Shinobi, also known as Ninja, was a secret martial organization that inhabited the provinces of Iga and Koga in Japan. They were known for their infiltration skills in feudal Japan of the fourteenth century. They provided services in exchange for payment, and their work involved espionage, murder, sabotage, among others. They were isolated and lived a kind of counterculture of the time.
The places where they lived were of difficult access and became a refuge for Chinese and Korean refugees of the wars, as well as of old clan of samurais. This gave these ninja families an extremely syncretic culture. Ninjas were more effective in infiltrations (traps, concealed weapons, intelligence) than in open field combat, contrary to popular belief. The ninja philosophy of life was called Ninpo (Ninjutsu), involving adaptation, freedom and iron perseverance as basic principles.
Read further for top 10 facts about Ninjas history and their existence.
1 Ninjas Weapons
The ninja swords are known as Ninja tokens. They were suitably adapted to their techniques. The Ninja used to have the straight blade, smaller than a Katana (samurai sword). This size and shape allowed more use to the body, easier hiding and transport. It was not always common to use only this type of equipment, as the shinobi katana was a very popular weapon at the time.
In addition to the swords, the ninjas also used various other equipment and weapons, like the Kawanaga, or grab hook, to overcome walls and the like. Stick, spear, chain and other exotic weapons too were on the list. Some schools used Kemuridama smoke bombs to facilitate their escape. Shakens (or shurikens), the well-known “ninja stars”, were also widely used.
2 Ninjas Uniforms
The Shinobi Shozoku, or ninja uniform, had the function of camouflaging the ninja in the environment. It facilitated invisibility. The ninja uniform was not totally black as many people think, because black stands out even at night. The most common colours were navy blue, dark brown, and other dark shades, since the ninjas used to work at night. The ninjas also wore disguises of peasants, fishermen, etc. in order to facilitate their work as a spy.
3 Ninja Women
There were ninja women, named Kunoichi. They had several characteristic advantages, the main one being the use of seduction (kisha) as a weapon. In addition to their combat training with their male companions, they also received training in the art of seduction, the art of making and applying poisons, and use of the Tessen (fan) with metal blades, as well as those of the swords.
They were fighting or seducing men of high political power; with seduction they were able to get the information they needed. The ninjas generally sought to defend their lands and their families from feudal landlord interests. However, some Shinobi clans worked as mercenaries and some alliances with feudal lords occurred, according to the political interests of the moment.
4 Ninja Techniques
Among the many techniques of Ninjutsu are the art of invisibility, unarmed and armed struggle, pressure of vital points (which could lead the opponent to Unbearable pains or even death), escape techniques, methods of walking silently, climbing obstacles, fighting in the water, poisoning, hypnosis, flexibility training of joints, and costume art. The Costume Art involved drama techniques which enabled the ninja to pass through other people.
5 Ninja’s First Appearance
In spite of the 3000 year tradition, the first ninja appeared in Japan in the 6th century. Their presence continued until the Meiji Era in the 19th century. With them, the use of these agents as spies was gradually diminishing and entering in the mists of history. It reborn later, as, during the Russo-Nipponese War in 1905 and in the period that marks the Second World War (1939-1945).
An important record is that while the samurai still sought to understand the efficiency of the firearms brought to Japan by the Portuguese, the ninjas suddenly already included these weapons in their arsenal and began to use them in their operations, through the intermediary of Chinese and Japanese pirates.
6 Ninja In Military And Police
It is a fact that the ninjas, with the Meiji Restoration, have been integrated into Japan’s military and police forces, and this is happening today, not only in Japan, but throughout the world. With this, Ninjutsu is already a martial art scattered around the planet and used on a large scale by state agencies that need silence and efficiency in their operations.
7 Ninja In Japanese Entertainment
The ninja universe is still a constant theme in the Japanese entertainment industry, being exploited in games, manga and anime. Of course, what fascinates most of these formidable warriors is the millenarian mystery that surrounds them.
8 Myths About Ninjas
Some historical myths flood the air with their incredible abilities. Ninjutsu, the martial art they practice, is just like any other. So the ninjas are nothing like the supernatural warriors we see in the movies. But still the story often explains why some myths have come up over the years.
# Ninjas are just a myth – In fact, ninjas and their art date back 800 years. The families of ninjas created their fighting style to protect themselves from warriors, often even the famous samurai.
