Ninja myths. The Myths about the ninjas and the truth behind them. Ninja legends vs. ninja reality. Supernatural ninja powers and the real ninja skills.
Whenever people hear the word ninja, they tend to imagine men suited completely in black with a mask and ancient Japanese weapons. This is just one of the many false details that have been associated with the ninjas. Books and movies have almost accorded the ninja a mythic status that is filled mostly with false information. Some people even believe that ninjas possessed supernatural powers.
Much of what people know about ninjas is completely wrong as these misconceptions have been spread and multiplied over the years. In order to understand the nature of the ninjas and their place in history, you need to discover the facts behind the myths.
This is possibly the most widespread myth about these warriors. The term ‘ninja’ is a relatively more recent development. The warriors you know as ninjas were originally known as ‘shinobi no mono’ or shinobi for short. In fact, all historical documents refer to these warriors as the shinobi. The term itself has been in use since the 8th century. The term ninja became popular only after the Second World War possibly because it was easier for English speakers.
Another popular myth about the ninjas is that they had a uniform. This uniform is generally depicted as being completely black and covering the entire body. A mask is also considered to be a part of the uniform. Of course, it is easy to see how this myth originated. After all, that is how ninjas are depicted in popular media such as movies.
This is most certainly not true. Ninjas never had any uniform whatsoever. On the other hand, they may have had to wear black depending on their mission. For example, black would enable to hide themselves as they climbed up walls in the middle of the night. The same applies to the mask as it would have been useful while hiding in a tree. In other words, such clothes and masks were used only when they served the purpose of their mission. Usually, they simply wore clothes like the other people of their age.
According to popular myth, ninjas were the finest assassins in the world. In reality, assassination was just one of the tasks that they performed. In fact, they were rarely asked to assassinate people. Instead, their primary task was to infiltrate locations and gather information. On occasions, they would be used to create chaos among the enemy or perform acts of arson or sabotage.
Moreover, it was not uncommon for the ninjas to be blamed for murders they did not commit. After all, the murders could have been performed by a samurai, soldier or some other person.
Another popular myth propagated by pop media like movies is about the shuriken. There are several things wrong with the myth. First of all, shuriken are not always shaped like throwing stars. Those are specifically called "shaken". The shuriken that ninjas used were actually coins, pins or other household. As such, they could not be deadly even when sharpened a bit.
More importantly, the shuriken were never the deadliest weapon that the ninjas used. In fact, it wasn’t even the primary weapon. Shuriken were generally thrown to serve as a distraction so that the ninja could draw attention away from him. People cut by them would be left wondering where the attack came from. In the meantime, the ninja could sneak away in the confusion.
They could be stuck in the ground so that they could hurt people walking or running over them and thereby hindering efforts to follow the ninja. As an actual weapon, the shuriken was used for slashing like a knife. However, ninjas were known to poison the tips of their shuriken for added harm. As for killing, ninjas had far more deadlier weapons at their disposal such as the katana or even a bow and arrow.
Popular media loves to pit these two types of warriors against each other. This myth comes about from the fact that these warriors approached battles with a different mindset. The samurai upheld honor above everything else. On the other hand, the ninjas mostly avoided confrontations. Their aim was to get away safely or kill the one preventing their escape by any means possible.
While their philosophies were different, the fact is that the samurai and ninjas were never enemies as such. Of course, a ninja may have had to face a samurai but that was only work. There was no ancient rivalry involved. There are quite a few historical accounts of samurai becoming ninja later. Hattori Hanzo was one of them. Ninjas actually came about because they could do the tasks that the samurai could not because of their code of honor.
Historically, the ninjas have been attributed with a range of supernatural powers. Some examples include breathing fire, turning invisible, vanishing and walking on water. Of course, these are all just myths. In some cases, there are logical explanations behind the phenomenon. For example, there were multiple ways by which a ninja could distract an opponent such as sand or shuriken. Once distracted, the ninja could make his escape. To the opponent, it would seem as if the ninja had vanished.
There are many other such myths surrounding the shinobi. Understanding that they are just myths will help you to appreciate the actual skills of these warriors.