What is Bujinkan Shinken Taijutsu?


What is Shinken Taijutsu?

Simply put, Shinken Taijutsu is the modern combat application of Budo Taijutsu. Shinken is the Taijutsu of the Bujinkan martial arts put into modern context to effectively deal with modern weapons and dangerous situations we may face today, while staying within our legal framework.

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In 1995, I started teaching a form of combatives, called Protective Measures, to military and government employees who had to work in high threat environments. The core of the combatives program that I put together comes from Budo Taijutsu; specifically Taisabaki (natural body movements), ma-ii (distancing), timing and the strategy of henka (flexibility to adapt technique to new situations). Another part comes from the previous USMC close combat system (which was called the LINE system) and the current CC system (called MCMAP). Back in the late 80s, I was fortunate enough to be asked by then Commandant, GEN Al Gray, to assist creating the LINE program. The Marine Corps combat mindset and use of modern military weapons and tactics were added to my program. Finally, Officer Safety and Survival techniques and tactics for dealing with the civilian threat (criminal/terrorist) were added to the program. These were added from my experiences as a DOD Special Agent and training at the FLETC, ITI, BSR, InSight, HRP, and other government sponsored training.

shinken taijutsu, using cover in a firefight

For this combatives program, I combined the best from the Bujinkan, USMC, law enforcement and government/civilian agencies. Plus I added my years of experience in combat and real world threat situations. This program was extremely effective and popular within the government circles where I taught it. I trained a cadre of instructors and eventually outsourced the training. As of 2007, more than 3,000 people have been been through this program and we have received numerous testimonials from students that this training saved lives.
In 1996, I asked Soke how I could certify instructors in this program so they could teach it in the future. He stated that what I was really teaching was the Shinken Gata of the Bujinkan, plus the Shinken Gata of military and law enforcement training. Soke honored me with a Menkyo Kaiden in Shinken Gata and authorized me to teach this art however I wished, but only to good people. To honor Soke and to recognize the Bujinkan as the core of what I teach, I call this Shinken Taijutsu.
Today, you can train in Shinken Taijutsu as part of what is taught in the Bujinkan Taka-Seigi Dojo. Currently there are 2 levels of Shinken Taijutsu. Level I is all defensive. It is broken down into 7 modules plus a practical exam. The modules include:

Introduction: What is Shinken Taijutsu. Survival mindset. Awareness. Assessing your situation. Breath, think, act. Getting off the X. Basic defense and offensive stances, movement and striking. Approximately 2 hours to instruct.

Module 1 Ground Defense – how to survive getting knocked down, protect yourself while on the ground and fight you way to a safe location. Approximately 90 minutes to instruct.

Module 2 Defense Against Grabs and Chokes – surviving common scenarios of being grabbed, choked and incapacitate opponent and moving to a safe location. Approximately 2.5 – 3 hours to instruct.

Module 3 Defense Against Blunt Weapons – surviving being attacked with a blunt weapon, such as a ball bat, crow bar, truncheon and the like, disarm and incapacitate opponent and moving to a safe location. Approximately 1 hour to instruct.

Module 4 Defense Against Edged Weapons, Pre-Contact – surviving being attacked by edged weapons, such as a machete, fixed blade knife and folding knife, disarm and incapacitate opponent and moving to a safe location. Builds on the previous module. Approximately 1 hour to instruct.

Module 5 Defense Against Edged Weapons, On-Contact – surviving being held at knife point, disarm and incapacitate opponent and moving to a safe location. Builds on Module 2. Approximately 90 minutes to instructor.

Module 6 Defense Against Firearms – surviving being held at gun point, disarm and incapacitate opponent and moving to a safe location. Builds on Modules 3 and 4. Approximately 2 hours to instruct.

Module 7 Defense Against Multiple Attackers and Improvised Weapons. Builds on all modules. Approximately 2 hours to instruct.

Review and Practical Exam. Students must satisfactorily complete the PE in order to be considered for the Shinken Taijutsu Instructor Program. Review approximately 1 hour to instruct. PE takes approximately 5 minutes per student to instruct.

How to be an instructor? Currently there are 4 certified instructors of Level I Shinken Taijutsu besides myself. They are: Carl H., Arlando S., Dan R., and Michael P. These are the only individuals certified to teach, grade and certify students as having completed Level I. However, I do have a number of students who are in various stages of becoming certified to teach Level I. The process for becoming a certified instructor is simple. First you must attend Level I as a student and be tested and graded by me or one of my certified instructors. Then you must assist me or one of the certified instructors teach a number of Level I courses. Once you are familiar enough with the material you then “team teach” at least one Level I course where you are the lead instructor for the entire course (including the PE at the end) and a certified instructor is there to assist and evaluate you. Upon recommendation from the observing instructor, I will certify you as an instructor for Level I Shinken Taijutsu. The cost associated with becoming an instructor is $100 for the license and whatever it costs you to attend the appropriate number of Level I courses to complete your training/certification. You may teach as many Level I courses as you wish after becoming certified as an instructor. However, you must teach at least one Level I course every 2 years in order to keep your certification. If an instructor is unable to meet that minimum teaching requirement, they must attend a refresher training. This would either be in the form of sitting with a certified instructor and reviewing the course material (approximately 2 hours) or where they attend a Level I course being taught by me or one of the certified instructors and function as an assistant to that instructor. There is no fee associated with refresher training at this time.

Where is the curriculum for Shinken Taijutsu Level I? The curriculum can be found in the BTSD Gedan and Chudan rank manuals as additional training. The teaching outline/check sheets for each module are in the back of the Gedan manual (Mukyu – Shodan). The written explanations and practical exam forms can be found in the back of the Chudan manual (Shodan – Godan). The curriculum is constantly being updated and improved as new information becomes available. This is a dynamic course that adjusts to new threats, new scenarios and new weapons as they present themselves (the 9-11 attacks were an example of how threats, scenarios and weapons change in these times).

Shinken Taijutsu Level II is advanced defense and offensive combatives. There are currently 5 modules in Level II with a number more under development and/or under contract.

Module One: Tactical flashlight. Use of flashlight in both defense and offense. Approximately 8 hours to instruct.

Module Two: Defensive and offensive use of collapsible baton. Approximately 8 hours to instruct.

Module Three: Advanced edged weapons. Defensive and offensive use of folding knives. Approximately 16-20 hours to instruct.

Module Four: Advanced defense from multiple, armed attackers. Approximately 4 hours to instruct.

Module Five: Transitioning between weapons systems in both defense and offense. Approximately 16-20 hours to instruct.

Module Six: Progressive Firearms. Under development. Majority of this module will be outsourced to my specifications.

Module Seven: Precision and tactical driving. Under development. Entire course will be outsourced to my specifications. Currently BSR (Bill Scott Raceway) has a course that meets my specifications called the EST (Executive Security Training) course. ITI (International Traning Institute) has a similar course also called the Operational Security Course.

Check out our website and this blog to learn more.

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Strength through Training,

Phillip Legare


Phil Legare

Dai-Shihan Legare is the recipient of 4 Bujinkan Gold Dragon Awards and the Bufu Ikkan lifetime award presented by Hatsumi Soke for martial arts excellence. He is the only recipient of the BuyuSho award from Hatsumi Soke recognizing his benevolent warrior spirit. Additionally, he is a combat veteran having spent more than 44 years of combined service in the USMC and the Department of Defense. Joanne Legare, Phil’s wife and a Dai-Shihan in the Bujinkan who often co-teaches at his seminars, is also the recipient of a Gold Dragon Award. Phil and Joanne lived in Japan off and on for many years. Phil is recently retired and they now reside in Hawaii.