The kanji for "ninja".
Also known as Ninpō, Shinobi-jutsu
Hardness Non-competitive
Country of origin Japan Japan
Parenthood Military tactics

Ninjutsu (忍術?), sometimes used interchangeably with the modern term ninpō (忍法?),[1] is the strategy and tactics of unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare and espionage purportedly practiced by the shinobi (commonly known outside Japan as ninja).[2]Template:Page needed Ninjutsu was a separate discipline in some traditional Japanese schools, which integrated study of more conventional martial arts (taijutsu) along with shurikenjutsu, kenjutsu, sōjutsu, bōjutsu and others.[citation needed]

While there is an international martial arts organization representing several modern styles of ninjutsu, the historical lineage of these styles is disputed.[citation needed]

Some schools claim to be the only legitimate heir of the art, but ninjutsu is not centralized like modernized martial arts such as judo or karate.[citation needed]
Togakure-ryū claims to be the oldest recorded form of ninjutsu, and claims to have survived past the 16th century.[citation needed]


Main article: Ninja

Spying in Japan dates as far back as Prince Shōtoku (572–622), although the origins of the ninja date much earlier.[citation needed]

According to Shōninki, the first open usage of ninjutsu during a military campaign was in the Genpei War, when Minamoto no Kuro Yoshitsune chose warriors to serve as shinobi during a battle.[citation needed]
This manuscript goes on to say that during the Kenmu era, Kusunoki Masashige frequently used ninjutsu. According to footnotes in this manuscript, the Genpei War lasted from 1180 to 1185, and the Kenmu Restoration occurred between 1333 and 1336.[3]Template:Page needed Ninjutsu was developed by groups of people mainly from Kōka and the Iga Province of Japan.[citation needed]

Throughout history, the shinobi were assassins, scouts, and spies who were hired mostly by territorial lords known as the daimyōs. Shinobi are mainly noted for their use of stealth and deception. Throughout history, many different schools (ryū) have taught their unique versions of ninjutsu.[citation needed]

An example of these is the Togakure-ryū, which was developed after a defeated samurai warrior called Daisuke Togakure escaped to the region of Iga. He later came in contact with the warrior-monk Kain Doshi, who taught him a new way of viewing life and the means of survival (ninjutsu).[2]:18-21

Ninjutsu was developed as a collection of fundamental survivalist techniques in the warring state of feudal Japan.[citation needed]

The ninja used their art to ensure their survival in a time of violent political turmoil.[citation needed]
Ninjutsu included methods of gathering information and techniques of non-detection, avoidance, and misdirection.[citation needed]
Ninjutsu involved training in free running, disguise, escape, concealment, archery, and medicine.[4]Template:Page needed Skills relating to espionage and assassination were highly useful to warring factions in feudal Japan.[citation needed]
At some point the skills of espionage became known collectively as ninjutsu, and the people who specialized in these tasks were called shinobi no mono.[citation needed]

The eighteen skillsEdit

Template:Unreferenced According to Bujinkan members, Ninja Jūhakkei ("the eighteen disciplines") were first stated in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū and became definitive for all ninjutsu schools.[citation needed]

Ninja jūhakkei was often studied along with Bugei jūhappan (the "eighteen samurai fighting art skills").[citation needed]

The 18 disciplines are:[citation needed]

File:Hokusai sketches - hokusai manga vol6.jpg
  1. Bajutsuhorsemanship
  2. Bōjutsustick and staff techniques
  3. Bōryaku – tactics
  4. Chi-mongeography
  5. Chōhōespionage
  6. Hensōjutsu – disguise and impersonation
  7. Intonjutsu – escaping and concealment
  8. Kayakujutsupyrotechnics
  9. Kenjutsu – sword techniques
  10. Kusarigamajutsukusarigama (chain-sickle) techniques
  11. Naginatajutsunaginata (polearm) techniques
  12. Seishinteki kyōyō – spiritual refinement
  13. Shinobi-iri – stealth and infiltration
  14. Shurikenjutsu – throwing weapons techniques
  15. Sōjutsuspear techniques
  16. Sui-ren – water training
  17. Taijutsu – unarmed combat
  18. Tenmonmeteorology

Weapons and equipmentEdit

Template:Multiple issues The following tools may not be exclusive to the ninja, but they are commonly associated with the practice of ninjutsu.

Composite and articulated weapons

  • Kusarigamakama linked to a weight, either by a long rope or chain.
  • Kyoketsu-shoge - hooked rope-dart, featuring a metal ring on the opposite end.
  • - Script error (Han Bō), Script error and Script error () and Script error (Rokushakubō) wooden pole techniques.
  • Kusari-fundo, also known as manriki or manriki-gusari – a chain and weight weapon.

