Ninjutsu Discussions : Who were the ninja?

 This post will be my humble attempt at discussing who I believe practitioners of Ninjutsu in ancient times were. Please note however that this is simply a theory that I have on the subject, and that I am by no means a historian.

 Ninjutsu in itself reminds me of the special forces units that nearly every branch of every military service worldwide possess. You have common soldiers, with their common military training and tactics. Then you have special forces soldiers who are simply common soldiers that have been given more specialized training for more specialized missions and situations.

 My theory is that perhaps Ninjutsu was simply the "special forces curriculum" of ancient Japan's military. Rather than look at Ninjutsu as something practiced in secret mountain villages, by secret mountain people, then hired out to do a lord's bidding, it makes more sense to look at it from the angle of the Samurai themselves practicing Ninjutsu rather than a group of farmers who just so happen to find the time during their schedule (ever worked on a farm?) to create, and train with systems of martial arts. Then they of course would have to constantly deal with the threat of angering someone high ranking with their work and subsequently being put to the sword.

 If you look at the oldest surviving texts that deal with Ninjutsu you will find that they do not cover Taijutsu (body movement) at all. Nor do they cover weapons, or other martial techniques. What they do cover are things like how to infiltrate a castle, stealth tactics, disguise, etc. I think this is because there was no need to teach the martial side of things if the warriors learning Ninjutsu were already Samurai and already highly trained and highly skilled. All they would need is to add the "template" of Ninjutsu (basically special warfare) and they would be ninja. Much like a Marine. They are highly trained and skilled warriors. Add a "template" of scout sniper for example and now you have a Marine of the force recon variety. Still a Marine, just with some specialized training.

 This would also explain how practitioners of Ninjutsu were always close on hand to their respective lords. It would be redundant to have to travel far and wide to the mountains of the Iga or Koga regions to hire a ninja when missions that would require them would probably have been most urgent. Makes more sense to simply call upon one of your Samurai retainers, also trained in Ninjutsu, to get the job done.

 It also comes to mind that most of the scrolls, paintings, wood carvings etc. that I have seen pertaining to Ninjutsu always show the Ninja in Samurai dress. Clothing, armor, weapons, and such that you cannot discern Samurai from Ninja. It is also good to point out that in the Bujinkan for example many of the nine schools we learn from are Samurai schools.

 It is always good to think on the origins of what we learn. To have a grasp of where these things come from is to better know the essence of the thing itself. I hope this article makes you, my readers, think about where it all comes from.

 Once again, this is not meant as an exact history, rather a theory on the subject. If you have a differing opinion please leave a comment and perhaps we can further discuss the matter.

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