Monday, April 15, 2013

How To Be... a Ninja!

This post started out as my "A" post. No, really, it did, because I was going to do "assassin." However, everything I was looking up about assassins kept leading back to ninja, and who ever says, "I want to grow up to be an assassin"? No one I ever knew. No, everyone said either, "I want to be a ninja," or, "I want to be a ninja assassin." I think assassin is more of a subheading under a lot of other careers these days, anyway, meaning that you get trained to be something else, first, like, say, a sharpshooter in the military or a spy or, well, something and, then, end up using those skills to kill people.

Interesting fact: the term "assassin" actually has Middle Eastern origins. The Order of Assassins, founded by Hassan-i Sabbah, dates back to just before the First Crusade.

But what about the ninja?
I don't want to get into an actual history lesson, here, so, to put it simply, the ninja--or shinobi, as they were called back in the 1400's--were a reaction to the samurai during a period of great unrest in Japan. The samurai were bound by strict codes of honor and combat and weren't free to... take care of certain types of business. The ninja (shinobi) came about as a result. They had no such codes and developed as covert agents using more unorthodox means: espionage, sabotage, assassination. A samurai would never assassinate anyone. Contrary to popular opinion, the ninja were not strong in direct combat skills, generally speaking, and confrontation of that sort was only a last resort. In short, the ninja had no honor and were outcasts from the rest of Japanese society.

So the first thing you need in order to be a successful ninja is a questionable moral compass. You have to be willing to, well, kill people... behind their backs, so to speak. Sneak and break into places. Steal. Spy. Wait... this is sounding kind of familiar...

You need to learn the art of silence. One source I found said simply, "Practice walking quietly." In a broader sense, you can't go around telling people you're a ninja. I actually had a friend in high school who bought himself a "ninja suit" and told people he was a ninja. That's how you know when someone's not. But, as to being quiet, as a ninja, you may need to stayed concealed for days at a time, so silence is a must.

You have to learn how to think ahead. Plan your escapes in advance. The ninja have been referred to as ghosts, and this is why. A successful mission can rely on a planned escape route. And make sure you have more than one planned.

Be a master of your whole self. It's no picnic keeping concealed for days at a time, so you have to be a master of your body. Also, remember that no one should know you're a ninja, so you can't go showing off, which may mean walking away from a fight in disgrace rather than demonstrating your skills and kicking some ass. See, a samurai would never walk away.

As for the killing, you have to be able to kill people in secret. Knowing about poisons is a strong skill set for a ninja. What each poison does for whatever effect you're going for. Should it be painful? Should it look natural? Should it scare other people? Long distance ways of killing are also important, so things like the bow and arrow or the blow dart (or, in today's world, a sniper rifle). Sometimes, killing someone would mean hiding for days in a toilet, so, well, be prepared for anything.

You know, all of these things kind of sound like being a CIA agent, so, maybe, that's the best way to be a modern ninja.
Well, that or joining Alex's ninja army. Yeah, that one sounds a lot safer. And much less likely to have you hiding in sewage for three days. So that's my advice; drop by and see Alex and see if he has any spare pajamas for you.


  1. I'm a ninja...shhh...don't tell anyone. (walking silently away)

    Jennifer a.k.a Urban Gypsy Girl

  2. Ninjas are supposed to be almost invisible, and now I know why ;)

  3. Questionable moral compass...check. Art of silence...Not check.

    Guess I'll have to stick with Alex's ninja army. Unless he kicks me out because of that whole questionable moral compass thing...

  4. That's right - safer in my Ninja Army! No killing required because we do have morals. (And MJ, I would never kick you out!)
    Thanks for the mention, Andrew.

  5. Interesting stuff! I never really knew what the hell a ninja was - only association I had was those ninja turtle things from way back then - and even those I only know by their name : ninja turtle! Thanks for the survey on ninja and, no, I don't think I want to be one. I do like: "Be a master of your whole self." That is appealing. :)

  6. You are a Ninja if you climb mount Midoriyama. Or a ninja warrior - which, apparently, isn't that big a deal.

  7. I first came across Ninja in the novel Shogun by James Clavell which, to me, was one of the best books I have ever re-read. I cannot imagine Alex's Ninja army behaving like the Ninja actually did.


  8. As usual, I'm a day late and a clever retort short.

    But I enjoyed this one.

  9. Ah, another ninja post. How can we resist. Though mine is of course about the more generic, modern Hollywood version. But still, gotta love assassins.

  10. Being a Ninja would be cool but I would have to seriously spruce up those drab outfits.

  11. I wouldn't be a very good real life ninja. But I can walk into a room with stealthiness.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  12. My cat's a ninja. She came that way.

