What is a Yamabushi?

So, what exactly is a modern yamabushi?

This is a very good question indeed! A yamabushi can be anyone and everyone. They tend to stand out from the crowd through their ability to go a little further and to walk where others fear to tread: The “path less travelled” , if you will.  Full of quests to be undertaken, challenges to be answered and obstacles to be overcome. An exciting journey, full of wonder and excitement in the company of others of like mind.

The duties of a yamabushi:

  • To bring light where there is darkness, love where there is hate and peace where there is hostility
  • To always help others and to share their burdens, however heavy they may be, and to lead the way by example, rather than simply relying upon past reputation
  • To love each other, do good and fear nothing!


Personal qualities and attributes

A warrior of the sacred mountain must have a body of steel, a will of iron and a heart of gold. Always remembering that kindness becomes power and gentleness becomes strength, and that we become strong by helping others become stronger, happy by helping others become happier and wise by helping others become wiser. And that, whenever you share good things, they always come back to you, so whatever you share becomes more, not less.

Retreats? No, we never retreat!

Far from retreating from mainstream society, a yamabushi actually chooses to immerse themselves completely within it. This is because our way is an all embracing and inclusive one, rather than being exclusive and elitist. A warrior of the sacred mountain is nothing special: It is just an ordinary person doing some extraordinary things.

Indeed, some of the things a warrior monk is capable of might well cause certain people to stand back in wonder. But that is just another way of making those people more “wonder-full”. It is the enemies known as ignorance, sorrow and suffering that must be forced to retreat,  and never the yamabushi!

Knowing yourself

While a lot of philosophical paths begin with the student “discovering themselves: and finding out “who they really are” as far as the Yamabushi are concerned: If you haven’t found yourself and don’t already know who you are, then this particular path probably isn’t the one for you. A fledgling mountain warrior should already be very secure in themselves, as they will need to be concerned with far more important matters on their journey onward and upward the sacred mountain of enlightenment.

Recognising truth

Remember: Just because someone looks like a yamabushi and talks like a yamabushi does not necessarily mean they are one. Certificates, belts, grades and even our budogi emblazoned with our sacred mon aren’t really all that important. It is what is on the inside that counts, and this truth is made manifest by the way we think, act and behave. True warrior monks of the sacred mountain will always recognise one another, as our hearts, minds and souls are inseparably and intrinsically linked.

Love, not war

True love is unconditional and eternal. So, in order for us to claim our immortality all we have to do is love as much as we possibly can in the purest way we can because, In the end, Love really is all there is.


Wherever a true warrior monk of the sacred mountain walks, demons will fear to tread! We need no words or rituals to banish the darkness of ignorance: Our very presence is enough to cause any evil to flee.A yamabushi accomplishes all of this not by engaging in battle, but by living in peace and harmony with other people and the environment. Caring for them and keeping them healthier, safer and more secure.A Yamabushi is not expected to be perfect, just to strive to become better than they are and become all they can be. And, by so doing, encourage others to do the same.


Shugenja Academy

The shugenja academy provides a unique opportunity for both fledging and seasoned martial arts instructors to grow.

Candidates who want to learn and teach the martial skills and philosophies of the mountain warrior are enrolled upon a special, intensive programme of study lasting one full year. During that time they will become well versed in certain aspects of both the armed and unarmed fighting disciplines of the yamabushi, as well as undergoing certain academic studies in scientific teaching and learning principles.

This course is based upon continual assessment whereby candidates are required to build up a strong portfolio of evidence supporting their studies, and will culminate with the successful participants being awarded a special shodan-ho (black belt) instructors certificate entitling them to practice and teach the warrior ways of the yamabushi. In addition, candidates will also receive a level 3 qualification in instructional techniques, accredited by the Qualifications Network UK (a government approved awarding body). Both of these qualifications are validated by the Institute of Martial Arts and Sciences, an official professional body which is duly listed in British Qualifications.

This course includes an emergency first aid course, an enhanced CRB check, a years membership of the IMAS, entry into the IMAS register of instructors, and all official certifications.


More mature, established instructors from other schools and systems would be APEL’d according to their past experience and qualifications, with the training and education they receive reflecting this fact. They will receive a special certificate entitling them to teach the Yamabushi system at their own grade.

Interested parties should contact Honbu for more information.

Yamabushi Ryu is an IMAS approved centre for accredited martial arts instructor training


The Spirit Has Arrived!

After long years of careful preparation, the spirit of the ancient mountain warrior is reborn!  And, now it has arrived, it is up to us to use it wisely and well.

This modern association might have its origins in the 1980’s, but it is firmly routed in the traditional concept of the warrior monks of feudal Japan. Literally all of the Dojo Cho (club instructors) have been personal students of  mine for over a decade, during which time they have proven themselves to be loyal and worthy disciples in every way, not just once, but many times over.

They might be my students, but they are very much their own people in every other way:  Strong, intelligent and independently minded, they are linked together through the common bond of their training in the warrior arts and philosophy of the Yamabushi Ryu.

Now that we have finally moved on to the next level, we have climbed just that little bit higher and so can see just that little bit more clearly, both appreciating how far we have come, and how far we still have to travel.

I hope that each of these views will inspire us and spur us on in our efforts, and I look forward to continuing the journey with all of you.