In this article I will be discussing some very important areas of study. These "gates" as they were known in ancient Japan, were the required areas of study for anyone, or any school, professing to be studying or teaching Ninjutsu.

Did you know that there was a standard by which the art of ninjutsu was based? Did you know that ninjutsu training, to be considered different from other martial art systems, had to contain, as a minimum, 8 fields of study to be considered authentic?

This system of cataloging and identifying an authentic, traditional ninjutsu school is called the Ninja no Hachimon, or "The 8 Gates of the Ninja." Each gate is not only a complete system of study, but each also serves to make the others stronger, and takes the ninja's self-defense system far outside the range of conventional martial arts training.

The 8 Gates of the Ninja Include:

1) Kiai-jutsu (pronounced "kee-eye-joo-tsoo"). This involves not only the use of shouts and sounds as you would normally hear in the context of karate training, but also the use of the spoken word and body language to "communicate" at a very deep level; within the attacker's body and mind.

2) Ninpo-Taijutsu (pronounced "neen-poe-tie-joo-tsoo"). The Ninja's method of using his or her body for both self-protection, as well as other day to day activities, is based on the use of natural principles and concepts that allow you to always be stronger than your opponent. These concepts and principles work on the principle of "energy conservation," and always using just the right amount of energy to get the job done -- no more, no less.

3) Swordsmanship. The Ninja's use of the sword, known as Ninja no Ken, goes far beyond how most people think about the subject. And, contrary to popular belief, the Ninja was adept at using both the conventional "Samurai" swords of the time, as well as his own.

4) Shurikenjutsu (pronounced "shoo-ree-kehn-joo-tsoo"). This involves the use of flat, star-like plates of steel, as well as spikes. These weapons were not just thrown at an opponent, but were also used in a hand-held fashion - which was often much more powerful and devastating.

5) Soojutsu (pronounced "sew-joo-tsoo"). The ninja was adept at the use of different types of spears which were often modified to allow him to have not only an advantage in a self-defense situation, but to also be able to use them as a tool for such things as climbing, measuring distances, etc.

6) Use of fire. Known as kajutsu (pronounced "kah-joo-tsoo"), this involved everything from the use of fire and smoke as diversionary tactics, to the mastery of firearms after they were introduced to Japan by the Portugese.

7) Ninja no Ugei (pronounced "oo-gay"). This is the use of deception and manipulation tactics to achieve the results that one was after. And, while most people assume that this only included the use of disguise and impersonation tactics for the purpose of spying, the truth is that "all" Ninja self-defense techniques include an element of deception and the manipulation of the opponent's beliefs and perceptions to make what you are doing to him practically "invisible!"

8) Ninja no Kyomon (pronounced "kyoh-moan"). This is the field of study that most people, including most practitioners today, miss out on. This is the area of study and mastery that makes a Ninja a true master of, not just the martial arts of self-defense... but of Life! This field includes everything and anything that can make achieving your goals much easier - and the possibility of an attacker to confuse, trick, or manipulate you...almost impossible!

Aside from this list though, a true Ninja must also train in, and be proficient with, the standard skill sets taught to those studying conventional martial arts like karate, judo, jujitsu, aikido, etc. So, if you're going to master the Ninja's self-defense system, you have your work cut out for you.

But, don't let that scare you. Because, one of the unique things about real ninjutsu training - the kind of training that goes beyond mere body movement and unarmed self-defense training - is that you learn both viewpoints - the conventional and the Ninja's unconventional approach - at the same time!

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