Ninja, also known as shinobi, were covert agents or mercenaries in feudal Japan. They were trained in a variety of martial arts, espionage techniques, and unconventional warfare, and were known for their stealth, agility, and ability to blend in with their surroundings.
The origins of the ninja date back to at least the 9th century, but they reached the height of their popularity during the Sengoku period (1467-1603). During this time, rivaling samurai clans hired ninja to perform a variety of tasks, including sabotage, espionage, assassination, and guerrilla warfare.
One of the most iconic weapons associated with the ninja is the ninja sword, also known as the ninjato or ninjaken. This type of sword was shorter and lighter than the traditional katana sword used by the samurai, which made it easier for the ninja to wield and conceal. The ninja sword often had a straight blade, as opposed to the curved blade of the katana, and was often made of lower quality steel, since the ninja were more concerned with stealth and deception than honor and ceremony.
In addition to their swords, ninja were also skilled in the use of a variety of other weapons, such as shuriken (throwing stars), kusarigama (a type of sickle-and-chain weapon), and makibishi (spiked caltrops).
Some other key points about ninja:
- Ninja were often associated with the color black, which helped them blend in with the night and made it easier for them to hide in shadows.
- Ninja were known for their ability to use disguise and misdirection to their advantage. This could include pretending to be someone else, using fake identities, or using distractions to throw off their enemies.
- Despite their reputation as deadly warriors, ninja were also skilled in non-violent techniques such as lockpicking, safe-cracking, and forging documents.
- There were many different schools or traditions of ninja training, each with their own unique methods and philosophies.
- The exact number of ninja in Japan's history is unknown, but it is believed that they formed a small but significant part of the country's military forces.
- In modern popular culture, ninja have been depicted in a variety of media, including movies, television shows, video games, and manga/anime.