Jonin: The Skilled Shinobi

What are the qualities of a master shinobi? Is the title given for his/her skill in applications of physical techniques i.e. strikes, grappling, and joint locks? Is mastery of ninjutsu conferred in accord with one’s rank or accomplishments during times of conflict? Does a master shinobi own a dojo? What really defines a ninjutsu master?

Holding to the content of manuals on the art, those who ask these kinds of questions will be disappointed to find that a “shinobi” who is skilled, and known for his skill, would be considered by Fujibayashi Yasutake’s standards as a very mediocre ninja if a ninja at all. And so, one cannot expect to access the more recondite knowledge of ninjutsu through these sorts of people if indeed they teach any piece of the art.

The supreme quality that defines a master shinobi is to be spoken of in terms of absolute anonymity respecting profession, accomplishments, and skill. A master shinobi is thought to have been so secretive concerning his affiliation with ninjutsu that his family members and close friends had no idea he even had the skills (this anonymity beckons relation to intelligence operations of an ancient and modern context).

Indeed, the Bansenshukai gives the admonition that the aspiring shinobi should never reveal the extent of his skills even to his closest relations, for the vicissitudes of the turbulent times were such that an ally could spontaneously flip relations and become an enemy. And so according to Fujibayashi, one cannot tell a master shinobi apart from a regular citizen or an average warrior.

If one happened to come across a true master of ninjutsu, he would seem average, “stupid”8, and have nothing to display that would offer the presupposition that he is indeed a ninjutsu adept. This shinobi will not seek recognition for his skill. He will not boast or even casually speak of his accomplishments, and furthermore there will be nothing at all which would allude to his capabilities within the realm of ninjutsu. If his capabilities are called to action against his enemies, they will produce effects that are completely indistinguishable from (one might even say camouflaged by) the cycles of nature.

Consequently, a master shinobi will not make monetary solicitations in exchange for knowledge of his skills. A master shinobi will not publicly open a ninjutsu dojo for the common citizen. A master shinobi will not refer to himself as a master. And a master shinobi will not enter into a competitive match while stylizing his physical techniques as “ninjutsu”.

What Fujibayashi claims has major implications for the “ninjutsu” dojo industry. By his words, any acclaimed “master” of ninjutsu is automatically disqualified from the title.




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