Episode 26 – Mr. Stephen K. Hayes



In the 1970’s Mr. Stephen Hayes traveled to japan to seek out Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei, the grandmaster of the ninjutsu fighting art.

Without even correspondence from Hatsumi Sensei Mr. Stephen Hayes accomplished the seemingly impossible for a westerner at the time – he began studying the art of the ninja.

After several decades of training Mr. Stephen Hayes brought back the teachings of Hatsumi Sensei and opened his own schools to spread awareness of one of the most esoteric fighting styles known to man.

Black Belt magazine regards Mr. Stephen Hayes as “A Legend; one of the most infuential martial arts masters alive in the world today” 

In the late 1980’s Mr. Hayes serendipitously began serving as the head of the protection detail to his holiness the Dalai Lama.

In this episode we cover Mr. Hayes’ story, his adventure through Japan and how he has changed the face of martial arts in the west forever.

The Ninja:

A ninja (忍者?) or shinobi (忍び?) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and open combat in certain situations. Their covert methods of waging war contrasted the ninja with the samurai, who observed strict rules about honor and combat.The shinobi proper, a specially trained group of spies and mercenaries, appeared in the Sengoku or “warring states” period, in the 15th century,but antecedents may have existed in the 14th century, and possibly even in the 12th century (Heian or early Kamakura era).

In the unrest of the Sengoku period (15th–17th centuries), mercenaries and spies for hire became active in the Iga Province and the adjacent area around the village of Kōga, and it is from the area’s clans that much of our knowledge of the ninja is drawn. Following the unification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate (17th century), the ninja faded into obscurity. A number of shinobi manuals, often centered on Chinese military philosophy, were written in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably the Bansenshukai (1676).

The Bujinkan:

The Bujinkan (武神館) is an international martial arts organization  based in Japan and headed by Masaaki Hatsumi. The combat system taught by this organization comprises nine separate ryūha, or schools, which are collectively referred to as Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu. The Bujinkan is most commonly associated with ninjutsu. However, Masaaki Hatsumi uses the term Budo (meaning martial way) as he says the ryūha are descended from historical samurai schools that teach samurai martial tactics and ninjutsu schools that teach ninja tactics.


To-Shin Do is a martial art founded by Black Belt Hall of Fame instructor Stephen K. Hayes in 1997. It is a modernized version of ninjutsu, and differs from the traditional form taught by Masaaki Hatsumi’s  Bujinkan organization.  Instruction focuses on threats found in contemporary western society. In addition to hand-to-hand combat skills, students are exposed to: methods for survival in hostile environments, security protection for dignitaries, how to instruct classes and run a school, classical Japanese weapons, meditation mind science, and health restoration yoga. The headquarters school (hombu) is located in Dayton, Ohio, USA.


Find Mr. Stephen Hayes and his work here: http://www.stephenkhayes.com/

Stephen Hayes is truly a master, eloquent in his craft – an artist that has changed the game in regards to martial arts and everything ninja; for the world as we know it. Our conversation flowed seamlessly as we navigated Mr. Hayes’ life and his unique perspective. There is something about having a conversation with someone who has done the seemingly impossible and sharing that story with the world. When we look at the canvasing synchronicity involved in all the things that happened to Mr. Hayes on his path, I think it’s healthy to remember that there is a serendipitous creature behind this thin satin veil we call reality. Thank you so much to Mr. Hayes for his presence on HXP.

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