July 2nd, 2006

Shadowmancer

Ninja


Teshikamimototokiari Zutakamimechirimoshitoku
"It's a Ninja. Professional soldier. Specializing in espionage & assassination."
-Cho Osaki (Sho Kosugi)

Ninjutsu began more than 800 years ago among the ninja people living in Japan. The warrior class which ruled Japan at the time were called the Samurai. They controlled the land and it's people. Their lord, the Shogun, was the only person the Samurai was answerable to.

The ordinary peasant served the warriors every whim. A peasant could never strike a Samurai. If he did, it would mean his life.

The ninja would not serve the Samurai, and fled to the barren, cold, mountainous regions of Iga and Koga. There they trained in the arts of war. It is said that their art is based upon a great Chinese military text written by a general named Sun Tzu, >The Art of War. Over the centuries the ninja (word meaning 'stealers-in') trained from the cradle to the grave in every known martial art. Their forte was espionage and assassination, by any means possible. But their training also taught them to reach spiritual heights, by pushing their bodies and minds to limits far beyond that of normal human endurance.

Training for a ninja began almost as soon as he could walk. Childhood games were designed to inculcate expertise in unarmed combat, swordwork, weaponry, camouflage, escape and evasion. In time, the ninja warriors came to be feared throughout Japan. Even the mighty Samaurai looked over his shoulder if a ninja was known to be in the area.

Over the centuries, while ninjutsu was being practiced in secrecy, no one knew anything about the art except the ninjas themselves. When Japan emerged into the modern era, and feudalism collapsed, the ninja were absorbed into Japan's secret service and special services groups.

The martial arts boom of the 1970's saw two men searching for something different. Doron Navon and Stephen Hayes found a ninjutsu headmaster living in Japan who came from an unbroken line of ninja instructors dating back almost 800 years. The art was then brought to the western World.

When speaking of Ninja, the image of a black clad assassin disappearing in a cloud of smoke is what comes to mind. This distortion has nothing to do with the reality of studying Ninjutsu, or "Ninpo" in its highest order. Ninpo is a traditional Japanese bujutsu martial art with a rich and viable history that stretches back over ten centuries. Developed as a highly illegal counterculture to the ruling samurai warrior class, Ninpo still flourishes today under the direct guidance of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi,34th grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu tradition and eight other budo traditions. Dr. Hatsumi is the last variable true Ninja grandmaster having a direct line of decent from feudal Japan.

Ninpo is a more global title for the nine ryu (families) related. Po is Japanese for 'principle way'.

- Liu Chung Liang.


Ninja were said to be agents of espionage and assassination in feudal Japan in legend and popular fiction. Revered by some as the world's first special forces, some modern practitioners of budo ninjutsu argue that ninja were used primarily as spies, not assassins, and this appears to be borne out by some historical records. It is popularly believed that the ancient ninja were peasants, forbidden under law from studying the samurai swordplay techniques because of feudal Japan's caste structure, but more likely they originated from a variety of castes.

Due to the secretive nature of the Ninja, no official records were kept by them of their activities, culture, or training. Any information could be incorrect, influenced by manga, anime, movies, or other media. All information on them has been inferred by records kept by samurai and other non-secretive societies that occasionally did business with ninja.

Etymology

Ninja is Sino-Japanese compound derived from the two kanji (Japanese characters of Chinese origin) used to write shinobi-no-mono, one of the native Japanese words for people who practice ninjutsu (sometimes mis-pronounced ninjitsu). Ninja and shinobi-no-mono, along with shinobi, another variant, became popular in the post-World War II phonetically with the kanji, has been traced as far back as Japan's Asuka period, when Prince Shotoku is alleged to have employed one of his retainers as a ninja.

The underlying connotation of shinobi (pronounced nin in Sino-Japanese compounds) is "to do quietly" or "to do so as not to be perceived by others" and—by extension—"to forebear," hence its association with stealth and invisibility. Mono (likewise pronounced sha or ja) means "person." The nin of ninjutsu is the same as that in ninja, whereas jutsu means skill or art, so ninjutsu means "the skill of going unperceived" or "the art of stealth"; hence, ninja and shinobi-no-mono (as well as shinobi) may be translated as "one skilled in the art of stealth." Similarly, the pre-war word ninjutsu-zukai means "one who uses the art of remaining unperceived."

History

Because ninja rarely left anything in writing or boasted of their achievements, the history of the ninja is mostly apocryphal and blatantly legendary, so the great majority of stories circulating about them are difficult to prove.

Historical examples of ninja are said to include Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who employed surprise as a major weapon in his victories. He is said in a popular folktale to have been educated by a tengu to learn tactics and became a ninja.

