Friday, 13 November 2015

Introduction: Ninja and Ninjutsu

Kanji for Shinobi
Path of Endurance
  '忍者' is the Kanji used for 'Ninja' or 'Shinobi'. 'Ninja' is an Onyomi reading of this Kanji while 'Shinobi-mono' is its Kunyomi reading and is the more appropriate one. Although most people think that 'Ninja' is a newer term than 'Shinobi' and that it is something that people from the 20th century have came up with, it is only true to some extent. The truth is that Ninja is an older term; the first word used was simply 'Kan' (chinese: observer /spy). It transformed through many words such as 'Kansai' to 'Kanja' to finally become 'Ninja' upon its introduction to Japan. Though as the art developed in Japan, the term 'Shinobi' came to be used in common; 'Ninja' too was used but not in common. It again became commonly known as 'Ninja' in 20th century, used by Seiko Fujita who introduced most of the dying art to 20th century. This was easy for the Newer Outer World to adapt with and thus now you see 'Shinobi' rarely used.

   If you ask me how do I feel about the term '忍', I will say 'very wisely chosen by a person of High Enlightenment'. The ideogram '' (Nin or Shinobi: 'to Hide' or 'persevere') consists of '' (yaiba: blade) and '' (kokoro: heart) and thus form several meanings:

 1. Heart under Blade: This thus means that the way of 'nin' or 'shinobi is to keep a blade or sword for your heart and not let personal emotions overcome you and you have control over your ego and/or selfish desires. It also means the path of shinobi is that of great trial and Endurance. A ninja's life always stay at the edge of blade (danger). This may also mean to give priority to your sword (Job /Mission) over your heart (life) or mean a person of strong commitment while this may also mean that your actions should speak louder than your words. This may also mean that the sword protects the heart. In such a case it may mean, your heart is protected from the evil of your/others' actions or it may mean, your sword is there to protect your heart from evil.
2. Heart as an image of Blade: This means to keep your heart as reflecting as a sword (a good katana is reflecting but not too much); mind, heart and spirit as sharp as the blade and a heart which can cut through the hearts of others and a flexible heart.
3. The two virtues: They represent the two Heavens; the two mediums Spirit and Body; the two ways of Honor and Respect; the two methods of action and word.
   In whatever ways I put it, it has universal meanings -great wisdom, I have to admit. Though in short I can say a Ninja or Shinobi is one 'hidden' or who persevere, as Hatsumi Masaaki Soké would say.


   Ninjutsu, Ninpó or Shinobi-no-jutsu simply means the techniques, art or skills employed by a Ninja or Shinobi-no-Kan. Though they all have the same basic meaning, there's some difference based upon historical context and field. Ninpó is a much newer term and represents all arts practiced or performed by a Ninja; Shinobi-no-jutsu can mean the same but it consists of techniques mostly used between 13th-17th century for war and peace purposes while Ninjutsu though generally means any technique of Ninja, its specific meanings share the deepest secrets of the art. It must be understood by now that Ninjutsu is by no way a martial art and is an art more of what we can say 'an art of tricks', 'a spiritual art' or 'a path of enlightenment'. That's why Soké used the word 'Ninpó Taijutsu' when referring to the free-hand combat system of Ninjutsu schools, in his earlier days and then changed to 'Budo Taijutsu' after passing of Takamatsu Soké, as he moved towards teaching other schools. Though he uses the term 'essence of ninjutsu', I have never heard or read of him calling the martial art 'ninjutsu'. This is because the techniques he show follow the principles of ninjutsu, some essence but aren't ninjutsu themselves. It isn't true that 'he has revealed everything from the shadows of ninjutsu and ninjutsu world is open to everyone now', certainly not.

   Finally, if you would like to know how do I feel about ninjutsu, I must tell you that it's like a sumi-e drawing. There's not any absolute form necessary but it isn't completely abstract. You must understand the soul of it which is easy if you think with an open mind and understand the basic symbols used. You get enveloped in a mystical feeling once you reach it, which you can see as if caught in a mist where you can not see the far but is a pleasant experience and you know that if you follow what appears near, you can finally get that far if u wish.

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