FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE REAL NINJA OF HISTORY
Added on: 8th Aug 2016
NINJA WERE NOT CALLED NINJA
Documents show that the ideograms for ninja were correctly
read as shinobi no mono in the medieval period, “ninja”
which is the mock-Chinese reading of the same
ideograms became popular in the 20th century.
THE FIRST MENTION OF NINJA
The first historical record of ninja comes from the Taiheiki
war chronicle written around 1375. It states that ninja were
sent out on a stormy night to infiltrate and burn down
THE NINJA GOLDEN AGE
The ninja thrived during the 15th and 16th centuries when Japan
was torn apart by wars. After the year 1600, peace arrived in
Japan and so began the decline of the ninja.
THE HISTORICAL RECORD
There are very scant records for the ninja in the warring periods
and it is only after peace arrived in the 1600’s that some peacetime
ninja began to record their skills. The most famous of these is
the colossal “ninja bible” known as the Bansenshukai which was
written in 1676. There are an estimated 400 – 500 ninja manuals
spread across Japan, many of which are still kept secret.
THE ENEMY OF THE SAMURAI WAS NOT THE NINJA
Popular media often portrays the samurai and ninja to be enemies.
In fact the term ninja often refers to a warrior of any class within
a samurai army and the position of ninja was akin to modern
day Special Forces attached to the main force. Many samurai were
trained in ninjutsu – the skills of the ninja – and a lord
would keep his ninja close.
NINJA WERE NOT PEASANTS
Popular media also portrays the ninja to be from the peasant class.
In truth, ninja could be from any class both samurai and non-samurai.
It was only after 1600 when peace spread over Japan that the
official position of ninja inside a clan was reduced from full
samurai to a new social position called doshin – half samurai.
As time progressed the ninja became lower in status, however
they still held a higher social position than most peasants.
NINJUTSU IS NOT A FORM OF HAND TO HAND COMBAT
Popular belief holds that ninjutsu is a form of hand to hand combat,
a system of martial arts that is still taught around the world today.
However, the idea of a specialised form of hand to hand combat
practiced by the ninja was invented by a single man in Japan
between the 1950’s and 60’s. This new combat system was
imported to America during the ninja boom of the 1980’s and has
become one of the most popular misconceptions about the ninja.
To date not a single medieval account of this form of combat
has ever been found.
NINJA THROWING STARS
“Ninja throwing stars” have almost no historical connection to the
ninja. Throwing stars were a secret weapon used in many samurai
schools and they only became attached to the ninja in the
20th century through comic books and animation.
THE NINJA MASK
The ninja are never without their mask. Well, actually there is not a
single reference to a ninja wearing a mask anywhere in history.
Surprisingly, ancient ninja manuals show us that ninja did not
wear masks. They had to cover their faces with their long sleeves
when the enemy was near and when working in groups they
wore white headbands so they could see each other in the