Ninjutsu (Ninpo) is a Japanese martial art designed around warfare and strategy and used by Ninja’s (Shinobi) during feudal Japan. Trained from an early age, Ninja’s learnt 18 traditional disciplines that include various forms of armed/un-armed fighting techniques with lots of variable weapons training/knowledge, horsemanship, various forms of espionage, sabotage, disguise, infiltration, stealth, trickery, escape, poisons, watercraft, medicines, running, jumping, climbing walls, long-distance hiking, swimming, assassination and combat situations. They would normally work in groups with individuals who were specialist in certain areas creating a formidable team.
The methods employed by Ninja’s were considered dishonourable and many were hired to do the dirty jobs of others. The art almost died out during the 19th century, as it was felt that such a dishonourable warriors way was no longer wanted, however the secret way was kept by some masters and handed down to create what is now modern Ninjutsu. It has to be said though, that records and details of actual period Ninja disciplines/techniques were closely guarded and today’s modern Ninjutsu will vary from school to school and will most likely be a watered down version and/or a take on the original and traditional way and most certainly no longer concentrate on stealth and assassination techniques.
As with a lot of old martial arts, Ninjutsu has developed into many different styles and there are a number of organisations and schools teaching Ninjutsu, but their origin and lineage are mostly controversial and therefore I have omitted to name them here.
Western culture become more aware of Ninjutsu through various movies during the 60’s/70’s, although these movies quite often exaggerated the mysterious ways of the Ninja.
The training regime of modern Ninjutsu, will no doubt be considerably different than that of the warring Ninja’s during feudal Japan, not just because much of what was taught is no longer relevant to today’s modern times, but also due to the loss of some of the secret ways/techniques of the period.
Modern training is normally split into several levels and follows a grading system.
You will be taught fighting skills similar to that of many Japanese martial arts with strikes, grappling, ground fighting, locks, chokes, throws etc and unlike most martial arts, weapons training is usually practised from the beginning also. You may also be taught about the human body and pressure points, mental awareness, meditation, how to stay flexible, how to keep physically fit, Kuji-kiri (interlocking hand signs) and even how to turn the art into a way of life.
Ninjutsu Equipment/Gear Used
Many schools allow the wearing of just comfortable workout clothing to start with, then once settled in, you can wear a standard style Gi (normally black) consisting of a jacket and trousers.
Others may include:
Full Ninja Suit/uniform (Shinobi Shozoku) – usually black, but can be any colour, also note that there is no real evidence of feudal Ninja’s wearing this uniform.
Since Ninja’s were sometimes called upon to fight alongside soldiers on the battlefield, they were also equipped with a combat uniform. They wore a jacket and leggings of chain mail. Their wrists, hands, neck and head were also protected by mail. All in all, their combat costume was a formidable outfit.
Weapons used in Ninjutsu
The list below is just some of the weapons used by Ninja’s. Just about any weapon and/or combination or variant of any weapon available at the time was used and practised with.
Bokken – Wooden Sword
Fukiya – Blowgun
Hanbo/Bo/Jo – Various Staffs
Kaginawa- Climbing Tool/Grappling Hook
Kama – Farming Blade
Katana – Long Sword
Yari – Spear
Yumi and Ya – Bow and Arrow
Wakizashi – Short sword
Chigiriki/Manriki/Manriki-gusari/Kusarigama/Kusarifundo – Various chained Weapons
Ninjato – Short bladed weapon
Sai – Two-pronged sword
Shuriken – Ninja Throwing Star
Tanto/Kaiken – Daggers
Tekagi-shuko/Ashiko/Neko-te – Hand Claws
Various Throwing Darts/Blades
Kyoketsu Shoge – Hooked rope-dart
Tekko – Brass knuckles
Tessen – Folding Fan with an iron frame
Ten-Hand/Jutte – Iron Bar
Kunai/Shikoro – Multi-purpose tools
Makibishi/Tetsubishi – Caltrop (sharp spikes thrown on floor)
Nagamaki/Naginata – Poled weapons
Tachi – Slung Sword
Otsuchi/Ono/Kanabo – Axes, mallots and clubs
Ninja Utility Belt
Kunai – Ninja Darts
Celebrity Ninjutsu Practitioners (or those that have dabbled in it)
Movies featuring Ninjutsu / Ninjas
|Shinobi no mono
|Enter the Ninja
|Shu shi shen chuan
|The Ninja Wars
|Revenge of the Ninja
|Ninja 3: The Domination
|The Super Ninja
|Nine Deaths of the Ninja
|Golden Ninja Warrior
|Silver Dragon Ninja
|The Ultimate Ninja
|American Ninja 2: The Confrontation
|Ninja Death Squad
|Ninja: Silent Assassin
|Ninja vs Ninja
|American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt
|American Ninja 4: The Annihilation
|American Ninja V
|3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain
|Shinobi: Heart Under Blade