Learn what a "ninja" is, the history of its origin and how to become as fast and agile as the secret warriors of Japan. If you translate the word "ninja" literally, it means "scout". However, there is another semantic connotation - "to endure or endure." The name of the most mysterious martial art in the history of mankind comes from these concepts. Ninjutsu is the art of espionage that many modern intelligence agencies would envy. Around the ninja, there are a lot of myths, inspired by the fantasy of filmmakers. Let's find out what this art really is and whether it is possible to conduct ninja training at home.
What is Ninjutsu?
Ninja training was conducted in high secrecy. These fighters were subjected to serious physical and psychological stress during the training. As a result, they could masterfully wield any type of weapon of their era, overcome the most impregnable obstacles, confront a large number of enemies at the same time and, if necessary, die without saying a word.
These medieval spies sold their art to anyone with a fortune. However, the ninja had their own code of honor, which they strictly followed and could die for their idea. According to the available historical information, the ninja were ranked as a lower caste, but at the same time the samurai were feared and respected. In those days, Japan was fragmented into small states that were constantly at war with each other. It is quite obvious that in such a situation the demand for excellent saboteurs and spies was greater.
It is quite obvious that it is simply impossible to repeat ninja training at home. This is due at least to the fact that even scientists do not have sufficient knowledge about the ninja. Their clans were closed to outsiders, and it was impossible to penetrate the secrets of ninjutsu. Thanks to cinema, at one time many dreamed of starting to conduct ninja training at home. However, it is not enough to sew a black kimono with a mask.
Let's return all the same to the facts that are known to us. Historians suggest that the separation of the social stratum of the ninja proceeded simultaneously with the formation of the samurai class. However, their paths were also very similar. However, it is worth considering the fact that samurai squads began to be created in the northeastern regions of the Land of the Rising Sun from commoners.
Not all of them could afford to continue to live legally and it is likely that ninja clans began to form from them. Gradually, the power of the samurai increased and, as a result, they took a dominant position in society. It is quite obvious that the scattered ninja clans could not oppose anything to this. They have never represented a serious military or political force, despite all their skill.
Some Japanese historians suggest that the ninja were agricultural warriors. They agree that they had a lot in common with the samurai at the initial stage of their formation. However, in the 8-12 centuries (Heian era), the rulers considered hired saboteurs a dangerous social element. As a result, local rulers made periodic raids on ninja settlements.
According to the evidence found by archaeologists, ninja bases were located throughout the country. However, the only major bases, or, if you prefer, centers of the ninjutsu movement, were the forested environs of Kyoto, as well as the mountainous regions of Koga and Iga. From 1192 to 1333, ninja settlements were often replenished with ronin, who lost their masters in numerous civil wars.
But at a certain point this process stopped, as the clans of free spies grew and turned into real secret organizations, loyalty to which was sealed with blood and oath. All these communities gradually began to preach a unique martial art. In the 17th century area, according to Japanese historians, there were about seven dozen ninja clans. Against their background, two stood out - Koga-ryu, and also Iga-ryu.
They passed on their secret martial art from generation to generation. Since the ninja clans were not part of the feudal structure of medieval Japan, they created their own hierarchy. The community was ruled by the Zenin, a military-cleric elite. There were times when they controlled several clans at once.
The next step in the hierarchy was occupied by representatives of the middle management - the tunin. They carried out the orders of the elite and were also responsible for training genin (rank and file performers). Although there is little objective information about the ninja, the names of several clan leaders have survived in history - Fujibayashi Nagato, Hattori Hanzo and Momochi Sandayu.
Note that the position of the clan elite and the middle ranks varied depending on the community. Let's say the Koga clan was ruled by representatives of 50 Tunin families. Each of them, in turn, ruled 30–40 genin families. Things were different in the Iga clan, which was ruled by only three Zenin families. It is quite obvious that the well-being of the entire community was directly dependent on secrecy. To solve this problem, ordinary performers knew nothing about the leadership. Often they even had no idea who the order was from. If the ninja were forced to work in several groups, then the communication was carried out thanks to intermediaries.
