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Police and Ninjutsu

"Police and Ninjutsu" is the title of an article which appeared in Black Belt magazine approximately 21 years ago. It told of a trip Hatsumi Soke made to California, where he met with three members of the L.A.P.D.'s "self-defense unit". Techniques were discussed, situations described, and techniques demonstrated.

The article continued by telling the reader of certain techniques demonstrated by Hatsumi which, he was informed, were out of bounds for police officers. While the officers seemed to like the techniques, the reality of the limitations police are guided by made them impractical. One of the officers explained that the L.A.P.D. uses "police tactics", stating they are "simple but effective, combining judo, aikido, and karate". Rookies are given a six month "crash course" in self-defense, with classes lasting two hours a day, five days a week. They are not allowed to train in another martial art while learning the police course. 

One officer, a martial artist, said, "I could incorporate a (ninja) technique here or there, but I don't think an untrained martial artist could". A second officer disagreed, stating the police officers could start out learning ninjutsu. "Ninjutsu is simple so it's better". This officer, a Tae Kwon Do black belt, does in fact teach some ninjutsu techniques to fellow officers. Herein lies the problem.

To begin with, ninjutsu may be direct, and not look terrible flashy, but that does not translate into simple. While Hatsumi's knowledge of his art is beyond question, he does not have a formal taiho-jutsu type program, with practical, applicable techniques for officers.


We may look at another ninjutsu soke, Shoto Tanemura, who was a long-term police officer. I have witnessed some of Tanemura Soke techniques to police, and most seem reliable, applicable, and provide great officer safety. Tanemura is soke of many JuJutsu styles as well, and his techniques reflect the use of taisabaki as taught and practiced by the SAC program. Still, to my knowledge, there is no formal taiho-jutsu curriculum within his organizations.

Even if the techniques of ninjutsu were applicable to police work, a problem lies in locating a qualified instructor. Ninjutsu suffers no shortage of individuals claiming high rank and impressive titles, with little if any true foundation in the art. Teaching law enforcement personnel techniques which could cost them their lives, as well as the lives they are trying to protect, is immoral.

Yet another problem faced is the ability to learn the techniques of ninjutsu in a short period of time, and retain them with the minimal amount of training and follow-up offered and required by police departments. It seems unrealistic to expect officers, regardless of the branch of law enforcement they serve in, to have the time (and with some the desire) to continue ninjutsu training.

Does police work and ninjutsu seem like a future marriage? Not really. When you couple the above mentioned factors with the public image of the ninja, it does not seem that we will be seeing this materialize, even twenty-plus years after the initial article appeared.  

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