Ninja History

History of the Ninja

The history of the Ninja is hard to trace. This is because there were few, if any records kept of its existance. Most of what is known about the ninja is taken from stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.Ninja

Nonuse (“the art of stealth”) was first introduced to Japan in 522 A.D. as a religion practiced by priests. These priests were not violent people, they were “mystics” who gathered and shared information for the ruling classes. The ninja as we know them were not introduced until later.

It wasn’t until 645 A.D. that the priests perfected their fighting skills and made use of their knowledge of nonuse. This was because they found themselves being harassed by the central government and found in necessary to protect themselves.

In 794-1192 A.D. the new civilization flourished and with it, a new class of wealthy, privileged families. These families fought with one another in attempts to make or destroy emperors. The need for spies, informants and now assassins grew as these families dueled for power. They were suspicious and jealous of one another and would resort to any means necessary to eliminate any possible threats. Therefore, the practitioners of nonuse were in great demand. With this, the ninja was born.

NinjaAs the ninja gained popularity, so did the stories of their superhuman abilities. This reputation was often encouraged by the ninja themselves. Because they were a relatively weaker people then their counterparts, the samurai, and were vulnerable to attack by the many warring families around them, it was to their advantage to have others believe they had such powers. Powers like having the strength of ten men, ability to turn into animals, fly and become invisible at will. The ninja movies also added to the abilities by having the ninja jump over buildings in a single jump, catch bullets in their teeth and see into the future.

At this point you must understand the samurai to truly understand just why the ninja were so effective and in such demand. The samurai’s life was to “live by the sword, die by the sword”, with no fear of death at all. His sword was his whole life, his soul. With this he followed the warriors code of honor, the Bushido. The bushido was to be followed at all times. If a samurai were to stray from the code he would then commit seppuku, another term for hara-kiri. This was a ritual suicide where they would cut their stomach open with their smaller sword.

Ninja SmokeThe ninja followed no such code. Their only code was to do whatever it takes to get the job done. This gave the ninja a great advantage right away, add the use of a wide variety of weapons and you have a superior warrior. Since the samurai could not sneak into an enemy’s house, because it was against their code, they could not carry out such tasks as assassination and sabotage. This is where the ninja came in. And if that meant sneaking up behind a samurai warrior and killing him before he even knew he was in danger, that was very permissible by the ninja. The bushido would never allow for this. For this reason the samurai were afraid of the ninja. A fear the ninja had earned.