Oh yes, I have another book about Ninjas 🙂
This book gives us a little insight into the techniques of Ninjutsu as Stephen Hayes tells us about his journey and the techniques he learned in Japan before bringing them back to America.
It’s a pretty interesting read and shows us a little of the history behind the Ninja craze which found it’s way into movies both in Asian countries and in Hollywood action films.
It’s not a new book, it was released in 1981 but it tells the relatively fresh story of how Hayes broke into a 34 generation ninja school and learned their style.
First of all, a little about Hayes.
The reason this book is worth checking out is due to Hayes’ history and reputation.
Stephen Hayes has written over 10 books on ninja’s and Ninjutsu, he was entered into the Black Belt hall of fame as instructor of the year and he is incredibly influential. He founded his own martial arts style in the 90’s called To-Shin Do and perhaps the most impressive – he has earned a 10th degree black belt (judan) in Togakure-ryū ninjutsu.
So this guy is one of the world’s foremost experts in Ninjutsu, especially in the English speaking world. This is a breath of fresh air as the Ninjutusu scene overcrowded with ridiculous scam artists and “bullshido” practitioners such as Ashida Kim.
Reading this book is interesting as it has a lot of reality within the mysticism, yet some bits and pieces seem a little unbelievable when read. This where you’ll have to choose whether or not you trust the written word of Hayes.
The delivery is quite interesting
Hayes tells us about his introduction to his Ninja Master Masaaki Hatsumi, painting a very intriguing and somewhat entertaining scene in a small Japanese restaurant in the 70’s. He is shown some vastly unconventional techniques and methods that challenge his own experience in the martial arts and before long is invited, as the first American student ever, to train under Masaaki.
As the techniques of the book are covered we’re taken on a narrative as lessons and stories of his time with Masaaki are explained to us as a way of easing us into the techniques and methods explained.
The whole ‘sneaky’ philosophy of the ninja is quite well represented in these stories and the attacks, weapons and tools are showcased and explained pretty effectively as you read. What’s very cool is that Hayes was able to get many photos of his time training under Master Hatsumi and these are throughout the book along with instructional photos to help convey his message more directly.
Training and combat exercises end up being quite interesting and some of the training methods are quiet surprising. At one stage Hayes and some of the ninja school sneak into private golfing grounds illegally to practice their stealth!
What does this book actually cover?
So while the story itself of Hayes and his training is quite interesting, the book itself does also educate the reader of the art of Ninjutsu itself.
The stories themselves have valuable information seamlessly intertwined into the narrative but some elements are explained directly. It’s not just weapons such shurikens or swords but also the tools used to climb and hide themselves from enemies are covered in this book. Each is covered in detail and is usually accompanied by photographs and put into context by covering situations they would be best used in.
Many infiltration strategies are also covered as well as understanding the enemy. But one thing I didn’t expect was also the spiritual side of Ninjutsu.
Some parts are a little unbelievable, but not ridiculous
So, some of the stories describe situations that took me back just a little. We’re told of situations that seem unbelievable but not so unbelievable that I instantly discredited them.
One example is one of a ninja sitting still with his eyes closed with his back facing another ninja, waiting for him to attack and defending successfully. The idea is that one can sense the aggressive nature and react accordingly. While I personally wouldn’t rely on this method personally I found myself wondering it were in fact possible – like when you sense someone looking at you from far away.
This is the part of the book that really challenged my preconceptions just a little bit and I’m still unsure of them. But this adds a little mystery and fun to the book as with a small stretch of imagination and reason it can make a lot of sense.
The idea of Ninjutsu is vastly different from other martial arts as it’s not about meeting someone head on, but outsmarting and out moving them even before the conflict has begun. So naturally there will be major differences between the styles I and most others study and the techniques and strategies presented in this book.
A little disbelief should be expected when reading this book.
This book is very interesting and an easy read for anyone wanting to learn a little about the art of Ninjutsu and the ninja way itself.
It comes from a story of modern events and Stephen Hayes does an excellent job as the middle man, acting as the voice of reason stepping into a world of vastly different thinking and rationalising it for us.
I highly recommend this book if you have any interest or intrigue into Ninjas. It’s available on Amazon if you want to check it out.
Thanks for reading!