The 18 skills of the Yamamizu Ryu Ninja
Based on the Togakure ryu, established approximately eight hundred years ago, is now in its thirty-fourth
generation. The ryu exists today as an organization dedicated to teaching effective methods of self-
protection and promoting the self-development and awareness of its members. Due to the stabilized
nature of contemporary Japanese government and judicial systems, the Togakure ninja ryu no longer
involves itself directly in combat or espionage work. Pervious to the unificiation of Japan during the
16th century, however, it was necessary for the Togakure ninja to operate out of south central . At the
height of the historical ninja period, the clan's ninja operatives were trained in eighteen fundamental
areas of expertise, beginning with this "psychic purity" and progressing through a vast range of
physical and mental skills.
The eighteen levels of training were as follows:
Seishin Teki Kyoyo (Spiritual Refinement)
Develop a deep and accurate knowledge of yourself, and your personal power, your strengths and
weaknesses, and your influence on the playing out of life. The ninja must be very clear about their
intentions, commitments, and their personal motivations in life. Personality traits could often mean
the difference between life and death in this line of work. Exercises in mental endurance, ways of
looking at things, and proper perspective when evlatuating things, are learned by the ninja along with
physical skills. By evolving into a mystic's understanding of the universal process, the historical
ninja must become a warrior philosopher. Their engagements in combat are then motivated by love or
reverance, and not by the mere thrill of violent danger or need of money.
Tai Jutsu (Unarmed Combat)
Skills of daken-taijutsu or striking, kicking, and blocking; jutai-jutsu or grappling, choking and
escaping the holds of others, and taihenjutsu or silent movement, rolling, leaping, and tumbling
asisted the ninja in life-threatening, defensive situations.
Ninja Ken (Ninja Sword)
A ninja sword has a short straight single edged blade, and is considered to be their primary fighting
tool. Two distinct sword skills were required of ninja. "Fast Draw" techniques centered around drawing
the sword and cutting as a simultaneous action. "Fencing" skills used the drawn sword in technique
clashes with armed attackers.
Bo-Jutsu (Stick and Staff Fighting)
The Japanese stick fighting art, practiced by samurai and peasants alike, is also a strong skill of
ninja. Ninja were taught to use the bo long staff (six feet) and hanbo "half-staff" cane (three feet),
as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed shinobi-zue or ninja canes were
designed to look like the normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be
used against an enemy.
Shuriken-Jutsu (Throwing Blades)
Throwing blades are carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Ninja use a special
four-pointed throwing star called a senban shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The
blade was thrown with a flat spinning motion and hit its target with a sawing effect. Bo shuriken or
straight shaft darts and spikes are also constructed for throwing.
Ninja agents are taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as middle-range fighting weapons.
Spears and lances are used for stabbing and piercing attacks, and rarely ever thrown in normal combat.
The ninja also use a unique spear weapon called a kami-yari, or "sickle lance", which consisted of a
spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The lance point
can be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point can be used to snag and pull the opponent or his
Naginata-Jutsu (Halberd Fighting)
Virtually a short blade mounted on a long handle, the Japanese halberd is used for cutting and slashing
attacks against adversaries at medium range. Ninja warriors are also proficient with the bisen-to, a
huge heavy-bladed version of the naginata halberd. Based on a chinese war tool, the broad-bladed weapon
was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armor, and ground the horses of mounted
Kusari-Gama (Chain and Sickle Weapon)
The Japanese chain and sickle weapon was adopted into the arsenal of the ninja. A chain, six to nine
feet in length and weighted at one end is attached to the handle of the traditional grain cutting tool.
The chain can be used to block or ensnare the enemy's weapon, and the blade then used to finish off the
attacker. The kyoketsu-shoge, a weapon similar to the chain and sickle, was favored by the Togakure ryu
ninja. The weapon consisted of a straight hand-held dagger blade with a secondary blade hooking out
from the hilt, attached to a fifteen foot resilient cord usually made from women's or horse's hair. A
large steel ring is attached to the free end of the cord.
Kayaku-Jutsu (Fire and Explosives)
Ninja are experts in the effective placement, timing, and rigging of explosive devices for demolition
and distraction. The use of black powders and other explosives are suplimented with knowledge of
firearms and their strategic applications.
Henso-Jutsu (Disguise and Impersonation)
Essential to the ninja's espionage work is the ability to assume false identites and move undetected
through the ninja's area of operation. More than merely just putting on a costume, ninjutsu's disguise
system involved thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. Personality traits, areas of knowledge,
and body dynamics of the identity assumed are ingrained into the nijna's way of thinking and reacting.
He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman, or
Shinobi-Iri (Stealth and Entering Methods)
The ninja's techniques of silent movement, breaking and entering, and gaining access to inaccessible
areas became legends in feudal Japan . Ninja learn special walking and running methods for covering
long distances, passing over floors silently, and for staying in the shadows while moving, in order to
facilitate entry and escape.
Ninja are taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills.
Sui-Ren (Water Training)
Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross
over water, and underwater combat techniques are taught to Ninja.
Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots, and advantageous timing for use of
current events are used by Ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the
enemy around to doing what the ninja wanted him to do, ninja are able to work their will without
drawing undue attention to themselves.
Cho Ho (Espionage)
Methods of successful espionage is perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and
served as a guide for using espionage agents most effectively.
Inton-Jutsu (Escape and Concealment)
Ninja are experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to
"dissapear" at will. The goton-po five elements of escape are based on a working familiarity with the
creative use of earth, water, fire, metal, and wood aspects of nature and the environment.
Forecasting and taking advantage of weather and seasonal phenomena is an important part of any battle
consideration. Ninja are trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to
predict weather conditions.
Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain are crucial skills in the historical art of