The following is an article written by a man who has lived and trained in Japan among some of the most elite martial artists and historians in the era that shaped MA as we know it today. I thought this might shed light on the issue of ninjitsu being discussed on this board. I seriously doubt that anyone familiar with the martial arts community will question this man's credentials or integrity.
The NINJA PEOPLE by GrandMaster Peter Urban
There was a time in Japan of the olden days that had originated in China but showed up there over three-hundred years later, a strange group of men and women. They always dressed in black. Such was the nature of their clothing that even their faces and feet were not distinguishable. The softest of black felt cushioned their steps to the sounds that black cats make stalking across thick rugs. They knew many things. Walking in silence and living at night was their way. Friends had they none. Fear and hatred by all had they won from centuries of tales not meek. Theirs was a mystique that few dared to seek. In such a group there were no weak. Reputations of evil traditions of being in league with the demons of power were described by foreign white men devils who called them magicians of Satan and wrote of them as such in terms that have been passed down through the centuries on pages of books that were hidden from view from ordinary people like us.
These "black knights" of old days, who did not believe in magic themselves but who could perform seemingly magical feats, were known as "Ninja," or "Ninjitsu people." The word (nin) means stealth. The word (jitsu) means abilities. Ergo, the archaic Japanese word Ninjitsu literally translates to (the art of stealth). For some it became a way of life. For others it becomes a religion. They were known as professional assassins by the historians of feudal Japan.
There were only two types of Ninjas. Those who were known to be Ninjas were pretenders. Those who were Ninjas were never ever known. Real Ninjas were artists of life with the minds of scientists, hands of a surgeon, eyes of a hawk, emotions of a Maco shark and the morals of an ice cube. They kept the company of no one. They could not be recognized by their own kind. They were celibate, never married, not homosexual, fearless, highly educated, never indulged in alcohol, drugs or sinful human pleasures. They trusted only their own sanity.
A Ninja could never be captured or tortured. They had the power to kill themselves at any time of the day of night and under any contingency. They had beads of poison that could be kept in their mouths for any length of time; only crushing down on them with their teeth would release a poison that was so lethal, painless and swift, that it was reserved for only themselves. They could certainly be killed, but never questioned. It took a Ninja to know a Ninja. It took a Ninja to kill a Ninja. They could be anyone at any time and at any place. They could be any tree in a forest of people. To pursue them would be like attacking a bag of quicksand in the darkness of night. They never solicited business. They were never without money. They were very contented to have many imitators and pretenders who would be killed by the righteous.
They were more capable of teamwork than any army. They had no superiors or inferiors when they worked together. They could take orders and give orders with no badges of rank, no egos to feed. They had the brains of men with the efficiency of African red army ants. They had the courage and mercy of a squadron of South American killer bees. To incur the attention of a Ninja or society of Ninjas as a potential threat to them was to nakedly bathe in a river of ravenous piranhas.
The most interesting things that highly objective scholar historians ever recorded about them was that they never attracted attention. They were completely incapable of sadism. They would never assassinate children or pregnant women. If they were hired to do a job, they would always be paid in advance. No matter what the needs of a client would be. If it was a child or a pregnant woman targeted as the assignment, the Ninja or Ninjas would accept the money, guarantee the assignment and then kill the client and keep the money. There was never a body to be found in any such instance. They would always lie to a liar, as well as kill them for the very act of lying to a Ninja. For practice and for a general principle still not comprehensible to the finest minds, they would kill very cruel and evil men or women for free and without being hired to do so. This observation is mind-boggling to everyone.
Ninjas devoted their childhood to training for mastery in their peculiar skills and thus were highly skilled in the martial arts. Raised utterly without morals, which they referred to as "imaginary restrictions." They were bereft of virtue as we know it or as is commonly defined by all cultures in the world.
Since they thrived on darkness, their training halls were painted completely black; varying lengths of nails and spikes protruded from the walls. Upon these spikes and stone walls, they practiced jumping, grasping, climbing, and wall-scaling techniques. Acrobatic skills were second nature to them as well as swimming.
They were superb masters of sword-handling, archery, horsemanship, Jiu-Jitsu, stick fighting, body balancing, and the art of throwing tiny poisoned darts and the small, sharp-cornered coins of that era. The latter was a particularly favorite weapon, for who would believe it possible to put out a man's eye and kill him at a distance of more than fifty feet by throwing a coin the size of a silver dollar? No weapon could ever be found -- just an ordinary coin lying in the street.
