How to be a ninja in real life? You’ve always wanted to move and fight like a ninja. But never thought it was possible because…
- The real ninja no longer exist.
- No ninjutsu schools today can verify their historical lineage.
- Historical ninja reconstruction (and research) doesn’t interest you.
What’s more… you’ve even ruled out joining professions that are modern versions of what the ninja did… the army, special forces, and espionage.
What now? How do you still become a modern ninja?
Becoming a modern ninja – 3 Guidelines
1. Keep it practical, realistic and legal
Sure… sneaking around undetected, while using fire (gunpowder) as distraction, is cool.
But, such skills have no practical purpose for regular people (like you and me). They are even a security threat when the knowledge falls into the wrong hands.
So, opt for warrior hacks that have uses in your regular life, and against probable threats.
2. Look beyond old manuals
While historical ninja manuals teach valuable lessons, we need to adapt them. Some techniques are bound only to the feudal period, and are obsolete today.
For example, the Shoninki talks about reading a person’s character based on the number of teeth he has.
How practical do you think counting teeth is? Wouldn’t it be better to refer to body language (and behavioral psychology)?
Likewise, when you need to be stealthy in the woods, would you construct a flaming uchitake? Why not use a glow stick instead?
That’s why sticking to historical sources for the sake of tradition isn’t practical. Instead, include sources from modern disciplines to make your way of ninja better!
Note: If your goal is to experiment with ninja techniques as used centuries ago, then go ahead.
3. Be true to what you want
You don’t have to join a “ninjutsu” school to be a modern ninja. But, train in a variety of disciplines, and always go for what appeals to you.
These are some reasons you want to become a modern ninja – and it has much to do with pop culture than history.
- Skills that seem to surpass human limits. (functional strength; movement agility; ability to fight)
- The confidence and control (to influence the people you talk to)
- To be aware of your surroundings, and know what to do in a threatening situation
- To learn the mysterious techniques and philosophy of the ninja, and be immersed in an exotic secret warrior culture
So, work on the attributes you wish to have.
Become the best ninja-version of yourself, and train the mind, body and knowledge.
Mission & purpose grounded in reality
So, how to be a ninja? First know your mission and purpose.
Modern way of the ninja
Mission: to be your best ninja-self in mindset, physical ability and knowledge.
Purpose: to have confidence and abilities to deal with any situation – regular life and threats.
Examples of situations (from threatening to mundane):
- Know what to do if you get abducted
- Avoid getting scammed when traveling
- “Disappear” when approached by people you dislike
- Interpret behavioural cues during a conversation
- Appear confident during an interview
Sources of knowledge:
- People with expertise, experience and/or knowledge
- Modern tactics and techniques
- Historical tactics and techniques (of samurai, ninja and other warriors)
Components of being a modern ninja (skip to sections you want):
- Physical Training
- Mental Training
- Know-how & Street-smart Hacks
- Travel & Train
- History, Facts, Folklore & Inspiration
So, moving on to training in the mind, body and useful hacks for the street smart modern ninja…
Physical Training (How to be a ninja?)
Physical training helps you gain strength, stamina, obstacle movement and self-defense skills.
These skills give you the confidence to handle threats. For example: to escape group confrontations, and defend yourself and others.
Functional Strength, Obstacles & Movement
Traverse obstacles, run, climb and lift heavy objects. Muscular strength is not the priority. Fine-muscle control, endurance and movement technique is.
Examples: Parkour, street workout and rock-climbing.
Martial Arts and Self-defense
Being able to defend yourself and your loved ones, builds your confidence. Thus, martial art training and de-escalation tactics will be useful to you.
Whatever art you choose, it has to fit your physiology, personality and psychology. For instance, if you have knee problems, avoid martial arts that involve kicking or seiza.
Visit the Physical archive for more
Are you interested in a Physical Training Starter Guide? While it’s not yet ready, register to get email alerts when it’s published.
Mental Training (How to be a ninja?)
Mental ninja training can be broken down into:
- your own mindset and self-development,
- influencing another person (with psychology hacks)
Psychology, behavior and body language (External)
Understanding another person helps you have better relationships, and influence others. It also enhances your ability to see disguised threatening behavior.
The key is to read a person’s behavior and match your response.
For example, in a hostile situation, victims tend to smile as a submissive cue. But this can trigger violence in an attacker; smiling can be mistaken as mocking.
Likewise, understanding a person’s way of thinking can help you turn an enemy into a friend.
Mindset and self-development (Internal)
Develop your confidence, assertiveness, discipline and perseverance. Learn to be at ease with who you are.
Visit the Mental archive for more
Are you interested in a Mental Training Starter Guide? While it’s not yet ready, register to get email alerts when it’s published.
Know-how & Street Smarts (How to be a ninja?)
