The Roots of Ninjutsu
Although there has been an evolution of Ninjutsu as a life philosophy over the centuries, the fundamental principles have remained virtually unchanged.
Ninja families were great observers of nature. They felt a close connection to the Earth, similar to the Native Americans, and their lifestyle was one that lived according to the laws of Nature, not against it. Ninja were also very spiritual people, and their beliefs became an integral part of Ninjutsu.
"Ninjutsu" is usually translated as the "art of stealth." The Japanese character, "nin" (also translated as "shinobi") has many meanings, such as perseverance, endurance, and sufferance. The term Ninjutsu is most commonly used to refer to the specific methods and techniques used by the Ninja. Ninjutsu as a way of life didn't happen overnight. It developed over the course of many years. The name Ninjutsu itself didn't come about until several generations after the Ninja lifestyle began.
One of the spiritual influences was Shinto, "the way of the kami." Kami is the Japanese word for "god" or "deity." It implies, however, a feeling for a sacred or charismatic force, rather than a being. The early Japanese regarded their whole world: the rivers, mountains, lakes, and trees, to have their own energy and spirit.
Another spiritual influence on the Ninja was Mikkyo. Mikkyo, for the Ninja, was not a religion as much as it was a method for enhancing personal power. These methods included the use of secret words and symbols to focus their energy and intentions toward specific goals.
It is generally accepted that the methods found in Ninjutsu originated outside of Japan. After the fall of the T'ang dynasty in China, many outcast warriors, philosophers, and military strategists escaped to Japan to avoid punishment by the new Chinese rulers. It is believed that Ninja families were exposed to many of these exiled people's sophisticated warrior strategies and philosophies over the centuries, helping to influence and shape what became Ninjutsu.
The Ninja were also very much influenced by a group of people called Shugenja, who roamed the same mountainous sections as the Ninja. The Shugendo method of spiritual self-discovery consisted of subjecting oneself to the harsh weather and terrain of the area in order to draw strength from the earth itself. They would walk through fire, stand beneath freezing waterfalls, and hang over the edges of cliffs in an effort to overcome fear and assume the powers of nature.
It would be incorrect to say that these three spiritual methods were the actual roots of Ninjutsu, but there is little doubt that they were a large influence. Ninjutsu was and is a separate philosophy.
The Ninja were not particularly warlike, yet they were constantly harassed by the ruling society of Japan. They were routinely subjected to unfair taxation and religious persecution. The Ninja eventually learned to act more and more efficiently in their own self-defense.
They used their superior knowledge of the workings of nature, as well as specific military techniques passed down through the years, as weapons against the numerically superior government armies.
As with any society, there were renegades who misused the training they received. Occasionally, "Ninja" would rent themselves out for espionage or assassination work. Unfortunately these outcasts have become the stereotype of the "evil ninja" that we see today in the media. They were, however, a minority.
The average Ninja worked very much in conjunction with his family and community goals.
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)