(in Russian the word does not bow, consisting of hieroglyphs “nin” (“shinobu” in another reading) – “endurance”, “stamina”, “patience”, “perseverance” and “jia” – “hidden” , “secret”, “inconspicuous”) refers to a hardy, stubborn person who acts secretly, secretly. Perhaps another reading – because the hieroglyph “nin” consists of two characters: “sword” and “heart, spirit.” Therefore, the word “ninja” can be translated as follows: “although the blade of the enemy is at my heart, I will stand and I will be able to win.” The very word “ninja” appeared not so long ago, and eight hundred years ago the hieroglyphs were read differently: “Shinobi-no mono” is a “hiding, secretly penetrating person.”
In many Hollywood movies that tell of the life of people in ancient Japan, a little man in black clothes often appears, as if from nowhere. Showing the wonders of agility, he easily climbs the steep wall, quickly and quietly straightens out the guards, playfully defeats the battle-hardened samurai, with one touch sends the light of a frightened shogun. After that, the mysterious warrior traces his pursuers around the finger, jumping from roof to roof, hiding in dark corners or creating a smoke screen around himself, and finally, without a trace and soundlessly disappears in the darkness of the night. This is how, according to the directors, the legendary Japanese warrior-shadow, the invisible warrior-the ninja-looked and behaved.
For the first time, ninjas appeared at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), when, during the war between the clans of Tyra and Minamoto, the commander Minamoto Yoshinak, who seized the capital of Kyoto and proclaimed himself a shogun, was defeated on the Uji River. One of the samurai of the deceased Yoshinaki – Daisuke Nishin from the Togakure village – founded a family community in the wooded mountains of Iga province and began to teach people the art of fighting (Togakure-ryu). Ruler Yoshitsune, repeatedly trying to catch the former servant Yoshinaki, was deposed from the throne, fled and, like Nishina, once founded a community of peasants, who began to teach martial arts (Yoshitsune-ryu).
There was time, rulers were replaced, internecine wars were fought – and ronin (samurai, who did not have a master) went to inaccessible mountain areas of Japan – Iga and Koga. It was there that two main schools of ninja were subsequently formed. Initially, the community was replenished not only by soldiers, but also by peasants, hunters, bandits, etc. Disparate groups of ninjas exerted a lot of strength to survive. Samurais treated them with contempt and often made attacks on settlements, killing all those who came to hand. This forced the soldiers, who were in the position of exiles, to surround both the location of the settlements and themselves with an impenetrable cover of secrecy. Because after some time, access to the mountain communities for newcomers was blocked – the communities of exiles and refugees turned into clan communities of professional spies and assassins who developed unique methods of training the body (ninjutsu) and spirit (ninpo). By the beginning of the XVII century in Japan, there were about seventy clans of ninjas. Some rulers used the services of shadow warriors, but when the Tokugawa shogunate gained stability, the need for bodyguards and spies fell sharply. The number of mountain camps decreased every day, and the soldiers-ninjas were forced to move to cities and villages, mastering more peaceful professions. Nowadays there are almost no real ninjas, and there are very few documentary historical facts about them, but rumors, legends, erroneous views – as many as you like. Some of the most enduring myths we will try to debunk.
The art of ninjas can be studied nowadays.
In fact, many elements of the combat techniques of shadow warriors have survived to our days, of course, because it’s impossible to say that the ninjutsu is completely lost. But, unfortunately, not a single reliable description of the training of ninjas has reached us.One can only assume that in closed family communities the preparation began as early as infancy (for example, the vestibular apparatus was heavily rocked, the games with the weighted ball were mobility, endurance, coordination, etc.). From childhood, future ninjas were trained in the art of balance (walking on a rope, a pole, a log), the ability to remain immobile for a long time in one way or another, owning their breath, special styles of swimming, allowing them to keep their weapons dry. We also practiced climbing trees, walls, rocks, ceiling beams, practicing the ability to group when falling, use the tree branches to extinguish the speed, for example, to orientate on the terrain, to recognize the tracks and voices of animals and people, to hide your own tracks, to move silently, to memorize seen and heard, etc. How exactly trained warriors for the above skill – remains a mystery.
Ninjas are professional killers and first-class warriors.
