Ninjutsu (忍術) sometimes used interchangeably with the term ninpō (忍法), is the unconventional methods of war/guerilla warfare practiced by the shinobi (also commonly known as the ninja).
Ninjutsu was developed by groups of people mainly from the Iga Province of Japan. Throughout history the shinobi have been seen as assassins for hire, and have been associated in the public imagination with other activities which are considered criminal by modern standards. Although thought to have come from Chinese expatriates, ninjutsu is believed by its adherents to be of Japanese origin. It is believed to be strongly influenced by the strategic principles of Sun Tzu. Throughout history many different schools (or ryū) were developed which taught their unique version of ninjutsu. An example of these is the Togakure-ryū. This ryū was developed after a defeated samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure escaped to the region of Iga. Later he came in contact with the warrior-monk Kain Doshi who taught him a new way of viewing life and the means of survival (ninjutsu).
Ninjutsu was developed as a collection of fundamental survivalist techniques in the warring state of feudal Japan. The ninja clans used their art to ensure their survival in a time of violent political turmoil. It also included methods of gathering information, non-detection, avoidance, and misdirection techniques. Ninjutsu can also involve training in disguise, escape, concealment, archery, medicine, explosives, and poisons.
Although the popular view is that ninjutsu is the art of secrecy or stealth, actual practitioners consider it to mean the art of enduring - enduring all of life's hardships. The word nin carries both these meanings. To avoid misunderstandings, "ninjutsu" should just refer to a specific branch of Japanese martial arts, unless it is being used in a historical sense.
18 Ninjutsu Skills (Ninja Jūhakkei)EditAccording to Bujinkan members, the eighteen disciplines (jūhakkei < jūhachi-kei) were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū and they became definitive for all ninjutsu schools, providing a complete training of the warrior in various fighting arts and complementary disciplines.
Ninja jūhakkei was often studied along with Bugei Jūhappan (the "18 samurai fighting art skills"). Though some of them are the same, the techniques of each discipline were used with different approaches by both samurai and ninja.
The 18 disciplines are:
- Seishin-teki kyōyō (spiritual refinement)
- Taijutsu (unarmed combat, using one's body as the only weapon)
- Kenjutsu (sword fighting)
- Bōjutsu (stick and staff fighting)
- Shurikenjutsu (throwing shuriken)
- Sōjutsu (spear fighting)
- Naginatajutsu (naginata fighting)
- Kusarigamajutsu (kusarigama fighting)
- Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics and explosives)
- Hensōjutsu (disguise and impersonation)
- Shinobi-iri (stealth and entering methods)
- Bajutsu (horsemanship)
- Sui-ren (water training)
- Bōryaku (military strategy)
- Chōhō (espionage)
- Intonjutsu (escaping and concealment)
- Tenmon (meteorology)
- Chi-mon (geography)
In recent times the espionage techniques of ninjutsu are rarely focused on, since they serve little purpose to the bulk of modern populations, and tend to attract negative publicity and students with unrealistic expectations.
- Essence of Ninjutsu by Masaaki Hatsumi (ISBN 0-8092-4724-0)
- Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi (ISBN 0-86568-027-2)
- Ninpo: Wisdom for Life by Masaaki Hatsumi (ISBN 1-58776-206-4 or 0972773800)
- The Ninja and their Secret Fighting Art by Stephen K. Hayes (ISBN 0-8048-1656-5)
- Discussion on historical ninjutsu listed by the Koryu school from the Internet Archive
- Technical Resource Website with Ninjutsu content
- Ninpo: Wisdom for Life by Masaaki Hatsumi
- Article on Koga ryu ninjutsu listed by Bujinkan Wako Dojo
- AKBAN-Wiki - The Largest Ninjutsu Encyclopedia
- Ninjutsu - Budo Taijutsu; inc. FAQ & links directory
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