Essence Of Ninjutsu
Ninjutsu originally began as a philosophical way of life for people who lived in the isolated mountain regions of old Japan.

These people lived off the land, and had a strong affinity with nature. Gradually, this way of life became the basis of a form of combat that was considered to be unorthodox by Japanese society of the time. Eventually, the combat strategies and tactics of the ninja were written down and studied by Samurai warriors.  Following is a brief breakdown of the art of the Japanese ninja.

Philosophical base : 

The philosophical base of Ninjutsu can be expressed in one word "naturalness".  The original ninja believed that the world was made up of five elemental forces :

• Earth

• Water

• Fire

• Wind

and Void.

Earth is stable and solid.  Water is changeable and flowing.  Fire is dynamic and explosive.  Wind is evasive and penetrating.  And the Void is nothingness, illusion... the source of the other elements.

This concept was their reality. It provided them with an understanding of the changing nature of the world. And it also gave them a way to live in harmony with their environment.

Combat State of Mind :

The ninja worked to achieve a psychological state of mind they called " The mind and eyes of God ".  This state of mind is described as being a clear understanding of the natural order of things ... beyond the moral and ethical values of mainstream Japanese society.  This focus on the true nature of things also led them to realise the natural power in every individual. This included the natural power of the body, as well as the natural power of the mind.

Combat strategy

A strategy is a plan of action, and a tactic is a method that is used to achieve that plan. Ninjutsu’s combat strategy is an extension of the base philosophy :

• expect events to change

• conceal your potential

• be deliberate in your actions

• strike in unexpected ways, and at unexpected times.

Combat Tactics :

The tactics ( methods ) used to achieve this combat strategy include :

• the use of weapons

• unarmed combat

• and survival skills.

Weapons : 

The essence of ninjutsu weaponry is to conceal the capability of a weapon, then strike in unexpected ways, and at unexpected times. Traditionally, the ninja used weapons of short-to-medium length that were easily concealed. However some longer, heavier weapons were used on the battlefield. Typical examples of concealable weapons include :

• ninja-toh (short sword)

• shuriken (throwing stars)

• shako (climbing-claws)

• metsubushi (blinding powder)

• tetsubushi (ground-spikes)

• kyoketsu shoge (hooked-knife).

These particular weapons were made famous by the ninja of one of the oldest traditions ... the Togakure Ryu.

Taijutsu (unarmed combat) :

Ninjutsu moves in a way that’s strong and deliberate like a tiger pouncing on its prey. In fact, the names of the Gyokko Ryu and Koto Ryu traditions of ninjutsu both include the character for "Tiger".

Taijutsu Strategy :

The strategy of using taijutsu is highlighted in the structure of the traditional training scrolls. Almost every training pattern in the traditional ninjutsu scrolls involve a 3-part plan of action :

be brief... only 1, 2 or 3 movements per opponent

be effective... strike only the body's weak points

then escape... or create distance if it's a group attack.

Tactics of the Scrolls : 

The tactics used to achieve this taijutsu strategy include :

• evading and blocking

• striking and kicking

• Iimb controls

• throws and chokes.

Survival skills : 

Ninjutsu’s survival skills include :

• hiding techniques

• silent movement

• climbing techniques

• water techniques

• and tracking.

The essence of these survival skills is to blend in to the surroundings and when necessary, to move without being detected.  In other words, the ninja of feudal Japan would harmonise with the surrounding terrain, often by doing the unexpected, or seemingly impossible.  These tactics are still used today by specialist units such as the S.A.S. the Navy Seals, and the Commandos.



Copyright 1981-2008 © Wayne L. Roy.
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