Japanese Culture Teaching Notes


Ninja - Weaponry

Much of the mystique of the ninja lies in their arsenal of weaponry. Books published as long ago as 1676 illustrate many of the ninja weapons and techniques that were in use. The main weapons used by the ninja were the same weapons employed by samurai: the sword, the small sword, the bow and arrow. Other weapons, however, seem to have been unique to the ninja art:

Clawed Weapons: There are two principal kinds: the neko-te or "cat's claws," and the shuko or "tiger's claws". The neko-te consists of sharp pieces of metal extending from the end of each finger, like the claws of a cat. This is supposedly a defensive weapon, used mainly by female ninjas. The shuko, on the other hand, has many applications. In addition to use in combat, they can also be used to assist in scaling walls and climbing trees. A matching pair can go on the feet.

Sickle Weapons: The short handled sickle, or kama was a weapon that could be put to good use by ninja operatives. Since owning a weapon was banned to all but samurai, a ninja walking around with a utility belt full of swords and shuriken may stick out a bit. But the kama was a common farming tool, and a ninja carrying such a weapon would not call attention to himself. It can also be attached to a chain and becomes a much more complicated and dangerous weapon then, with greater range and utility.

Shuriken: No discussion of the ninja is complete without mentioning the famous shuriken, or "throwing stars."

Invisibility Weapons: The ability to disappear or become invisible is one of the legendary traits of the ninja. To aid in this ability there was developed metsubushi, or "sight removing" techniques. A powder concoction would be created, the recipe of which differed from clan to clan, ninja to ninja, but usually included a variety of eye irritants (like our modern day pepper spray), and placed into an egg shell or nut shell for quick use. Combined with small explosives, the shock and surprise and itchy, running eyes should have been enough to allow a ninja to make his escape.

Mudras: Part of the mystic side of the ninja arts is the forming of various hand signals called "Mudras." These Mudras are now a core component of the spiritual ninja's training, and can be seen in many films. In ninja legends and myths, these hand signals would usually be made to perform magic. However, these hand signs have very little connection to the ninja. Probably they became part of ninja mythology as part of their association with the yamabushi, the mountain pilgrim monks.

Posted by ・Andrea :: 2:33 AM :: 2 Comments:

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