Ninjutsu (the art of the shadow) is among a few elite systems in the world that maintains an all-encompassing curriculum. More than Martial Arts, Ninjutsu is a lifestyle in which a practitioner not only learns all aspects of armed and unarmed fighting, they are also exposed to many unique skills including stealth, strategy, mysticism, herbology, disguise, and many other areas of knowledge. If you are interested in studying the art of the Ninja, send us an email at RMStunts@aol.com or call 720-560-0981 to set up an introductory lesson.
Ninjutsu is based on the five elemental furies of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Celestial. From the four primary elements, the Ninja learns to employ fighting techniques that utilize strength (earth), cunning (water), ferocity (fire), and dexterity (wind). By developing these four attributes equally, the Ninja gains the ability to unleash the superior fifth element (celestial).
The Ninja's unarmed fighting system maintains in-depth knowledge of vital targets (genkotsu), muscle attacks (koshiwaza), bone attacks (koppowaza), joint manipulation (kansetsuwaza), throws (nagewaza), pressure attacks (gatamewaza), finger locks (yubiwaza), constriction attacks (shimewaza) escapes and reversals (nukewaza) and defense versus weapons (muto).
Training with the Ninja sword cultivates hand/eye coordination and enhances the Ninja’s intuition pertaining to the crucial art of timing and combative distancing. The Ninja sword is designed to be utilitarian, stressing usefulness over ornamentation. It has a shorter blade for increased speed, a longer hilt for enhanced leverage, and a large square handguard for optimal protection.
A Ninja must become a master of weapons. This is accomplished by learning the many weapon systems maintained by the art. Throwing blades (shurikenjutsu), staves and clubs (bojutsu), Halberds (chotojutsu), chains and flails (kusarijutsu), sickles and axes (kamajutsu), spears (sojutsu), cords and nets (torinawajutsu), short bow (hankyujutsu), blowgun (fukidakejutsu), combination weapons (ketsugo buki), hidden weapons (mitsu buki), and firearms (teppo buki).
Gorin Kuji Myo Himitsu Shaku (the secret knowledge of inner strength) is a medative process that is focused on unleashing the dormant spiritual powers that dwell deep within every Ninja. If the Ninja can successfully tap into their inner power, they can accomplish superhuman feats, such as heightening mental and physical strength, healing abilities, directing spiritual energy, projecting thoughts and emotions and tapping into the realm of the shadow.
Ninja are also trained in many auxiliary skills, including stealth (kagejutsu), climbing (noborijutsu), escape and concealment (Intonjutsu), disguise and impersonation (hensojutsu), reconnaissance (teisatsujutsu), infiltration (sennyujutsu), survival skills (seizonjutsu), battlefield strategy (heiho), group tactics (senjojutsu), espionage tactics (tanteijutsu), psychological warfare (saiminjutsu), herbology (habu gaku), and theatrical combat (chambara).
I think most people would agree that martial arts techniques and principles are very applicable in everyday life. Health and fitness, confidence, discipline, self-defense, mental focus, and spiritual refinement. Although these are all valuable resources, what other outlets are there that to make use of a martial artists skills and abilities?
I know many train in preparation for random acts of violence, others enjoy participating in tournaments, and a minority have jobs in law enforcement, security, or the military where their skills are very applicable. However, in all of these scenarios, whether competitive or real world, there is one factor that remains the same. There is a winner and a loser.
However, there is a field where one can win without the need for someone else to lose. I am talking about the Entertainment Industry. I came to this realization over 25 years ago, and I can honestly say that once I became an actor and stunt performer, I felt like my true potential was unleashed.
Within the first few months of my career transition, I found a Hollywood stunt coordinator willing to take me under his wing. It was from him that I would discover that with a good working knowledge of camera technique my Ninja unarmed and weaponry skills were perfectly suited for film. My ability with acrobatics and falls were enhanced so I could fall from much grander heights, I could be thrown from fast moving vehicles, and I learned perform intricate aerial maneuvers through the use of wires. He would also teach me skills that made me face many new challenges, such as setting myself on fire, being dragged behind moving vehicles, and the use of modern firearms.