Ninjutsu is not only the dashing fights that we are familiar with from the cinema. In fact, everything was not so romantic. Each clan recruited informers for itself, created venues and shelters. These questions were in charge of the Tunin. However, the conclusion of agreements with the feudal lords was in the jurisdiction of the Zenin, who then distributed the received remuneration.
From the films, we are familiar with the activities of the genin, who performed all the rough work. Of course, it was not without fiction. If representatives of the middle rank were captured, then they had a good chance to avoid death for the ransom. The Ganin could not count on this, and in the event of capture they would face a painful end.
The samurai were true to their code and never tortured noble captives. Very rarely did they torture commoners. But ninjas were outcasts to them. Although it was extremely rare to capture a spy in black, but if this happened, then the samurai showed all their sadistic cruelty during interrogations.
Ninja training at home: the rules
We have already said that ninjutsu was a secret martial art. Only this fact suggests that it is simply impossible to conduct real ninja training at home. Now we will tell you about how this happened in practice, based on a few historical documents.
In each clan, the training of new spies began from infancy. Parents could not influence anything, since the career and the whole future life depended on the child's abilities. If a fighter demonstrated excellent skills in his field, then he could become a tunin. Agree, this is much better than being a simple performer, constantly risking his life for a pittance.
Already from the cradle of the child, they began to prepare a spy for the future life. The wicker cradle was hung in the corner and rocked much more than was required to rock the baby. As a result, she hit the walls. At first, the child was afraid and cried, but gradually he adapted and at the right moments curled up into a ball.
When the baby grew up a little, he was taken out of the cradle and hung up so that when he touched the wall he could not only group, but also push off. To develop the art of defense in the baby, a large and soft ball was rolled on him. The instinct of self-preservation forced the child to raise the handles for protection. Gradually, children began to like this game.
To develop the vestibular apparatus and muscles of the child, he was spun in different planes and forced to stand on the palms of the parent. In some clans, children began to swim as early as a year. Such training made it possible to develop coordination of movements, and when the child got used to the water, he could dive to great depths and hold his breath for a long period of time.
From the age of two, training became more difficult. At first, the babies were actively developing the reaction, and then they taught the breathing technique. Note that breathing played a big role in ninjutsu, and in this, ninja art is very reminiscent of wushu. Chinese martial arts schools also actively practiced training according to the "heaven-earth-man" system. When the baby began to feel confident in the water and on the ground, it was the turn of the next stage of the training, designed to teach him how to overcome various obstacles.
During the training of the spy in black, great importance was attached to the jumping technique. Documents have survived that describe how ninjas jumped into the water from great heights and survived. To successfully land from a height of eight or more meters, it was necessary to master a special technique of somersaults. Also, it was necessary to take into account the characteristics of the soil.
You probably remember how ninja quickly moved across the ceiling in the movies. It seems incredible, but in practice it was. However, one should remember about one nuance - in medieval Japan, there were practically no smooth ceilings in houses. They were decorated with rafters and exposed embossed beams. It was along them with the help of cats that the ninja moved. Likewise, spies could climb up the walls of buildings.
Long-distance races were actively used to train endurance. However, the route was not easy. Camouflaged traps were set up along the entire route. The ninja's task was to find them and then overcome them.
To enter the victim's home, the warrior had to move silently. For this, various kinds of steps were used. When ninja acted in a group, they moved one after another to keep their numbers unknown. No matter how the spy moved, he had to be able to economically use energy and control his breathing.
From 4 or 5 years old, children began to learn the skills of hand-to-hand combat, and then the use of weapons. In order to reduce the susceptibility to pain, various techniques were used during the training of warriors. Needless to say, children quickly began to prepare for survival in any conditions. With the help of special techniques, the acuity of all the senses was brought to perfection. Each clan had its own training systems, although many were similar. As you can see, the art of ninjutsu must be learned from the cradle. However, if you wish, you can conduct ninja training at home. At the very least, you will be able to improve your physical fitness.
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