The following text (in color) has been pulled from a document entitled “How to Train in Ninjutsu” by A. Cummins (he has provided permission to freely distribute this document). I have added my own examples of training to each point. This post will be updated periodically with videos as I fill in each area with real world experiences and examples:
SKILLS YOU SHOULD LEARN
The following list is a set of basic areas you should cover to acquire the
basic skills of ninjutsu, while each seems separate, when assimilated into one individual
person, the essence of ninjutsu can be seen. Remember, ninjutsu has no end,
Natori says that ninjutsu is running into the void, it is shapeless and adapts, you must “grow”
ninjutsu within yourself by tempering your heart. Use the following list as a guideline to your training and explore the endless areas of each one, creating ninjutsu within yourself as you go along. Always remember to separate what is historical ninjutsu from your own adaptation and the context you use it in.
•I have begun my study in this area by purchasing and reading meteorological textbooks, in addition to learning the normal patterns of weather in my area and outside my state.
An understanding of the night sky and the constellations.
•At present, my knowledge only extends through a few constellations. Nothing significant to note here.
Navigation by the stars and sun.
•The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. You can also orient yourself to a relative north direction by using a stick and shadow method observed here:
On a clear night, look to the Big Dipper constellation and then veer the gaze leftwards to observe the North Star (aka Polaris), a guide to compass North. This star can be found by looking to the left of the Big Dipper.
Understanding the phases of the moon.
The Lunar cycle was once used in place of the Gregorian Calendar. Learning the phases of the moon will let you track the 28 day cycle.
Buddhism and world religions and how they affect people’s lives.
• Buddhism is the single most appealing religion to me, but I do not consider myself a devout follower. That said, throughout the years I have adopted many Buddhist precepts for their sensibility and practicality. I will share these with you at another time. Presently, I am reading Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism by Taiko Yamasaki.
The use of fire construction and fire transport.
• You may have seen my videos of unconventional fire-starting. While the historical methods of doing this are interesting, know that Fujibayashi himself stated one should adapt the principles of the old ways to suit differing circumstances. Therefore, learning to start fires in diverse, modern ways is aligned with the cultivation of ninjutsu. I have used an old grill ignitor in combination with isopropyl alcohol to start fires, and I transport my fire by carrying lighters and matches (and even flint w/ steel). If you want to stick with historical methods, make a donohi and fill it with char cloth. Don’t hesitate to learn the primitive fire-starting methods as well (i.e. bow-drill), the more skills you have, the better prepared you will be.
Wild camping and wilderness survival without a portable shelter.
• For this one, I have learned how to use cordage and a tarp to make a shelter. I have also built shelters out of forest debris, and have built a wilderness kit that can be carried on me at all times should I find myself in deplorable situations (this kit is constantly changing as experience teaches me). There are even methods of sleeping on the ground that can be added to your skill set.
Lock picking and breaking & entering skills.
•I have learned and can execute three methods of escaping from handcuffs in addition to other amateur locksmithing skills (i.e. picking locks with metal shims or bobby-pins). These skills have come in handy on a few occasions. Knowing how locks may be bypassed also increases your own security awareness (certain models of Master Lock I will not purchase because I have been able to pick them with ease- this is not a denouncement of Master Locks in general).
• While not proficient in catching small game with snares, I do have a few techniques of ensnaring people. I will share one with you: spiked boards. You may have viewed these in my post on caltrops (tetsubishi). These cheap traps can be hidden among dead vegetation or laid out against the fence of a perimeter. Nails are better than screws.
Enemy camp Infiltration skills.
Underwater and swimming skills.
Have a profound understanding of espionage, the study of spying should be your
The psychology of the mind.
The psychology of lying.
Linguistics, regional dialects and eloquent speech
The Japanese language.
All forms of climbing skills.
Become proficient in rope work, knotting and single rope skills.
Attend an acting school or club to help with
Knowledge of cryptology.
The art of eavesdropping and “listening in”.
Stealth and camouflage.
Signalling and hidden signs.
Scouting as a single person or as a party.
Martial arts training.
Core strength training.