Review: The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art

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The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art, by Stephen K. Hayes, is a good starter book for anybody interested in ninjas and ninjitsu. Stephen Hayes was the first American martial arts practitioner accepted as a student of the master of the ninjitsu tradition in Japan. The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art covers both his experiences during his training and gives a background of the history of the ninja. The amount of information saves the book from feeling overly personal.


Perspective -- An introduction which includes information on the origins and organization of the ninja and their fighting style.

Search for the Ninja -- This chapter covers Hayes's acceptance and introduction to his Japanese master.

Unarmed Combat -- Postures are explained and demonstrated, as well as how to use the body as a weapon.

Weaponry -- This section is divided into chains and cords, sticks and staffs, chains with concealed weapons, the ninja sword, and throwing blades. A number of photographs make this section a highlight of the book. There are close-ups of the weapons and also pictures where people demonstrate their use. 

The Way of Invisibility -- It's all about stealth. This chapter covers the art of disguise, moving quietly, and blending in with one's surroundings.

Shadow Warriors -- A look at the practical side of ninjas and the tactics they use in their encounters.

The Realm of the Spirit -- This covers psychological warfare and other mind tactics employed by ninjas.

The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art is basically a beginner's book, covering mostly introductory material. As such, it was a solid read. My only complaint was that the pictures were black and white instead of color. The personal touch makes the information interesting. Be warned, if you are already fairly knowledgeable about ninjitsu, you might not find anything new here. 

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