Ninjutsu (忍術)

                                                    The Skills of the Ninja

                          What is Ninjutsu?

Whenever we ask the question "what is Ninjutsu" or "who were the ninja?" we first have to deal with the historical fog (or more appropriately, smoke) the ninja intentionally surrounded themselves with. While the ninja certainly existed (even the famous Tokugawa Iyasu was aided by them (The Iga no Mono specifically) and later employed them as police and bodyguards), a lot of what we know about the ninja is, admittedly, our best guesses. Sometimes the best we can do is try to be less wrong than popular culture! But hey, the Ninja aren't famous for their secretiveness for nothing.

Ninjutsu (or Ninpo) is the system of fighting, survival, and spying techniques developed by the ninja of Japan. Ninjutsu mainly consists of hand to hand combat (Taijutsu) weapons (bo staff, katana, shuriken, ect.) and stealth methods (Shinobi-iri)

The fighting style is said to stem from a mixture of the jujutsu of the samurai (koryu jujutsu) and kung-fu influence from China (kenpo). However, ninjutsu continued to evolve independently due to the needs of the ninja, who often had to take on multiple opponents, finish those opponents quickly without being detected, kill with their bare hands, and escape from multiple pursuers, among other things. 

Ninjutsu is one of only a few martial arts still widely practiced as a bujutsu (fighting technique) instead of a budo (way of fighting). The difference is, budo usually have rules and focus on a specific area of fighting, and are often practiced as sports. For example, Judo focuses primarily on grappling, while taekwondo and karate focus on striking. Bujutsu are taught strictly to be used in real combat situations and for survival, and as such to not have such a specialized focus, although they have their own style, techniques, and "look" to them. Many people make the mistake of thinking of ninjutsu as only a fighting art when in fact, little of ninjutsu is focused on fighting, as the primary focus is on survival and infiltration skills. 

(That is not to say you can't find, for example Karate practiced as bujutsu, but It's nearly impossible outside of Japan and Okinawa.)

Now, I'll address the main reason why most people start out wanting to learn ninjutsu: To become a ninja. First, if you want to ever accomplish the goal of "becoming a ninja" you have to accept that the historical ninja no longer exist (as far as I know... knock on wood. It's not a good idea to offend professional assassins). They were very much a product of that specific time period and geographical location. However, the modern ninja, the practitioner of ninjutsu, lives on. Ninjutsu was and always will be a dynamic art. Part of what made the ninja what they were was their ability to change with the times and adopt unorthodox tactics in order to secure victory: If the Iga no Mono were still around, there is no way they would ignore several hundred years of technological advancement and run around with nothing but medieval clothes and weapons.  

If you really want to become a ninja, the most important thing is not a sword or throwing stars. The very first and most important thing is the ninja mindset, which comes down to three things:

1. Keep what is effective, change what is not. 
2. Fight not for anger or any other emotion. Fight because you must, and if you must fight, win.
3. Accept the truth the moment it appears. There is no time to grapple with denial.

If you want to use deception on your opponents, you cannot deceive yourself. If you are willing to open your mind, wipe clean what you think you already know about the ninja, it's time to start your journey. 


 Hand to Hand Combat (Taijutsu)

Taijutsu, the art of hand to hand combat, is one of the many important parts of Ninjutsu.It itself consists of Dakentaijutsu (Punches and kicks, other body strikes), Jutaijutsu (Grappling, locks, throws), and Ukemi (Rolls and breakfalls.) 

Hand Strikes

Hand strikes are your bridge between kicking (geri) range, and grappling (jutaijutsu) range. Even a block is a kind of hand strike designed to damage the opponent's limbs. Ideally you should be able to employ a variety of hand strikes in quick succession from varying angles. Be relaxed, not tense, and know when to whip your strikes and when to follow through with them.

 Fudo-Ken (The Immovable Fist)- This is the old classic fist, fingers balled up with the thumb on top. Useful for softening an opponents defenses, and pretty much everything else. It has three striking surfaces: Punch, hammer-fist, and back-fist. However, you may need to punch hard objects to harden your knuckles.

 Boshi-Ken (Pressure Point Fist)-  for this fist make a "thumbs up" and then press your thumb down like you're thumb wrestling (thumb against index finger). Strike with the tip of your thumb, so that you can hit small pressure points on an opponent. This is only really useful against soft targets, but nothing else works for nerve strikes (I'll mention those later).

  Shikan-ken (The Middle Knuckle Fist)-  Strike with your middle knuckles, the joints right above your normal ones, or your palm. Harden your middle knuckles the same way as your normal ones.

