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Old 07-09-2010, 03:39 PM
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Default Enter the Mind of the Ninja

Enter the Mind of the Ninja

Woven into the rich fabric of Japanese cultural, political, and religious history is the story of the an incredible art of espionage and individual combat.

Its name is Ninjitsu.

The art of stealth, the way of invisibility, and its practioners were the legendary spies and commandos of feudal Japan kown as the ninja. Ninjitsu flourished amid the civid turmoil of the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries. During this period the art was refined into a deadly science, incorporating sophisticated techniques for warfare, intelligence gathering, and spiritual development. When the odds were unfavorable or dishonor threatened, the ninja could be hired to bring victory and restore the harmony of society through espionage or assassination. Often a few black-garbed ninja could do by subtle means what it would take hundreds of armored soldiers to accomplish. It was these exploits that gave rise to legends that are still popular in Japan today.

The ninja's guiding philosophy was to choose the dark, quiet, and subtle method over the bold, active, and forceful. In this way the natural order of events was disturbed as little as possible. Suggestion took the place of force, deception replaced confrontation, and the adverary was guided into unknowingly doing the ninja's bidding instead of being crushed in humiliating defeat. This psychological slant chracterized ninjitsu, and allowed the ninja to accomplish the most while expending minimum energy, and exposing himself to the least amount of danger.

Their goals were simple, accomplish the mission at all costs. This approach required graphic visualization of the goal and unswerving commitment to reaching it. The ninja were commoners, far below the exalted status of the samuari warrior class, and thereby free of the samurai's rigid code of honor and prescribed way of handling situations. The samurai had to balance the dual condsiderations of achieving his goal and maintaining the honor and prestige of the family name, whereas the ninja was able to concentrate his energy exclusively on the goal at hand, having no honor or name to protect. Because of this total commitment, the service if the ninja commanded a high price.

"When a man can disguise his true intent, and has the sensitivity to recognize the hidden motives of others, he is capable of becoming a shrewd fighter and a difficult adversary. "

In the late teen years Ninja learned to be actors and practical psychologists. Through obeservation of their own actions as well as those of others, they came to understand the workings of the psyche, and how to use the mental weakness and limitations of others to their own advantage.

Their are nine levels or steps to personal developmentfrom base physicality to highest spirituality. The ninja knew how to reach and utilize the power of any level, that is why they were so advanced. They were not supermen, the were merely completely developed natural men. Not all ninja were equally developed at reaching all nine levels. Each man has his own inherent limitations.

We will only cover a few of them here, for somethings must remain secret.

The first level consists of training with various weapons. The ninja's arsenal is quite extensive. He must learn to fight with stick and staff weapons, swords and knives, chains, anything that might be used against him or that he might be able to pick up in a combat situation. Techniques of invisible movement and other basic physical skills are also taught.

The second level is concerned with the generation, and channeling of the body's energies. There are various types of energy, creative, physical, emotional, and so on. These energies stem from different centers in the body and are revealed in different aspects of the personality. The ninja must be able to tap the energy source appropriate for what he wants to do. If he is too tense, he must calm himself. If he faces grave danger, he must rouse himself up. If he feels that someone is manipulating him, he must augment his sensitivity and awareness. This is possible through control of the subtle aspects of the body's physicality.

In the third phase of development, the ninja learns to use the dynamic force of the universe. The west does not acknowledge anything like this force. The Orient sees it in everything living as force and make it work for one. Natural body movement eventually replaces conventional muscle power in fighting, whether one is punching or slashing with a sword. In this way, even an old and seemingly weak ninja is still capable of exercising great power. Infact since age eventually negates strength, technique has to be continually trained, because technique never looses its power.

The ninja engages in unarmed combat for one reason alone, to protect himself or those for whom he is responsible, in situations of mortal danger. Therefor, taijutsu aims at inflicting the most damage possible with the fewest and simplest moves possible. The ninja must be ready to meet any adversary and to adopt whatever method will guarentee his survival.

Ma-ai (distancing) is of great importance to the clever fighter. The ninja does not stay close to a man who is skilled at infighting. On the other hand, he crowds the man who requires distance for his techniques. The ninja avoids specialising in any one set of techniques that would limit his own range and therefore his overall effectiveness.

Angling is also of importance in the ninja's fighting method. By moving in an unexpecting direction, the fighter can gain the advantage of strategic placement. This frees him from the rather primitive pattern of holding his ground and trying to overpower the adversary with blocks, so that an attack can be launched in a more considered and effective manner.

