Secrets of the Ninja: Their Training, Tools, and Techniques

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9780972312417: Secrets of the Ninja: Their Training, Tools, and Techniques
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Now you see them, now you don't. With over 300 color illustrations, this is a fun introduction to the lifestyles of the deadly and invisible. Modern-day Ninja experts let you in on their centuries-old techniques for meditation, stealth, and generally fighting dirty, as well as the homes, codes, and workouts of Japan's legendary spy elite. You'll even learn what they eat and how they unwind after a tough day of espionage. Peek inside a Ninja's toolbox and discover the ingenious tricks of the trade, like laying traps, hiding in plain sight, and of course, making a clean getaway.

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About the Author:

Director of the Iga Sect Ninja Association, Kurondo, Hiromitsu Kuroi teaches the true nature of ninja in writing and performances throughout Japan, China, and Australia.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction by Hiromitsu Kuroi

I'd like to think that not only has my work with the Iga Ninja Sect Association, Kurondo, found a wide audience, but it has given me a deeper understanding of the ninja world. But I must admit that much of what I know of ninjutsu, the art of the ninja, has come from meeting Jinichi Kawakami, who's known as the "last ninja." Kawakami is the 21st Bando of the Koka Ninja Sect, and even today he follows the practices passed down to him through the many generations. These include a daily five-hour regimen of mental and physical exercises, and a strict ninja diet, which has at its core the soybean curd, tofu. It's with him in mind that I want to teach the world what it really meant to be a ninja.

To do this, I organize ninja shows and workshops for Kurondo, and in the course of my work have toured Singapore, China and Australia. On these travels I have often been asked such questions as, "What dan are ninja?" It seems that outside Japan, the way of the ninja is thought to be a form of martial art, something like karate or judo. But ninja have no dan or level, and there are, unfortunately, no black or brown belts. What I hope to do in this introduction is to illustrate the many facets of the ninja tradition.

Although the actual beginnings of ninjutsu have been lost in time, let's try and begin at the roots. The earliest records we have can be found in the 6th century text, Ninjutsu Hisho Ogi-den, which describes a man known as Otomono Hosori. He is believed to have served the legendary figure Shotoku Taishi, who was said to possess, among other talents, the ability to hear and answer questions simultaneously from ten different people. It is thought that the ninja Otomono Hosori in fact found out the questions beforehand and prepared the answers for his "gifted" master.

The ninja would have to wait almost another 1,000 years before they gained the notoriety that they have today. In the 15th century, Japan was thrown into turbulence when military factions across the country rose up against the emperor, ushering in nearly a century of wars that came to be known as the era of Warring States.

Although the tenets of ninjutsu changed little over the centuries, the ninja's work varied considerably depending on the period. To clearly understand the breadth of these assignments, we must look at the Warring States era. It was then that the practices of ninjutsu became clearly defined, and when the ninja, as a distinct force alongside troops in the field, were most active. Each daimyo, or feudal lord, retained a unit of 40 to 50 ninja, although in some cases the number reached as high as 200. According to the task in hand, the required number of men would be called up and sent out before battle to infiltrate enemy lines, spread false rumors, and establish links with possible turn-coats. When fighting broke out, the ninja took to arson, setting ablaze the enemy's castles and fortifications. If a castle stubbornly resisted this onslaught, they would burrow underneath and then charge in to wreak havoc. On these escapades, they worked mostly in groups, risking their lives in daredevil feats which we'd associate today with elite units like the Green Berets. Their work was on a contract basis, and although the money was good, when the battle was over they returned to their quiet village lives, raising families and tending the fields.

With the onset of the Edo era, peace was finally restored. Not surprisingly, this cessation of hostilities wasn't particularly welcomed by the ninja -- constant war was a lucrative source of income. To survive, many became spies for the Bakufu government or bodyguards to the country's daimyo, an image that persists in TV dramas and movies to this day. But Japan was changing, and the ninja still had their part to play. As firearms became commonplace, gun-toting ninja squads were established. When the Commodore Perry arrived in 1853, the ninja were sent in to pry inside his ship. Records of what they found survive today. The ninja, though a part of the samurai, were in the lowest class. In the warrior class, where name meant everything, the ninja were looked down upon as "those without sound, without smell, without name." As this snub suggests, the ninja, whose secret activities were instrumental in changing the course of Japanese history, would remain forever in the shadows...

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