The life of the samurai was tough. The life of the ninja was even tougher.
In fifteenth-century Japan, the samurai of Iga and Koga in Japan began their training as soon as they could stand. A boy born into an acclaimed samurai family would be raised to become a warrior willy-nilly as simply no other career options were available. He would spend most of his childhood learning the martial disciplines. Swordsmanship, spear skills, bow and arrow skills, later even guns were also part of the curriculum for any would-be samurai. Riding and swimming were, of course, part of the training too. For a young ninja boy, however, it would be a bit tougher than that…
By the beginning of their teenage years, young ninja boys in the ninja villages of Iga and Koga will have internalized the the basics of ninjutsu.
- Ninja kid learning the principles of balance, supervised by his dad, his primary instructor throughout his life.
- Young ninja learning underwater breathing techniques utilizing a bamboo tube. Later in life he might have to hide for hours under the surface of a lake or river to avoid detection by enemies.
- Vital swordsmanship training. Ninja kid taking his first lesson in how to deal with a ring of attackers. He has to anticipate how each bamboo rods will swing back and forth in order to avoid contact with them.
- Ninja boy in extensive missile practice, learning how to spin the shuriken and hit the target accurately.
- Young ninja learning survival skills traveling into the mountains and catering for himself. He is cooking a bag of rice buried under a campfire, with the rice wrapped in a cloth and soaked in water.
- Ninja child interviewed by the shonin, or head of the ninja settlement. He is assessing the child’s progress.2-, 3- and 4-man techniques for jumping over tall obstacles like walls:
- Ninja teamwork with excellent acrobatic skills. On the other side of the wall the vigilant observer might conclude that the ninja has the ability of flying. In this technique one ninja runs forward carrying his mate on his shoulders, who then leaps from this lifted position.
- Two ninja assisting a third to maneuver over a wall by giving him a powerful ‘leg up’.
- Four men forming a human pyramid.
- Ninja utilizing an ashigaru’s yari, or long spear, to pole-vault over a ditch.