# Ninjas can stop a sword using their hands – This isn’t entirely true. The ninja method is to deflect sword attacks and use them to their advantage, without even getting close to the weapon. In movies, the ninja manages to stop a sword attack by joining his hands and preventing the blade from moving. Apparently, a ninja can stop a sword using claws and other weapons, but not with bare hands.
# The Ninjas’ uniform is black and they always wear masks – that’s completely false. These days, modern ninjas who work as bodyguards will wear a suit, or similar clothing. Ninjas started wearing masks probably 800 years ago when they needed to hide in trees. A ninja wearing a mask is no different from a soldier who uses green paint to camouflage himself. It all depends on the environment in which he is hiding.
# Ninjas can disappear – The scene is typical of movies. A cloud of smoke covers the ninja, and in the next second he is no longer there. This myth comes from the maximum ninja flee. If a ninja can avoid combat, he will do so. To achieve his goal, he can create a distraction, such as throwing shurikens or using one of the typical smoke bombs. When the opponent concentrates back into the fight, recovering from the distraction, the ninja has already fled. There is no magic at all – just common sense.
# Ninjas can kill with just a touch – This myth is not far from the truth. This type of technique is taught only to the more advanced students who would not need to use it. In fact, there are a lot of ringtones that can kill a person – it all depends on the pressure used on them. However fundamental pressure point techniques are taught to students early in their learning. The less experienced ninjas can stun a person, if they tighten a particular region of the throat or their eyes. These stitches cause great pain when pressed correctly. There are also other techniques, less beautiful, that may be useful to ninjas. Twisting the opponent’s nipples, for example, can leave an attacker defenseless in seconds.
# Ninjutsu is the name of a type of fighting – Infact, ninjutsu means the art of stealing and perseverance. It is formed more of strategies and tactics than of fighting, like other martial arts.
# Ninjas exclusively used only ancient Japanese weapons – They actually use ancient weapons, but not exclusively. And many of the weapons that are considered old are not – they are adaptations of older models, but they are still updated. Note that in the list of ninja disciplines the item Kayakujustsu represents the use of gunpowder. Long ago ninjas use this device in their favour, whether to create smoke or even destructive bombs.
# Ninjas need to be strong and fast – In fact, the true scheme of ninjutsu is to use your body the right way, whether you are thin, fat, tall, short, strong or weak. It’s all about knowing the effect you can bring on the opponent by moving as he can. And there is no need for speed. Being calm, it is possible to dominate your attacker
9 Famous Ninjutsu Techniques To Attack And Hide
Mokuton means tree use. The ninja hides behind logs or shakes branches to divert the opponent’s attention.
Suiton is the use of water. The warrior can be submerged for several hours, breathing through thin bamboo pipes, or distracting the enemy with the noise of the water.
Doton is the use of soil and stones. Rock formations or holes in the ground are used to hide. The dark clothes, not to be noticed, made the ninjas known as warriors of the shadows.
Kinton is the use of metal to overshadow the vision of the enemy by reflecting bright lights or distracting him with noises.
Katon is the use of fire. The attention of the opponent is diverted by means of pyrotechnic tricks or gunpowder smoke
Hand-to-hand combat is called by jutaijutsu ninjas. When attacking, they always try to disarm the enemy. During the fight, the objective is to hit the vital points or to break the bones of the opponents
10 The Most Fearsome Combat Weapons Of The Ninja
# Aikuchi – The Aikuchi is a Tanto without a tsuba (crosspiece). Due to the short blade, Aikuchi and Tanto are more often referred to as “dagger” or “knife”. They are very effective at close range or in the fight on the ground and served to hurl as well. Smaller Aikuchi such as the Kaiken and other easily occult-able blade weapons were very popular for the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and ninja-women as an emergency weapon or suicide.
# Ashiko – The Ashiko were claws of iron or steel consisting of a metal strip with spikes 4 normally alternately placed above and below the metal strip. They were worn on the feet and this helped the Ninja to climb faster and more effectively. It could also be used in conjunction with the Shuko. They could also be used in a fight, kicking with the Ashiko placed.
# Bo Shuriken – This is a cylindrical, angular or circular dart about 10cm to 15cm long (usually), which arms manually. The Ninja could use poisons at the darts, so that when they hit the opponent, the poison enters the bloodstream and affects or kill him. These darts can also be used on the inside of the hand to aid in hand-to-hand combat, hitting the opponent at several key points.
