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Why Do We Not Use San-Shin and Kihon Happo?

I am occasionally asked this question. The truth is I do not consider those exercises very important at all for new students looking for realistic self-defense fighting capability.

The San-Shin kata were never intended for real fighting; not now or not never.

No Japanese warrior ever fought using a kata from that set.

They were most probably created in fairly recent times based on historical fundamentals as a set of conditioning exercises that encourage growth in skill qualities. That history is what I was taught by my seniors in the 1970s.

As conditioning exercises, they do appear in our very advanced handgun defenses. We do not teach them “in a group” though, because our curriculum is more comprehensive and thoughtfully spread out over a set series of months of lessons.

The so-called Kihon Happo began in the 1960s as a sometimes-changing group of simple fight exchanges originally called the Hatsumi-ha no Kata, or “Hatsumi branch (of the Ryu) example lessons”. Supposedly Toshitsugu Takamatsu created them as something Masaaki Hatsumi could teach his students in the 1960s.

After I returned to America in the early 1980s, the Hatsumi-ha no Kata underwent a few tweaks in Japan and were then offered as the 8 techniques of the Kihon Happo. “Kihon Happo” translates as “collection of basic principles” but is literally written “8 ways of basics”. But no Japanese thinks of “8” when hearing “hap-po” – they know it means “comprehensive collection”. In a play on words, Masaaki Hatsumi allowed there to be 8 techniques, coincidentally. He enjoyed puns and word plays as a form of humor.

The Kihon Happo were so new, and communication within Masaaki Hatsumi’s organization was so challenging, that I did not know about them as a “thing” until a few years later. I had earlier created a curriculum based on the 5 elements of the mandala I had studied.

Some methods from the original Hatsumi-ha no Kata and the Kihon Happo are of course spread out through the To-Shin Do curriculum today. But for above mentioned reasons of effective education, they are not taught as a designated “lump of stuff.”

6 Responses to Why Do We Not Use San-Shin and Kihon Happo?

  1. Justin L Stout March 9, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    I’m currently a Bujinkan Member it’s discouraging to hear you say what you said especially since I put hours into these kata.

  2. Stephen K. Hayes March 9, 2018 at 9:26 pm #

    Yes, it must be discouraging, if you are loyal to the Bujinkan approach and have devoted hours to perfecting those kata. The two questions to ask are, “Do these kata provide advancing results in terms of WHY I am studying martial arts?” and “Are there better means for attaining those results?” I have chosen my answer above. I am aware there are other people who have chosen a different answer from mine. The question remains, “What are the BEST MEANS for achieving my desired results?” I do not believe in the San-Shin Kata, and I believe I have found a better approach than the Kihon Happo.

  3. Jeff Brown March 9, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

    Anshu, I would completely agree with you. I am pretty open minded, and have a lot of real world experience in hand to hand combat as a former cop and bouncer in a cowboy dance bar 😉

    We know each other, and you know my background, so I won’t post it here.

    Well said sir.

  4. Jeff Brown March 9, 2018 at 11:25 pm #

    I would also add, that in the short time I have been learning some of the concepts of Toshin Do, I can clearly see all aspects of the Kihon Happo embedded into the system as Anshu Hayes teaches it. It may not be easilly discernable to those who have no understanding of the true intent and purpose of the Kihon, however it is clear for me to see. My late teacher Ed Martin taught me that the Kihn Happo was not the basics, but rather a path to help lead on to learning the basics, and that it did not always clearly show how the basics could be applied. He also told me, “Jeffery, mke it your own!”, which is exactly what Anshu Hayes has done. He has made it his own…….

  5. Mark March 10, 2018 at 1:41 am #

    Those who have seeked and found speak for them selves. Look at the Canadian US Australian European for that matter those globally that have “ appeared“ to stray or alter the *traditional* method. Hhhuummm.
    Well these few or many have given to us the public seeker of protection. Here I will add.. we all based on body shape size speed culture society and and.. do and maintain what we think or have the volition to conceptulize as being useful for our time and space we accomodate. To me . my opinion is awareness of higher orders allows more subjective and objective views. Flowing with the times is very much living in the present. This present is the Gift. Thanks SKH. Shadows of Iga, the mountain mystics.

  6. Daryn M Puhala July 24, 2018 at 12:18 am #

    You are right Anshu in that there is too much emphasis on Sanchin and Kihon Happo in the Bujinkan. I am an ex Bujinkan member. The Sanchin and Kihon Happo are important though. Someone asked Bud Malmstrom back in 1996 his thoughts on the Kihon Happo and their effectiveness in a real fight and his response was that unless you add something to them or take something away from them they will not work in a real confrontation and I agree with that. In other words the way they are taught in class will not work in class in a real confrontaion adaptations are going to need to be made for the sanchin and the Kihon Happo to be effective.

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