You might think this activity has only to do with silent footsteps or agile heel placement, and if so, you would be missing the great significance of this art – for as described by Chikamatsu Shigenori and inferred from other ninjutsu texts, shinobi-walking is much more than merely strolling about the land.
The shinobi of old was, among other things, an intelligence agent. It was his job to gain as much information on the enemy and its territory as he could, and shinobi-walking was one method of gathering intelligence on the topography of various territories without arousing much suspicion.
The more you prepare for war during peacetime, the less you will bleed in times of war – or so the proverb goes. The shinobi would prepare himself and enable the army he was attached to by walking about with a concentrated observation for tactical points of interest. Shigenori divulges that this clandestine agent would travel on as many roads as he could, in as many territories as he could, as often as possible, so as to mentally record topographical features of these areas. By doing this, the shinobi would be capable of providing decisive advice on a given province should battle ameliorate within. He may have done this in broad daylight under the cover of a good disguise. Or, he could opt to fulfill intelligence objectives by abiding to in-nin (dark ninjutsu) scouting techniques. Whatever the option chosen, it is certain that shinobi intelligence was indispensable to commanders seeking a swift victory.
So that is the historical explanation of this art, but what can we modern folk learn from ‘shinobi-walking’?
As you might have discerned from other posts on this site, I am a commoner with a keen interest in exigency preparedness. I do not believe an apocalyptic doomsday or pernicious disaster is inevitable, however to deny the possibility is quite imprudent because unpredictable cataclysms have been the bane of human existence. In connection with this appeal to preparedness, I am convinced that the most salient evolutionary adaptation of our species has been ‘the mind’. This beings so, there is much to learn from shinobi-no-jutsu as it’s texts emphasize the cultivation of a sharp mind that is flexible enough to conform to any difficult circumstance one might face.
Now to the point, ‘shinobi-walking’ can teach the preparedness-minded to pay attention to our surroundings – to the extent that useful topographical features are memorized for future reference. Walking around different towns, cities, and rural areas, we may identify water sources and myriad other valuable saliencies of the area. As a plus, we engage in some decent exercise while stimulating our mental faculties and possibly meeting new people.
I prefer scouting out rural areas, as I enjoy nature. If you intend to take up long walks (6+ miles) in the woods or back roads of your area, be sure to carry water, and other items essential to getting you throu
gh an emergency. I am not responsible for your misdeeds or lack of planning.
Be safe, and I hope you enjoyed the post.