The most important method to unarmed fighting is naturalness, and the ability to fit the defensive situation appororiately. Strength is used when strength will conquer. Evasiveness is used when it will succeed. SPeed and power are used when they will overcome. The attackers momentum is captured when that will bring his defeat. The ninja doesn't look like a man in a fight when he is fighting, he simply moves as appropriate, his body a servant of the strength of his intentions.

There are 81 hand symbols, total, but there are 9 primary ones: Rin, Hei, Toh, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, and Zen. Each symbol invokes different strengths and abilities in a trained ninja. Rin brings strength to the mind and body; Hei generates psychic power in order to mask one's presence; Toh enables the ninja to reach a balance between the solid and liquid states of the body, which leads to a greater harmony with the universe; Sha is used to heal oneself or another; Kai gives complete control over the body's functions, enabling one to slow the heart rate, endure extreme heat and cold, etc. Jin increases the mind's telepathic powers, giving a highly trained Ninja the ability to read the character of another; Retsu gives telekinetic powers, enabling a ninja to stun an opponent with a shout or touch. Zai extends the harmony gained by merging with the universe. Zen brings enlightenment and understanding. These symbols take an entire lifetime to truly master.

Thank you for reading, more to come


Siege Warfare:

This is by far the most often referenced skill of the ninja. The ability to enter into a castle by means of stealth, and launch a suprise attack on the inhabitants, causing confusion within while the main army storms the castle from without. Typically the ninja party would scale the walls of a castle under the cover of night, then start lighting everything in sight on fire. They would not wear black, but rather, wear the costume of the castle defenders, making it difficult to tell friend from foe, and so make it seem like there is a rebellion within the ranks. Once chaos reigns inside the castle, the army lays siege on its walls from without. If there was any special skill, then, that these ninjas were famous for, this was it. These ninjas were also able to perform valuable services if they were part of the force under siege in a castle. The ninja could sneak out of the castle at night, and steal the banner of the opposing army, and hang it on the battlements in the morning to demoralize the attackers. One source tells of the ninja going out nearly every night from a castle to frighten and harass the attacking army, without doing any physical damage -- however, the troops had to always be on the alert, and being unable to ever get a good night's sleep, the soldiers constantly on edge waiting for an attack all night, they were ineffective when the time came to launch an assault on the castle.


Ninjas were often employed to assay the relative strength of the enemy. By one account, a ninja would lay in the tall grass just outside an enemy encampment and remain there until dawn before returning to report. In most cases, however, the scout simply goes on horseback, and is indistinguishable from scouts used in warfare anywhere in the world.


This is what the Ninja is known for now. Even in the seventeenth century, the Daimyo feared assassination attempts by ninjas. All of the major generals seemed to have an assassin make an attempt on their life at some point or another. Of course, not all of these attempts are by ninjas, and the most well-known assassination, of Oda Nobunaga, was carried out by one of his generals, and not a ninja at all. In fact, nowhere have a found a single documented successful assassination carried out by a ninja. They were feared throughout Japan for the possibility, but it seems that possibility never became reality. Perhaps it's just like murder today -- everyone fears being killed by some stranger who randomly targets them, but in fact most people are killed by someone they know. The ninja really did try to kill people, though, they just weren't very successful at it. One tactic was to lie down on a battlefield, and when your mark rides through, looking at all the dead bodies, the ninja suddenly springs up and attacks. Nobunaga had some close calls before he met his fate, once being shot twice in the chest, the bullets being stopped by his armor. Later, perhaps learning from the previous attempt, Nobunaga is suprised by three cannon weilding ninjas who try to take him out with a bang. They miss, but kill seven of his retainers. Most ninja assassins were hired by rival daimyo to kill their opponent, without much success. It is this element of ninja skill which has been most over emphasized in our modern understanding of ninja warriors.

In many, but not all, of these accounts the ninjas in question originated from Iga or Koga province, now modern day Mie Province. This is considered the ancestral homeland of the ninja arts, and it does indeed seem to be the main area of ninja activity. Oda Nobunaga finally decided they were too dangerous and crushed Iga in a punitive expedition in 1581. Legend has it that surviving ninja dispersed to all parts of Japan after their defeat. Wherever they went, their usefulness was soon at an end.

But where Oda Nobunaga looked at the ninja and only saw a threat, Tokugawa Ieyasu saw an opportunity, and soon he had a group of Koga ninja in his employ. They participated in the battle of Sekigahara, though without particularly distinguishing themselves. They worked for Tokugawa again in 1614-15, during the campaigns against the last Toyotomi heir, and one last time in 1638 against the Christian daimyo of Kyushu in the Shimabara Rebellion, in both cases operating in their traditional role as masters of seige warfare.

Last edited by Uke; 07-21-2010 at 05:55 PM.
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