You wouldn’t think that Ninja skills would translate to the special effects industry, but Ninjutsu is often referred to as the art of “illusion”. So what better place to put that concept to use. I began my quest by utilizing the Ninja art of “Hensojutsu” or “The way of disguise”. The Ninja had to be adept at transforming themselves physically so they could disappear in plain sight. I studied modern applications of this concept by creating and/or applying prosthetic make up. I also took the Ninja art of “Kayakujutsu” or “Fire an explosives skills” to the next level. I studied diligently and acquired my high explosives license so I could do everything from bullet hits to full on pyrotechnic destruction.
My movement and acting coaches were possibly my favorite. Beyond the disguise skills that made the Ninja “look” the part, they also had to be able to “act” the part. To a Ninja this is the skill known as “Hengenkashijutsu” or “The immersion into the illusion”. It is through this art that the Ninja truly learns to emulate the persona they are attempting to portray. Long hours of practice in assuming the personal traits of the character and any other special skills the role might require. A Ninja can be heroic, vulnerable, stoic, benevolent, or whatever emotion will help accomplish the mission…and in this case, the mission is creating a believable character.
Thus, in true Ninja fashion, I found a way to maintain my art in an industry that some would call a battlefield in its own right, and all without the need to use my Ninja arts violently on another human. No one had to lose in order for me to win. It has been the perfect scenario except for one element. Many who meet and work with me regard me as a “film” person rather than a “martial artist”. What they don’t realize is that at my core I am and always will be a shadow warrior. I simply choose to employ my craft in a different arena. But I was not the first to apply Japanese martial arts to film... that began over 100 years ago...
Chambara is the Japanese term for a unique genre of action film that glorified Japan’s Feudal era. What made these films so unique is that they not only told entertaining stories, they also maintained realistic combat. These performed fighting skills were not faked by clever camera techniques because the actors were actually talented practitioners of swordsmanship. The arts depicted on screen had no ties to the competitive styles studied today, but were based on highly effective combative arts thats sole purpose was the efficient elimination of one’s opponent. These films were the perfect medium to tell tales inspired by the heroic exploits of majestic Samurai, the lonely and tragic paths of the masterless Ronin and the deceptive and mysterious deeds of the ghost-like Ninja. Many Kurai Kotori Ninjutsu practitioners are also Chambara artists.
It happened during the Meiji restoration in Japan (1877-1912), where the Samurai class was abolished and thousands of warriors who had served their lords in battle over many centuries were forced to hang up their swords. Ironically, it was also during this time that moving pictures began to take shape under such visionaries as Thomas Edison (Kinetoscope) and Louis Lumiere (Cinematographe). The ability to record visual images presented a new way to capture and preserve knowledge.
The first Chambara film titled “The Fight at Honno Temple” was released in 1908 and its director, Makino Shozo, became known as the father of Japanese cinema. This film utilized the fighting techniques found in traditional Kabuki theatre productions, but because of the films popularity, many renowned sword masters became the primary source of inspiration for developing the techniques that would be used many decades later to create the Samurai and Ninja epics of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
Japanese director Akira Kurosawa made a few of the most memorable Chambara films. Among Kurosawa's best-known swordfight films are “Seven Samurai” (1954) was later remade in America and titled “The Magnificent Seven.” The Hidden Fortress (1957) is acknowledged as an inspiration for “Star Wars,” and “Yojimbo” (1961) was remade as “Fistful Of Dollars.” Directors like Kurosawa brought dirty realism to the Chambara genre, evoking a world of immorality, violence and sudden death.
Chambara was also popular in a variety of film series including; “Zatoichi” (1962-72), “Shinobi no Mono” (1962-66), “Hanzo The Blade” (1972-74), and “Lone Wolf And Cub” (1972-74) based on the epic Manga comics by Kazuo Koike and Goseke Kojima.
Just like the ancient scrolls passed down from teacher to student, Chambara films serve as visual representation of classical arts. Because of this, I have been motivated to teach my students that using Ninja skills as a foundation for working in the film industry can be very lucrative and rewarding. However, like all battles, it requires dedication and focus if one wants to succeed.
an entertainment career is an honorable path for a modern Ninja.