  13. It's weird to think that American love ninjas when they were so hated for being sneaky Andrew. Maybe that says something about Americans. I hope not.

  14. Historically definitely a bit different from our romanticized modern idea of Ninja. Shogun, by James Clavell, has a great scene that illustrates the true historic difference between Ninja and Samurai.

  15. Jennifer: >whispers< Okay...

    T.: Yep. It's hard to kill someone if he sees you coming.

    Sheena: Well, have you?

    M.J.: Hmm... now, I'm trying to figure out in what ways you're not silent.

    Alex: There needs to be a special ninja sub-type here.

    Graciewilde: Yeah, too bad it's not as easy as it sounds.

    Rusty: Okay, I looked that up, and I still know no more about it than what you just said.

    Jo: I need to read that.

    Briane: I'm counting several days.

    S.L.: What I've learned is that if someone really wants you dead, there's probably not anything you can do about it.

    JKIR,F!: Hmm... I think that might make it more difficult to hide in the dark.

    Lee: I don't think I'm very stealthy.

    C. Lee: I think cats come with a ninja gene. One that includes "questionable moral compass."

    Maurice: Yeah, it might. Although, the Japanese began all of that with their own fascination with them.

    Matt: Yeah, our idea of ninjas have nothing to do with the history.

  16. Now, if I could be a super model ninja that might be just the thing. I could like be in disguise as a model and - never mind this won't work. Maybe a lumberjill ninja. I'll hide out in trees.

  17. I take it you've never seen the ninja warrior game show then? An obstacle course is set up and all one has to do is complete it (them - its actually several courses) and you will be named ninja warrior. Anyway - the final obstacle is callee Mt Midoriyama. I'm sure there are tons of YouTube clips. It's really impressive. Only a handful of people have ever completed the course. Maybe 3 or 4 out of thousands of contestants.

  18. "A master of silence." I like that!

  19. Donna: Yeah, I'm not thinking most supermodels have any good places to hide weapons in those skimpy outfits, anyway.

    Rusty: No, I've never seen that. Or heard of it.

    Pk: I think more people should work on that one.

  20. My boys have wanted to be ninjas for quite a while and after I told them that they were assassins one of them said they wouldn't want to be one, but the other said "I'd be the good ninja and only kill bad guys."
    Nice post!
    Kids Math Teacher

  21. Lucy: Well, theoretically, I guess that could happen. G. I. Joe does have Snake Eyes, after all.

  22. I'd heard before that ninja's were outcasts and much more discreet than popular culture presents them--it's interesting how their image has been changed.

  23. Questionable moral compass--yes. Kill--yes. Sneak--yes. Silence--can't do it.

  24. I didn't know any of this, root words, or that ninjas weren't honorable, standup guys would weren't into direct confrontation. Thanks for the lesson.

  25. I didn't know any of this, root words, or that ninjas weren't honorable, standup guys would weren't into direct confrontation. Thanks for the lesson.

  26. I think I prefer our own Ninja Captain.

  27. MP: Wow... I'm impressed. Willing to kill but not to be silent.

    Robin: Yeah, they were long thought of as dishonorable cowards.
    And no problem.

    David: Thanks!

    Nancy: He is much safer.

  28. THis was a fun education . THanks

  29. Also, don't dress in black all the time. It kind of defeats the purpose of being an assassin.

  30. I'll forego the CIA/ninja/assassin training and stick to being one of Alex's ninja army groupies. Feels a bit safer. ;)

  31. Cool, I want to be a ninja! Well, minus the killing. And minus everything except the cool stuff. Actually, I just want to move in ninja style. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

  32. hmmm I don't think I'd be a very good ninja. I couldn't dubious morality/outcast thing, sigh :(

  33. Zoe: You're welcome!

    Jeanne: No, you only dress in black when you're busy assassining.

    Kimberly: Yeah, his army is pretty huge.

    Kristen: That sounds like a song or a dance: "Moving Ninja Style."

    Winopants: Yeah, you probably wouldn't get very far.

  34. TGE: Bah! Somehow, I missed responding to you, although I saw your comment when it came in.
    It is interesting. Much of it has to do with the legends the Japanese developed about the ninja to begin with. They romanticized them first.

  35. One of Eric Lustbader's earliest books was The Ninja, published in the early eighties, when the ninja craze first started.

    It is a must-read if you like suspense novels.

  36. DisConnected: I don't actually read a lot of suspense, but I'll try to keep it in mind.

  37. Great post, you've done your research. :D

    I had two short posts related to ninjas, one was about kunoichi and the other about ninjutsu. Sadly I didn't pre-write my post so I didn't have time for more research.

  38. Nadica: I was tempted to cover more, but the post would have just gone on and on.