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Ninja (in Russian, the word is not inclined, consisting of the hieroglyphs "nin" ("shinobu" in another reading) - "endurance", "endurance", "patience", "perseverance" and "dzia" - "hidden", "secret "," inconspicuous ") denotes a hardy, stubborn person who acts in secret, covertly. Another reading is also possible - after all, the hieroglyph "nin" consists of two hieroglyphs: "sword" and "heart, spirit". Therefore, the word "ninja" can be translated as follows: "although the enemy's blade is at my heart, I will stand and be able to win." The word "ninja" itself appeared not so long ago, and about eight hundred years ago the hieroglyphs were read differently: "shinobi-no mono" - "hiding, secretly penetrating man."
In many Hollywood films about the life of people in ancient Japan, a small man in black clothes often appears, as if out of nowhere. Showing miracles of dexterity, he easily climbs the sheer wall, quickly and quietly deals with the guards, effortlessly defeats the battle-hardened samurai, sends the frightened shogun to the next world with one touch. After that, the mysterious warrior circles his pursuers around his finger, jumping from roof to roof, hiding in dark corners or creating a smokescreen around himself, and finally, without a trace and soundlessly disappears into the darkness of the night. This is exactly how, according to the directors, the legendary Japanese shadow warrior, the invisible warrior - the ninja looked and behaved.
Ninja first appeared at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), when during the war between the Taira and Minamoto clans, the commander Minamoto Yoshinaka, who seized the capital of Kyoto and proclaimed himself a shogun, was defeated on the Uji River. One of the samurai of the deceased Yoshinaki - Daisuke Nishina from the village of Togakure - founded a family community in the wooded mountains of Iga province and began to teach people the art of fighting (Togakure-ryu). The ruler Yoshitsune, who repeatedly tried to catch the former servant of Yoshinaki, was overthrown from the throne, fled and, like Nishina once, founded a community of peasants, whom he began to teach the martial art (Yoshitsune-ryu).
As time went on, rulers were replaced, internecine wars were waged - and the ronins (samurai who did not have a master) left for the remote mountainous regions of Japan - Iga and Koga. It was there that the two main schools of ninja subsequently formed. Initially, communities were replenished not only by soldiers, but also by peasants, hunters, bandits, etc. Scattered groups of ninja struggled to survive. Samurai treated them with contempt and often staged attacks on settlements, killing everyone who came to hand. This forced the soldiers, who were in the position of exiles, to surround both the location of the settlements and themselves with an impenetrable veil of secrecy. Therefore, after some time, access to the mountain communities for newcomers was closed - the communities of exiles and refugees turned into tribal communities of professional spies and assassins who developed unique methods of training the body (ninjutsu) and spirit (ninpo). By the early 17th century, there were about seventy ninja clans in Japan. Some rulers used the services of shadow warriors, but when the Tokugawa shogunate gained stability, the need for the services of bodyguards and spies dropped sharply. The number of mountain camps decreased every day, and ninja warriors were forced to move to cities and villages, mastering more peaceful professions. Today there are almost no real ninjas, and there are very few documentary historical facts about them, but rumors, legends, there are as many misconceptions as you like. We will try to debunk some of the most persistent myths.
The art of ninja can be studied nowadays, in fact, many elements of the combat techniques of the shadow warriors have survived to this day, therefore it is impossible to say that ninjutsu is completely lost. But, unfortunately, not a single reliable description of ninja training has reached us. One can only assume that in closed family communities, training began in infancy (for example, strong swinging of the cradle trained the vestibular apparatus, playing with a weighted ball - mobility, endurance, coordination, etc.). From childhood, future ninjas were taught the art of balance (walking on a tightrope, a pole, a log), the ability to remain motionless for a long time in one or another position, control of their breathing, special swimming styles, allowing them to keep the weapon dry. Climbing on trees, walls, rocks, ceiling beams was also practiced, the ability to group when falling was practiced, to use, for example, tree branches to damp speed, to navigate the terrain, to recognize the tracks and voices of animals and people, to hide their own tracks, to move silently, to memorize seen and heard, etc. How exactly the warriors were trained in the aforementioned skill remains a mystery.
