As Heichichiro Okuse says, it was cunning and deception that gave the ninja the edge over their enemies. These traits were emphasized and sharpened during ninjutsu training. The ninja raised espionage to a highly developed art centuries before such training was given to cloak-and-dagger agents in Western countries. There were three main categories of ninjutsu training for espionage: toiri-no-jutsu, or the tactics of sneaking into an enemy’s camp; chikairi-no-jutsu, or infiltrating enemy lines after the outbreak of hostilities; and ongyo-jutsu, or the ruses of escape.


Ninjutsu Training Type #1: Toiri-no-jutsu

The Iga school ninjutsu, one of the greatest ever developed, trained its members in 11 different toiri tactics for breaking into the enemy’s camp. The first of them was called shikei-no-jutsu, or careful preparation for achieving one’s aim. For instance, take a case where a ninja was handed the dangerous assignment of assassinating an enemy lord. The lord would be heavily guarded, both by samurai and his own ninja. It might be far too risky to attempt a frontal attack or a midnight break-in. With such difficult assignments, the ninja might fall back on cunning. In such a case, the ninja might proceed indirectly. He might, for instance, try to secure work at a local Buddhist temple. After winning the priest’s confidence by hard and dedicated service, he would get the priest to recommend him to the lord as a servant. He would thus gain entrance to the lord’s house through the front door, and when the chance presented itself, assassinate him. Katsurao-no-jutsu was a similar tactic. It involved sending secret agents for high official placement among the enemies. There were other counter-espionage practices developed for sending in spies and recruiting accomplices among the servants employed by an enemy agent. One of the more interesting aspects of the toiri tactics was the use of female agents, who were the feudal-age Mata Haris of Japan. Samurai and others in the employ of an enemy lord might be tempted with women or plied with liquor and money in order to win them over.

Ninjutsu Training Type #2: Chikairi-no-jutsu

The second category of espionage tactics was concerned with infiltrating enemy lines during battle. In such cases, the ninja acted in a role similar to that of the British commandos of World War II, sneaking behind enemy lines to disrupt their position and engage in guerrilla tactics. Geinyu-jutsu tactics involved such pleasantries as ambushing enemy soldiers, setting fire to their camp, stealing their supplies and setting false rumors afloat. In suigetsu-jutsu, ninja disguised themselves as enemy troops, mingling with them and causing confusion by any means possible. Joei-nin included ruses of sneaking into an enemy castle or camp at night when the main forces had left or when the troops were too exhausted to be alert. Hoka-jutsu was concerned with burning enemy installations, using as targets powder dumps, armories, warehouses, etc. It was important to set fire to as many places as possible at the same time to increase confusion.

Ninjutsu Training Type #3: Ongyo-jutsu

The third category involved escape. Here, the ninja gave full rein to trickery and stealth and gained the reputation of being superhuman. They were said to be able to disappear through walls, turn themselves into trees or rocks and live underwater like a fish. All of these had logical explanations, of course. Ongyo-jutsu was divided into two categories: those for hiding (inpo) and those for disappearing (tonho). The ninja were skilled at the art of camouflage. They would practice controlling their movements and holding positions for a long time so they might take on the appearance of a small tree or bush in the moonlight. In essence, they tried to give up their identity as human beings and become one with the object they were trying to imitate. Another intriguing aspect of this type of ninjutsu training was controlled breathing. They might so reduce their respiration rate that they would appear dead during a hasty inspection. This skill also allowed them to stay underwater for long periods and to breathe through reeds or bamboo shoots. Other tactics included blowing dust in an enemy’s eyes or momentarily dazzling him by exploding flashing balls or firecrackers. The ninja were also taught to make use of any natural objects that might aid their escape. Nothing was considered too remote to be used, and special tactics were developed for all sorts of things. For instance, doton-no-jutsu was designed for hiding in or behind ground objects, such as ditches, mounds, holes, stone lanterns and statues. Carried to its extreme, doton-no-jutsu could also have its amusing aspects. For instance, during the war of the Imperial Restoration of 1867, a ninja hid his wife and mother from enemy troops by concealing them in a place where nobody ever dreamed of looking. He buried them up to their noses in sunken pots full of manure and then covered them with compost straw. Another tactic that could produce a chuckle when the ninja told tales of their exploits involved jinton-no-jutsu. This escape tactic involved the use of wit, disguises and small animals. Chased by guards, the ninja might pull a snake or frog out of their pocket and toss it at their pursuers, startling them for an instant. But an instant was all they needed to make good their escape. Did we overlook any obvious ninjutsu tactics? Is manure really the best place to hide your loved ones? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Part One: Ninja History 101: An Introduction to Ninjutsu Part Three: Ninja History 101: Ninja Gear Part Four: Ninja History 101: Ninjutsu Weapons Part Five: Ninja History 101: Ninjutsu Training (Discover the secret behind ninjutsu’s seemingly magical techniques by downloading our FREE guide—Ninja Gear: Master Modern Self-Defense Weapons With Ninjutsu Training. And for an in-depth look at everyone's favorite assassins, check out our ninjutsu books and DVDs).
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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