# Fukibari – Fukibari are very thin darts of wood or steel 2/3 inches (5.08cm to 7.61cm) long. They are usually shot through a blowpipe, but can be hidden inside the mouth, under the tongue or the sky of the mouth. It can be fired at a short distance from the opponent by curling a U-shaped tongue and exhaling suddenly. It is said that there were several Ninja clans that used this technique as a surprise attack.
# Hira-shuriken – Hira-shuriken is a flat blade that usually has more than three points. They are known as ninja stars in the West, usually with three to eight points. They are also known only by Shuriken, the most popular name for these blades, or Shaken. They are ancient weapons that were used to distract enemies, when thrown, with the reflection of light. They could cause the opponent to pay attention to something else, or cause minor cuts and injuries and cause an interruption In the opponent’s movement, thus opening a “window of time” to attack lethally with another medium. The Ninja could also use poisons on the blades to gain advantage.
# Katana – A Katana is a Japanese saber/sword. Surging in the Muromachi Period, it was the standard weapon of the samurai and also of the Ninja for the practice of kenjutsu, the art of handling the sword. It has only one side and the blade is slightly curved. It was traditionally used by the samurai, accompanied by the wakizashi. The katana was used in the open field, while the wakizashi was used for combat inside buildings.
The Katana was much more than a weapon to a samurai. To him it was the extension of his body, his mind and was considered to be his soul to himself, a way of doing justice and helping people. The sword was worked entirely by hand and surpassed its material sense; symbolically, it was like an instrument, capable of cutting the impurities of the mind.
# Kodachi – The Kodachi is a sword of intermediate size between the Wakizashi and Katana. In the case of the ninja version of this weapon, the blade is straight. It is used mainly for defence because its reduced size (59cm) doubles its speed in relation to bigger swords, although it does not provide a good attack. Kodachi has a blade fold slightly larger than Wakizashi and slightly lighter. Some practitioners use two kodachi simultaneously to fight, mixing techniques with other martial arts styles such as Karate, Judo and more often Kenpo.
# Kubotan – The Kubotan is a weapon used in various martial arts. The handling of Kubotan is practiced mainly in Ninjutsu, Krav Maga, Kobudo, Modern Arnis and Ju-Jutsu. It is a short taco, used as a pressure intensifier. A Kubotan is a few inches longer than the width of the user’s hand so as to protrude from both sides of an enclosed wrist.
Most Kubotan are 13 to 15 cm in length and 1 to 2.5cm thick, depending on the material. Many are also provided with grooves to get better. Some specimens are pointed or rounded at the tips. They are usually made of aluminium, wood or synthetic material. The origin of this weapon is debatable. Among other possibilities it is supposed originating in the Philippines or Japan. The techniques practiced with it can be reproduced with any rigid object of similar shape and size, such as a pen, a hair clip, etc.
# Kunai – The Kunai is a ninja weapon that consists of an iron blade with a large hole in the base (or may not have hole) for a tie strings. The original one in Japan was aimed to pitch with or without rope in order to wound the enemy at a distance. Much used by ninjas in assassinations. Kunai is a very effective weapon and can be used for various purposes. The ninjas used it for pitch, to serve as a kind of climbing pins, to make trap, or as a kind of spatula or shovel to dig, etc.
# Kusari Fund – Kusari-Fund is a very weapon used in feudal Japan consisting of a chain of links with weight attached to each end of the chain. There are several sizes and shapes of links and weights, as there were no definite rules for the construction of these weapons. Other popular names are Manriki-Gusari meaning “ten thousand food chains” or just Manriki or Kusari.
# Kusarigama – The kusarigama is a traditional Japanese weapon that consists of kama (the Japanese equivalent of a scythe) with a long chain (2 to 4 meters long, according to the purpose) attached to the cable and a weight of steel at the other end of the chain. Kusarigama is a derivative of a farmer’s scythe, and was often used as a weapon by farmers during the feudal era of Japan.
It is important to note that these farmers did not use Kusarigama. His purpose as a weapon was very evident, very different from a scythe, and could not be taught openly. The art of handling Kusarigama is called Kusarigamajutsu. The kusarigama kanji means: kusari (鎖) = current and kama (鎌) = sickle.
# Kyogetsu-Shogue – The Kyogetsu-shoge is a weapon that has a double-edged straight blade with another curved blade protruding an angle of 45º to 60º. At the base of the rope, a thin rope about 3.5m to 5.5m is attached (could also be a chain) and at the other end of the rope is a wide ring of iron or wood. It is thought that this weapon was developed as a derivative of Kusarigama.
