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NINJA JITSU
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NINJA JITSU

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The art of Ninjutsu is more than just Martial Art, as it was traditional practise of espionage, reconnaissance, and assassination. Techniques learned in Ninjutsu were said to be utilised by warriors looking to avoid detection in covert operations. Ninjutsu was once about deception and misdirection, as the need to stay hidden was crucial to the survival of ninjas back in feudal Japan. Nowadays the art of Ninjutsu is less about the supernatural and superhuman components, and more about the realistic technical application, and the spiritual embodiment that the art is governed by. The art of Ninjutsu was highlighted by the culmination of many combat Jiu Jitsu techniques that were applied to its core. 

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THE ORIGIN OF NINJUTSU

The history of Ninjutsu dates way back to the early period of 572 when Prince Shotoku first sent ninjas into military operations. In 1180 During the Genpei War, warriors were chosen to serve as Shinobi during the war conflict. This long and heated battle lasted for the best part of 5 years. For the next 150 years, the government was ruled by the military, until Emperor Go Daigo in 1333 overthrew the government in what was called the Kenmu restoration, giving the government back to the civilians. Ninjutsu was developed by the Samurai in the Nanboku Cho period and was evolved periodically throughout history by other groups, including Samurai from the Koka and Iga provinces.

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ninja jiu-jitsu

Over the course of history, the Shinobi were hired as assassins, and spies by many territorial lords known as daimyo. The Shinobi were masters of assassination but were mainly used to gather information and go on reconnaissance missions. The Shinobi were famous for their stealth, and their art of deception, as they would use this concept to avoid detection, and to escape from large groups of enemies. As the centuries rolled on, so did the evolution of Ninjutsu as many schools began to teach unique versions of the art. Civilians were being attacked, so the need to learn ninja Jiu Jitsu street fight maneuvers became comprehensively important. Manuscripts have depicted stories about a defeated Samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure, who created a system of Ninjutsu called Togakure Ryu, after escaping the region of Iga. Daisuke later began working with a warrior Monk named Kain Doshi, who taught him many concepts in life skills and how to survive using the skills of the Ninja.

The art of Ninjutsu was developed as a way for civilians to survive in a state of Japan that was constantly at War. Many of these survival techniques included covert operations, gathering information, and systematic methods of avoiding danger, including misdirection once they were detected. Training in Ninjutsu was done in secret, as they developed techniques in escape, concealment, archery, swordsmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and medicine. The ninjas would utilise their unique skillset in espionage and assassination against two warring factions of Feudal Japan. After a while, the fame of ninjas known as Shinobi would become known to all people in Japan, as many civilians would use them as hired weapons.

THE TRAINING REGIMES OF NINJUTSU

Training in Ninjutsu is a comprehensive system of Martial Arts, as ninjas will become experts in running, jumping, swimming, climbing walls, long-distance hiking, throwing weapons, and various combative forms of hand-to-hand defense systems. Many of their Martial Arts included kendo, Kyoto, naginata do, boxing, wrestling, judo, and jiu-jitsu styles. Ninjas had to excel in all forms of Martial Arts, as their lives were complicated and about survivability. When a child was born into a ninja clan they would begin training as soon as they could walk, as the art was handed down through the generations. Each of these Clans was secretive and closely guarded by other clans. Members of a clan were usually hired by Lords in an attempt to overthrow other Lords. This forced different clans of ninjas to train extensively in new Martial Arts in order to reveal unexpected tricks in the heat of a battle.

Ninjas went through extensive training sessions, usually held in secret camps up in the mountains. Just like Rickson Gracie training his BJJ in MMA techniques in the mountains of Japan. Many of these schools were scattered throughout central Japan, as many provinces did their part to keep them hidden. The traditional Ninjutsu training focused extensively on the use of swords, bows, spears, and many other throwing weapons. They also put in extensive training in wall climbing, river crossing, and the use of special devices. Ninjas were also taught the art of how to ride on horseback, as this was essential to their survivability. It was said that ninjas could walk 350 miles and that they would practise leaning their body forwards, or to one side to enhance their ability to stay balanced. A ninjas training regime also included walking on ice with wooden sandals, as a way to perfect their balance, and practise silent walking. These sandals were cladden with specialised cotton cloth, so a ninja could walk and jump noiselessly. Ninjas would also practise Stealthing around buildings in order to avoid detection and confrontation. Ninjas were also extremely adept at scaling multiple-story buildings, as they practised jumping across rooftops to avoid enemies, such features included jumping over walls, and fences and hopping across rivers. It is said that ninjas could jump 7 feet high in the air, making them extremely incredible athletes.

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MENTAL TRAINING IN NINJUTSU

Training to become a ninja wasn't just about the physical attributes, as it was more about the mental and spiritual aspects, just like in Kenpo Jiujitsu. A ninja would need to be aware of their surroundings at all times to avoid attacks from multiple enemies. Ninjas learned the art of sharpening their own perceptions and harnessing their own insights. This mental training would help ninjas develop an extremely high instinctive ability. Ninjas would be extremely connected to their spiritual aspect as they delved into the realm of the supernatural. Ninjas would practise what could only be described as witchery, which was called the practise of Kuji-Kiri.

The art of Kuji-Kiri was said to be practised by Ninjas and would help them to connect and talk to many different powerful spirits. Many of these spiritual seals and gestures that were practised, would allow Ninjas to be able to perform superhuman acts. The concept of Kuji originated from Taoism, where ninjas would use 9 words in the form of incantations to resurrect a spirit in order to use their power. This art has also been practised in China for centuries and is believed to be used in the practise of spiritual healing and exorcism. The Kuji is directly linked with Taoist mythology and Shinto Kami and was said to use outrageous hand gestures. This practise was then incorporated into two different Martial Arts like Bujutsu and Ninjutsu and is said to be used for many purposes. Using the Kuji would offer practitioners a diverse range of extra tools, like mental concentration, rendering opponents immobile, and even casting magical spells. This notion was passed on into folklore and was told as stories to many Japanese children.

