| The Warrior Creed |
| || Wherever I am, |
Anyone in need has a friend. Whenever I return home,
Everyone is happy I am there.
| || |
Traditionally, Ninja learned to use many different weapons. Many types of swords, spears, staves, throwing stars, and other equipment were practiced; however, not many weapons were learned by children. In the early stages of training, children focused on non-weapon techniques to learn the basics of Ninjutsu. In children's ninjutsu classes today, only two weapons are used - the shuriken and the staff. Let's take a look at these weapons and how they are used in today's training.
| Staff || |
A staff can be any wooden weapon ranging from 3 - 6 feet in length. In class, the focus of staff training is learning how to avoid being struck by a staff, rather than learning how to fight with a staff. Ninja children learn to jump, duck, and roll away from a staff strike. Being able to avoid a hit from a staff is much more important than being able to use one. You will most likely never have a staff with you when having to defend yourself, so rather than learning to fight with a staff, Ninja learn to defend against one. The staves used in today's class are made of soft rubber, so it doesn't hurt if you accidentally get hit.
First and foremost, shuriken are dangerous! Even though the shuriken used in training are made of soft rubber, children still wear protective eyeglasses to prevent being hit in the eyes. Do not do any shuriken training without the supervision of a qualified Bujinkan Ninjutsu instructor! Similar to the staff training, children learn to avoid shuriken more than learning how to throw them. In one game used in class, instructors throw rubber shuriken at children while they use ninjutsu techniques such as tobi (jumping techniques) and yoko aruki (sideways walking) to avoid being hit. Remember, the children are always wearing protective eyeglasses when training with shuriken. And every time you get hit with a shuriken, you have to do pushups. What better way to make sure you don't get hit! In another game, targets are set up 10 - 15 feet away. Two teams throw rubber shuriken and try to hit their target. The team with the least amount of shuriken hitting the target has to do pushups. Learning to throw shuriken helps to teach hand/eye coordination, but like any weapon, should only be used when under the supervision of an instructor. Of all the weapons and equipment used by the Ninja, they consider the sword to be the most valuable and important. Ninja sword techniques were very unfamiliar to the samurai, who relied on a strict code of ethics for fighting with a sword. According to Ninja GrandMaster Masaaki Hatsumi, Ninja swords are shorter than the swords used by samurai. The reason for this was that a larger sword was often too big or heavy, making it difficult for the Ninja to run quickly or hide in small places. In addition, Ninja swords most often did not have a straight blade, contrary to popular belief. Although some Ninja swords have straight blades, most are curved, similar to the samurai sword. The saya (sword scabbard), which held the Ninja sword, is often longer than the sword itself. This allowed the Ninja to hide secret documents or carry distraction powder. Some times the saya also served as a breathing tube, for when Ninja had to swim underwater for long periods of time. Do you see how important the sword is to the Ninja? Its not just a weapon; its a survival tool as well. Children learning sword techniques train using a bokken (wooden sword). First they learn the basic sword kamae, as well as the basic blocks and strikes. This familiarizes them with how a sword feels when being used, and to think of the sword as an extension of their body. As they get older, they learn to use the sword against other weapons, such as the bo and jo. Shuko are most commonly known as the "climbing claws" used by the Ninja to climb trees and scale walls. Shuko are metal bands with 4 curved spikes on one side, which fit over your hands. Not only did the Ninja use shuko to climb, but they also used shuko as a weapon against sword attacks. Shuko are extremely dangerous, and like any weapon, should only be used when under the supervision of a qualified instructor.