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Introduction to Ninjutsu

By: Andrew Thomas

[Adrian]: Unique interview with the head of the BBD Brian McCarthy. Brian is an 8th dan master teacher of Ninjutsu he will be answering questions today about Ninja, the history and tradition

[Adrian]: This is an exclusive pod cast from the websites of the BBD. On Remembrance Sunday, the final national seminar of the BBD in 2006 took place in Edinburgh. The leader of the BBD Brian McCarthy is here this morning to discuss Ninjutsu history and background. Mr McCarthy is a renowned practitioner of the ninja arts and head of the BBD. First part of a three part discussion about Ninjutsu history and tradition.

[Brian]: Thank you, Adrian.

[Adrian]: Good morning, Brian. Now I'm going to ask you some fairly obvious questions because if I said Ninjutsu, most people wouldn't know what it is. If I said shinobi, they definitely wouldn't know what it is. But if I said ninja, they certainly get this sort of Hollywoodization of maybe we wear a half-shell, eat pizza and carry swords in our backs. But who and what were the ninja?

[Brian]: Ninja, Adrian, were originally samurai who had faced difficulties in battles or lost battles or warlords they work for would have been ceded, which means essentially that then they're unemployed or some of them are unemployed. That was the basis of Ninjutsu -- coming together with Chinese monks who went to being warrior monks in the eastern part of Japan and living in communities in the mountains that were essentially enclosed. They then structured their training and their way of living into a military style farmer fighting, and it just evolved from there over a period of hundreds of years.

[Adrian]: I know still in Japan they're greatly feared primarily for their magical powers supposedly but how did they organize themselves if they were warrior monks? How exactly did they organize themselves?

[Brian]: There are two way to answer that. First of all, they are still feared in Japan and sometimes they are even recognized in Japan... this huge part of Japanese culture that says ninja never existed but then again the history was written by the samurai's so they entirely say we didn't exist. And how they organized themselves... primarily because of this samurai involvement on initially who were obviously highly trained military officers, they had a military style background, so they were able to organize themselves into small close fighting groups and to communities. Over a period of time then there's intermarriage, these children are born, their family extended into the mountains so it became a clan of its own.

[Adrian]: So it wasn't a case of a bunch of lads got together, trained together and then said, "Right, we're ninja, let's go off and fight."

[Brian]: No, no, no, no, no, they just changed their lifestyle completely. They lived in the remotest parts of Japan; they lived in the mountains. They were no longer welcome. Some of them were in fact wanted by the powers-that-be at the time because there was a policy in Japan that if you are on the losing side of a battle in an army then you didn't have much of a future, you weren't going to be reemployed, you're mostly gone to be executed. So when they left that part of the country and they moved to the mountains, that was going to be their new place and where they would have lived.

[Adrian]: I was going to ask you the question, how did they become ninjas, so are you suggesting that it was a clan system based on family?

[Brian]: Yes, it's not a fact that people become ninja; it's a fact that traditionally they evolved from different lifestyles as in as I said -- defeated samurai and monks that had left China or were who were moving to that part of Asia and their initial way of living forced upon them brought about Ninjutsu . And over a period a time then because they're a mix of the mountain people, because they're living in remote areas, they formed communities.

[Adrian]: Scotland has a strong tradition in the martial arts with many varying flavors and Ninjutsu is one of those martial art practised quite heavily in Scotland. But I want to know...shinobi and ninja's... but I don't know why they call themselves shadow warriors or invisible assassins.

[Brian]: Well, they never did and still don't. People call them that by virtue of the perception of what ninja is and the term "shadow warrior" is kind of an Americanized updated term but the term shinobi essentially means "stealers in"... a person who steals, who enters at night, and when they say "steal" they don't mean actually in theft point of view... but enters quietly, covertly, and the name was given to them by the general public by virtue of the fact that the type of work they did -- they would come in the dark, they would go in the dark, people did not know they were there, they would do what they had to do and hence, they were called stealers in or shinobi.

[Adrian]: So basically it's the westernization of the ninja...

[Brian]: Yes.

[Adrian]: ...as we have with the turtles and the half-shells.

[Brian]: Yes. When we go back to the comment I made that it took them a number of years to evolve, the word " Ninjutsu " or the term "ninjitsu" or "ninja" didn't evolve for about 300 or 400 years. These people just were there. They could have been called bandits, they could have been called outlaws, they could have been called warriors but by virtue of how they, over that period of time, how they developed their profile and how they developed their method of working...there was the broad general population and the authorities who put the name ninja on them or shinobi on them.

We will show you all the secrets of Ninjutsu training http://www.ninjutsu.org.uk/ninjitsu_training.html

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