In feudal Japan, ninja warriors were credited with supernatural powers of invisibility and ways of learning any secret. They also were feared for their skill in espionage and assassination. Behind these legends is the reality of an ancient, sophisticated, highly systematic martial art: ninjutsu. Perhaps the least understood martial art of Japan, ninjutsu emphasizes naturalness of movement, responsiveness to one's adversary, and total practicality. Women as well as men were trained in this obscure deadly art. As its form crystallized, practitioners established an organized system for maintaining absolute secrecy. Now, all aspects of ninjutsu are revealed in this remarkable book written by the first American trained as a ninja.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: Great First Book Comment: This is a good introduction the the Ninja's Taijutsu and AnShu's first experience. Customer Rating: Summary: Great book from the first Weatern Master of Ninjutsu Comment: A must-have book to any martial arts student or researcher. Customer Rating: Summary: Hayes own Experience and Introduction to Ninpo as an Art Comment: This was the first book on ninpo I read as a youth. Thankfully, I believe it did a lot to innoculate me against much of the...other stuff out there claiming to be "ninjutsu". Author Stephen K. Hayes actually was proficient in Karate (3rd dan), running a dojo in Atlanta, Georgia before hanging up everything and flying off to Japan to find Masaaki Hatsumi, a Ninja historian and one of the few holders of a legitimate titles of proficiency in traditional Japanese martial arts associated with the ninja of Old Japan.
In Noda City, Hayes meets Master Teacher Hatsumi, and the two discuss martial arts. At one point Hayes is discussing the intricacies of a particular kata (form), when Hatsumi shows an exact imitation of it. For the first time Hayes is struck by the stiffness of the movements.
During their initial meeting, in a discussion concerning the varied physical aspects of Taijutsu in Ninpo, Hatsumi describes making use of striking as well as locking techniques, when Hayes interjects, "Like karate and Judo combined". Hayes ruminates on how his original assumptions probably appeared to Hatsumi a lot like "...comparing ninjutsu to wine tasting and insect collecting" (page 40). What sets this book apart from others is the personal tone, the recounting of actual experiences and situations Hayes encountered. He does his darndest to paint a true picture and keep grandstanding and ego out of the picture.
This is not an repetitive pedantic self help book (thankfully!). Hayes telling of his various encounters in ninjutsu training, with the Grandmaster and other teachers and students in Japan, and Japanese culture--new and old, are the best teaching tools.
Hayes went on to return to the United States and pioneer the legitimate teaching of Ninjutsu. Whether you practice martial arts or not, this book is an eye opening experience, a real education. Customer Rating: Summary: Great history, philosophy, stories and photos. Comment: This is one of the first books that I read about ninjutsu back in the day as a teenager and it still is fun to pull off the shelf and skip around. It recounts Hayes's first encounter with Hatsumi, his finding himself being one of the few non-Japanese to study the art before the big ninja boom of the 80s when everything got so stupid in the public's eye, the brutality of early training under Hatsumi, some recollections of unconventional training and a few demonstrations of techniques. There are also many great photos from the old school, which you may find as interesting as I do.
I would highly recommend Hatsumi's "Secrets form the Grandmaster" recently re-issued, "Essence of Ninjutsu", as well as a highly illustrated, if also slightly inaccurate text by Lewis on the subject entitled "Ninja".
Below you will read many reviews that tear the book up for not being clear, not teaching enough, etc. Fine. But how much can a person learn about movement from a book unless they already know how to move? Same goes for fighting. So dismiss those reviews as not understanding the point of the text. Then of course there is the person who suggests the Ashida Kim books are the real deal and that the techniques of Hatsumi and Hayes are "too weak". Well, anyone can do bad Japanese karate in a black uniform with a mask while holding exotic weapons and call it ninjutsu, but that is not the case with the legitimate instruction of the Bujinkan. If soft equals weak, then that's enough said. But for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the truth is evident. Moreover, I would suspect that those who have ever trained with Hayes or Hatsumi in person would not say such things, at least the pain in their body would tell them they are lying!
Customer Rating: Summary: Full perspective on Ninja Comment: With sensitivity, Hayes gives readers a clear explanation of Ninja history, society, weaponry, and spiritual practice. I appreciated his detailed explanation of the mental training of ninjutsu. Highly recommended.