts that primarily seeks to provide a comprehensive, dynamic, and eclectic self defense system, while still preserving the original Japanese fighting arts and paying homage to the heavy Japanese martial arts influence inside of it. Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu (西洋流 合氣武術), like most Bujutsu is an eclectic art that has the classical Samurai training in it such as Kenjutsu (剣術), Nitōjutsu (二刀流), Sōjutsu (槍術), Jōjutsu (杖術), Bōjutsu (棒術), Keibōjutsu (警棒術), Tantōjutsu (短刀術), Koppojutsu (骨法術), Aikijujutsu (合気柔術), contemporary Hōjutsu (砲術) and other classical styles including non Japanese native styles as well such as Hapkido (합기도), Derobio Eskrima, and Modern Arnis, but also retains concepts and techniques for the modern combat environment. Therefore, while there are the traditional teachings of these Japanese fighting systems, they are also combined with other systems and methodologies that have been added to make the system more comprehensive, dynamic and highly functional, incorporating all use of force levels within the curriculum.[4] Seiyō-ryū Aiki Bujutsu, unlike some other styles that practice Aiki elements such as Aikido, will generally be seen as a more direct approach to the techniques in the system.[4]

Defining Characteristics:[edit]

One of the defining characteristics of Seiyō-ryū Aiki Bujutsu is a system focuses on the study of dynamic interchangeability, much like what is found in Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), and universal principles coupled with bio-mechanical efficiencies. These elements enable the practitioner to not only master the material in the style, but due to how the material is transmitted, it allows the practitioner to be more universal and adaptive, capable of using the same and or similar techniques across other weapon platforms, as well as the ability adjust armed fighting techniques to be able to be utilized in unarmed techniques, including techniques that haven't previously been trained, which may not be considered a traditional application of a particular weapon or other platform.

Additionally, like other systems in a similar category, Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu (西洋流 合氣武術) as a system and organization does not participate in sporting competitions due to the philosophical ideology of studying a combatives system first and foremost.[3] Even though the system is primarily an in depth study of self defense and combatives, a practitioner may also find their self training for competition for personal endeavors; however, that is not the intention of the system. Other characteristics that are found in the this system is the Aiki (合気) principle, which is the use of energy created to easier take control of a situation by blending or 'harmonizing' with the opponent.[1]

Aiki (合気):[edit]

Aiki (合気) is a principle based on the blending and utilizing of energy that was created during a physical encounter to subdue the practitioner's opponent.[1] This principle is used in several styles of combat today, such as Aikido (合気道), Aikijujutsu (合気柔術), Aikitaijutsu (合気体術), Aikibujutsu (合氣武術), and Hapkido (합기도). This principle has been a very hard concept to define, until more modern times as it was always given accurate but also vague definitions that sparked a lot of mysticism as well as the inability for practitioners really understand what they were studying when introduced to the principle. Sogaku Takeda, defined the meaning of Aiki as “the ability to defeat an enemy with a single glance.” Aiki should be looked at as the principle of nullifying or using the power generated by the opponent to the practitioner's advantage, which is generally used in conjunction with biomechanical inefficiencies on the opponent to utilize a successful technique.[5]

Aikijujutsu (合気柔術):[edit]

The backbone and main structure of  Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu (西洋流 合氣武術) is the Aikijujutsu section where practitioners learn the unarmed combat phase of the system. This is a unique curriculum that has been compiled based on the dynamic interchangeability and universal combatives principles that allow the practitioners to apply what they learn in the unarmed phase to every other phase, including the armed fighting sections. This section also allows the practice of full resistance with training partners. Unlike most Jujutsu curriculums, Aikijujutsu is more nuanced in it's approach because it focuses more deeply on the ability to utilize and or neutralize the energy that is generated in a conflict to subdue an attacker; whereas, Jujutsu primarily won't give as much thought to the energy efficiency approach and therefore burn more energy than those that utilize the Aiki principles in their study.

Aikijujutsu can be broken down into 3 segments: Jujutsu (hard), Aiki no jutsu (soft); and the combined Aikijujutsu (hard/soft). Because of all three of these segments in Aikijujutsu, a practitioner that has come from a discipline like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or traditional Jujutsu will find a lot of similarities when working on the Jujutsu principles, but may be lost initially while learning the Aiki no jutsu and or the Aikijujutsu as a whole because it is a more holistic approach to grappling to fighting techniques. Much like a practitioner of Aikido learning the system may find the techniques to be much more direct and not solely or as heavily reliant on the Aiki principle.

Taijutsu (体術)[edit]

The Taijutsu segment of the system is also a unique and purposefully blended with other systems such as Thai boxing, Karate, gutter fighting and other striking arts, that are incorporated into the system. The Taijutsu segment is primarily where the student learns the comprehensive and efficient striking methods that are used inside of the Aikijujutsu part of the curriculum.


There is a lot of confusion, even among native Japanese speakers between the terms Bujutsu, Budo, and Bugei as they have been used in various forms throughout history to refer to different ideas. Because of this the modern authorities in Japan have adopted modern definitions of these terms in order to facilitate consistent definition for the purposes of combatives training.[6]

Bujutsu: Describes various Japanese martial disciplines in their original function as arts of war. This term is generally used for martial arts styles that focus on self defense and actual combat primarily,at the expense of the holistic self improvement and development approach, like that found in most Budo systems. (literally translates as martial arts)

Budo: Denotes the process by which a study of Bujutsu becomes a means to self development and self realization. This is basically the exact opposite of Bujutsu, using martial arts as a vessel for self improvement and development, but at the cost of actual combat effectiveness. (translates as martial way)

Bugei: A catchall term for traditional Japanese military sciences, which includes both Bujutsu, as well as Budo.

