TONPO The Art of Escaping
Tonpo, the Art of Escaping, may be divided into three phases. The hideout may be a point of
concealment inside the enemy camp or on its perimeter. It is a temporary refuge only. The refuge
refers to a hiding place within enemy control but sufficiently safe to allow rest or regrouping.
The refuge may be an indigenous ally or take the form of a disguise. The FBI and CIA
frequently use this device. They are known as safe houses and new identities. The sanctuary
consists of a position outside the control of enemy forces, where friendly forces can assist you.
Beware of these situations, however; even here, a Ninja is not truly safe.
Previously stressed has been the importance of observing the enemy, his encampment, and
so on. For the most part, the escape route should be the same as the penetration route. It should
be retraced stealthily, as if one were entering instead of leaving; indeed, this is penetration outwards.
The reason for using the same route is that less likelihood exists of being discovered.
Also, since the route has been used once, it is more familiar. Great care must be taken not to let
one’s guard down during Tonpo.
No one can plan for all contingencies, but one can try. To this end, at least two other escape
routes should be available, one directly opposite and the other veering ninety degrees from the
original path. These are to be employed in the event of the primary route’s discovery.
In selecting the primary route, look for means to employ stealth.
In selecting alternatives, look first for means to employ speed and cover. Second, look for
areas where distractions can be created. If possible, locate and prepare an escape route from the
guardhouse for use in the unlikely event you are captured. Bear in mind that when being pursued,
it may be necessary to stand and fight. Select points along the escape route that have the
advantage of high ground, and note that doorways and gates can often be held by one man. In
short, any spot where the enemy will be hampered by obstacles can be used to the escaping
Avoid inhabited areas such as barracks, mess halls, or command posts. Beware of booby
traps, mined or alarmed areas, and those brightly lit. The location and strength of every guard
post should be known before entering.
Long-term escape and evasion may include identity changes and familiarization with public
and private means of transportation, border patrols, and security checks. Numerous works exist
on these subjects, which are not directly connected with pure Ninjitsu.
However, in modern warfare, these considerations must be planned for assiduously. Nothing
can be left to chance because the stakes are life and death.