By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Ninjutsu--"the art of stealth, the way of invisibility"
Ninja--"the legendary spies and commandos feudal Japan"
The history of Japan describes the ninjas as the best
combatants who used to be perfectly trained in martial art that
involves strange but effective techniques. Few of the
unconventional methods, which were used by the Ninjas were
stealth, surveillance and disguise.
Deadly combatants, assassins, and spies, the ninjas were the
shadow warriors for hire during the fourteenth through
seventeenth centuries in Japan, a period of eastern history full
of conflict. The philosophy of the ninja was to operate in the
dark, quiet, unseen and unnoticed. They could go where armored
warriors could not, accomplish in secret what greater numbers
could not in the open. Ninjas were consummate fighters, but they
preferred deception to outright violence, charisma to
belligerence, night to day.
The method of “Stealth” originated in Japan approximately at
522 AD. This was linked with the religion and the priests were
the ones to practice this. There was no violence involved and
the priests used to practice this in order to support the ruling
power of that time. At around 645 A.D these priests mastered the
art and realized the need to use it for their self-defense.
Traditionally, ninjas were trained from birth. They learned
to be much aware of the world around them. By five or six,
children's play took the form of training exercises which taught
balance and agility. They learned how to walk without making
noise, to assume disguises that allowed them to blend in with a
crowd, and to scamper across trees and roofs with ease. As they
grew older, these future ninjas began hand-to-hand combat and
eventually weapons training.
According to the historical facts the ninja groups were
developed in small villages or around the elite families. They
were into protecting the residents of the villages and
communities from external enemies. Women had the privilege to
become the Ninjas, like men. While male ninja were called
shinobi, female ninja were called kunoichi. It was said that
female ninja were used to seduce some enemies while also
accomplishing the task of spying on others.
Ninjas had some special weapons and tricks up their sleeves
that were simply inescapable. The actual origin of the Ninja is
not clear. Yet it seemed they evolved as an opposing force to
Some of the weapons of the Ninja were:
- kusari-fundo--an easy to conceal 2-3 foot chain with a
steel weight on both ends used for countering sword
techniques without using a sword.
- kusari-gama--a single-edged blade attached to a wooden
handle with 9-12 feet of chain on the other end.
- shinobi-zue--these canes looked like ordinary walking
sticks, but inside ninjas would conceal a variety of
fighting tools such as knives and daggers, all the way up to
There were various rules decided only for the ninja and they
were kept as secrets. The facts that have been retrieved about
the origin and purposes of the Ninjas are mostly the records
kept by the outsiders who observed and scripted the history.
Even today, ninjas are spoken of with awe and admiration, but
it is good to remember that these men and women were assassins
of the highest order, killing for a price.