One of the earliest roots of ninja, Togakure Ry®±, reportedly originated in the late Heian Period. Iga and K®≠ga are two of the most famous ninja styles, and are often pitted against each other in fiction. Some also say that they were allies and worked together in mutual defense pacts. Both of these claim that they originated in the Heian period.

Only a few records remain from the Kamakura period. Kusunoki Masashige used tactics against enemies that remotely resemble ninja tactics. From the Muromachi period there are even fewer records. Both of these times were generally peaceful, and many battles had tournament-like aspects that prevented surprise attacks. Somewhere in these time periods, bushido began to form as the proper and honorable way a samurai must follow. It would be well into the Edo period that bushido was finally formalized.

In the Sengoku Period, also known as the Warring States period, ninja supposedly flourished. Almost all famous daimy®≠ are said by modern ninja schools to have had ninja, or a ninja-like group under his control and they served as eyes and ears. Some daimy®≠ were reportedly ninja themselves. The clan of Sanada, the most famous member being Sanada Yukimura, was reportedly a ninja clan. This is attributed to the successful defense of their castle with approximately 3,000 soldiers against an overwhelming force of 50,000 led by Tokugawa Hidetada. Their tactics, which are said to have included splitting their house in two, one each supporting Toyotomi and Tokugawa in order to survive no matter which side finally won, has been the subject of much legendary discussion. Later, they would come to be called Sanada J®± Yushi, lit. Ten heroes under Sanada, in tales where they used ninja skills to defeat everything but their jealous wives (who were, of course, ninja themselves).

Tokugawa Ieyasu was claimed to have used ninja, controlling both Iga and Koga in unifying Japan and ultimately rising to the rank of Shogun. In his dramatic escape through the mountainous landscape of Nara after Oda's assassination, Iga ninja led by Hattori Hanz®≠ allegedly helped Ieyasu escape, gaining his favor. The last battle where ninja reportedly fought is in the Siege of Shimabara under the Tokugawa shogunate. As the shogunate became stable, ninja were effectively unemployed. Some were said to have become Oniwabansh®±, a semi-secret group of bodyguards and intelligence officers who worked tending gardens of the Edo castle and eavesdropping on the daimy®≠. A purported ninja master Fujibayashi Sabuji wrote Bansenshukai as a collection of ninja knowledge. Yet the stories go that most knowledge was still passed on through oral tradition and training, as most ninja believed that their services would soon be needed again. The peace of the Edo period continued for over 200 years.

In the Edo period, ninja became popular heroes in books and plays. Many mythical ninja powers such as becoming invisible, jumping over tall fences, casting spells and calling up a giant toad larger than a human were all invented in these fictitious accounts of ninja. Ninja did not correct these misconceptions and some may have even written these stories themselves to increase their value should their services be needed. One of the lesser known contributions made by ninja is their involvement in furthering the research of fireworks as a result of their development of pyrotechnic weaponry.

Few traces of Ninjutsu remain in Japan today, such as the Koka-ryu Ninjutsu Yashiki (Koka-ruy Nijutsu Palace) in Shiga, near Kyoto, which is mostly geared toward children, the Togakushi Chibikko Ninja-Mura (Kid's Togakushi Ninja-village), which is little more than an amusement park, and the The Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, which features the most comprehensive understanding of Ninjutsu.

Culture of Ninja

A ninja organization was said to be headed by a j®≠nin (è„îE), literally "high ninja". Under j®≠nin would be several ch®±nin (íÜîE, "middle ninja"). Under ch®±nin would be several genin ("low ninja"). Upon receiving a mission from daimy®≠, the j®≠nin would use the ch®±nin to select necessary personnel from among the genin. Some ninja groups would be smaller and may have been less structured. Other groups may have been structured more like an army and the leader may instead have been called sh®≠ or "general".

While ninja are often depicted as male, and nearly all military and related professions were typically limited exclusively to males, females were supposedly ninja as well. A female ninja may be called kunoichi; the characters are derived from the strokes that make up the kanji for woman. They were sometimes depicted as experienced prostitutes who learned the secrets of an enemy by seduction; though it's just as likely they were employed as household servants, putting them in a position to overhear potentially valuable information. In either case, there is no support for the popular image of female ninja assassins, and they were more likely employed as spies and couriers.

Ninpo refers to various skills used by ninja, but mostly supernatural and fictional. Ninja are said to have actively encouraged such superstitions about their abilities to inspire fear in potential enemies.

Ninja were said to have had many rules, and the most important rule was of keeping the secret of ninja themselves and of the daimyo who gave them the order. Stories say that the most severe crime was leaving a ninja family without authorization, with no intention of returning. He would be called nukenin and his family members would be tasked to bring him back, dead or alive.

