Taijutsu & The Ninja
From The Way of the Ninja by Massaki Hatsumi
“In theory no ninja should lack skill in ninpo taijutsu, but the actual training differs from school to school. Having said this, all ninja have to be equally agile and light in their movements. They also need to be excellent leapers…” P. 104
One of the first skills that is shown and practiced in our training is called taihenjutsu- the art of changing the body, which involved ways of landing on the ground (rolling), avoiding attacks and leaping.
The ability to leap six feet is a good start, and a good goals to strive for, but ultimately one wants to cultivate the ability to leap at least nine feet or even more.
Why is leaping so important?
From the perspective of ninjutsu and our training there are two reasons why it is important-
The first is that is quickly takes you out of the path of danger- something falling at you, or coming at you, clear the distance and leap away. Once you are away and have some distance between you, one can then assess the situation and escape.
The second reason is that leaping is a way to control the distance, and ninpo taijutsu is ALL about manipulating the distance.
Physical conditioning is very important in the martial arts, and we want to be the best that we can in terms of strength, speed, and flexibility for our age and life situation, but we don’t want to rely on these attributes in ninjutsu.
What if you find yourself in a situation where somebody else is bigger, faster, or stronger then you?
You can’t control how big, fast, or strong another person or situation is, but you CAN control the distance.
Distance negates these attributes.
If a person or situation suddenly gets too close to you, and you need to expand the distance to a safe place, leaping is the way to do it in one quick and efficient movement.
In this way, leaping is related to the martial arts in that it is a concept skill that allows the student to see how other techniques that they learn over time work.
When you understand the distance you can manipulate the distance, while keeping yourself safe.