Just like any martial art, effective ninjutsu requires more than just knowledge of the techniques. It also requires a body that is able to perform those techniques effectively. Here are some training techniques to help condition your body so that you can use ninjutsu techniques effectively.
1. relax your hands and then close them as tightly as you can for two seconds. Repeat as necessary. (If you're doing this right, your forearms will start to feel sore.)
2. Jump up and hang by your hands on a tree branch with your arms straight. Stay there as long as you can. (This exercise was used by training ninja to build strength, endurance, and patience)
Harden your Knuckles:
1. Punch a tree repeatedly. Be sure to wear gloves or pad the tree with cloth so that you don't tear up your hands too much. Tree bark can be like sandpaper.
2. Hit your knuckles against each other repeatedly.
(Hardening your knuckles is important because you don't want to hurt yourself when you punch something.)
3. Get a makiwara. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makiwara)
1. Jump in place while keeping your legs straight. (strengthens you calf muscles)
2. Find a small ledge (like a step or something of similar height) and jump onto it and back down repeatedly.
3. Jump as high as you can until you exhaust yourself.
Leg Strength & Endurance:
1. Go into a low horse-riding stance ( legs double shoulder width apart, knees deeply bent) and stay there as long as you can.
2. Throw a waist height side-kick very slowly, and maintain that position for as long as possible.
Standard exercises (such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, ect.) are also good for conditioning your body and should be done regularly. The ninja would have used body-weight exercises and aerobics to gain the strength needed for martial ability without becoming too slow or bulky. Here are some good bodyweight exercises:
Also, be sure to practice your taijutsu reguarly, especially your dakentaijutsu (kicking and punching) and your ukemi (rolls and breakfalls)
Getting the speed and agility of a ninja isn't just about knowing the techniques, you need to train your body to move swiftly and maintain its balance.
These are some great training strategies that real ninja used to train their bodies for swift and agile movement.
1. Ninja took a thorny vine, tied it between two trees or upright poles, and practiced jumping over it repeatedly. The point is to not touch the vine while going over it. (This is a little dangerous so I just use a normal rope, but the principle is the same, so long as you remember not to touch the rope)
Practice jumping and forward rolling over the rope, cartwheeling, back spin rolling, or any other ukemi you know. Practicing like this daily will greatly increase your technique. Raise the rope's height by one inch a day, and your skills will be amazing in time.
2. At an advanced level of skill with this exercise, trainees in the middle of other exercises would suddenly discover this rope. For example, try practicing your dakentaijutsu (punches, kicks, and the like) while having to get past several of these ropes. (This is easy to set up in a forest area.) Mastery of this allowed the ninja to get past obstacles that could only be passed by jumping over them, and can also help you blend your ukemi into your other actions.
3. To increase running speed, a type of straw hat would be placed on the chest, and if your speed while running was enough, the hat would remain stuck to one's chest by the force of the wind. People who can maintain that amount of speed for long distances develop great stamina. Running in general is great stamina training, and will help train your body to do a lot of work and not get tired.
4.Good balance is essential for good ukemi. To train your balance, there are several exercises you can do. Try walking a balance beam, or if you don't have one, any narrow raised path like a log or even a street curb will work. Try jumping and turning around without falling on this object. If you practice with this exercise, your balance will increase greatly.
5. Another balance exercise is to lay out some objects, such as stones, a good distance apart from each other and try leaping and landing on each of them without touching the ground. If you're using stones, they should be no larger than the size of a sheet of paper. Maintaining your balance when jumping between objects is a skill that any ninja should posses.
Focus, symbolized by RIN, is the most important trait of a ninja. It symbolizes the ability to build the strength of both the mind and body and unite them in perfect sync. A perfect tool for this is meditation. It's much like putting yourself in a hypnotic trance, so that all you can feel is peace. Don't believe in hypnotism? Ever miss what was going on around you because your mind was so immersed in a book or television? That's hypnotism. Meditation is a special kind of hypnotism, focusing your conscious mind on as little as possible. You'll be concentrating your thoughts into a tiny area and blocking every thing else out so that your subconscious can roam free. It's like becoming one with the void.
Many books have been written about just this, but there are only a few things that are completely needed to begin mediating.
1. Breathe slowly, in through your nose and out of your mouth.
2. Focus on an image, (a fairly simple one, geometric shapes are best) and picture it in your mind. Images designed just for meditating on are called "Yantra". Here is my favorite one.
I imagine that the circle is exactly as wide as my field of vision, to that I can barely see the edges. After awhile the memory of the image fades away, and all I am thinking about is the void of nothingness left in its place.
3. Block out everything else. This is the hardest part. If you find yourself thinking about anything else besides your image, gently redirect yourself. If you get angry at yourself or stressed out, it will only make it even harder to focus.
I will add assistance on the other kuji later, but let me tell you one simple thing... each kuji is more difficult than the last to master, but it will seem easier and more simple. That is only because they start to become too complicated to explain. For example, this is what Zen, the last kuji, asks of you. This is also the end goal of Zen mediation:
Find out who you are, not just who you think you are.
This idea, while it sounds simple, is a very complex one. Once you can think of yourself from an objective point of view, you can think of anything with an objective and unbiased view. This idea is known better by the word enlightenment.
Emergency Conditining ("EC") Thanks to our member "Shinobi"
A summary of Emergency Conditioning (from http://www.military.com/special-operations/seal-training-mental-preparation.html)
"Using visualization techniques is a good way to practice what we call emergency conditioning (EC)....It means conditioning the mind in advance of emergencies, thus producing psychological strength in times of crisis. This is also referred to as "battle-proofing" or "battle inoculation" by military personnel. Example: A soldier lying on his cot imagines a nasty firefight with the enemy, including what it will sound like and smell like, the heavy breathing, and the utter exhaustion. If the brain imagines something in deep and vivid detail, it will become part of a person's "experience files." This visualization exercise will actually fool the brain into believing that you have already experienced this event. You can tap into these files at will by hitting the play button that starts the "movie" of what you have already visualized and planned. It will seem more or less familiar if ever you are confronted with a similar experience. This internal battle-proofing gives you an incredible advantage."
A good way to enter a state where you are able to visualize the situation vividly is by entering a meditative state. This is like a form of self-hypnosis.