About us

Ryuko, shown above in kanji, is the martial name given to our dojo by Soke Hatsumi Masaaki. It translates as “Dragon Tiger”; a very powerful martial name. The name was bestowed on the dojo in September 1994 to honour Major Joe Vaughan who was a strong guiding influence, and inspiration, throughout both our dojo and the Bujinkan as a whole.

Major Vaughan was one of the original founding members of the Special Air Service (SAS) in the UK.

Joe attended many of the taikai that Soke Hatsumi instructed at in the UK and, thanks to the interpretation skills of Ben Jones, Joe and Soke grew very close. They often chatted together and shared their wisdom.

Soke Hatsumi asked Keith Porter, the head instructor of the Ryuko dojo, to teach him whatever Joe had shown him. On one taikai Keith had shown Soke one of the lessons that Joe had imparted that week, and instantly Soke incorporated that knowledge into an amazing array of techniques.

Sadly, Joe passed away in 2000. He is still deeply missed by Keith, and everybody that was fortunate enough to know him.

On hearing of his death Soke Hatsumi put a picture of Joe in the bujinden and wrote an open letter. Ben Jones’s English translation of that letter is reproduced below:
To the divine warrior, Joe Vaughan

I have taken the liberty of placing a photo of Joe Vaughan on the altar in our main training hall, the Bujinden. Now I sit here beneath it, staring at his image. As the flames of the candles sway in the wind, it seems to me that Joe is here with me, smiling and talking. Without thinking, I started speaking to Joe's picture …

We met many times at the training camps I held in the UK. Each time I sensed that neither of us had grown any older — inside at least. Joe would always smile kindly as he spoke to the youngsters and me, or taught us the important things without even saying a word.

Joe … the wrist-lock you put on me that one time … I was flabbergasted. I felt it vibrate powerfully through my heart, just as when I used to suffer wrist-locks from my teacher, Takamatsu Sensei. I told you then, Joe, didn't I? As my senior, you should really be the Grandmaster … and we both laughed. That moment is still here, right now.

Life: no matter how long it lasts, it is but an instant. I see life as a journey. When I heard the sad news about Joe, my reaction was, "So, Joe's now left on his journey. I too have spent a long time travelling the globe on my own sort of knight errantry … but the journey is never truly over, so I am certain that at some future destination I will meet up with Joe once again." One of the happiest things in my life has been the fact that through this wandering existence I have been privileged to meet people whom I can truly respect, such as Joe Vaughan.

They say that the hearts of martial men can be transmitted directly, without any need for words. As I continue on my journey, I vow to keep Joe's heart alive in my own, and treasure it for the rest of my life.

Let me close by offering a humble prayer that Joe Vaughan's soul may rest in peace.

29 September 2000

Hatsumi Masaaki
Shihan Keith Porter, Major Joe Vaughan & Soke Hatsumi Masaaki