Ninjas are professional assassins and first-class warriors. According to historical data, most often the function of the ninja was espionage. That is why training in martial arts was by no means the basis of their training. Instead of constantly improving their combat skills, ninjas developed memory and observation, learned the ability to sneak into rooms, yards, etc., move almost silently, and confuse tracks. In addition, a lot of attention was paid to the development of paranormal abilities, allowing you to subdue the will of people you met by chance, to influence their memory, to find out the necessary information.
In open combat, the ninja easily defeated the samurai. Misconception. Most often, the ninja succeeded, they preferred not to bring matters to an open fight. They tried with all their might to neutralize the enemy before the battle, or, if the battle could not be avoided, stun him and hide as quickly as possible.
Professional ninjas have always worn black (red, blue) clothing of a special cut. The aforementioned black attire was not at all everyday clothing, nor was it a uniform that all ninja were required to wear at all times. This is just a ghillie suit that made its wearer almost invisible in the dark. Moreover, according to experts, a pure black color is not always able to qualitatively disguise a person, since it "shines" even in almost complete darkness, therefore the optimal choice is dark green or brown clothes. The ninja chose clothes in accordance with the time of day, weather, type of task, but in any case, the main task of his costume is to make the owner less noticeable to others, respectively, these warriors never wore robes of bright colors (red, orange, etc.), preferring an ordinary kimono in everyday life.
All members of the ninja community were warriors. Certainly, certain martial skills were taught to all members of the clan. But, since the ninja community was self-sufficient, it consisted not only of warriors and their commanders - it included artisans, peasants, etc.
There were no women among the ninja warriors. Completely erroneous opinion. Among the shadow warriors there were many kunoichi (ninja women) who were trained according to a slightly different program - beautiful spies learned to sing, dance, play various musical instruments, recite poetry, compose ikebana, conduct a tea ceremony. Hiding under the guise of a dancer, geisha, servant or aristocrat, the female ninja was an excellent connoisseur of poisons, camouflage, seduction and psychological influence on the interlocutor in order to find out the necessary information. Kunoichi's favorite weapons were poisoned iron claws (some or tekagi) attached to their arms with leather straps. With this weapon, women tried to hit the eyes of the enemy. However, the kunoichi could kill with a kiss, tearing out the root of the tongue of a man blinded by passion with a sharp jerk. Severe bleeding and painful shock rendered the victim completely helpless and led to death within a very short time.
The multi-beam "stars" with which the ninja's pockets were stuffed strike without a miss at any distance. Indeed, the ninja's arsenal included shurikens (derived from a flat sharpened hairpin hidden in the hair and used only as a last resort), which is a thin steel plate in the form of a swastika or a star with sharply sharpened edges. The angles of the "stars" were most often four or five - it was believed that the greater number of rays made it difficult to handle this type of weapon. Compact, easy-to-use shurikens were appreciated not only by ninjas, but also by samurai, and were most often used for defense or "psychological attack" - after all, when flying, this weapon emits a characteristic sound that distracts the enemy's attention or instills confusion in his soul. In addition, sunlight is well reflected from the shiny surface of the "star" - this property was used by the ninja to transmit signals to each other. A strong warrior who accurately threw a shuriken could actually kill a person, but the range of this type of weapon was limited. If the target is at a distance of 10-15 meters, the shuriken can do real harm only if it hits a certain point (for example, a temple) or is poisoned. And the myriad of shurikens flying out of the hands of ninjas can only be seen in the movies. In fact, the warrior wore only nine "stars" in a bag on his belt (this number was considered lucky).
The main ninja weapons were nunchucks. Nunchucks, which are two short, heavy sticks fastened with a chain or rope, were popular on the island of Okinawa, among the followers of Kobudo. Ninja did not use this type of weapon for the simple reason that it is rather difficult to quickly kill or seriously harm the enemy with the help of nunchaku.
The ninja often used gunpowder. Indeed, cannons, incendiary grenades (te-pao), smoke grenades, and a little later, crossbows were often used by ninja to device attempts on the rulers. They also used powdered poison, which they threw in the face of the enemy.
Ninjas are “free knights.” In fact, judging by the rather contradictory information preserved in the few written sources about ninjas, they were both philosophers and gymnasts, and alchemists, and robbers, and wonderful actors, masterfully mastering the art of fighting and disguise. The ability to reincarnate, to behave naturally and at ease in any environment, the ability to endure pain and perform the most unexpected and, sometimes, from the point of view of the layman, simply impossible actions in order to achieve their goal made them incomprehensible and mysterious. In these people, many skills, philosophies and worldviews merged, which helped them to be anyone, and at the same time be nothing.
