The ancient Japanese ninja
Ninja or Shinobi were known as Samurai spies of ancient Japan. They developed the skills of Ninjutsu (which means the “art of stealth”). The ninja were an elite group or secret brotherhood that used their special techniques for sabotage, infiltration and assassination, as well as open combat.
Historians believe that the first ninjas appeared around the 14th century however it was not until the 15th century that they were specially trained as spies and assassins. The word Shinobi appeared around this time and means a secretive group of agents.
The normal Samurai soldier fought with honour where they were expected to fight openly and face their enemy, however the Ninja had more secretive roles including spy, scout, surprise attacker and agitator.
Records tell of ninja who retreated to the mountains near Iga and Koga of central japan to meditate and train. Their groups were small and formed around families and villages.
The ninja were stealth soldiers whose roles were of espionage and sabotage. In battle the ninja could also be used to cause confusion amongst the enemy. Some ninja had similar roles to the samurai but they were more influential. As more and more enemy lords were killed by ninja assassins, fear of the ninja spread across the country.
The main role was espionage. They used disguises and found out information on the enemy eg building layouts, terrain and passwords and codes.
Arson was the ninja’s main form of sabotage for example in 1558 Yoshitaka employed a team of ninja to set fire to Sawyama Castle then Yoshitaka’s army later over-ran the castle.
The ninja did not always work alone, some ninjas worked in teams to do techniques, for example in order to scale a wall, a group of ninja may carry each other on their backs or provide a human platform to assist a individual ninja in reaching greater heights he cant make by himself. Ninjas also used...
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