Being a weapon almost exclusively used by the Ninja, the Kyogetsu-Shogue had many useful applications. The blades were used for cutting or stocking, since the techniques used were similar to those used for Kusarigama. The rope or chain could be used to help climb, imprison an opponent and many other purposes.
The long range allowed trapping the opponent and his movements, and then obtaining cutting power at a safe distance. With good training and skill, this weapon could be used to wind the rope to a sword and pluck it from the opponent’s hands, leaving him unarmed and even catching and attacking him with his own sword.
# Matsuba-Gata Shuriken – As the name suggests (Matsuba-Gata Shuriken), this is a Shuriken which has the form of a swallowtail. It is also known as Enbi-Gata Shuriken (Shuriken-shaped pine). It belongs to the class of Hira-Shuriken (Shurikens of flat form) or Shaken.
# Metsubushi – Metsubushi means to “destroy the eyes.” It is used in conjunction with a Ninja technique used to temporarily blind or disorient an opponent, either to defend or facilitate escape, using a certain type of powder that is thrown into the eyes. Over time, various mixtures have been tested to make Metsubushi, such as gunpowder, sulphur, pepper, stones, ash, poisons, among others.
The mission, according to the character and purpose, defined the powder to be used. As a current example, police and special operations groups use flashbang grenades, CS gas and pepper gas for the same purpose as Metsubushi in their techniques and tactics: disorienting, confusing, blocking or distracting potential threats.
Another example of Metsubushi that we can use in modern times will be water, hot coffee, soil picked up from the ground, etc. Basically, Metsubushi is anything that temporarily disables the opponent’s vision. In ancient times, the Metsubushi was also sometimes blown by a Fukiya (blowpipe).
# Neko-Te – The Neko-Te was usually used by Kunoichi (female-ninja). This weapon consisted of pointed nails of iron or steel that was attached to the fingertips with a small band of leather. It gave an effect of animal claws and increased the effects of an attack with the hands, through the cuts they inflicted on the opponent’s skin. These weapons could also be soaked in powerful poisons. The ideal and preferred zone to attack with the Neko-Te is the eye.
# Shuko – Shuko or Tekagi-Shuko was one of many kakushi buki (concealed weapons) used by Ninja. They were adapted from the bagh nakh, an Indian weapon with similar characteristics and functionalities. It consists of a metal band that is used around the hand, and which is attached around the wrist with two strips of leather arranged perpendicularly.
The metal band has 4 (usually) curved spikes that are used in the palm of the hand and have various defensive, offensive and other purposes. The metal band itself could be used to defend a sword stroke. It could catch the blade with one or both hands, trapping the blade between the spikes and disarming the adversary suddenly, plucking the sword from the Hands and could then counterattack with the curved spikes on the opponent’s face or on the forearms, where the iron or steel spikes would tear the skin, the flesh and some important blood vessels of the adversary.
This weapon literally symbolized the lethal power of a ferocious tiger or a panther. It was also used as an aid in climbing, pinning the spikes, and could be used in conjunction with the Ashiko spikes. The use of this weapon is still taught today by the Togakure-Ryu of Masaaki Hatsumi, the Jinenkan of Manaka Unsui, Genbukan of Tanemura and a few more traditional Ninjutsu schools.
# Tekko – The Tekko (iron hand) originated in Okinawa, Japan. It is basically a ratoon in the Japanese version. The weapon increases the mass and weight of the hand, exponentially increasing the effect of a punch.
# Tessen – The tessen was a war fan with full iron or steel frame and was called war of range. The technique used with the Tessen is called Tessenjutsu and was considered a martial ability especially of movement, fluidity and grace. The range was a symbol of authority in Japan, and the Tessen was not only a common fan, but also a self-defense weapon when its bearer was unarmed from another weapon for some reason. These fans were forged with pointed and sharp iron rays. They were more durable, more resilient, and cheaper to build.
# Tetsubushi – The Tetsubishi are sharp objects with three or more sharp edges. As they fall on the ground, they always remain with one end facing up, having a stable base (thus a tetrahedron) and are left Falling on the floor to slow down a pursuer. They were widely used by the Ninja and have the great advantage of being easy to use and requiring no elaborate techniques. They could also serve to delay pursuers who were on horseback. They correspond to the European strains.