According to historical data, most often the ninja function was espionage. That is why martial arts training was by no means the basis of their training. Instead of constantly improving the combat skills, the ninjas developed memory and observation, trained in the ability to penetrate imperceptibly into rooms, yards, etc., move almost silently, and confuse the tracks. In addition, a lot of attention was paid to the development of paranormal abilities that allow you to subordinate the will of randomly encountered people, to influence their memory, to find out the necessary information.
In an open battle, a ninja was easily defeated by a samurai.
Wrong opinion. More often than not, the ninjas preferred not to bring matters to an open battle. They tried their utmost to neutralize the enemy before the battle, or, if the battle could not be avoided, to stun him and disappear as quickly as possible.
Professional ninjas always wore black (red, blue) clothes of special cut.
The above-mentioned black dress was not at all a casual dress, nor a uniform that all ninjas had to wear constantly. It’s just a camouflage suit that made its owner almost invisible in the dark. Moreover, as experts say, pure black color is not always able to mask a person qualitatively, as it “shines” even in almost total darkness, so the best choice is clothes of dark green or brown color. Ninja chose clothes in accordance with the time of day, the weather, the type of task, but in any case, the main task of his suit – to make the owner the least noticeable to others, respectively, the garb of bright tones (red, orange, etc.), these warriors never wore, preferring in everyday life the usual kimono.
All members of the ninja community were warriors.
Undoubtedly, all clan representatives were trained in certain combat skills. But, since the ninja community was self-sufficient, it consisted not only of soldiers and their commanders – it included artisans, peasants, etc.
There were no women among the ninja warriors.
Absolutely mistaken opinion. Among the shadow warriors there were a lot of kunoit (ninja women), who were taught on a slightly different program – beautiful spies learned to sing, dance, play various musical instruments, recite poetry, make up ikebana, hold a tea ceremony. Hidden under the mask of a dancer, geisha, maid or aristocrat, the ninja woman was an excellent connoisseur of poisons, disguise, seduction and psychological influence on the interlocutor in order to find out the right information. Kunoite’s favorite weapon was poisoned iron claws (some or tekagi), attached to the hands of leather straps. With this weapon, women tried to hit the enemy’s eyes. However, kunoichi could kill and with a kiss, pulling the root of the tongue of a man blinded by passion with a sharp jerk. Severe bleeding and pain shock made the victim completely helpless and led to death in a very short time.
The multi-beam “stars” with which the ninja pockets were stuffed, are smashed without a miss at any distance.
Indeed, the arsenal of ninjas included shurikens (derived from a flat sharpened hairpin, hidden in the hair and used only in extreme cases), representing a thin steel plate in the form of a swastika or a star with sharply sharpened edges. Angles in the “stars” were often four or five – it was believed that more rays make it difficult to handle this type of weapon. Compact, easy-to-use shurikens were appreciated not only by ninjas, but also by samurai, most often used for defense or “psychological attack” – in fact, when flying, these weapons emit a characteristic sound distracting the enemy’s attention or causing confusion in his soul. In addition, from the shiny surface of the star is well reflected sunlight – this property of ninjas used to send signals to each other. A strong warrior who accurately threw shuriken could actually kill a man, but the range of impact of this type of weapon was limited. If the target is located at a distance of 10-15 meters, shuriken can do real harm only if he gets to a certain point (for example, in the temple) or is poisoned. Yes, and a myriad of shuriken, flying out of the hands of ninjas, you can see only in the movies. In fact, the warrior wore only nine “stars” in the pouch on his belt (this number was considered happy).
The ninja’s main weapon was nunchak.
Wrong opinion. Nunchaku, which are two short heavy sticks, fastened with a chain or rope, were popular on the island of Okinawa, from the followers of Kobudo. The Ninjas did not use this kind of weapon for the simple reason that it is quite difficult to quickly kill or inflict serious harm on an opponent with the help of a nunchak.
Ninja often used gunpowder.
Indeed, cannons, incendiary grenades (te-pao), smoke grenades, and a little later – crossbows were often used by ninjas to attempt attacks on rulers. They also used powdered poison, which was thrown into the face of the enemy.
Ninja – “free knights”.
