Ninjutsu--"the art of stealth, the way of invisibility"*

Ninja--"the legendary spies and commandos feudal Japan"

Deadly combatants, assassins, and spies, the ninjas were the shadow warriors for hire during the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries in Japan, a period of eastern history rife with conflict. The philosophy of the ninja was to operate in the dark quiet, unseen and unnoticed. They could go where armored warriors could not, accomplish in secret what greater numbers could not in the open. Ninjas were consummate fighters, but they preferred deception to outright violence, charisma to belligerence, night to day.

Traditionally, ninjas were trained from birth. They learned to be preternaturally vigilant of the world around them. By five or six, children's play took the form of training exercises which taught balance and agility. They learned how to walk without making noise, to assume disguises that allowed them to blend in with a crowd, and to scamper across trees and roofs with ease. As they grew older, these future ninjas began hand-to-hand combat and eventually weapons training.

Some of the weapons of the Ninja were:

kusari-fundo--an easy to conceal 2-3 foot chain with a steel weight on both ends used for countering sword techniques without using a sword.

kusari-gama--a single-edged blade attached to a wooden handle with 9-12 feet of chain on the other end.

shinobi-zue--these canes looked like ordinary walking sticks, but inside ninjas would conceal a variety of fighting tools such as knives and daggers, all the way up to swords.

Even today, ninjas are spoken of with awe and admiration, but it is good to remember that these men and women were assassins of the highest order, killing for a price.

*Quotes from The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art by Stephen K Hayes. This book was used as the primary resource for the information on this page.

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