Hundreds of hours were spent practicing walking across creaky wooden floors without making a sound. This was done by unwinding their long, black, felt waistband; rolling it across the floor; carefully, lightly, and quickly darting down its entire length; then rolling it up and repeating the maneuver until the desired distance was crossed. They did everything with their own inimitable magic and called it "ninjitsu." Disappearing was their most astoundingly developed ability.
Their training, being supremely realistic and scientific, also took into consideration every adverse situation they could imagine. They called their "thing", scientific magic.
They were the original practitioners of the "art of programming." They were taught from the cradle that nothing was impossible. Not knowing that a thing could not be done, they did it.
They had many services to sell to the lords and ladies of the great houses of the day. Their specialty being murder and terror. Many provincial lords, in rivalry for one reason or another, often used the Ninja in preference to the expense of an all-out war against an enemy. A Ninjitsu man or woman could sneak past guards, fool alert watchdogs, do the job, and disappear with no traces of ever having been there at all.
They used black coal dust and chemically produced smoke screens to distort the sight of pursuers. Their visual memory and sense of direction was so exact that, with one swift glance, they could evaluate all means of egress from a building. This enabled them to leap from any second or third story window, knowing in advance that a tree would be underneath to break their fall. Rooftops were nothing but stepping stones to be adroitly traveled upon. Using their uniquely fashioned silken rope and grabbing hooks, they scaled up the highest, most forbidding cliffs and walls.
A skilled Ninjitsu man could run down a hallway, jump across the entrance area, grasp the eaves to a doorway, and pull himself up and over onto the roof in a matter of seconds. From the roof, where he blended into the night, he was in a perfect position for throwing darts, coins, or circular disks that looked like the blades of a power saw. No wonder everyone was afraid of them. Chasing them was almost certain death, for they would seem to disappear right in front of a pursuer's eyes. The next thing the pursuer felt would be the sting of a poisoned dart in the back of his neck.
Even when stripped down to nothing but their "fundoshi," or loincloths, they almost always managed to escape without the necessity of having to kill themselves as they always did in a hopeless situation. When the guards led a Ninja out to be executed (a foregone conclusion), he would completely confound his captors by running full tilt toward the seemingly impregnable wall. Just before he did so, he had urinated into his fundoshi. Removing the sopping wet cotton cloth, he ran up the wall as far as he could, letting out a piercing scream and slapping the wet cloth with all his strength against the top of the stone wall. Without stopping his momentum for an instant, he would swing the remaining distance to the top of the wall, using the cloth as a rope, and before the astonished and terrified guards could move, he had disappeared.
The mystique of these historically legendary oriental professional assassins increased as the centuries went by. Their secrets were handed down from family to family, generation after generation. Ninjas were never the natural children of living parents. Everyone was always an orphan or found baby. They were never recruited. It was always said that a Ninja was not made, they were born to be. Talent and destiny led them to be. A Ninja with family would not be a real one. Real Ninjas were asexual, did not need or desire any normal human ties. There could never be such a thing as a successful undercover Ninja impostor. They could not be fooled by anyone or anything or any situation. Real Ninjas had no ambitions, no greed, no passions, no need for power and recognition. They were honest unto their calling. No honest person can be conned. They desired nothing that the earth had to offer. They could not be bribed. The real ones were psychic and could not be lied to. Most of all there was nothing in life that could disappoint them or influence their thinking. They were just special people of a different ilk; born to be what they would become. Such as the world had its Mozart's, so did the martial arts have its Ninjas.
All that is known now is that there are a few old martial arts teachers in southern Japan who, for the sake of tradition only, still practice the Ninjitsu training. These old Sensei's occasionally give an exhibition of the dead art at the more important martial arts cultural festivals. They are always looked upon a little fearfully by the younger participants in the exhibitions, for after all, who knows for sure about such matters?
The portrait of a Ninja that you see in museums is of a very elite looking middle-aged man with a scroll clenched in his mouth; enigmatic looking with piercing eyes. Everyone tries to guess what he is holding in his mouth. I shouldn't tell you the answer to that secret but I will. He is not holding a diploma. He is holding a list of secrets that no person should know. What is that? Never disclose your mistakes, weaknesses or your superiority.