Boryaku Military Strategy

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Boryaku (謀略) is one of the 18 fundamental skills of the Togakure-ryu school of ninjutsu. Alongside more orthodox and mainstream measures, Boryaku includes use of unorthodox strategies and tactics, as well as manipulation of politics and exploitation of other current events to assist in subtle influence of the opponent.

Bo Ryaku originally dealt with planning for battle, and to a certain extent that is the context within which I will use it here. Mostly, I am using Bo Ryaku as a means of planning what you should do and how you would handle different situations. There are several ways you can use Bo Ryaku to aid you in surviving in the urban environment, including how to deal with different kinds of people and understanding your vulnerabilities.

Hatsumi said in The Ninja, “By recognizing an adversary’s needs and fears, the ninja knows just what to give him or deprive him of in order to bring him to submission. The ninja observes subtle body signals, voice qualities, facial features, and personality quirks in the enemy to know how to manipulate him.” In a modern example, a criminal who means you harm may be dissuaded by only making it a little more difficult or risky. Other people may be dealt with by actions that feed their ego (flattery, respect, or adoration).

A second, and probably more important, aspect of Bo Ryaku is assessing your vulnerabilities and having a plan for not being vulnerable. For example, we know most attacks happen when you are moving; and most of those happen at places where the criminal, terrorist, or whoever has knowledge of and control of the territory. The reason is simple, most people do not want to take you on in your home where you know the layout and may have weapons available. They want to attack when you do not know your surroundings and when you may be distracted by other things.

So when you are waking, it is important to know where the attack could come from (doorways, around corners, etc.) and have a plan for escape. The same applies when you are driving with one additional caveat. You should not drive where you can be blocked in (driving against the barrier on a road or pulling up too close to people at stop signs so you cannot maneuver out of the way). Whether walking or driving, it is also important to know the locations of such things as police stations.

Even when you are stationary, such as at a restaurant, it is important to know your vulnerabilities. You should know where an attack could come from (entrances and within the building), know who might do the attack, and know where to go if attacked (strongholds, exits).

Remember, the attacker has all of the advantages (time, place, tactics, understanding). To overcome this, you have to always be aware of what is going on around you, and you have to not put yourself in a situation where you can be attacked easily. You have to recognize attacks before you get to them. But even with observation and plans, there will be times when everything goes wrong. When that happens, there is one final element of Bujinkan Ninjutsu you should know – Move. Move and keep moving. Do not execute a particular technique and stop to admire your work. Keep moving, keep trying things. It makes you harder to attack and opens more opportunities for one of the attacks you are trying to make to work. If you do not know fully whether you are under attack or not, keep moving until you figure it out.

In this short article, I have attempted to give you an idea of where some of the elements of our art that are often not studied can come into play in your daily lives. Of course, there is much more to it than can be placed in a short article such as this. Some effort and work in the areas of Shinobi Iri, Intonjutsu, Choho, and Bo Ryaku can pay off well in surviving in an urban environment; and I can think of no other art that has more experience in these areas than ours. ~ by Professor Jeffery T. Walker