NINJUTSU & NINJA

The beginnings of Ninjutsu are bound with a veil of secrecy, but the fact is that this art of fighting goes deep in the history, when even the famous Samurai caste didn’t exist.

The name is mentioned for the first time during the war between the prince’s Taishi and Mory (593-628. year) about the land Omi. Thanks to the informations of his agent in the enemy forces, princ Taishi Shotoku won this war, rewarded his agent richly and called him Shinobi (secret, silent, the one who is moving with stealth and sneaking). During the history of Japan, the Ninja played a great role, and mostly they were used as spies, secret agents, military allies, guards, bodyguards, police officers, strategiants, special forces, etc.

The knowledge of Ninjutsu has been systematized and guarded within the families, and many small clans have been formed (for example Momochi, Hattori, Fujibayashi, etc.), and with them various schools and styles (Ryu – ha). The most famous schools and styles have been formed in the Iga and Koga regions of the Japanese Honshu island of that time.

The name Ninja originates form China, and in Japanese language the word Ninja can be written with an ideogram and then it has a meaning Shinobi . Shinobi can further be translated as “Shi” – an active person, can also mean an expert, master, “No” is a possessive pronoun, and “Bi” – means information. Shinobi is therefore, a master, or someone who is familiar with gathering informations. Japanese ideogram – Kanji – for Shinobi or Nin consists of two signs – Ken – which symbolizes a sword or a blade and – Kokoro – which symbolizes heart or soul, and can be interpreted in many ways as: “the spirit of the man and a blade”, “the sword has to follow the heart, and the heart has to be sharp as the sword”, or also as “secret”, “hidden”, “perseverant”, “persistent”, “patient”, (restrain) in physical and in mental meaning, etc… In this extended understanding of the meaning, the Nin truly means that someone controls the body, mind and perception in/about right and wrong. Ken : Kokoro :  The essential element for the Ninja is a pure heart.

If a Ninja follows the wrong path by using deceit, lies, his ego or mischieves, his heart can not be pure and his judgement will allways be wrong never allowing the path of honour to act. If such a person uses Ninjutsu for their own benefit or ego, or in such way that the evil is superior, their actions will give them away by showing them as irresponsible, undignified and immoral in the sense of humanity and honour. That is, maybe, the beginning of succesfull acumulating of wealth and fame, but they will fall of their high positions a lot sooner. The heart of a Ninja is pure and honorable!

The Ninja of the feudal Japan, and to the modern age, were born and trained within their family and were all loyal to the tradition of Ninjutsu. For safety reasons Ninja clans didn’t live in urban areas, but in the mountains, on difficult reachable places that were known only to the few. The training of the Ninja warrior begined at the early age of three, through various technics of movement coordination, condition trainings, body elasticity, climbing technics, obstacle overcoming, falls, rolls, etc. At the age of 10 they start training unarmed combat, various technics of movement in all directions (horizontally and vertically), hiding skills, masking, camouflage and stelth movement, combat in water, silent swimming and diving, etc.

By his age of 20, a young Ninja learns the ways of using all kinds of weapons and tools of that time, throwing blades, fast and long runnings, tieing the enemy, writing and reading and using various codes and ciphers, methods of communication, the way of using the nature and surviving in nature, the art of stealth movement. After that, the Ninja learns psychology and anatomy, strategy and combat tactics, various kinds of meditation, hypnosis, the skill of using fire arms and explosives, ethics and folklore, medicine, first aid and herb knowledge, meteorology and geography, espionage, masking, spiritual and mental perfection, etc.

The choosing and selection of the Ninja warriors in that time was very simple. If someone was not capable for that kind of training, he died on some of the exercises or trainings. So, Ninjutsu is very honest and simple; either you can or you get killed. One of these tests is the Sakki test from Togakure ryu school. Today, these drastic trainings are not necessary.   In Ninjutsu the training of the technics of unarmed combat started at the age of 10. The art of unarmed combat taught in Ninjutsu has been tested for hundreds of years on the battle fields and in close combat. However, the arts in Ninjutsu taught the fighting principles and technics by which it was very easy to disable the enemy, and most importantly, they were trained to perfection and to the use throughout the combat instinctively, and not by memorizing it. In order to use those kind of technics, they also learned the skill of using hits and presuring to the vital points and anatomy.

In his time, the Ninja used many weapons and tools that gave him the advantage and power in combat. However, we need to say that the Ninja were inovators and came up with and make their own weapons and tools. For long distance combat, the Ninja used Yumi Ya (bow and arrows), which were often dipped into different kind of poison to be more efficient. Sometimes they set explosives and bombs on them to gain more efficiency. They were real masters at targeting and could hit the enemy at great distances. Then there was the Fukiya (a blowgun), which could also hit the enemy at great distances, and the darts were dipped in terrible poisons. Then there were Shuriken (throwing blades) which were also used at distances and could also be dipped in poison. Ninja was a master in Shuriken jutsu. And then there were tools for throwing poison liquids that could hit the enemy up to 30 meters. However, the Ninja’s first started to use firearms in feudal Japan. Tanegashima, the long fuse rifle, had it’s use in Ninjutsu, and the Ninja’s were masters at using these weapons, just as the short pistol Futokoro teppo. But Ninja’s were also masters in inovation, so that they hid pistols and rifles into sword and knife shapes so they couldn’t be recognized and could be surprising and efficient on long distance. They also made various hand launchers from wood and metal called Kozutsu (something like a bazooka) and canons called Ohzutsu. They also used mines called Jirai and explosive hand granades called Torinoko. Dokuenjutsu were smoke granades that had the effect of todays tear gases. For blinding the opponent in combat, they used a smoke powder called Metsubushi. But Ninja’s were also masters in combat using cold weapons of that time. Swords, knives, spears, sticks, chains and various inovations and combinations found great application in Ninjutsu. An individual approach to each person was used in Ninpo.

A Ninja warrior possesed a collection of esoteric sciences, and used psychology, used the concience and the unconcience, adopted to the enviroment seeking harmony with the nature and the natural laws of the Universe. In Ninpo more attention is given to selfawareness, developing psychological and physical potentials which can be used through all aspects of life, not only through fighting technics. So, for Ninjutsu and Ninja warriors we can say that they are forerunners of todays Special forces units. Many technics and tactics used by the Ninja warriors have their use today in the Special forces units. Unfortunately, many Special forces units don’t use all the knowledge and teachings of Ninjutsu that can be very helpfull in modern times, either in their original form or a modernized one. However, the fact remains that the Ninja warriors were the most succesfull warriors of all time.

In feudal Japan Ninja’s had many names, so we list some of them: Shinobi, Hakone mono, Iga mono, Inkan, Kusa, Gyonin, Kanja, Koga mono, Kamari, Ninjutsu tsukai, Nokizaru, Toppa, Suppa, Shinobi no mono, Yuushi, Rappa etc. A tradiotional scheme of one Ninja organisation was:   Jonin – Upper person – the head of the clan, made strategic decisions and decisions of great importance to the clan Chunin – Middle person – formed specific tactics by the orders of the Jonin, acted as a liaison between Jonin and Genin, a commander Genin – Lower person – the operative who carried out the missions by the orders of the Chunin, the true Ninja warrior.