2016 Bujinkan Membership

Mark shares a story about the birth of Budo with us at the 2015 Bufestivus

Mark shares a story about the birth of Budo with us at the 2015 Bufestivus


This is a message from Mark Lithgow, the foreigner who has been living in Japan and training with Soke longer than ANYONE!

“For my Bujinkan friends! I’ve had a few enquiries recently, and I’d like to clarify some Bujinkan admin points.

First of all, being a Shidôshi and being a member of the Shidôshi-kai are 2 different things.

When you pass the godan test, you are automatically a ‘Shidôshi’.

If you are intending to teach, or more specifically, to run a dojo and be responsible for awarding ranks to students, you must be a member of the Shidôshi-kai.

Shidôshi-kai membership requires the payment of an annual fee. Membership has ‘benefits’… namely, the ability to obtain and award rank certificates, memberships, patches etc. from the Honbu.

When it comes to awarding ranks, Soke asks that Shidôshi charge the student double the price that he or she pays the Honbu. Martial arts study can be expensive, and Soke’s idea has always been that half of the money should go to the Shidôshi awarding the rank, to contribute to his or her own training costs, the other half to be sent to the Honbu. Teachers are EXPECTED to make a little money from awarding ranks.

In the near future, it is likely that a copy of your current Shidôshi-kai card will be required for any communication with the Honbu office regarding ranks, etc. If it is not sent, you can expect a letter from the office, saying that your order is on hold until a copy of your card is received. Again, if you are a Shidôshi, but not a paid-up member of the Shidôshi-kai, you can NOT expect access to the benefits of membership!

This only goes for ranks up to 4th dan, however. When a person passes the godan test, they technically become a personal student of Soke. And as such, Soke is the only person who can award them rank. A Shidôshi/Shihan can recommend them for a rank, but cannot actually award it. When Soke receives a recommendation, he will find that person’s record and make a case-by-case judgement from the information he sees (Time since godan… Time since last grade, etc.). The person recommending someone for a rank gets nothing from this (They are not THEIR student, but Soke’s!).

As well as the benefits, Shidôshi-kai membership comes with ‘duty’ too. I have been hearing recently that some people are under the impression that Bujinkan membership is non-compulsory. Even some garbage about it only being necessary for people coming to Japan. How can people claim to be in the Bujinkan if they are not members?

It is the duty of a Shidôshi/Shihan who is running a dojo to pay Shidôshi-kai membership to receive the benefits of membership… And the duty of those Shidôshi to be sure that students are members of the Bujinkan.

Personally, I think it’s simple… But I guess that, the further you get from the source, the more complicated it can sometimes seem.”

-Mark Lithgow 2016

About The Author

Brian Fine

Brian has been training in the Bujinkan for over 14 years. He also handles all of the technical aspects of running the takaseigi.com website and member video system.