Spies and assassins have been called ninja since ancient times. This is not entirely true. The word "ninja" appeared in the Japanese language only in the 20th century. Prior to that, the hieroglyphs that make up this word were read as "shinobi-no mono" ("hiding man", "secretly penetrating man"). To designate spies and spies, the terms "kaja" ("a person penetrating through holes"), "ukami-bito" ("a person who learns secrets"), "mitsumono" ("triple people"), "datsuko" (" abducting words ")," kikimono-yaku "(" serving listeners ")," kagimono-hiki "(" sniffing and eavesdropping ")," lin kuei "(" forest demons "), etc.
The ninja invented the straight sword. In fact, the famous ninjato - a straight sword, the honor of which the ninja is credited with inventing, was born during the Second World War. Ninja also sometimes used chokuto, a double-edged weapon with a short blade. It should be mentioned that the straight sword was very rare in medieval Japan. Such a blade was quite difficult to make, and in a battle, for example, against a samurai, the above type of weapon will not help much. The fact is that the armor of the Japanese warrior of those times consisted of steel plates pasted over with leather and coated with colored lacquer, overlapping each other. This armor of the so-called lamellar type was extremely strong, but had one weak point - they were fastened with a long silk cord, which, if cut, could quickly leave the enemy unprotected. For this, a long curved samurai sword - a katana, and not a short straight ninjato - was the best fit.
Ninja invented many special types of equipment and always went on the next mission thoroughly equipped, in any case, they never parted with a sword. The samurai tried not to part with the sword, and in the hands of a ninja disguised as an ordinary peasant, for example, the katana would look at least suspicious. Therefore, shadow warriors preferred to equip themselves with less visible and more compact and effective types of weapons, which were rarely their invention. Most often, ninjas simply adapted ordinary household items and agricultural implements to their needs and requirements. For example, a shuriken is just a sophisticated modification of a common sharpened hairpin. In addition, a tool similar to the ninja's "star" was often used by carpenters to extract nails from wood (perhaps that is why shadow warriors often disguised themselves as representatives of this particular profession). The kunai knife is an ordinary flattened sharply sharpened nail (moreover, the modern idea that the edge of this weapon is sharpened is incorrect - most often the kunai was used as a crutch to fasten the rope). Wrist claws (tekagi or shuko) - wooden plates with curved metal spikes evolved from the usual studded shoes used for walking on ice and snow. Ninja only slightly altered this (very ancient) invention - tekagi migrated to the hands of warriors and were used for climbing trees, and in battle - to repay an inaccurate sword strike or to inflict wounds on an opponent. The victim looked as if he was attacked by a wild beast, and few could prove that in reality the ninja warrior was the culprit in his plight. To cover the retreat, the ninja used the multifaceted makibishi spikes (or their modification that produces a weak explosion when compressed - bakura-bishi). A handful of such thorns, scattered on the road, could detain the pursuers - this type of weapon severely damaged the legs of the soldiers, shod in straw sandals. And with the help of igoromi - ordinary rice, painted in different colors (red, white, black, yellow, blue, brown), the ninja exchanged information. The seeds scattered in prominent places made up a certain color combination, for example, served as a warning of danger. In the arsenal of the ninja there were many agricultural tools, partially modified to increase efficiency in combat. These are kama and kusarigama (sickles), bo (pole), dze (club), kumade (sharp rake). But there was no need to carry these bulky devices with you - at any moment the ninja had a lot of things at hand that could be used as weapons.
The ninja killed Prince Uesugi with a spear through a hole in the outhouse. In this particular case, it is just a legend aimed at showing the conditions under which the killer is sometimes forced to work in order to achieve the set goal. From written sources it follows that Prince Uesugi died a natural death, in which the ninja were in no way involved.
Ninja knew how to transform into demons.Most often, instead of transformations, the shadow warriors skillfully used painted wooden demon masks, equipped with miniature sprayers of a combustible mixture. The terrible appearance, complemented by the illusion of "fire breath", plunged into terror the superstitious enemies of the ninja, giving him an additional chance to win.