Ninjutsu 101 : Training Tools

 Welcome to this installment of Ninjutsu 101! In this article I would like to explain the various training tools used during Ninjutsu training and how someone can obtain or simply make them as cheaply as possible. This article is by no means a complete and authoritative list. Many different people train in many different ways. If something you train with isn't listed here feel free to leave a comment and tell us what it is and the merits it brings to the training. (I will include links to sites that offer good deals on each item beneath their entries)

  •  Uniform - The uniforms used by the Bujinkan are a black gi (karate uniform) and tabi boots. Depending upon the brand and weight of the uniform you purchase the cost can vary greatly. The weight of the uniform refers to the thickness of the material the uniform is made from. Higher weight usually means it will wear out slower and can take more of a beating. Tabi boots can also vary greatly in price depending on the brand you choose. I chose the cheapest I could find for my first pair and funnily enough they are still in good shape! I did the same with my first uniform and went with a middle weight. It was inexpensive and is still in good condition. Green belts are used by the Bujinkan to show all ranks from myukyu (meaning "no rank" which is represented by a white belt, which nearly always come with uniforms) all the way to Shodan (which is the first black belt degree). Sizing uniforms can be a little tricky at first, but nearly all websites that sell martial arts uniforms have a sizing chart you can use to determine what size you need. If you are in doubt for any reason it is better to email them and ask first rather than buy something that won't fit properly (trust me...I know first hand!)                     Ninjutsu Uniforms   Ninjutsu Tabi
  •  Hanbo - The three foot staff. I have always used dowel rods purchased from a hardware store (lowes, homedepot, etc). They last a long time and are pretty cheap. Best of all you can usually find them pre-cut at lengths of three feet and six feet (Rokushaku Bo). You can also purchase a small can of wood stain and a spray can of clear coat to really make a nice training weapon for around a third of the cost of retail versions.
  • Rokushaku Bo - The six foot staff. (See Above)
  • Bokken - The wooden sword. You can get these in many different colors and wood types. Most come with a plastic tsuba fixed to the sword with a band of rubber (making the tsubas removeable). They can get quite expensive but you can purchase them for as little as ten dollars. The bokken I use personally was purchased from a local martial arts supply store for around twelve dollars. I took off the tsuba and stripped/restained the wood. Then I fired up my wood burning tool and burned the Bujinkan kanji as well as the Nin kanji onto the handle. For less than twenty dollars I had a nice custom bokken that has lasted through years of rigorous training.                                                                                      Bokken
  • Kusari Fundo - This weapon is simply a length of chain with a weight on either end. For training you should use a length of rope 18-30 inches long with a knot tied in both ends. You can get rope in various colors, thickness, and material at nearly any hardware store. Lots of the bigger stores charge by the foot (they'll cut it for you) so you can get it pretty cheap depending on where you go. Most people already have some rope laying around anyways, or you could always just use the belt for your uniform.                                                                                                                                      Kusari Fundo
  • Knife - The knife or tanto can be any knife you happen to come across. Knives are knives in my opinion and the techniques of Ninjutsu will apply to any of them. From the small pocket knife to the large bowie knife. However, traditional Japanese tanto were single edged and fixed bladed, so some of the techniques may not take into consideration that you are using a double edged or folding blade knife in your training. Thus a few techniques may require extra attention on your part to ensure your safety. Wooden or rubber knives are used during training and both can be found all over the web for relatively cheap (usually shipping costs more than they do!).                                                                    Wooden Knife
  • Shuko - Shuko or handclaws are also easy to find and cheap to aquire. Live versions (real) of these can be purchased from numerous websites for as low as ten dollars per pair. Rubber training versions of shuko however can cost quite a bit more than the real thing. While more costly they are worth the price to avoid any unfortunate training accidents.                                                                           Shuko
  • Shoge - Basically the shoge is a dagger with a sickle blade attached to the side of it. It also has a long length of thin chain or rope attached to it's pommel (cap at end of handle) ending in a weighted ring. These can also be purchased relatively cheap or made yourself. You could cut one out of wood, attach a rope to the handle, then take a peice of hose and fashion it into the ring for the end of the rope. Shoge
  • Shuriken - These come in two basic flavors. Bo shuriken, which are throwing spikes, and Hira shuriken which are the flat, pointed metal discs we are all familiar with. There are many types of hira shuriken, the type used by the Bujinkan come from the Togakure ryu and are called Senban shuriken. It can be tricky to find good shuriken but if you look hard enough you can find good deals out there on high quality shuriken. You can attempt to make them yourself but it would take skill in metal working which is not a skill I possess and so I cannot in good faith give advice for it.                                         Shuriken
  • Katana - This is something that I will get into in much detail in a later article in the Ninjutsu 101 series simply because it will take an article in itself to explain the katana fully and to offer advice on aquiring a quality sword.

 I hope this article helped you in some way! Please leave comments with your thoughts or other training tools you think are relevant. I have posted links below each item in the list to sites which I found to have good prices. Except for www.martialartssupplies.com I have not ordered from these sites and I do not know if they are reliable or not.

 To quote Soke Hatsumi, "An unclothed man in an empty room can practice Ninjutsu"

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