Death and Rebirth of the Bu Jin, with Sean Askew

May 07, 2024

Episode 9: A dialogue on the Togakure Ryu, myth, fact the future of a Hidden Lineage

Listen on: iTunes, Spotify or YouTube

Join me in conversation with Sean Askew, author of Hidden Lineage, founder of the Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo and a personal student of Hatsumi Soke.

In 2000, rigorous training in the arts of the Takamatsu-den was not easy to find. Sure, there were plenty of training groups, but rarely communities of students who trained in a manner I sought. I came from a childhood of judo in the 70s, street fighting in the late 80s and jiujitsu through the mid 90s. As I stepped from competitive grappling, I sought to discover more meaning in the roots of Judo and found myself enamored in the traditions of the Kukishin Ryu. I did not enter this art via the Ninja costume, quite the opposite, I was looking for the traditions that inspired Kano. I preferred a white gi.  

At this time I studied in the Genbukan, under Tanemura Sensei and his New York Dojo-cho. There was a strong presence of instructors at this time. Talented as they were, they offered a different spirit of martial arts than what I was after. It was through a friend I heard of a guy who just returned from Japan, about two hours north in New York, I may want to check out. 

Sean was one of the inspirations in my own training, having traveled to his seminars in the early 2000s and experiencing his small community who trained hard, regularly sparred and offered a genuine and authentic experience. His openness and willingness to roll with anyone was a refreshing break from the timid, often-times cultish experience I found in other black keiko-gi filled Dojo. Sean wore a white Judo Gi. 

It's been two and a half decades since we spoke, sharing the same influences in our Budo and many overlaps in life itself, I am proud to share our conversation about the topics of Ninjutsu, the myths, facts, research and the ongoing efforts to preserve and authenticate traditional Nin-po and Japanese Kobudo. Aside from the valuable historical knowledge he shares, most important is his unique message he shares, challenging us all to shift our perspective toward training and acceptance; and how everything must die once, and be reborn again. 


Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo

Hidden Lineage: The Ninja of the Toda Clan

Email: [email protected]

Sean Askew (15th Dan Bujinkan, Kosen Judo 3rd Dan) lived in Japan for 15 years, regularly training under Hatsumi Soke and several of the Japanese Bujinkan senior ranking Shihan. He graduated from Sophia University (上智大学) in Tokyo with a degree in Japanese Studies, and minored in Japanese Religions. His martial arts background includes Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, Kosen Judo, Kodokan Judo, MMA and shootfighting. Sean teaches from his Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo syllabus, a system approved by Hatsumi Soke and Noguchi Shihan in 2001 and has black belt students in various countries throughout the world. Sean currently resides in Novi, Michigan where he is a Global Purchasing Buyer in the automotive production industry. He travels to Japan several times a year to continue his training and to provide guidance and support to his students who travel there.