 Kiten-Ken (The Knife Hand)- The basic "Karate Chop", also known as Shuto. Not really a "fist" but good for moving bones out of place. DO NOT use your fingers at the striking surface (unless you want to break them). Strike with the side of your palm opposite your thumb.

 Shako- Ken (Clawing Strikes)- Commonly known as "Tiger Style" this is holding your hand splayed open as if to claw and scratch, which is exactly what it is used for. However, don't just leave the hand rigid when clawing, dig the fingers/nails in before pulling away, which is more likely to rip skin and muscle tissue. You can also jab at the face (esp. eyes) with the fingers.

Happa-Ken (Cupped Strikes) use open hands to strike the ears. The hands are open and slightly bent, as cups, which you can also use to take water. When training, dont really hit the ears, because it's a powerful dazing strike. This strike can also be used elsewhere as a palm-heel strike.

Koppo-Ken (Bone Strikes)  Like Boshi Ken, but the tip is put on the middle knuckle of the indew finger, so the knuckle of the thumb sticks out and points upwards. The thumb knuckle is used to hit.


Basic Kicks


Front kick

Side Kick

 Back Kick

Roundhouse Kick


Heel Stamp


Lift your knee up almost to your chest, as if about to do a very high front kick. Push your leg forward (instead of snapping it out and up like in a front kick), as if pushing a door open (or kicking it down). You want to hit the target with your heel, instead of the sole of your foot or your toes. To avoid grappling, throw this kick at a slight downward angle and let your foot crash downward after the kick like you are stomping the ground. It's a kick meant to push a person back at close range. 


Yes, I know some of these pics are not from Ninjutsu but the kicks are (almost) the same anyway.


Other Dakentaijutsu

 Headbutting - A headbutt can be a brutal and devastating weapon if used correctly. Simply keep your back straight and smash your forehead into your opponent's face by leaning forward. It shouldn't be a neck motion, it's all in the back. In ninjutsu, this is known as Kikaku-ken, or the Demon-horn fist.



Elbows- The elbow can be a devastating striking tool at close range, either jabbing or swinging it it at your opponent. This is called Shuki-ken.

Knees- Knees can be used when you are too close to kick the opponent.  Simply lift your knee as if preparing a front kick. This is called Soki-ken.

 Bodyslams- various types of body-slams are available to a Ninja in combat. These include shoulder checks (slamming someone with your shoulder), hip checks, or simply jumping onto your foe with massive force. This is called Tai-ken, or body fist.

    Pressure Points: (Kyushojutsu) 


To be a true Ninja, you'll have to learn some anatomy. Hitting pressure points is an important part of Ninjutsu. The proper use of them can "take apart" you enemy's ability to fight.These are some basic pressure points, or easily broken points, on the body.


The Floating Ribs, indicated by the red arrows, are the ribs which are attached only to the spinal column. These ribs break easily, especialy when a Shuto or Shikan Ken hits them.

Nerve Strikes
Ninja used strikes to various nerves to stun or paralyze an opponent. For example, the "funny bone" is really a nerve that is most exposed right above the elbow(the ulnar nerve). As anyone who has hurt it knows, it takes very little pressure to cause the crippling pain and make your entire forearm numb. 



 Nervous system



 The Solar Plexus

  The Solar Plexus, also known as Conceptor Vessel 14 in Dim Mak, is supposedly the most lethal point in dim mak. It is also my favorite pressure point. Behind it there is a large bundle of nerves. It can potentially cause cardiac arrest (stopping of the heart), but it is most useful for the crippling pain it inflicts, forcing the diaphragm to collapse and spasm (this is why you get the "wind knocked out of you") It is right below the the sternum, right between the bottom of the neck and the waist. The Solar Plexus is also most likely the point responsible for the "ninja death punch."




     Grappling (Jutaijutsu)

In ninjutsu, throws, locks, and take-downs are just as important as punches and kicks. Besides, what kind of ninja would you be if you didn't know how to take down your opponents and finish them off?



Ninja Movement (Ukemi)



(The basic Ukemi, the forward, sideways, and backwards breakfalls, are shown in this video. )


Ninjutsu is not just a style of fighting, it consists of many parts. This part, Ukemi, is how Ninja moved. Ninja movement and footwork is one of the things that separates the masters from the white belts, it can easily make or break your technique. However, REAL Ninja most likely did not flip during fights, because it is almost impossible to see what your opponent is doing while you are flipping (but rolling is a different story). It also wastes time, which is not something a Ninja would do. Therefore, the closest you can get to modern Ninja movement is not Free-running which is more about show, but Parkour, which is about efficiency.