Fistload weapons

  • Kakute – rings resembling modern wedding bands with concealed and often poison-tipped spines, typically worn by kunoichi (female ninja), and enabling ninja to quietly strangle enemies with the pointed ends against the neck or throat.
  • Shobo – a jabbing or piercing weapon, similar in shape to kubotan and yawara, but often featuring a center grip ring.
  • Shuriken – various small hand-held weapons including throwing stars, darts and blades that could be used to stab, slash or they could be thrown.
  • Kubotan or "hand stick" – used mainly for pressure points and subduing opponents.
  • Tekko – an early version of brass knuckles.
  • Tessen – a folding fan with an iron frame. It could be used to club or cut and slash the enemy.
  • Jitte – a weapon similar to the sai.

Modified tool weapons

  • Kunai – a multi-purpose tool.
  • Shikoro – used as a tool for opening doors and stabbing or slashing.

Projectile weapons

  • Fukiya – a Japanese blowgun, typically firing poison darts.
  • Makibishi/tetsubishi – the Japanese type of caltrop.
  • Shuriken – as listed above, these small hand-held weapons could be thrown.
  • Yumi and Ya – traditional Japanese bow and arrow.
  • Bo-hiya – a fire arrow.
  • Tekagi-shuko and Neko-te – hand "claw" weapons.
  • Chakram – disk-like projectiles used as throwing weapons or in hand-to-hand combat.

Staffs and polearms

  • Hanbō, , , and Tambō – various sized staff weapons.
  • Yari – traditional Japanese spear, similar to the naginata.
  • Nagamaki – pole arm with roughly equal-length blade and handle.
  • Naginata – traditional Japanese pole-arm used by women and samurai.


  • Katana – a long curved and single-edged sword, more commonly used by samurai or ninja who disguised themselves as samurai.
  • Wakizashi – a short sword that can be hidden on the ninja's body, also a backup weapon.
  • Ninjatō – an edged weapon used by ninja as swords. Ninjato can be stolen katana from samurai or forged by ninja themselves with varying lengths. There's some doubt as to whether or not ninja actually used such swords.
  • Tantō – a dagger.
  • Kaiken – similar to the tantō.
  • Bokken – a traditional wooden sword used in Japanese martial arts, typically modeled off of katanas.
  • Shinai – a bamboo sword used in kendo.

Stealth tools

See alsoEdit


  1. Green, Thomas A.; Svinth, Joseph R. (2011). Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 163. ISBN 9781598842449. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hayes, Stephen K. (1990). The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art (17th ed.). Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle. ISBN 0804816565. 
  3. Masazumi, Natori; Mazuer, Axel; Graham, Jon E. (2010). Shoninki: The Secret Teachings of the Ninja: The 17th-Century Manual on the Art of Concealment (1st ed.). Rochester, Vernmont: Destiny Books. ISBN 9781594776670. 
  4. Hatsumi, Masaaki (1981). Ninjutsu, History and Tradition. Hollywood, California: Unique Publications. ISBN 9780865680272. 

Further readingEdit

Template:Further reading cleanup

  • Bertrand, John (2006). "Techniques that made ninjas feared in 15th-century Japan still set the standard for covert ops". Military History 23 (1): 12–19. 
  • Callos, Tom. "Notable American Martial Artists", Black Belt Magazine, May 2007, pp. 72–73.
  • DiMarzio, Daniel. A Story of Life, Fate, and Finding the Lost Art of Koka Ninjutsu in Japan, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4357-1208-9Script error
  • Green, T. A. and J. R. Svinth. Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2010.
  • Hatsumi, Masaaki. Ninjutsu: History and Tradition, 1981. ISBN 0-86568-027-2Script error
  • Hatsumi, Masaaki. Ninpo: Wisdom for Life, 1998. ISBN 1-58776-206-4Script error, ISBN 0-9727738-0-0Script error
  • Hayes, Stephen K. and Masaaki Hatsumi. Secrets from the Ninja Grandmaster (rev. ed.), 2003. Boulder, Colorado; Paladin Press.
  • Hatsumi, Masaaki. Essence of Ninjutsu, 1988. ISBN 0-8092-4724-0Script error
  • Mol, Serge (2008). Invisible Armor: An Introduction to the Esoteric Dimension of Japan’s Classical Warrior Arts. Belgium: Eibusha. ISBN 978-90-8133610-9. 
  • Mol, Serge (2016). Takeda Shinobi Hiden: Unveiling Takeda Shingen's Secret Ninja Legacy. Eibusha. pp. 1–192. ISBN 978-90-813361-3-0. 
  • Toshitora, Yamashiro. Secret Guide to Making Ninja Weapons, Butokukai Press, 1986. ISBN 978-99942-913-1-1Script error
  • Zoughari, Kacem. The Ninja: Ancient Shadow Warriors of Japan, Tuttle Publishing, 2010. ISBN 0-8048-3927-1Script error

External linksEdit

Template:Japanese martial arts

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