Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ninjutsu: The Art of Stealth and Perseverance


Today, I would like to discuss the art of the Ninja, also known as Ninjutsu, the photo above is from the video game, Ninja Gaiden for XBOX360. Getting back to the subject, Ninjutsu is roughly translated from Japanese to English means the art of stealth and perseverance. I truly believe that Ninjutsu is one of the most misunderstood martial arts in existence, this is mostly due to misrepresentation of the Ninja in film. Ninjutsu today is still alive, however it is nowhere as popular today as it was in the 1980's thanks to such films as American Ninja, Bloodsport, the Punisher (The Dolph Lundgren version), the Hunted (the Christopher Lambert version), and even the animated G.I. series had a Ninja. For the most part, these films, despite their action sequences, are mostly fictional. What exactly is a Ninja? A Ninja is a person who practices Ninjutsu, which again is the art of stealth and perseverance. Historically the Ninja were warriors in feudal Japan who practiced unconventional warfare, espionage, and often times fought as mercenaries. In ancient times the Ninja may have been referred to by different names including Shinobi. The Ninja were comprised of many different clans in feudal Japan particularly the Iga and Koga Clans. To make a long story short, the Ninja in the historic sense became extinct in 1868 during the Meiji restoration. Soon many of the classical martial arts of Japan such as Aikijutsu, Jujutsu (Jiu Jitsu), and Ninjutsu would begin to be replaced by more popular arts emphasizing a more competitive nature such as Judo and Karate.

Fortunately, there were many Japanese practitioners who were able to keep the art of Ninjutsu alive, such as Toshitsugu Takamatsu, who passed on his skills and the tradition of Ninjutsu to Maasaki Hatsumi. Maasaki Hatsumi would then create the Bujinkan organization, and his students such as Fumio Manaka would create the Jinenkan, and Shoto Tanemura would then found the Genbukan school of Ninpo. Today some of these systems may be known by other names, such as Budo Taijutsu, Ninpo, and so on, but either way, they have kept the traditions of the Ninja alive.

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with me? Well for many people Ninjutsu is a way of life, a system of self-defense, a fun activity, etc. I personally take Ninjutsu because I have always been fascinated by this martial art and by Ninjas in general. How well will a person trained in Ninjutsu be able to defend him or herself against an MMA fighter? Well that depends on the practitioner, however, the art of Ninjutsu is much more than just fighting, as the word martial art implies, it is still an art. Despite this, most attackers on the streets are not MMA fighters or pro boxers, or Muay Thai fighters, for this reason, Ninjutsu is a good choice for self-defense. One of the strengths of Ninjutsu when compared to other martial arts is its training in weapons, using unconventional fighting tactics, evasion, and being taught to do what is necessary to persevere through an attack. After practicing many martial arts, I can say that Ninjutsu is truly amazing, while the stick fighting technics may not be as deadly as those in Eskrima, the use of the fighting chain, or Manriki Kusari is 2nd to none, in fact there is probably no other system that uses a chain like Ninjutsu. Of course there are many other examples of how Ninjutsu techniques compare to other systems, but I will leave that for another blog. For now, if anyone reading this would like to learn more about Ninjutsu, take a look at some of the Ninjutsu programs out there such as the Distance Learning Programs offered by Richard Van Donk and Stephen K. Hayes, and also visit the Genbukan, Jinenkan, and Bujinkan websites.