For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a ninja. Thanks to my trip to Kyoto, Japan, I had the opportunity to learn how to be a ninja, from a true descendant of ninjas.
Ninjutsu is the strategy and tactics of unconventional warfare. Much like modern special ops, Ninjas or Shinobi were covert agents and mercenaries in feudal Japan.
Used primarily for assassinations, espionage, and spying.
And while I was here in historic Kyoto, I wanted to see what it takes to be a ninja…
How to be a Ninja (step-by-step guide):
Step 1. Dress the Part
Step one, as always, you have to dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
And in this case that means changing into a traditional Shinobi Shozoku.
This outfit is generally accepted as a ninja uniform, but the truth is, ninjas wore whatever it took to blend in. Often disguised as farmers, peasants, and samurai to get closer to their mark.
Step 2. Show Respect
Next, it’s important to show respect at all times.This is something that the Japanese as a whole take very seriously.
Respect for the place, teacher, student, enemy, all things deserve respect.
Step 3. Learn the language
Then, one must learn the ninja meditation practices of Kuji-kiri, which is said to have Taoist, Buddhist and Shinto roots.
There are nine different hand positions used like a meditative hand yoga.
Each symbol represents a specific ability such as healing wounds, predicting danger, and of course, invisibility.
This combination of hand signs, breath, and visualization induces a powerful mental state for ninjas.
Step 4. Gain Power from Breath
Ninjas get power from nature. It is absorbed through deep breathing and then released on anyone who crosses them.
Step 5. Walk the Walk
Once you’re mentally in control, its time to walk the walk.
Eyes and shoulders level. Stay low. Don’t move the upper body. Aware of every movement, down to the little toe.
Step 6. Disappear
Step six, you have to be able to hide weapons in plan site, and even more important… vanish into thin air at a moments notice.
Ninjas use trap doors, hidden compartments, and any advantage possible against attackers.
Step 7. Know your Weapons
After all this, you’re ready to move on to weaponry.
Starting with the sword, and not to be overlooked, its holder. The holder can be used for everything from snorkeling to digging.
Learn the proper grip, position, swing and most effective killing technique with the sword.
Next its the dagger (Kunai) – used in close quarters, this is the ninjas preferred weapon of choice on many occasions
And the Kusarigama which is a weighted chain with a curved blade.
But remember, a ninja doesn’t need a weapon to kill. If necessary, his own belt does the trick.
Perhaps the most popular of them all however is the ninja star (Shuriken).
And finally, if you’re in need of a longer range device, the blowgun is your tool of choice.
The further away the better.
At the end of the day, no doubt this is just an exhibition of Ninjutsu, and unfortunately, because of a few external factors, I’ll never be a secret mercenary for a Japanese emperor.
But thanks to a crash course on how to be a ninja from my instructor, a true descendant of ninja heritage, Izo Ichikawa, at the Ninja Dojo and Store in Kyoto – I came about as close as possible to living out a childhood dream.
And for that reason, I consider today a success.
But please if you learned anything today, for your safety and mine, I think its best if you don’t tell anyone I shared this information with you.
They’re always watching.
Watch the full video of “How to be a Ninja” via YouTube, as well as the rest of my “Travel Deeper Japan” video series.