Yoko Aruki- Ninja Sideways Walking 

 This technique is the secret to Taisabaki or "body magic", which allows you to disappear and take your body out of harm's way at any time. Usually depicted as being used to move past walls and narrow spaces, Yoko aruki is also the ninja's best friend in combat.  It allows body dynamics to not only keep you from being hit but to easily get behind your opponent or wherever your opponent is vulnerable.

Yoko aruki follows these two rules-


  • The lead foot is always pointed toward the opponent's center. This would be the spot that is directly between his feet.
  • the angle between the feet is 90 degrees, so that the way one foot is pointing is always perpendicular
To use yoko aruki, simply crosstep by having one foot quickly cross over the other, then reset the other foot. To switch your stance from left to right, step out with the rear foot and point it towards your opponent, thenset the other foot behind it at 90 degrees. Always maintain a reasonable distance between your feet so you don't get tripped up.


Ninjutsu Jumping- How to jump like a ninja

At first, I forgot to add this necessity to the site because it's so simple to me. However, there are some guidelines for good jumping that aren't familiar to most people.

1.Don't Squat                                                          

Some people believe that in order to jump high they must squat down first, then jump. What many do not know is that it’s actually harder to jump high this way. Start your jump from a standing, relaxed position. It does help to bend your knees a little, however.

2. Watch your shoulders.
When starting the jump, don’t shrug your shoulders. This is a certain giveaway that you are going to jump.

3. Tuck your feet in, not behind.
When you jump, try and tuck your feet up and into your body, not behind you. By tucking your feet up you can prevent being hit in the feet.

4. Keep your head level.
It is more important to get your legs out of the way than it is to be able to jump 10 feet into the air. Concentrate on bringing your lower body up to
your torso, rather than trying to jump high. This will also help prevent hunching over, or shrugging your shoulders.

5. Land with both feet at the same time.
When you land, make sure that both feet touch the ground at the exact same time. Also make sure that your feet are apart, not close together. If your feet are too close together you will lose your balance.

6. Be quiet!

Remember this is Ninja jumping! Let your legs absorb the landing so you don’t make any noise. (Try using the landing silently technique below.)


Landing Silently- If you want to land silently, first land with your feet about shoulder width, on the tips of your toes, then roll to the balls of your foot. Do not touch your heels to the ground. As you are landing, lean forward, and once your feet hit the ground, touch the ground with the fingertips of one hand. Throw the other hand back to act as a counter-balance. (it should look something like this, just throw the hand that has the kunai in this picture back)


This tutorial is about Rolls, useful for landing safely and dodging attacks. Rolls can be used to go under anything hip level or above, including attacks.


Running on Walls- Running along a wall for more than a few steps is basically impossible, unless the wall is slanted. However, these tutorials tell you how to run on a wall horizontally or vertically.


TIP 1: Don't just step onto the wall to begin the wall run. It is called wall "running" for a good reason! Plus, if you just step onto the wall from the ground, you won't have enough force to drive you up and along. You need to jump onto the wall if you can.

Tip 2: Try using your first step to take you vertical. Then your second step can drive you across the wall horizontally. If you have the height for a 3rd and 4th step use them going down.

TIP 3: DO NOT approach the wall on too much of an angle! This can lead to wall running on the sides of your feet and is very bad for gripping. Instead, approach on a more straight forward line and try to use the balls of your feet.



Climbing Walls

This is actually much trickier than running on walls. The main things to remember are:

1. Grip Strength

A strong grip is very important for wall climbing. This means not only having string hands and fingers but also finding good hand andfootholds so you don't fall off.

2. Center of Gravity

Your center of gravity is right below your belly button. This is also your center of balance. Keep this directly below your handholds at all times, which usually means at close to the wall as possible. Western style climbing does not emphasize this as much but it is very important if you want to save energy while climbing.

 3. Extended Limbs

Try to keep your arms and legs fairly extended instead of deeply bent. This takes less energy and you won't tire out so easily.



Ninja Weapons

The things Ninja used as weapons may surprize you. This is only a few, but it'll give you a good idea of what ninja would use. Ninja weapons come in three main groups:

Killing weapons

Escape weapons

Surprise weapons

There are also weapons that came with disguises, like a staff for a monk or a katana as a samurai. The weapons discussed here are pure "ninja" weapons, weapons a shinobi might use when, for instance, raiding an enemy castle at night wearing his shozoku. 

btw: Ninja most likely did not use Nunchaku (Nun Chucks) they are an Okinawan weapon that were not seen in Japan at the time.