Ninja suit

Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that the ninjas dressed in all black suits. The classic black ninja outfit (shinobi shokuzu) is said to have come from the Noh theater. Prop handlers would dress in black and move props around. The audience would obviously see the prop handlers but would pretend they were invisible. Another idea supporting the absence of a ninja outfit and any specific weaponry is that, if caught or seen, they would have been identified as enemies. This would only result in capture, torture, and probably a very slow and painful execution. Thus, these spies and assassins were far more likely to be disguised as samurai, priests, or peasants or when situation dictates, dark green, blue or dark red outfit which offers better camouflage to its surroundings.

Disguises were selected on the basis of their unobtrusiveness in a given environment. Some ninjas were said to have disguised themselves as Fuke monks and used the traditional flute of the zen sect, the Shakuhachi, as a powerful blunt weapon. Many government agents and ninja disguised themselves as komus®≠, since one could travel about in complete anonymity and gather information. There were even short pieces that were supposed to be played by one komus®≠ greeting another. These suizen melodies tended to be very difficult to outsiders of the sect. If the second komus®≠ did not respond, the first would know that the other was probably a spy. One known tool used by ninja is irogome (literally, "colored rice"). Irogome was uncooked rice seeds colored in five or six different colors: red, black, white, yellow, blue, and sometimes brown. They would be placed on the ground or handed to a ninja from a ninja. Each combination carried certain meanings like "all clear" or "an enemy check point is ahead".

Tools and weapons

Ninja are said to have made use of weapons that could be easily concealed or disguised as common tools, the bo, and handclaws (shuko, neko-te tekagi) probably being the most famous, except for the amazing shuriken (throwing stars), popularized by comic book mail order advertisements. Kunai (a gardening tool) were also a popular weapon as they could be hidden easily or carried if the ninja was disguised as a gardener. It was the equivalent of a utility knife, often used to pry or cut rather than fight. The makibishi (tetsu-bishi), a type of caltrop made of iron spikes, is also famous. It could be thrown on the ground to injure a pursuer's feet or thrown out on an enemy's escape path so that the targets could be cut down or shot down with bows and arrows while they looked for another escape route, but it could also be covered with poison so the victim would die slowly.

In popular folklore, ninja also used special short swords called ninja-ken (or ninja-t®≠ see below for explanation), or "shinobigatana" (Note the avoidance of the term 'ninja', but inclusion of the term shinobi, a synonym). Ninja-ken are smaller than katana but larger than wakizashi, though, unlike the samurai weapons, they were straight. The ninja-to was often more of a utilitarian tool than a weapon, not having the complex heat treatment of a usual weapon. Another version of the ninja sword was the shikoro ken (saw sword). The shikoro ken was said to be used to gain entry into fortresses. The shikoro ken supposedly could also be used to cut (or saw) through opponents. The ever popular sai, or three-pronged dagger is also associated with ninjas.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that the nunchaku were used by the ninja, and there is no mention in any record of them using one, though their records are filled with references to other weapons. Karate, judo, kendo, and most other martial arts were never practiced as well, as they were mostly formalized in late Edo period to Meiji period. Ninja practiced a variant of jujutsu and kenjutsu that could be summed up as ninjutsu.

Ninja also employed a variety of weapons and tricks using gunpowder. Smoke bombs and firecrackers were widely used to aid an escape or create a diversion for an attack. They used timed fuses to delay explosions. œzutsu (cannons) they constructed could be used to launch fiery sparks as well as projectiles at a target. Small "bombs" called metsubishi (not the company) were filled with sand and sometimes metal dust. This sand would be carried in bamboo segemnts or in hollowed eggs and thrown at someone, the shell would crack, and the assailant blinded. Even land mines were constructed that used a mechanical fuse or a lit, oil-soaked string. Secrets of making desirable mixes of gunpowder were strictly guarded in many ninja clans. Other forms of trickery were said to be used for escaping and combat. Ashiaro are wooden pads attached to the ninja's tabi (thick socks with a separate "toe" for bigger toe; used with sandles). The ashiaro would be carved to look like an animal's paw, or a child's foot, allowing the ninja to leave tracks that most likely would not be tracked. Also a small ring worn on a ninja's finger called a shobo would be used for hand-to-hand combat. The shobo would have a small notch of wood used to hit assailant's pressure points for sharp pain to sometimes temporary paralyzation. (see pressure points). A suntetsu is very similar to a shobo. It could be a small oval shaped piece of wood affixed to the finger by a small strap. The suntetsu would be held against a finger (mostly middle) on the palm-side and when the hand was thrusted at an opponent, the longer piece of wood would be used to hit the pressure points.