NINJUTSU WEAPONS

Ninjutsu has been known to train extensively with different kinds of weapons. Many of their weapons were used to mame and kill assailants back in feudal Japan. Nowadays the artist practising weaponry, and weapon defense is a means of old traditional culture and self-defense. Some of the weapons that ninjas would use to train were;

The Shuko

This weapon was made of a small metal plate that was able to be worn over the knuckles of a ninja. The Shuko had four metal spikes that extended from the palm, giving a ninja the ability to scrape the face of an assailant. This weapon was also used to break the jaw with the back of the hand. The other use for this weapon became extremely important, as ninjas would use the spikes to easily climb trees, walls, and scale buildings.

The Caltrop 

These weapons were extremely dangerous and were used particularly when ninjas were being pursued. The ninja would drop a caltrop, which was an area denial weapon made up of two or more sharp spines, that were arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base. If the pursuer stood on a caltrop, it would usually stop them dead in their tracks, these weapons were also spread throughout encampments and along castle walls, to stop ninja spies from entering.

The Shuriken

This weapon was one of the most formidable tools in a ninja's belt. The shuriken was a star-shaped weapon held between the thumb and forefinger of a ninja and used as a throwing weapon causing significant damage to their victims. Ninjas would spend a significant amount of time practising throwing shurikens at tree trunks, so they could become extremely accurate at using this weapon.

Kyoketsu Shogei

This was another brutal weapon used in hand-to-hand combat. This weapon consisted of a cord that had a double-ended knife at one end, and a metal ring at the other, this was used to lasso their opponents pulling them in close in order to stab them with the other end. This very strategic weapon was used to wrap around the necks of their opponents or the legs, forcing a bloody massacre with the double-ended knife.

Bamboo Staff

The bamboo staff was one of the most powerful weapons wielded by a ninja, as they were able to seamlessly attack assailants carrying swords. The bamboo staff was used to trip their opponents off balance or used to break many of their bones. Just one good crack with a bamboo staff could shatter the skull. Ninjas would also use the staff as if it were a pole vault, so they could jump over attackers to attack from above.

Explosives

Ninjas were known to use many different explosive devices so they could surprise many of their victims. They used smoke grenades, mines, and flashing balls to confuse their opponents in order for them to escape. They also used various sorts of firecrackers and explosive arrows. Until gunpowder was introduced in the 16th century, ninjas had an unlimited source of weaponry, but after the introduction of firearms, the ninjas developed bamboo guns that had a range of up to 60 feet.

Bamboo Bows

Bow and arrows were some of the favourite weapons utilised by ninjas, as they used all kinds of explosive and poison tips arrowheads. The bamboo bows were extremely lightweight and easy to carry, making them a very effective weapon. Many ninja clans would utilise flaming arrows in an attempt to burn down villages or hide their tracks.

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HOW NINJAS HAVE IMPACTED THE 2OTH CENTURY 

There have been three major developments in the art of Ninjutsu throughout the 20th century. In the early 1900s, a series of children's novels called Sarutobi Sasuke became popular throughout Japan. In the book, a Shinobi was attributed as a superhero who could harness superhuman abilities. The popularity of these stories fed the imagination of many Japanese children. The second development happened in the 1960s, as popular tv shows, movies, and manga comics began filling the spotlight. Throughout Japan, there was a multitude of ninja-themed tv shows, movies, and comics which led to many children dressing up as ninjas. As the rise of the ninja hit the movie screens, so did the introduction to other countries in Europe and Australia. At this time the ninja was also depicted on the screens of Hollywood, as they made appearances in movies like James Bond. The third influential development of the Ninja was during the 1980s. The ninja became a worldwide phenomenon after Bruce Lee made it famous in the movie Enter the Dragon. This movie led to global interest from Asian and American entertainment companies, who were all looking for the next big product to market. This was apparent with the rise of American jiu-jitsu, after Chuck Norris began his tv Martial Arts development, sharing jiu-jitsu for law enforcement on the big screens. The rise of mainstream ninja media began to grow exponentially, as many other movies were made, as a ninja craze swept through the nation of America.

THE FABLED NINJA

It was a popular belief back in feudal Japan, that ninjas had superhuman abilities and supernatural psychic links. The people believed that ninjas could fly, turn invisible, and shapeshift into other animals, they could split into multiple bodies, could summon animals to fight for them, and they could control the five elements of wind, earth, fire, water, and void. These popular imaginations about the mystery surrounding the ninja fables were created sometimes by the ninja themself, as a way of creating fear in the hearts of their enemies.

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jiu-jitsu ninja

In the 17th century Nakagawa Shoshujin, who was the creator of a Ninjutsu style called Nakagawa Ryu, claimed that he had the ability to shapeshift into different animals. The ninjas were known to control the elements as many of these warriors started fires to cover their trails, which fed the imaginations of many Japanese civilians. Stories have been told about ninjas using kites to lift themselves up into the sky, in order to drop bombs on their enemies or descend into enemy territory. There is factual information that suggests kites were indeed used in Japanese warfare, but only in sending messages to other camps. Some people believe that these kites that ninjas apparently used were more like hang gliders which would be more feasible. But you could imagine a ninja floating up into the air would only spark more imagination in the minds of many Japanese people. 

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