I’ve seen a lot of Ninja movies in my time, so it was very interesting to get the opportunity to read this book.
At first glance I could see that the “True Path of the Ninja” is a translation of the Shoninki – a Ninjitsu Scroll written by Natori-Ryu Clan / Samurai School in 1681. It’s an authentic and used instruction manual for real Shinobi of that era and a window into reality of Ninja life.
We’ve all seen plenty of movies showing off super-human abilities and crazy levels of skill but have known there’s a definitive separation between the actual abilityand the fictional onscreen Ninja representation. So this book translating Natori Masazumi’s teachings would prove to give me a more accurate view of the history of Ninjitsu – and that excited me.
So I started reading.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It is a translation after all and not your typical commercial paper-back book – but that was what excited me.
But you don’t get into the nitty gritty straight away.
Instead a much needed explanation is what the books starts off with. We learn about the history of the scroll and where it came from which is an interesting story in itself. Although I couldn’t wait to read the real deal, the story goes through the families involved and the life of a ninja back in the 1600’s and the very nature of the scroll itself.
Basically, the scroll is designed to be read by trained ninja’s and warriors who have a foundation of knowledge, so the author did a good job of prepping for this gap in information and also announces the various footnotes throughout that explain any missing pieces. This whole introductory section gives you an idea of what to expect and the kind of work that is involved in a project like this – far beyond a simple translation.
But it’s proves worth it once you get past the (still enjoyable) introduction and read about the fascinating lives of the Shinobi.
The ‘not so honorable’ Ninja.
It’s popular to promote this image of the tradtional and sometimes even honorable Ninja, but we learn very quickly that this is not the case. After all, by activity alone the Ninja is an agent designed to creep, be invisible and achieve it’s mission from under the enemies nose without any notice – a true master of deception.
It’s quite interesting to read about the skills they used in their missions – especially in every day interaction.
This ‘not so honorable’ nature is highlighted with information on how to rob, deceive and survive. One passage describes quite clearly to shift the attention and blame onto an innocent person when a target angers or becomes upset with you.
It’s interesting how ninja manipulate in plain sight as this book describes many subtle personality traits you can use in conversation to acquire information and even access to secured areas – even to the point of stroking the ego of ones enemy.
A lot of it is Mindset
As you average person wants to respected, noticed and feel heard – the ninja is described as aiming for the opposite. I personally found this to be a clear parallel to today’s society where everyone craves attention and respect whilst the truly respected individuals enact real change through their actions and knowledge – much like the ninja in many ways.
If you’re a person who contemplates his or herself much you can quickly find a lot of concepts within this book and the Ninja’s approach to missions that can be applied to life. It’s about results, not attention. Real world effectiveness over superficial image. It’s quite interesting.
Even down to family – in the book a passage talks about the dangers of ninja life and how one should appreciate and enjoy family time whilst not working. After all, the next mission could be a ninja’s last! This is something all people can benefit from as any day at work or school could be our last without notice.
But then there’s also the old-fashioned side of things most of use would find a bit funny. This book instructs a ninja on how to determine a person’s personality, luck and even future through intentifying a series of physical traits like facial features, posture – even down to mouth and tongue shape.
Then the interesting part…
The book delves into the strategies of deception and invisibility.
Whilst most films and media promote a mystical and almost magical ability for ninja’s to become the feared invisible warriors of the shadows, this book goes ahead and dispells the fantasy and reveals the truth to us like a magician showing us the simplicity of his magic tricks.
Moving in the shadows, determining weaknesses in house and mansions for ‘creeping in’, climbing, sneaking and even general outdoor survival is described in a technical manner for people to follow. One part I found very interesting was the sudden change of appearance and ability to change clothing into an effective disguise in a short period of time.
All of the tools and techniques are touched on and seem a little unimpressive on their own, but when combined you get a true idea of just how effective these multiple techniques can be.
It’s a truly interesting look in the reality vs the fiction of the ninja.
Why would you read this book?
If you’re like me you’ve seen a lot of movies and they hype up ninja history and dilute the reality. This book will help bring your vision back to reality in a guide which gets the imagination flowing.
As I read this book I honestly believed they could build a movie featuring many of these real ninja methods and create a compelling spy/martial arts film.
People like to see behind the scenes and this book does just that. It’s allows you to explore not only the methods but the mindset and culture of the ninja era. It brings some terrific insight into these people’s lives.
It also has some solid concepts which can be processed and applied to many things including combat and life itself. Read it for the entertainment and interest in history but be open to expanding upon some simple life concepts that the ninja applied to their work. It’s well worth the read if you’re a fan of ninjas and Japanese culture.
You can pick up “True Path of the Ninja” from Amazon.
Thanks for reading! Any thoughts please leave a comment below 🙂