Let’s Talk Ninja

Who were they? 

The Shadow Warriors. Everyone knows them. Everyone loves them. But why? Who exactly were they and what strategies did ninjas use to make them so fearsome?

Firstly, I’ll say it loud and clear – I’m no expert on ninjas, ninjaism (the ‘stuff of ninja’s) or Ninjology: what Professor Hiroshi Ikeda calls the study of ninjas. (Watch him in the video link further down this page.) Yet, if you’ve ever wanted to study an intriguing topic with a varied and competing history, it’s got to be this.

The term ‘ninja’ is derived from the Japanese characters ‘忍者,’ which can be directly translated to mean ‘one who perseveres’ or ‘one who endures.’  Another reference, the Oxford English Dictionary, defines a ninja as ‘a member of a class of medieval Japanese mercenary agents who were trained in the martial arts and hired out for covert operations such as assassination and sabotage’.

The original ninja came from the mountainous Kōka and Iga provinces of Japan during the feudal period. They used the rugged environment to their advantage by developing specialised weapons and tactics that allowed them to launch surprise attacks and navigate difficult terrain with ease. The mountainous regions played a significant role in the development of the ninja’s skills and techniques.

Ninja tactics 

Ninjas used trained animals or smoke bombs to confuse their enemies. Secret doors and hidden passages were their escape routes. They created a voice-throwing technique to make it sound like their voice comes from elsewhere to confuse their opponents. Ninjas always invented new ways to outsmart their rivals.

The reputation ninjas enjoy today isn’t purely because of their combat skills. Of course they were highly trained in archery and swordsmanship and all traditional forms of unarmed combat, but their modern-day cult status is thanks to their creative and strategic abilities.

Ninjas were experts in the art of disguise. They could blend into their surroundings and move silently to avoid detection and then, suddenly and without warning, surprise their enemy with ambush and trickery.

Despite their legendary status, the Ninja were not invincible. They were often hunted down and killed by their enemies, and many of their secrets were lost to history. However, their legacy has lived on, and their influence can still be felt in the martial arts and espionage techniques of today.

The Book of Ninja

The Book of Ninja, also known as The Bansenhukai, is considered the ultimate ninjutsu manual, compiled by a real-life ninja named Fujibayashi in 1676. Divided into three volumes that cover the basics, advanced techniques, and spiritual aspects of ninjutsu.

Whilst not an easy read due to its archaic Japanese and technical terms, it is a must-read for martial artists, historians, and fans of ninja culture who want to deepen their understanding of this fascinating and mysterious art.

More resources: 

Learn more about ninjaism in this video:

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