Ninjutsu is a systemized Japanese martial art used for the specific purpose of espionage. The art was practiced by the shinobi or ninja that rose to prominence during Japan’s Sengoku period (1467-1573; aka Warring States period). However, the origin of ninjutsu is just as secretive as the men who practiced the art.
One version theorizes that the ninja started via the Chinese Tang dynasty (618-907); the first recorded sect of assassins practiced their secret arts in the forests of northern China. It was during Korea’s Three Kingdoms period (circa A.D. 663, Koguryo, Paechta and Silla kingdoms) that the Tang-backed Silla used Chinese assassins to defeat the Japanese-back Paechta. This gave rise to the Korean sulsa assassins that possibly influenced the rise of the ninja.
Most people are familiar with the romanticized image of a ninja: people running around in face-covered black attire. However, the most effective ninja are the ones sitting next to you in math class, blending into their surroundings. Ninjutsu encompasses kicking, grappling and taijustsu (linear and circular empty-hand skills). It also emphasizes the use of traditional weapons such as the sword, dagger, dart, weighted chain and shurikens (ninja stars). Modern training forgoes past ninja skills like horsemanship, explosives and poisons.
– April 4, 2014