What is unique about Ninjutsu? What makes it different from other martial arts? I have been asked questions like this a lot lately and sometimes it is good to sit back and think about this. After all, to those outside the martial arts world, a lot of arts really do look pretty similar. So here are some of the things that make Ninjutsu unique:
* Its comprehensiveness. Ninjutsu involves striking, kicking, grappling, throwing, locking, chocking, ground fighting, sword, staff, knife, shuriken and almost any other weapon you can think of plus a wide array of more exotic skills
*It’s not a sport. Ninjutsu is a set of skills to help you survive, not win a tournament. Yes, this means there are no rules but the significance is greater than that. It means putting safety first and never making assumptions such as assuming your opponent is unarmed or assuming your opponent is alone. This affects the way we move. What might be good movement against an unarmed opponent can suddenly be very bad movement when your opponent turns out to have a knife. We factor that in to the way we move from the beginning. In a sporting match, you know your opponent is not armed. In a self defence situation, you know nothing. It also means using techniques banned in the ring and throwing people in ways that they cannot land safely from. Most modern arts are sports that have been adapted for sporting purposes from old warrior arts such as Ninjutsu.
*Ninjutsu uses natural bodyweight and fluid motion to develop power. Our movement is relaxed and natural and it doesn’t look like much power is being generated. But this is deceptive because the more relaxed and natural you are, the more power you generate so techniques that don’t look like much actually feel incredibly powerful to the person on the receiving end. It means you do not need to be big or strong to generate power and can move effortlessly.
*Ninjutsu employs unique multidirectional footwork and angling that is unlike any other art. Some arts use circular footwork, others use linear footwork but Ninjutsu footwork and evasive movement is natural and free and allows you simply to move to where you need to be.
*Hidden techniques and movement. No, not climbing into castles in the middle of the night but subtle things buried in techniques that opponents (and often even observers) cannot see. We have ways of striking that are unseen because they come under our opponent’s line of vision, ways of making us appear close or further from our opponent than we really are, angles that allow us to be close enough to hit our opponent while being safe from their strikes and subtle ways to attack our opponent’s balance that render even the strongest attacker vulnerable and even ways to put doubt into our opponent’s minds.
In short, Ninjutsu is unique because it is comprehensive in its skills, it’s authenticity as a martial art and not a sport, it’s unique style of movement and generating power and the many hidden things lurking inside the movement. Our philosophy is different too, but that’s a whole other matter.
That’s why I always encourage interested people to jump in and try a class rather than watching it. It feels very different to how it looks and isn’t like anything you have experienced before, even if you have done other martial arts.