Myths of Ninja

There are many myths and legends concerning ninja, who were most prevalent during Japan's feudal era and often served daimyo, or feudal lords, for secret missions. Their special abilities are also often exaggerated, such as becoming invisible, multiplying themselves, turning into animals, jumping over buildings, the ability to fly, stick to the walls and foresee the future. These myths were caused by the secretive nature of ninja, and confusion with Tengu and yamabushi. The myth of these abilities was much stronger when they were on operations and demonstrated them as if they were real powers such as the multiplication ability in which one ninja, if discovered, would make a special move and his fellow ninja mates would aid him and then disappear. The ninja often encouraged rumors to make people believe they had magical powers so they would become extraordinary figures. At least one ninja was recorded to have faked his own death so people would think he was a ghost and therefore immortal.

List of ninjutsu styles (ryu)

The following list of ninjutsu styles practiced by ninja, known as ry®±, is sorted by current prefectures in which the styles originated and their teaching is or was historically centered. In this context, the ordering may not be totally accurate as some historical and current boundaries do not coincide. Note also that some styles may no longer be practiced.

* Aichi - Matsuba-ryu, Ichizen-ryu
* Aomori - Nakagawa-ryu
* Fukuoka - Kuroda-ryu
* Gifu - Mino-ryu
* Ibaraki - Matsuda-ryu
* Kagoshima - Satsuma-ninpo
* Kanagawa - Fuma-ninpo
* Ky®≠to - Hatano-ryu
* Mie - Hattori-ryu, Momochi-ryu, Togakure-ryu, Iga-ryu
* Nagano - Ky-ryu, Togakure-ryu, Aoki-ryu, It-ryu, Akutagawa-ryu
* Nagasaki - Nanban-ryu (see also the Nanban period)
* Nara - Kusunoki-ryu
* Niigata - Uesugi-ryu, Kaji-ryu
* Okayama - Bizen-ryu
* Shiga - Tarao-ryu, Rigyoku-ryu, Kga-ryu
* Shimane - Fukushima-ryu
* Tochigi - Matsumoto-ryu
* Tokyo (Akihabara) - Akiba-ryu
* Toyama - Echizen-ryu
* Wakayama - Kishu-ryu, Negoro-ryu, Saika-ryu
* Yamagata - Haguro-ryu
* Yamanashi - Takeda-ryu, Nink-ryu

Martial Arts

* American Shidoshi Frank W. Dux - Trained in Japan and Founded Dux Ninjitsu in America, opening a Ninjitsu Dojo in Sherman Oaks, CA. The film "Bloodsport" was based on his experiences with The Kumite.
* American Shidoshi Kai - US Instructors of Hatsumi Sensei Bujinkan Style
* Ninja museum in Ueno-city, Mie Prefecture, Japan
* Rhode Island Ninjutsu Center
* Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, Grandmaster - Active Ninjutsu Training Worldwide
* Stephen K. Hayes - popular teacher of ninjutsu and prolific author.

Source




KUJI-KIRI
The Nine Levels of Power

1. Rin - "Strength" of mind and body.
2. Kyo - "Direction of energy".
3. Toh - "Harmony" with the universe.
4. Sha - "Healing" of self and others.
5. Kai - "Premonition" of danger.
6. Jin - "Knowing the thoughts of others".
7. Retsu - "Mastery of time and space".
8. Zai - "Control" of the elements of nature.
9. Zen - "Enlightenment".

The Ninja is a very Satanic character - not only in the mystery and aesthetic aspects, but in the fact that like the Lucifer myth, fierce independence bade them to depart the self-righteous social order of The Shogun to persue their own interests, and developed all manner of occult natural knowledge, and in fact exceeded the Samurai in combat abilities. For not only can a Ninja meet a Samurai blow for blow, but is capable of utilizing wile and guile, obfuscation and misdirection, and camouflage to accomplish an end result, although this was not the concern of The Ninja, who were more interested in fulfilling a task and/or assignment by whatever means necessary.

While more rigid traditional Martial Arts styles are displayed primarily for show, the combat style of Ninjitsu is that of practicality, and administers the most effective strike for escape and/or self-defense. Weaponry consists of multiple uses from climbing, striking, to disarming and covert entering. Weapons are often duplicitous in nature, to ensure success in whatever endeavor. The environment itself is utilized to one's advantage, and is often used in a pre-meditated application.

Yin & Yang is comparable to Sat & Tan, action and reaction, with pro-action comparable to Chi, in the entropic control and willfulness of directed manifestation. Ceremonial digital gesticulation during meditation and centering is used in a pentagram fashion to draw empowering energy from The Earth to center Chi. Some Greater Magic applications involve projected hallucination for distraction, motion-blurring, invisibility {combination of Lesser Magic camouflage & Greater Magic emmination}, and tactile visualization upon an opponent.

Knight

Because history is violent...

Headless Historicals


Priestess Shiva Rodriguez's and Citizen Garith Pettibone's latest project. Like something little Wednesday Addams would play with, and would compliment the glass case of any haunted house.

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