What is Ninjitsu?
Ninjutsu, also known as Ninjitsu, Ninpō, or Shinobi-jutsu is the martial art, tactics and strategy utilised by the Shinobi or Ninja (if outside of Japan).
It also incorporates the use of unconventional or guerrilla warfare tactics and the art of espionage and was developed as a set of basic survival systems to use by the Ninja during the violent battles in Japan.
Ninjutsu involved means of collecting data and methods of avoiding detection and the art and trickery of misdirection. It also included training in a number of disciplines such as archery, free running and medicine as well as learning vital methods of concealment, disguise and escaping capture.
These skills were very useful in gaining an advantage over opposing parties during these times of conflict.
Ultimately these espionage skills developed to become ninjutsu and those who became experts in this field were known as shinobi no mono.
Ninjutsu can be translated literally as ‘the art of stealth’ and was actually banned in Japan during the 1600’s.
Where did Ninjitsu originate from?
Ninjutsu originated in Japan and it is suggested that Ninja’s practiced the art in the mountains and more remote areas to fight against the Samurai landlords. This was also seen as a rejection of the Samurai way of life, which involved adopting and following a stringent code of honour.
The art of ninjutsu can generally be broken down into the eighteen disciplines or ‘Ninja Júhakkei’ that are seen as definitive teachings across all schools. The eighteen disciplines are:
- Seishinteki kyōyō – spiritual refinement
- Taijutsu – unarmed combat
- Kenjutsu – sword techniques
- Bōjutsu – stick and staff techniques
- Sōjutsu – spear techniques
- Naginatajutsu – naginata techniques
- Kusarigamajutsu – kusarigama techniques
- Shurikenjutsu – throwing weapons techniques
- Kayakujutsu – pyrotechnics
- Hensōjutsu – disguise and impersonation
- Shinobi-iri – stealth and entering methods
- Bajutsu – horsemanship
- Sui-ren – water training
- Bōryaku – tactics
- Chōhō – espionage
- Intonjutsu – escaping and concealment
- Tenmon – meteorology
- Chi-mon – geography
Along with unarmed fighting techniques such as grappling and striking movements ninjutsu also incorporates the use of various weapons, including but not limited to staffs; pole arms, projectiles, swords and fist loaded weapons like Sai and brass knuckles.
- The governance.
Although there is no singular governing body for Ninjutsu there are a number of federations and organisations both on a continental as well as a global scale.
Like many other Japanese martial arts there is a belt ranking system that requires students to train from white belt to black, before being allowed to develop themselves further through the ‘Dan’ grades up until a rank of 10th Dan is achieved.