Modern Ninjutsu

Synopsis: “Modern Ninjutsu: A Definitive Guide to the Tactics, Concepts and Spirit of the Unconventional Combat Arts” (Balboa Press, 2016)
.
.
By request, I submit to the members a relatively short summary of the topics covered in book “Modern Ninjutsu: A Definitive Guide…” Despite being affiliated with no identified tradition or organization, the book has been selected as one of the “best ninjutsu books of all time” for several years by BookAuthority.com, being placed numerically in rank between works by such notable figures as Masaaki Hatsumi and Stephen Hayes (although that list has grown in both number and type in recent years, to include even “workbooks” and references on “Aiki-Ninjutsu”). In fact, it may be specifically because the book lacks any bias and approaches Ninjutsu from both military and Western views that it continues to hold a place on such niche market lists. Although unrelated to the book, it has been recommended reading for all members of the International Modern Ninjutsu Federation — established by Will Maier, a Bujinkan daishihan — since 2018, largely due to its stress on realism and reduced training of nonessential skills.
.
Let’s briefly review the book, chapter by chapter.
.
Chap. 1: Historic Analysis of a Culture
Like many ninjutsu references, the work starts by exploring the history surrounding the art. However, because so many others have already written detailed chronologies on the development of these arts, this text looks at Japan’s history from three different perspectives — cultural, military and business — to show how well and quickly the Japanese society adopted and modified the practices of others over the course of its entire known history, proving repeatedly that its greatest strength is its persistent progressiveness. Rather than simply focus on a single art, this chapter praises an entire culture of openmindedness that is rarely associated with the nation, but is easily seen in its long history.
.
Chap. 2 — Defining Ninjutsu
Covering five major topics — the traditional definition, general importance of spirituality, primary role of ninja, ethics, and need for focus/ intensity in training — this section cites various sources, both on ninjutsu and Japanese military history, to clarify the image of the Shinobi and debunk some counterproductive myths about the art. Rather than promote the idea of ninja as masters of numerous weapons, this work lists the actual weapons considered to be specialties or required learning in several arts associated with ninjutsu, revealing that most such arts actually focus on as few as 3-5 weapons. Additionally, where many scholars cite the famed “18 Skills of Ninjutsu,” this book shows that this comprehensive list originated as a general Chinese military guide which spread to both Korea and Japan, and therefore applied more to the strategical concerns of Japanese generals than to field agents and special operations personnel.
.
Chap. 3 — Tactical Analysis
Here, the book distinguishes itself by educating laypersons on the differences between strategy, tactics, principles and techniques to help the reader to understand why ninjutsu and its famed historical references focused so much on tactics, and then cautioned on the limits of the “technical mindset” which many martial artists follow. Another large section, covering seven topics, this chapter details “relational maneuver” and “commando” tactics, using various historical and military references — and is perhaps the first work which associated the Chinese classic “Tai Kung’s Six Secret Teachings” with ninjutsu— to clarify the military role of the Shinobi. Covering how tactics affect daily practice and the importance of leadership, this chapter surely introduces concepts previously untouched in books on ninjutsu.
.
Chap. 4 — Ninjutsu Tactics in Focus
This chapter starts by defining and detailing the nine core methods of deception, explaining how they may be applied in both individual conflict and large-scale combat. It then covers traditional ninjutsu concealment tactics, including disguise (and giving brief example lists of ninjutsu guises for both the historic and modern practitioner). Stepping beyond the norm again, this part of the book then goes into “Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield” by detailing military METT-T and OCOKA processes. ”Human Intel Obstacles” and possible solutions to operational issues are given. Finally, threat analysis and “Intelligence Gathering in Daily Life” are explained to help modern ninja aspirants better understand how to positively and productively use their skills to help their communities.
.
Chap. 5 — Focusing on Modern Needs
Another heavy content chapter, this section starts with attitudes or mindsets within a practitioner which may be harmful to himself before conflict is even encountered. Next, it dives into the concepts of “Getting Real About Self-Defense,” explaining how to avoid, pre-emptively spot and counter common street crimes (such as muggings, store hold-ups, carjackings, drive-by shootings and home invasions) using simple methods. Again, stepping into uncharted territories for ninjutsu books, it covers issues with crooked or malicious police. Defense to knife attack concepts are explained, with a clear guideline on how to keep such methods both simple and realistic to modern audiences. Finally, this chapter closes by giving a modern version of the famed “18 Skills of Ninjutsu,” dropping all archaic and unrealistic practices that would be counterproductive in most current settings.
.
Chap. 6 — Why Ninjutsu is Still Needed Today
As the section title suggests, this chapter focuses on why ninjutsu is applicable in modern times, and how it might be used to fill such needs. The focus is on serving the community through recognition of public deception and intelligence gathering, with a special note given on recruitment of military and protective services veterans to best direct their energies toward positive endeavors. Obstacles to the growth and application of ninjutsu are also considered.
.
Chap. 7 — Training for Real World Threats
Here again, the book goes against norms by identifying the most practical principles for meeting modern Shinobi needs and winning violent altercations without undue harm to self, then gives a clear fitness guide on how to proceed. It then details the need for agility training to improve evasiveness, giving various drills for such practice, a sample “obstacle course” for development, and even a sport-specific workout plan that can be used to greatly assist practitioners of ninjutsu, jujutsu and other arts. A simple three-point guide is given for a realistic “unarmed combat reaction” training program. In conclusion, the stages of training for functional skill development is detailed to help both students and teachers alike improve their programs.
.
Chap. 8 — The Way & The Spirit in Focus
Citing various books on warrior training, spirituality, Buddhism and mental powers, this chapter covers various topics. As before, it breaks from conventional martial arts assertions by advocating for practitioners to learn their own language’s translations for spiritual practices from other nations, and even encourages finding equivalents to preferred ideologies in their own cultures. Referring to several famous martial artists, it illustrates how spiritual journeys often result from numerous changes in life, to include spiritual regression. Additionally, development of an “inner warrior” or “Little Man” within the subconscious is covered from several perspectives, allowing one to better blend in socially and carry on a normal life without always projecting a warrior’s energy to the world around us.
.
.
That’s the meat of it.
.
Now, one thing to point out about this book is that it includes many personal anecdotes and real-world examples of the topics covered. Due to the extensive references to real places, Balboa Press insisted upon a pen-name for the author. No photos from the author’s military, police or correctional service time were allowed for their legal protection. Nonetheless, all the short real stories shared — covering from the 1980s to the early 2000s — bring in yet another element rarely presented in other ninjutsu books.
.
Questions?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.