September 2, 2022

Introduction to Ninjutsu History

Ninjutsu is not a combat form like physical martial arts but rather activities related to espionage, strategies, planning, and covert actions relating to warfare. The practitioners were known as Shinobi or the more commonly used term Ninja.

Ninjutsu is a strategy

The art of war

The art of Ninjutsu has its roots in the ancient art of war. This art of war passed across South Asia, developing and growing in knowledge during its journey east. It then eventually made its way to the East Asian Island country of Japan. Here it developed further to suit the unique mountainous geography of Japan. This means that the art of Ninjutsu is highly specialized to Japan.

For the Ninja/Shinobi remaining unseen was a matter of life or death. The ninja could easily move between different areas unnoticed as part of the general population. The training a ninja underwent was specialized and not everyone could become a ninja due to the harsh mental nature of the training and physical requirements to become a Ninja.

Iga and Koka

There were scattered groups across Japan that practiced different forms of Ninjutsu with the best known being the Ninja of Iga province, and Koka of the Omi province. Iga province housed many of the early day warriors due to its strategic mountainous positioning. The specific art that was cultivated is a form of mountain and hillside warfare. Ninjutsu was also a means to keep peace between closely related clans in Iga province. It is important to note that Iga consisted of warriors and that ninjutsu was developed as a strategy. From here the art of Ninjutsu was refined to become the legend it is known as today.

The use of Ninjutsu had a pivotal impact on the history of Japan. From 1578 Iga had become so strong that its independence as a republic began posing a threat to the lords campaigning to unite Japan. During 1581 the second Tensei Iga war took place. The fierce attack from the forces of Oda Nobunaga on Iga nearly meant the end of the Iga people. After a compromise was made to prevent the annihilation of Iga the remaining members of Iga scattered across Japan.

samurai armor
samurai armor

Ninjutsu during the ages

The Ninja as known by the majority of the world today was active between the 15th and 17th centuries but there are records that mention similar activities from as early as the 8th century. With the establishment of the Meiji government in the 18th century the Ninja had become a topic of mystery and legend.

The three most popular books about the ninja are “Mansen Shukai”, “Shoninki”, and “Ninpiden" (Shinobi Hiden). These were written by Fujibayashi Yasutake and Hattori Hanzo. Ninjutsu was a closely guarded secret with very little information recorded. The secret was so well kept that researchers are still discovering new information about Ninjutsu today. The reason for this is that most of the intricate skills were transmitted via “kuden”, a method of orally transmitting information.

In the Musashi clan history it is seen that the Musashi Samurai together with Iga and koka Shinobi built ties with the government, filled important positions of influence and continued to make a difference to people's lives. The clan started placing value on academic achievements and used this to transition into the modern era to continue to work.

Idea of Ninjutsu and other arts nearly wiped out

Ninjutsu has been a secluded art during most of Japans history with closely guarded secrets only known to certain clan heads. During the 20th century there has been a few events that further diminished the available information on military strategies. It is unfortunate that much information was lost during the military occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952 after world war two ended.

During this time the Japanese people were limited to the access to information with the occupants taking control over available information. Any information regarding strategies, methods and techniques seen as a threat was either taken away from Japan or destroyed by the foreign occupants.

However we are fortunate that some of the history was kept, and teachings valued in order to maintain law among the civilians. During this time the Japanese police force were allowed to practice and refine certain arts. This also meant a resurgence in research and collection of the old teachings.

Ninjutsu in the History of Musashi Clan

(Extract form the "Order of Musashi Shinobi Samurai" Wiki page)

“The order has a shinobi samurai origin. The history of the order goes back to the mid-16th century. On the 4th of June in 1582, right after Honnō-ji Incident (本能寺の変), the Musashi clan ancestors, Shibata Suwo and Nagamochi Tokuzo, escorted Tokugawa Ieyasu by the request from Ieyasu's retainer, Hattori Hanzo. Together with other Iga and Koka shinobi, they guarded Ieyasu to Ise where Ieyasu and his retainers boarded a ship and eventually arrived at the Okazaki Castle in Mie successfully. Since then the Igamono shinobisamurai started to serve Ieyasu, and the Shibata-Nagamochi clan officially became retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582. They moved to Edo (in Musashi region) in 1590 with Tokugawa Ieyasu and thereafter served the Tokugawa Shogunate till 1868. The two families re-established themselves as a new clan-order in Musashi Region. After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, declining the offer from the Meiji Government, it became a private organization to maintain its shinobi samurai traditions.”

Follow the below link to view our history:
Order of Musashi Shinobi Samurai - Wikipedia

From the clan history the question now arises, how do we contribute and use the Ninjutsu skills in the modern era?

Idea of the modern Ninjutsu practice we use.


“In 1989, the fundamental philosophy was named Kyohmei (共鳴 Empathetic Resonance) and Mizu kagami (水鏡 Water Mirror), and the ultimate purpose of the members training was to be one with ku (空 large universe) or “無我 no-self.”
“The order maintains that ninshido has evolved and has adapted to changes that the ninshi traditions have survived to this date. The ninishido ideas have been incorporated in the order's practical educational system so the members can learn a collection of strategies called "Gorin ninpo" (五輪忍法) and the "Kyohmei" guideline" to serve their communities as shinobi should. Through training, the members efficiently learn to integrate their mental and physical strengths, which will cultivate their inner fortitude to be equanimous under any circumstance.”
“The ninshi education helps to develop a more positive shinobi paradigm in the world as well as to help mold members' personalities. The timeless ninshi wisdom can be effectively utilized in this modern age.”


“In 2019 an academic presentation titled "Ninshido: The New paradigm of the Order of Shinobi Samurai" was made by Kazuhiro Aizawa and Kiyomi Shibata”

“The order has become a small think and do tank following the footsteps of the ninshi forefathers to work for world peace. This organization provides the public with seminars, workshops, events for the purpose of promoting culture, international exchange, tourism, etc., and with projects related to information gathering.”

We are active and currently teach the the fundamental philosophy of Kyohmei (共鳴 Empathetic Resonance) and Mizu kagami (水鏡 Water Mirror) with "Gorin ninpo" (五輪忍法) as our Ninjutsu.”


Modern Shinobi engages in community initiatives while preserving the clan history and spreading the word of what it means to be a ShinobiSamurai in the modern day.

For more info and guidance please contact us.

Article written by Yuhkimaru Musashi
Yuhkimaru of the Musashi clan is avid student of survival skills and martial arts used during the era of the Samurai. Yuhkimaru aims to use his writing skills and knowledge of human psychology to further the ideals of the Musashi clan and share it with the world. Wisdom from the past carry much weight towards the application of the clan principles for use in modern times. "To insure the security of a bright future through education for all the people of the world is my dream." (Yuhkimaru)