Warrior know-hows are simple tips and tricks for random scenarios (you may encounter). It also covers survival, urban stealth and street smarts.
Visit the Know-How archive for more
Are you interested in a Warrior Know-how Starter Guide? While it’s not yet ready, register to get email alerts when it’s published.
Already experienced in an activity? Awesome!
Try other activities that can complement your current training. This helps you can develop a diverse set of skills.
Of course, there’s no need to master everything. Due to time constraints, commit to one activity. Then, pursue the basics of other activities you’re interested in. If that activity is for you, get in deeper.
For example, if you do bouldering, consider getting basic self-defense skills; if you do Karate, try some beginner Parkour moves.
The idea is to be the best ninja-version of yourself (with consideration to your limits).
For cross-training advice, check this out…
Cross-training advice (upcoming)
Please register for alerts when it’s ready.
Traveling to Train
How does traveling the world to train (and connecting with peers) sound? How does going to the source of your martial art, movement form, or calisthenics group sound?
Everyone ultimately seeks a sense of connection and freedom. Being a ninja adventurer is going to be exciting!
If you’re interested in getting a Starter Guide for Travel & Training, please register here.
History, Facts, Folklore & Inspiration
One of the reasons you want to become a ninja is their history itself. You can learn about the old warriors, their tactics and tools. And even, their folklore…
History, Facts & Folklore about Warriors
Takeaway – How to be a ninja in real life?
So, how to be a ninja?
Train in both obstacle movement, and fighting skills. Focus on practical hacks for regular life, and be prepared for conflicts.
By training physically and mentally, you’ll become your best ninja-self!
Visit the individual starter guides here (they aren’t ready but you ought to register for an email alert when they’re ready).
Fantastic expression of the very heart of your website! Thank you!!!
Thanks Joelle. I meant to rewrite the foundation article for Way Of Ninja’s existence for a long time and finally did. And I’m glad that you identified it as the core immediately.
Even though this is done, the individual cogs need to be written.
I intend to do an interview project for people in martial arts, parkour and functional fitness disciplines in the near future. And you are one of those people, if you agree to be interviewed. What say you, my friend?
I am so glad you wrote it – my intuition told me this is what you’re about all along, but it’s very nice that you put it in writing. That way you have something to refer people to whenever they get a bit confused. I’ll bet you’ll do a great job on the individual cogs!
Oh my gosh, my first interview… Yes!
Thanks Joelle! Will keep you informed. The interview questions will be sent via email. I’m scheduling it between May and July.
I’ll keep an eye on my inbox!
Fab article as always Logen! I would just challenge you on one point if that’s ok. . You say:
“Moreover, while actual ninjutsu based on historical manuals teach valuable lessons, they need to be adapted for modern-day use. For example, the Shoninki talks about reading a person’s character based on the number of teeth he has. How practical do you think counting someone’s teeth is? Similarly, would you construct a flaming uchitake instead of using a glow stick for a stealthy night in the woods?”
I agree that the examples you’ve picked are incredibly anachronistic. However, the Shoninki also contains a lot of wisdom which (in my view) still absolutely applies to our lives today, as directly as it ever may have done.
For example, under “How to Avoid Defeating Other People” (pages 152-154 of Antony Cummins’ and Yoshie Minami’s translation), we read, “If you psychologically defeat others, you will not be able to attain a desired result or get your needed information […] they will lose their temper and get upset and become competitive, thus, your aim will not be achieved”.
The text then goes on to explain “the four principles of conversation (hard, strong, soft, and weak)”, and different methods for “identifying” with your enemy, or “taking” your enemy’s mind, or “disconnecting” from your enemy.
It’s great stuff, and I just wanted to point that out – because someone reading your article who hasn’t read this text might get the mistaken impression that it’s full of nothing but superstition, and obsolete technologies.
Taking your point about adapting it for modern day use though, for the chapter I’ve just quoted (for example), we don’t necessarily have to think in terms of “the enemy” nowadays, when applying these principles in everyday life.
This is not a criticism anyway – you know I think you and your work are beyond awesome 😉
Thanks Kai, for the feedback. Didn’t occur to me that people would think the Shoninki is full of superstition. Glad you clarified. I totally agree that the Shoninki has a lot of great stuff that applies today.
And I agree with what you’ve cited and that the knowledge has regular-life uses (and not only to be used against the enemy).
My main concern was that people in pursuit of the ninja would take historical sources as the end of the search, relying on it solely for modern pursuit – especially when they are subjected to the translator’s interpretation.
The article, which serves as Way Of Ninja’s core, therefore emphasises the stance of using modern knowledge to enhance what the ninja texts teaches and even attain the pop-cultural attributes (not supported by history) that most are attracted to.
Anyway, thanks a lot for the support, my friend.