Trying to answer several messages that we have received asking us what is our vision of the Ninja and Ninjutsu, proceed to upload this writing. I hope you like it
What is the ninja? What is Ninjutsu?
To anwer accurately what was a ninja/shinobi is a very difficult task yet. And thus to define Ninjutsu,. the ninja arts and skills.
Ninjutsu is understood in a completely wrong way in our Western world. During the last 30 years the figure of the ninja has been shrouded in myths and legends with no historical basis at all that have fully subverted his figure, presenting us with an invincible Warrior dressed in a black suit that throws shurikens with deadly efficiency, faced with their greatest enemies, the samurai.
The shinobi no mono (ninja) were recruited mostly among the samurai class or the ashigara (although other social classes, depending on the desired profile that were searched).
The main role of the shinobi no mono wasn´t to fight in a battle (we have the samurai to carry that role). Their often decisive role was gathering information, infiltrate into the enemy lines and know the disposition of enemy troops, theft of documents and sometimes even murder.
Therefore, the figure of the ninja is a figure that was a highly specialized one within the army.
A ninja or shinobi no mono was a person with a very specific set of skills (regardless of their level of ability). These skills included the "Arts" of spying and acting as an undercover agent, the ability to explore the enemy from very a close position, even going inside the castles or defensive positions with the goal of getting information before returning to his own side or commander.
And we can add to all this that a ninja was; a right-handed person in the preparation and in the use of explosives, including the ability to cause fires, being also someone capable of using their skills into a fortress to steal documents, goods, information or being able even to kill the residents after burning the building.
And there are still more, the shinobi was a person who acted as a guide in "no man's land" leading squads of men at niht for exploring the enemy positions to assault them later.
Furthermore, we could keep adding more and more roles to the shinobi: they would act as messengers, mastering the language of secret codes with horns, drums, symbols and letters to send information.
Summary of the military manual sroll Bukyo Zensho of 1656
Who should be chosen as a Ninja?
1 Those who still looking like fools have a great talent and resources to persuade or are ingenious.
2. Those who are able to act fast and who are tough and (they can endure); Also, those who do not get sick easily.
3. Those who are courageous and open mind and those who know much the terrain and the indigenous people of a region with the addition of being very eloquent.
Tasks assigned to the Shinobi
1. Take advantage of the weaknesses of the enemy, both information and position.
2. Pass through the gates.
3. Warmers or (Donohi) and the tools to make fire.
4. The use of fire signals and passwords.
5. The skill to change quickly the appearance...
6. The tools for climbing fences, walls of stone or earth or cross rivers.
7. And carrying various tools.
8. Hide what must be hidden and show what must be shown.
Keep [a certain] attitude
Therefore the word ninja could also be used to describe two categories of very different actors together:
• First, a ninja could be a man or a woman (only in this case) without any kind of training up to date and that were going to be used just because they had some special or useful ability, even if these were minor. For example, a man with a good memory could be used temporarily as a shinobi, to move within a zone and collect information from memory that would then transmit it to their Lords. Another example would be an individual who well knew a certain area,being able to act as a ninja moving freely around the area and obtaining information, given his good knowledge of local customs and dialect. These individuals without any specific training were also considered as shinobi by strategists of the medieval Japan and would not be precisely what we consider as a real ninja from our modern vision.
• The second case would be our classic ninja image... a person who would have been trained in the skills mentioned above (in any degree of skill) and would be used in a way that is specialized for a general.
Fighting?? When studying the figure of the shinobi must distinguish clearly between what is BUJUTSU (techniques of combat in greater or lesser degree all the samurai-like) and SHINOBIJUTSU (skills reserved for the ninja, such as infiltration, change of appearance, persuasion, mastery of fire, arson and gunpowder, secret messages, etc.).
In the Western world has been given a disproportionate importance to the fighting skils. And the main goal of the shinobi was not precisely fighting. He had other many more important tasks to fulfill that to engage in a combat with an enemy.
Undoubtedly, many ninja were going to fight if it was necessary to complete the mission or to save his life. And many of them were obviously experts in bujutsu, since the time they lived was a time of bloody wars and that knowledge was completely necessary for mere survival. But, from there to give a unique importance to the issue of hand to hand combat or even with weapons is a serious mistake.
It is also a big mistake to separate shinobijutsu from bujutsu. Both are war and survival strategies, and in many families both are going to be taught and learned together, interatcing bujutsu and shinobijutsu .But also here our modern Western mindset ignores again the true understanding and we divide and fragment the true essence.
The costumes used by the ninja cannot be classified in a single way. Depending on the infiltration or the mission to perform, their outfit will be one or the other.
They usually dessed in indigo blue, a color that was often used by the working classes in Japan; they can also disguise himself as monk, traveler and even samurai.
The seven types of costumes that a ninja should be used in accordance with the Shoninki (manual shinobi) are as follows:
1-"Komuso" Zen monk:
3-"Yamabusi" monks in the mountains:
4 - the Merchant:
5-"Hakoshi" street entertainers:
6-"Sarugaku" actors of Theatre:
7-"Tune no Katchi tune" or street clothes
Therefore, the image of the ninja dressed in black does not have a solid or logical basis that sustains it.
We can come to perceive the reality of the ninja, thanks to the study of his special tools. The ninja has many types of tools that will help in their missions.
We will begin with a fragment of the Shoninki:
""The latent principle of the shinobi is not be discovered. Therefore you have to use outfits that are able to change your appearance. "Old masters of the shinobi arts were rarely recognizable even among parents and siblings even more with people unrelated to it."
There are basically six essential tools for a Shinobi:
1 Deep and wide straw hat called Amigasa.
2. The hook grip called Kaginawa.
3. A pencil of stone called Sekihitsu
4 medicine field Kusuri (kills worms)
5. A 90 cm fabric called Sanjaku Tenugui
6. An implement to create fire called Uchitake or Tsuketake.
But the arsenal of tools shinobi is huge and highly specialized: mizugumos for crossing through deep water, mobile scales for climbing fences, kunais to scale walls, tsubogiri to make holes in the walls, different types of torches, special footwear, etc.
Sometimes these same tool could serve weapon more by necessity, the shinobi need to move easily through a zone and he could not go armed to the teeth so he would have to use the tools they had at hand trying to defend themselves against a group of attackers.
In infiltration and sneaking missions several scrolls confirm the tactical advantage of carrying a short sword.
And sometimes famous "ninja" weapons were not such, as the famous shurikens that practically do not appear in any shinobi.manual It should be noted that the shurikens were a normal samurai weapon that were well known and used by many families or clans.
In short, the ninja was a spy-scout- arsonist-thief-executor-secret messages specialist... and above all he was a survivor.
Antonio Fernández Rioja
Coordinator of JAPAN NINJUTSU
Natory Ryu representant
Translated: Wilfred German
We want to thank all the people involved in sharing lots of invaluable information about the real path of the Ninja their hard work (Prof. Yamada,Hiroshi Ikeda, Antony Cummins)
This text contains some ideas from the book “In Search of the Ninja” written by Antony Cummins