One thing to note about the ninja's weapons was the fact that many were developed from farm tools: The kama was a sickle for cutting long grass and the kunai was a spade. The ninjas were very versatile- that is, they took what they had, and used it as a weapon. There is no weapon that every ninja used, ninja would carry whatever the mission required, and whatever was available was used.

Weapons for killing

Shinobi Gatana (Ninja-to)- This is a short  sword, closly resembling the wakazashi and could be anywhere from as long as a kodachi, to (Very rarely) a katana. The main differences between a kodachi/wakazashi and a shinobi gatana are:


  •  The guard is large, square, and not ornamented.
  •  The saya (sheath) is longer than the sword, so that things can be stored in the extra length.


  • Sometimes they were nearly straight, sometimes they were more curved. A katana blade is originally straight before being quenched, but the two different kinds of steel used for the blade and spine of the katana contract different amounts when cooled, causing the blade to curve. A ninja sword might be more straight simply because the metal was not of the same quality as a samurai's sword.

 Ninja were also not as careful with this sword as the samurai, because they did not worship their swords, they simply saw them as tools. For example, ninja would stick this sword in the ground and use it as a stepladder. However, the ninja-to was the most essential of the ninja's tools, and if it had to be left behind or was lost during a mission, it was the first weapon he would replace.


Kusari Weapons- These are long chains with other weapons attached.

The most famous kusari weapon is the Kusari-Gama, a 6 to 9 foot chain with a Gama (usually said "Kama"), or sickle, attached. These are hard to wield, but they make it very difficult to approach the wielder. The chain has a heavy weighted end that can bludgeon an opponent, and the chain itself can be used to entangle or strangle an opponent.

Another flexible composite weapon was the Kyoketsu Shoge, a two-pronged combination of a kama and a tanto, attached by a 10 to 12 foot cord or rope to a heavy metal ring. (something like a large rope-dart) It is used in mainly the same fassion as the Kusari-Gama. The weighted end can be thrown past the opponent and then sharply pulled back, as to attack the enemy from behind, or either end of the chain can be used to entangle the opponent. Sometimes you can throw the ring slowly just to decive your opponent into catching it so you can throw a loop around his arm and entangle him.


Weapons for Escape-

Shuriken (Ninja Stars)- this really fits in all of the catagories, but I put it here because it is most useful for distracting someone. There are is hardly anyone who doesn't flinch when a fistful of blades is thrown at them. Very rarely did a ninja use a shuriken to actually kill someone. This was more to injure or distract an opponent. Also, a shuriken could be used for something as simple as throwing it across a courtyard to make a noise for distraction. Versitility is the key.

Smoke Bombs- Who hasn't heard about this one? The use of a smoke bomb is simple: Throw a smoke bomb, disappear. This is how you can make one.

Mix 2 parts sugar, 3 parts saltpeter, and a dash of baking soda together, and then melt them in a pot until it is evenly brown and a peanut butter-like consistency. Pour that into some sort of container, then add a fuse while the paste is still gooey. Voila, smoke bomb.

If you don't have access to saltpeter, or if you're too lazy to do all that work, just cut up a bunch of ping pong balls, stick the pieces in another ping pong ball, cover that with aluminum foil, then add a fuse.

Oh, and if you get powdered organic dye and add it to your smoke bomb, you can color it whatever color you like.

Mnkjbniul - Click here for this week’s top video clips

Blinding Powder- any loose ground cover works, but much more effective is filling hollowed out eggs with this mixture:

  • 30% iron fillings
  • 40% wood ash (from a fire)
  • 20% cayenne pepper
  • 10% salt

The above will make black ashy powder which is very dangerous and can permanently blind someone. For a more temporary blindness, mix this one up:

  • 40% flour
  • 20% borax
  • 20% onion powder
  • 20% cayenne pepper


This powder is white, powdery and very irritating, and has an effect of about 15 minutes. Both powder mixtures will make a cloud which hangs around in the air, so make sure you know where the wind is blowing...


Weapons for Suprize-

Neko Te Tekagi (Cat Claw)-metal claws that were attached to the back of the hand. If you are expecting to catch a punch from someone wearing one of these, you are in for a BIG suprize. Shuko are a similar weapon, but the blades are on the inside of the palm, and used for catching and raking at flesh, as well as blocking swords.

Chain or Rope (Kusari no Fundo)- You can tie up an enemy during a fight and immobilize him.

Tanto- A small knife. Easily concealed. The tanto was a favorite weapon of the ninja for a few reasons:

  •  For self defense, peasants and merchants were allowed to carry very short swords or small knives, so a traveller carrying one would not be suspect.
  • The weapon was easily hidden and concealed in loose clothing like a kimono.
  • They could be thrown like shuriken if needed.