Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Friday, November 2, 2012

Secrets of the Ninja (3)

Uniform of the Ninja

The costume of the Ninja is basically that of the stage handlers of the Kabuki theater,
who sneak on stage during scenes to help actors with costume changes, move scenery, or remove
props. He is not noticed, even though he may remain in full view for an entire act. He
seems a part of the landscape. And, when he does move, it is accomplished so swiftly and unobtrusively
that he escapes notice. This symbolism applies equally to the actions of an agent in the

For our purposes, the Ninja uniform consists of: (a) Black Ski Mask, as camouflage
paint or "blacking" of the face is time consuming and cannot be quickly removed. (b) Black
over-jacket, often reversible to disguise the appearance. (c) Black Belt or sash. (d) Black Coveralls,
with blousing ties at the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. And, (e) Black Tabi, split toed
socks made for wearing with sandals. The soft sole of these protects the feet and helps muffle
the sounds of walking.

The traditional uniform also included the hakima which is a divided skirt for formal
wear, leggings, and a light tunic of chain mail. My Sensei also employed a large, gray, hooded
cape which was used to distort the silhouette, a true "cloak of invisibility."
The costume of the Ninja was called Shinobi Shokozu. The blousing ties at the joints
could serve to slightly numb the body to take impact in hand to hand combat by tightening them
slightly. Or, as tourniquets to stop bleeding if the agent were slashed during swordplay.
Black is considered the "traditional" color because it was used by the Kabuki stage handlers.

Theatergoers were expected to ignore the "shadow" figure, who used many of the same
techniques employed today for espionage, to move invisibly about the stage. But, solid black
"stands out" at night among the true shadows cast by moon and torchlight. Therefore, most
Ninja schools used brown, gray, or red uniforms.

Red had the advantage of being black at night, with no sunlight to reflect the crimson
color; a fact known only to those who studied light and shadow as a Neolithic science. When it
came into the firelight, however, the color returned. And psychologically intimidated the enemy
through the association of red with the fear of blood.

This trick was also used by the Spartans of ancient Greece, who wore red capes to
frighten the enemy and conceal any wounds they might receive in battle. An example of Saimenjitsu
(Hsi Men Jitsu) the Way of the Mind Gate. Ninja terminology for the study of the
mind, psychology.

Again, an example of "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man." Most of
whom were still living in mud huts at this period of human history. Cooking on open fires,
struggling to eke out an existence with primitive agriculture, no medicine to speak of by modern
standards, it is difficult to believe that in such times men had time to oppress each other and
wage war. But, it has always been thus.

Only the Ninja stood between the peasants and the princes. Only they could pass
through walls and strike at the heart of the enemy camp. That is why it is forbidden to use this
Art for personal gain. That is why it is full of hidden philosophical lessons. In this way the
Ninja is protected by the armor of righteousness, and can do no wrong.

~Ashida Kim