Chris Bradford is the author of the award-winning Young Samurai series, a tale of adventure, friendship and heroism that follows an English boy as he strives to become the first foreign samurai. (www.youngsamurai.com)
Chris is a black belt in martial arts and lives in a village in West Sussex, England, with his wife. He is currently training in ninjutsu.
Books in series: The Way of the Warrior, The Way of the Sword and The Way of the Dragon.
In The Way of the Dragon, the third book in the Young Samurai series, my hero Jack Fletcher confronts his worst enemy – the ninja known as Dragon Eye!
Legend says the ninja are the deadliest and most feared warriors to have ever existed. In writing the first two books in the Young Samurai series, I used my in-depth knowledge of Japan, its history and the martial arts of the samurai to give an authentic flavor to this fantasy action-adventure.
But I still knew little of the ninja. So I went on a journey to discover the truth behind the myths. Joining a ninjutsu club, I spent the last year training in the arts of these elusive “shadow warriors”.
Their secrets are now woven into my story. Here is a little of what I learnt:
Who are the ninja?
They are Japanese spies and assassins, but their history is shrouded in mystery. Many believe the ninja come from banished warlords and mystic priests of China. Others suggest their origins lay in rebel farmers. While some believe the ninja are descended from Tengu - the mythical devil bird!
How different are ninja and samurai?
The ninja are as opposite to the samurai as the moon is to the sun. While the samurai were the ruling warrior class, the ninja tended to be farmers. The samurai were loyal to their daimyo (lord), fearless in battle and faced their opponents with honor. The ninja, on the other hand, were mercenaries who switched loyalties easily and would prefer to deliver a knife in the back than fight face-to-face.
Did the ninja have no morals?
The samurai believed the ninja had no honor, since they didn’t follow bushido (The Way of the Warrior), the code which promoted respect, loyalty and courage. But the ninja weren’t without morals. A true ninja observed ninniku, that of ‘cultivating a pure and compassionate heart’.
What did ninja do?
They worked as undercover spies and assassins. Unless the mission required it, the ninja preferred not to kill, since such an act would give away their presence.
Who did they work for?
Samurai often hired them. But the ninja’s secret operations conflicted with the samurai ideal and, therefore, the ninja were hated and feared by the samurai.
What is ninjutsu?
Ninjutsu means ‘The Art of Stealth’. It’s the martial art of the ninja and encompasses 18 different disciplines.
What training does a ninja do?
Like a samurai they’d train in sword combat and hand-to-hand fighting, but a young ninja would also have to learn such skills as stealth walking (shinobi aruki), the blending of poisons (dokujutsu), the use of fire and explosives (kayakujutsu) and the art of invisibility (onshinjutsu).
Can a ninja really be invisible?
The ninja were skilled in the art of deception. By disguising themselves as priests, farmers and even samurai, they essentially became invisible by avoiding detection.
Sometimes during a fight, a ninja would throw metsubishi (blinding powder) into the eyes of their enemy. When their victim had recovered, it was as if the ninja had disappeared in a cloud of smoke!
What weapons did the ninja use?
For a ninja, anything could be used as a weapon – a rice flail, a fan and even a chopstick! Their most recognizable weapons are:
• shuriken – metal throwing stars used for distraction, wounding and sometimes poisoning;
• nunchuka – two sticks connected at the ends by a short chain or rope, developed from the farmer’s rice flail;
• ninjato – a ninja sword, shorter and straighter than the samurai’s katana with an oversized square hand guard. The ninja didn’t have the same attachment to a sword as a samurai. For a samurai, his sword was his honor, even his soul. But for a ninja, the sword was just another tool.
Does ninja magic exist?
The ninja were capable of many amazing feats and magic was certainly one of them. It’s believed they could read minds, heal wounds and even control the elements. But you need to train as a ninja to learn such mystical arts…
Read The Way of the Dragon and discover the way of the ninja!
For competitions, samurai school and more, visit http://www.youngsamurai.com/
Thanks for stopping by Chris!
For more info on Chris Bradford and his books, please visit his website here.