History of the Ninja and Ninjutsu

Ninjutsu is known by many as the art of stealth or the art of the shadow. Much of the training in the ninjutsu school centers around close range combat and the art of invisibility and espionage. Some of the special skills learned by ninjutsu practitioners have historically given the ninja a reputation of possessing magical powers. Climbing walls and swimming while clad in armor are two skills that have earned this reputation. Other skills taught to the ninja included map making, disguise, silent entry and escape, leaping, high endurance, sabotage, and the use of available surroundings as weapons. The history of the ninja is shrouded in secrecy. Ninja often hold the incorrect reputation of having all been assassins. This was not the case. Though no single origin can be proven, most common beliefs surrounding the origins of ninjutsu attribute it as a fighting method taught within mountain families as a means for self defense during feudal Japan against territory claimants. In order to defend themselves against powerful foes such as the samurai class of warriors who had strength in numbers, the ninja developed stealth capabilities and unorthodox combat techniques. The fighting tactics employed by the ninja were often seen as cowardly by the samurai. However, they were often very effective.

In many ways, the tactics employed by the ninja were very similar to techniques adopted by the early American colonists during the war for independence from England. Traditional British battle strategy was to line up in open fields and fire weapons in a sequential pattern. After many brutal defeats, the heavily under-manned colonists learned to compensate for numbers and power by using ambush and disguise tactics. This strategy was considered to be cowardly by the British armies but, like the similar strategies employed by the ninja, it also proved to be very effective. Ninjutsu was banned in the 17th century but continued to be passed down in underground circles. The art is still practiced today though not at widely as in the days of feudal Japan. Like the farmers of the past who fought to defend their lands, Ninja Billy and his friends use their skills to protect others and stand for what is right in the world.

Ninja Culture and Shinobi History
Ninja and their Culture

A typical ninja village would not be any different from other medieval Japanese villages except for few very sharp-eyed adults who would keep a careful watch on a trespasser. Many would be tending their rice fields and harvesting vegetables and fruits. Others would be making craftworks and few would be blacksmiths making sickles and cooking knives. A ninja village's purpose is to support ninja and remain unnoticed. As with another village, a ninja village would have an Osa (a leader), who often was the head of ninja group. Under him would be several jyounin (上忍), which literally means the high ninja. Under the jyounin would be several chunin (中忍), which literally means the middle ninja. Under chunin would be many genin (下忍), which literally means the low ninja. Upon receiving a mission from a daimyo, an osa would give order to the jyounin to select necessary personnel. 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 a shou (general). While ninja are often depicted as male, female were often ninja as well. A female ninja may be called a kunoichi (くのいち or くノ一). These are actually the three strokes that make up the kanji character for female, onna (女). Although sometimes depicted as an experienced prostitute who gained secrets from the enemy by seduction, they rarely used that method. Most prostitutes in medieval Japan worked exclusively in brothels. Few would take their chances with a freelance prostitute, especially since in many places it was considered illegal. Ninpo (忍法, literally 'the laws of ninja'), or simply okite (掟, literally 'rule'), are the guidelines that ninja followed. It had many stipulations, but the most important rule was of keeping the secret of being ninja to themselves and never revealing the daimyo who gave them orders. The most severe crime any ninja could commit was of betraying and killing fellow ninja. The punishment was death and, if deemed by the council of ninja, his or her family would be executed as well. Second to that was the crime of leaving the ninja village without authorization and never coming back. He or she would be called nukenin (抜け忍) and his or her family member would be tasked to bring him back, dead or alive. This page has been derived from the Wikipedia's articles on ninja.