Aiki: A martial principle that expresses the fitment, joining, or combining (blending) energies from the practitioner / opponent.

Seiyō-ryū: Translated as Western style or system

Combined, Seiyō-ryū Aikibujutsu means the Western system of martial arts or western school of martial arts (with a discernible focus on energy management).


The path from white belt to black belt takes approximately 3 years. The timeframe it takes from white belt to 1st Dan is only an estimate because practitioners with either previous experience, the ability to consistently train more hours, or practitioners that grasp the material quicker will likely achieve a 1st Dan rank in significantly less time. The curriculum prioritizes the most practical and important information first, such as techniques that can be applied in the real world environment by a new practitioner after their first class. A practitioner is required to take between 30-60 class hours to be considered for a promotion to a higher rank. Additional lessons that are critical for the in depth knowledge are applied immediately too, like breaking down techniques and the biomechanics in order to start the building of dynamic interchangeability within the concepts and principles of the techniques.

Once a practitioner has reached the esteemed rank of 1st Dan, they gain the ability to instruct others. However, as is customary in most martial arts organizations, a practitioner can only promote individuals up to one rank below their own. This means that in order to promote someone to the 1st Dan rank, one must hold the rank of at least 2nd Dan (black belt). This hierarchical structure ensures that promotions and achievements are earned through diligent training and mastery of the art.

Moving beyond the black belt, promotions are primarily based on active training time. However, there is also a significant consideration given to a practitioner's willingness to teach. Teaching is not only essential for the dissemination of the martial system but also acts as a powerful catalyst for personal growth and development as a practitioner. The act of instructing others allows for a deeper understanding of the techniques and principles and sharpens one's martial prowess.

While any instructor within the organization may promote a practitioner to a kyu rank as needed, all Dan rankings ultimately come from the current Soke, or headmaster, of the Seiyo-Ryu Aikibujutsu system. This ensures a standardized and consistent process of evaluation and promotes the preservation of our martial art's integrity.

Once 1st Dan is achieved it will take a minimum of 2 years of active training to reach the next rank (2nd Dan). Whatever rank the practitioner is promoting to, it will take that long before they are eligible to be promoted (with a maximum of 5 years). After the practitioner has reached 5th Dan, it will remain at 5 years per promotion, this is because it is still important to have put time in between promotions to hone your skills, as well as teaching ability. Like previously mentioned with promoting to black belt, a student may get achieve a black belt significantly faster due to previous training knowledge, the same is true with black belt ranks. After 1st dan is achieved, the time between the ranks is a general rule; however, if a trainee also had a 5th dan ranking in a different system for example, they may exhibit qualities that would fast track them directly to higher black belt rankings based on their previously achieved merits. A black belt may also ascertain a higher rank if they have a student that is below them and ready to be promoted to the instructor's current rank. If this unlikely event occurred, then the instructor may reach out to a qualified higher ranking instructor and petition for a promotion of both individuals.

There are 10 degrees or 'Dan' ranks in black belt.

Notable Ranks:

  • 1st Dan - Associate Instructor (Sensei)
  • 2nd Dan - Instructor
  • 3rd Dan - Senior Instructor
  • 4th Dan - Associate Master (Shihan)
  • 5th Dan - Master (Renshi) : Red bordered black belt is optional
  • 6th Dan - Senior Master (Renshi): Red bordered black belt required if utilizing rank stripes
  • 7th Dan - Grand Master (Kyoshi)
  • 8th Dan - Grand Master (Kyoshi)
  • 9th Dan - Grand Master (Hanshi)
  • 10th Dan - Grand Master (Hanshi)
  • Soke - Head Grand Master
  • Shodai Soke - First Generation Head Grand Master (Founding Grand Master)

Within the Dan ranking system, there are also titles and honorary titles. The titles are Sensei, Shihan, and Soke. These titles are awarded in addition with the aforementioned Dan ranks. A practitioner may utilize any of these titles as they are achieved. Honorary titles such as Renshi, Kyoshi, and Hanshi are honorary titles that come with the prescribed Dan rank. These honorary titles are not generally used to address someone. These honorary titles are primarily denoting the teaching proficiency and the dedication from a person to the system. These honorary titles may show up in writing, such as when an instructor with such title promotes a student. The honorary title may be seen as part of a signature on the certification. It should be noted not every system uses honorary titles. Some systems will have the honorary titles separate from the Dan grading system.

Parent and Similar Styles:[edit]

The following are some styles that Seiyō-ryū Aiki Bujutsu has elements of. A practitioner of these or similar styles should see similarities and some overlap, but will also see how Aikibujutsu has it's own nuanced way of applying the methods seen in some of the mentioned styles.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "About Aikibujutsu". Nansei Dojo - Shinkendo and Aikibujutsu in Arizona. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  2. "Aikibujutsu - Hinode Dojo, LLC". Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5
  4. 4.0 4.1 Midwest Martial Arts Group
  5. "The True Meaning of Aiki in Aikido and Aikijujutsu, Part 1". Black Belt Magazine. 2015-01-23. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  6. "Budo, Bujutsu, and Bugei (Martial Arts)". Retrieved 2021-10-11.

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