Friday, July 2, 2010

About the Ancient Art of Ninjutsu

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A lot of people often think of smoke bombs and magic tricks when they think of ninjas. There is an element of truth to this, but not much. Usually the ideas of ninjas that people have are often popularized comic-book versions. And even when people start to think of what a true ninja is, they still are left with a lot of misconceptions. In this segment, I hope to dis-spell some of those misconceptions and get some of you thinking about what a ninja truly is.

The ninja dates back to ancient Japan. According to some sources, traces of ninjas can be seen from as far back as the 4th century. That's a long time ago! I don't think we have any records of any James Bonds running around back then (though there very well could have been!).

Most ninjas started off from farming communities fighting back against oppressive feudal governments. They often made weapons out of farm tools and trained in secret. They had to swear to secrecy, even if caught, because they would surely all be killed if they government knew there was an uprising.

However, ninja practiced the art of stealth more than the art of combat. Both were very important, but ninjutsu, the art of invisibility, was questionably more important.

The Ninja you see is under the bridge
But the ninja you don't see is in the
is in the crowd!

Ninjutsu is a very flexible art. It deals a lot with actual stealth techniques like walking on creaking floor boards and physically concealing yourself, but it also deals a lot with many other aspects like becoming a part of a society and earning people's trust. Ninja would often have to work for years pretending to be one of their own enemy just to get close to their targets.

Women were especially useful to the ninja. During the uprising of ninja, not many would suspect that a woman would even be very dangerous, and many feudal lords loved the company of lots of women, which made it particularly valuable to the ninja in terms of getting close to the target.

Ninja would also design special hiding places in their homes, much like trap doors, but often just for hiding. This would give the illusion that ninja could disappear. Same as with the smoke bombs and other such ninja tricks. They would escape during this confusion, and often times with such success that their attackers would have believed them to be transformed into a common forest creature.

Rumors of ninjas powers spread quickly in these times of superstition, which only fed the ninjas power. The more their enemies believed them to be magical creatures or demons, the more their enemies would find evidence all on their own that these rumors were confirmed.

Meeting a ninja was terrifying, and the thought that any one of your subjects could be a ninja perfectly blending in with the crowd was even more terrifying.

Ninja were scorned for their "dishonorable" fighting tactics. They were feared because of how their enemies perceived them. And this was their greatest power!

Ninjutsu is a fearful art. Ninjutsu is not an art of combat, but for anyone who is the enemy of a ninjutsu master, he ought to truly fear for his life. Ninjutsu is an art of trickery, acting, stealth, quick thinking, and in every respect invisibility.

Later, I shall right about the differences between ninjutsu and jijutsu. Until then, be looking forward to another chapter real soon!

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What is a Ninja?

There is a lot of misconception about what a ninja is.

A ninja is a weapon. A ninja is a warrior.

First appearing in writing as early as 4th century according to some history, though it is hard to place the beginning of the ninja, and most scholars agree that they emerged around the 7th-10th century. According to most Asian historians, the ninja first developed in opposition to the elite samurai during the Heian Dynasty (794-1185).

By the 15th century, the role of the ninja was primarily hired mercenary or espionage. By this time, there was already boundless myths about ninjas, calling them demons and giving them mystical powers which were widely believed to be true, but in all reality, ninjas were very trained in silence and stealth and could easily hide or slip away quickly and unnoticed in a way that would lead others to believe they were magical.

Our story presupposes a modern Japanese society where ninjas have managed to survive and continue traditional methods of teaching and hired by clients and used as weapons and tools of espionage and mercenary. Taro is one such ninja, growing up in a civilization of ninjas long-thought to be extinct. But when Taro begins his first ninja mission, his whole world gets turned upside down.