Actually, judging by the rather contradictory information preserved in the few written sources about ninjas, they were both philosophers, gymnasts, alchemists, robbers, and fine actors who masterfully master the art of fighting and camouflaging. Ability to reincarnate, in any situation to behave naturally and at ease, the ability to tolerate pain and perform the most unexpected and, from the point of view of the philistine, simply impossible actions to achieve their goal made them incomprehensible and mysterious. In these people, many skills, philosophies and worldviews merged, which helped them to be anyone, and at the same time to be no one.
Spies and assassins since ancient times referred to ninjas.
This is not quite true. The word “ninja” only appeared in the 20th century in the Japanese language. Before that, the hieroglyphs composing this word were read as “shinobi-no mono” (“hiding man”, “secretly penetrating person”). To denote spies and spies, the terms “kadzya” (“the person penetrating through the holes”), “ukami-bito” (“the person who knows the secrets”), “Mitsumono” (“triple people”), “datsuko” (” abducting words “),” kikimono-yaku “(” serving listeners “),” kagimonono-hiki “(” sniffing and eavesdropping “),” lin kuei “(” forest demons “), etc.
Ninja invented a straight sword.
In fact, the famous ninjato – a direct sword, the invention of which is attributed to the ninja, was born during the Second World War. Ninja sometimes used chokuto – a double-edged weapon with a short blade. It should be mentioned that a direct sword in medieval Japan was a rarity. Such a blade was quite difficult to make, and in the battle, for example, against the samurai, the aforementioned type of weapons will help a little.The fact is that the armor of the Japanese warrior of those times consisted of leather-covered and varnished steel plates, overlapping each other. These armor of the so-called lamellar type were extremely durable, but they had one weakness – they were fastened with a long silk cord, cutting which could quickly leave the opponent unprotected. For this purpose, the long, crooked sword of the samurai-katana-could fit as well as a short, straight ninjato.
Ninja invented a lot of special types of equipment and always went to the next task thoroughly equipped, at least with the sword they never parted.
The samurai tried not to part with the sword, but in the hands of the ninja, masked, for example, under the usual peasant, the katana would look, at least suspiciously. Therefore, shadow warriors preferred to equip themselves with less noticeable and more compact and effective types of weapons, which were rarely their invention. Most often, the ninja simply adapted to their needs and ordinary household items and agricultural implements. For example, shuriken – just a complicated modification of the usual sharp sharpened hairpin. In addition, a tool similar to the “star” of a ninja was often used by carpenters to extract nails from wood (perhaps that’s why shadow warriors often disguised themselves as representatives of this profession). Knife kunai – a common flattened sharply sharpened nail (and modern ideas that the edge of this weapon is sharp, wrong – most often kunai was used as a crutch for fastening the rope). Wrist claws (tekagi or syuko) – wooden plates with curled metal spikes originated from the usual misaligned footwear used to move on ice and snow. Ninja only slightly modified this (very ancient) invention – tekagi migrated to the hands of soldiers and used to climb trees, and in battle – to pay off an offensive sword or to injure an opponent. The victim looked as if a wild beast had attacked him, and few could prove that in reality the ninja warrior was the culprit of his plight. To cover the retreat, the ninjas used polyhedral spikes of the makibishi (or their modification, producing a weak burst – bakura-bishi). A handful of such thorns scattered on the road, was able to detain the pursuers – this type of weapons severely damaged the feet of soldiers, wearing shredded sandals. And with the help of iGorami – ordinary rice, painted in different colors (red, white, black, yellow, blue, brown), the ninjas exchanged information. Scattered in prominent places, the grains constituted a certain color combination, serving, for example, as a warning of danger. In the arsenal of the ninja, there were many agricultural implements, partially modified to improve efficiency in combat. This kama and kusarigama (sickles), bo (pole), dze (truncheon), kumade (sharp rake). But with itself to carry these bulky adaptations there was no need – under a hand of a ninja at any moment there were many things which could be used as the weapon.
Ninja killed Prince Uesugi with a spear through a hole in the outhouse.
In this particular case, this is just a legend, which aims to show the conditions under which the killer sometimes has to work to achieve the goal. From written sources it follows that Prince Uesugi died his death, to which the ninjas were in no way involved.
Ninjas were able to turn into demons.
Most often, instead of transformations, warriors-shadows skillfully used painted wooden masks of demons, equipped with miniature spray guns of a combustible mixture. The awful image, supplemented by the illusion of “fiery breathing”, plunged the horror of the superstitious enemies of the ninja, giving him an additional chance to win.