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Ninpo is a group of related martial traditions with uncertain historical veracity that are believed to originate in Japan since the ancient period (before the 12th century). This system includes the eighteen martial skills (bugei juhappan) for the common bushi (warrior), and another group of eighteen unconventional types of martial skills (ninja juhakkei) for special warfare. Another component of Ninpo, in addition to these thirty-six martial skills, is a unique world view, thought and philosophy, and esoteric practices. This world view emphasizes the defensive nature of Ninpo, and the need to have a compassionate heart.

The term ninpo is made of two characters. The first, nin, literally means patience, perseverance, and stealth. The character itself is composed of two characters to have a blade placed over the heart/mind. There are a number of symbolic meanings to that. One, the blade forces the heart/mind to remain stealth in order to persevere. Another meaning is that the heart/mind should be as sharp and pure as the sword.

The second character, Po, is philosophically more complicated thus more difficult to grasp, and has a strong Buddhist connotation. In modern Japanese this character is used for the word "law" (as in the legal system), but in the term "ninpo" it takes on the meaning of the universal Buddhist Law or dharma. In Sanskrit the word dharma has a deep and complex meaning, but it essentially means factors of existence on one level, ultimate reality on another level, and the Buddhist doctrines and thought on yet another level. The result of combining it with the first character "nin" produces a term ("ninpo") that could be understood as the ultimate and eternal reality of perseverance and stealth. However, one should not rigidly define or interpret Ninpo in one way, rather understand the depth of it in its various meanings.The term ninjutsu literally means skills of perseverance, and is an historical (vis a vis historiographical) term. In the 17th century ninjutsu records (Bansenshukai, Ninpiden and Shoninki), the authors extensively use the word ninjutsu to refer to their martial tradition. Historically, ninjutsu is a general term for a variety of martial skills that share a common characteristics. These characteristics include the people who nurtured and developed ninjutsu, the combination of conventional and unconventional fighting methods, and the period when ninjutsu was most widely used, among other characteristics. Since I discuss the possible origins of ninjutsu in this essay on Ninpo and in my section on Ninpo history, in the following paragraphs I will focus on the martial skills that constitute ninjutsu.It is possible to divide ninjutsu to four fundamental categories: taijutsu, ninki (weapons), heiho, and shugyo (religious practices). Taijutsu (literally, "body skills") is a collection of unarmed fighting techniques divided into kosshijutsu, koppojutsu, dakentaijutsu, jutaijutsu, and taihenjutsu.

Information from Wikipedia © Sergio Solorzano
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