|Also known as||Ninjitsu, Ninpō, Shinobi-jutsu|
|Country of origin||Japan|
Ninjutsu (忍術?) sometimes used interchangeably with the modern term ninpō (忍法?) is the strategy and tactics of unconventional warfare and guerrilla warfare as well as the art of espionage purportedly practiced by the shinobi (commonly known outside of Japan as ninja).[page needed] Ninjutsu was more an art of tricks than a martial art. Ninjutsu was a separate discipline in some traditional Japanese schools, which integrated study of more conventional martial arts along with shurikenjutsu, kenjutsu, sojutsu, bōjutsu, battlefield grappling kumi-uchi (an old form of jujutsu) and others.
While there are several styles of modern ninjutsu, the historical lineage of these styles is disputed. Some schools and masters claim to be the only legitimate heir of the art, but ninjutsu is not centralized like modernized martial arts such as judo or karate. Togakure-ryū claims to be the oldest recorded form of ninjutsu, and claims to have survived past the 1500s.
Spying in Japan dates as far back as Prince Shōtoku (572–622), although the origins of the Ninja date much earlier. According to Shōninki, the first open usage of ninjutsu during a military campaign was in the Genpei War, when Minamoto no Kuro Yoshitsune chose warriors to serve as shinobi during a battle; this manuscript goes on to say that, during the Kenmu era, Kusunoki Masashige used ninjutsu frequently. According to footnotes in this manuscript, the Genpei War lasted from 1180 to 1185, and the Kenmu Restoration occurred between 1333 and 1336. Ninjutsu was developed by groups of people mainly from the Iga Province and Kōka, Shiga of Japan. Throughout history the shinobi have been seen as assassins, scouts and spies who were hired mostly by territorial lords known as the Daimyo. They conducted operations that the samurai were forbidden to partake in. They are mainly noted for their use of stealth and deception. Throughout history many different schools (ryū) have taught their unique versions 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 used their art to ensure their survival in a time of violent political turmoil. Ninjutsu included methods of gathering information, and techniques of non-detection, avoidance, and misdirection. Ninjutsu can also involve training in free running, disguise, escape, concealment, archery, and medicine.[page needed]
Skills relating to espionage and assassination were highly useful to warring factions in feudal Japan. These persons were literally called "non-humans" (非人 hinin?). At some point the skills of espionage became known collectively as ninjutsu, and the people who specialized in these tasks were called shinobi no mono.
The eighteen skills
According to Bujinkan members, Ninja Jūhakkei ("the eighteen disciplines") were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū. They became definitive for all ninjutsu schools.
Ninja jūhakkei was often studied along with Bugei Jūhappan (the "eighteen samurai fighting art skills"). Though some are used in the same way by both samurai and ninja, other techniques were used differently by the two groups (ninja martial arts was adaptation to surprise attacks at night, in the back or ambush and at espionage to stun the enemy for escape in case of detection). Ninja fought in the lack of space (thicket bush in the forest, narrow corridors and low rooms locks).
The 18 disciplines are:
- Seishinteki kyōyō – spiritual refinement
- Taijutsu – unarmed combat
- Kenjutsu – sword techniques
- Bōjutsu – stick and staff techniques
- Sōjutsu – spear techniques
- Naginatajutsu – naginata techniques
- Kusarigamajutsu – kusarigama techniques
- Shurikenjutsu – throwing weapons techniques
- Kayakujutsu – pyrotechnics
- Hensōjutsu – disguise and impersonation
- Shinobi-iri – stealth and infiltration
- Bajutsu – horsemanship
- Sui-ren – water training
- Bōryaku – tactics
- Chōhō – espionage
- Intonjutsu – escaping and concealment
- Tenmon – meteorology
- Chi-mon – geography
The name of the discipline of taijutsu (体術?), literally means "body skill" or "body art". Historically, the word taijutsu is often (in Japan) used interchangeably with jujutsu (as well as many other terms) to refer to a range of grappling skills. The term is also used in the martial art of aikido to distinguish the unarmed fighting techniques from other (e.g., stick fighting) techniques. In ninjutsu, especially since the emergence of the ninja movie genre in the '80s, it is also used to avoid the undesired bravado of explicitly referring to ninja combat techniques.
Weapons and equipment
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2011)|
The following tools may not be exclusive to the ninja, but they are commonly associated with the practice of ninjutsu.
Composite and articulated weapons
- Kusarigama - kama linked to a weight, either by a long rope or chain
- Kyoketsu shoge - hooked rope-dart, featuring a metal ring on the opposite end
- Bō - 3' (Han Bō), 4', 5' (Jō) and 6' (Rokushakubō) wooden pole techniques. (Not actually measured in feet but in 'shaku')
- Kusari-fundo, also known as manriki or manriki-gusari - a chain and weight weapon.
- Kakute - rings resembling modern wedding bands with concealed, often poison-tipped spines, typically worn by kunoichi and enabling ninja to quietly strangle enemies with the pointed ends against the neck or throat
- Shobo - a jabbing or piercing weapon, similar in shape to kubotan and yawara, but often featuring a center grip ring
- Shuriken - various small hand held weapons including "throwing stars" that could be used to stab, slash or they could be thrown
- Bo-Shuriken - spike shaped projectiles thrown straight into target. Can improvise with steel pens or large nails, any spike shaped object.
- Kubotan - or "hand stick". Used mainly for pressure points, subduing opponents.
- Tekko - an earlier version of brass knuckles
- Tessen - a folding fan with an iron frame. it could be used to club, or cut and slash the enemy
- Jutte - A weapon similar to the Sai
Modified tool weapons
- Kunai - multi-purpose tool
- Shikoro - used as a tool for opening doors and stabbing or slashing
- Fukiya - Japanese blowgun, typically firing poison darts
- Makibishi/tetsubishi - the Japanese type of caltrop
- Shuriken - various small hand held weapons including throwing stars and throwing darts that could be used to stab, slash or they could be thrown
- Yumi and Ya - traditional Japanese bow and arrow
- Bo-hiya (Japanese fire arrow) - fire arrow
- Tekagi-shuko and Neko-te - hand "claw" weapons
- Chakrams - disk like projectiles like boomerangs
Staffs and polearms
- Hanbo, bō, jō, and tambo - various sized staff weapons
- Yari - traditional Japanese spear that's similar to the naginata
- Nagamaki - pole arm with roughly equal length blade and handle
- Naginata - traditional Japanese pole-arm used by women and samurai (example: women might protect their home with a naginata)
- Katana - a long curved and single-edged sword, more commonly used by samurai (or ninja disguised as samurai)
- Wakizashi - short sword that can be hidden on the ninja's body, also a backup weapon
- Ninjato - an edged weapon used by ninja as swords. Ninjato can be stolen katana from samurai or forged by ninja themselves with varying lengths. There's some doubt as to whether or not ninja actually used such swords.
- Tantō - dagger
- Kaiken (dagger)- Similar to the tantō
- Bokken - traditional wooden sword use in Japanese martial arts typically modeled off of katanas
- Shinai - bamboo sword used in kendo
- Kaginawa or grappling hook - climbing and Hojojutsu composite tool that also functioned as a makeshift gaff hook weapon
- Shinobi shōzoku - the reputed ninja clothing.
- Ono (weapon) - Japanese axe and hatchet
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