Stephen K. Hayes, Black Belt Hall of Fame member and author of six ninja books, offers his take on the public's perception of ninjutsu vs. the history of its origins.

Since authentic ninjutsu training was introduced to the Western world in the late 1970s, many false notions and erroneous impressions have grown up around the legendary shadow warriors known as the ninja. Many of these misconceptions have roots in fact but have developed as falsehoods over the centuries of secrecy that have surrounded the art. Many of the incorrect ideas have grown out of a lack of discrimination between truth and falsehood on the part of moviemakers and book publishers. Also, some of the negative myths are the direct work of those outside the tradition who believed they had reason to fear the authentic ninja legacy.


To uncover the truth behind the legends, pre-order The Complete Ninja Collection by Stephen K. Hayes.

Ninjutsu Training Myth or Fact? — Ninjutsu is the dark side of the martial arts ... the clandestine practice of stealth, intelligence gathering and assassination.

The art of ninjutsu was born of a unique set of cultural, political, religious and economic forces that played themselves out a thousand years ago in Japanese history. History’s authentic ninja were a counterculture society forced into existence by the shifting fortunes of feudal Japanese political and military conflicts. Contrary to common misconception, the ninja were not unsophisticated and superstitious low-class peasants. The ninja were the descendents of powerful noble warriors who, through the inevitable workings of fate, happened to be allied in support of powerful warlords who ultimately did not succeed in the collection of battles that made up the war for supremacy. With the defeat of their side’s cause, these noble warriors were forced into lives of exile, dwelling in the mountains stretched of wilderness to the south of the Heian-Kyo (new Kyoto) capital. These original ancestors of the ninja were barred forever from the professions of state administration, trade, military command and public service to which at one time they had successfully devoted their energies.

Incorporate ninjutsu into your everyday self-defense arsenal with this FREE download!
Ninja Gear: Master Modern Self-Defense Weapons With Ninjutsu Training

As exiles concerned with the rugged demands of survival in a harsh natural environment and a deadly political climate, the ninja families of south-central Japan were forced to alter their tactics and strategies to better suit their precarious status. In truth, no one wanted to be a ninja; such status was a burden inflicted by fate. The ninja were the “underdogs,” the oppressed hounded by a well-financed and mechanically ruthless government intent on stamping out any and all possible threats to its supremacy and control. Thus, subtle and shadowed means grew to take the place of the bold and forceful ways used by those people holding power. Because the ninja families’ numbers were so much smaller than those of the ruling powers that worked to eradicate them, intelligence gathering became a vastly more important task than troop drilling. With the very survival of the family at stake, the ninja warriors of Iga were required to devise a whole new approach to warfare, and the motivation behind that approach has been misunderstood for centuries. About the Author: Ninjutsu master Stephen K. Hayes was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1985. He has achieved the rare rank of judan (10th-degree black belt) and was formally ordained in 1991 as a teacher in the 1,200-year-old Japanese esoteric meditation tradition. In 2013, his acclaimed and best-selling series of six Ninja books is being released as a revised and expanded omnibus titled The Complete Ninja Collection by Stephen K. Hayes. For an in-depth look at the art of ninjutsu, check out our ninjutsu books, DVDs and video downloads!
SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the world largest magazine of martial arts.

The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BLACK BELT HALL OF FAME

Black Belt Magazine Subscriptions

ONE Championship kicked off their 2021 campaign in Singapore on Friday, January 22, with ONE: Unbreakable.

The six-bout card featured five finishes including in the main event as Capitan Petchyindee Academy ousted Alaverdi Ramazanov for the ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Championship.

See how all of the action went down in The Lion City with this recap of ONE: Unbreakable.

Keep Reading Show less

These three simple ways will make you more flexible instantly!

Fighters need to have an optimal amount of flexibility to kick, punch, takedown their opponent and even to escape submission holds. Your body has to be able to move through ranges of motion effectively, and that requires your muscles to stretch and contract functionally. In order to create flexibility, you have to wrap your mind around that it is more than just stretching a muscle.

Keep Reading Show less
Sign up for our weekly newsletter!
Stay up to date in the martial arts community with news from around the world, techniques of all styles and all around guiding you in your martial arts journey
Don’t miss a thing Subscribe to Our Newsletter