Officially the stupidest question I've ever asked (involves ninjas)

Sing it with me:

Chinese ninja warrior,
with your heart so cold,
Whooa, your life is a mystery,
why do you wear that…

Heres the MP3:

Trust me, you’ll be singing it all day tomarrow…

Were there ANY Chinese ninjas? I was under the impression that ninjas were a Japanese thing, and that the Japanese in general never got along too well with the Chinese, pretty much ruining any chance of a ninja exchange program.

Granted, what little I know about ninjas are from crummy 80’s flicks. Throwing stars, little footie sneakers with the seperate big toes, improbable smoke bomb disappearing exits, etc. Thats about all I know.


Incidently, wanna’see something really disturbing? Do a web search of the quote:
“I am a ninja”.

There is no such thing as a Chinese ninja in the literal sense of Chinese ninjitsu (ninjitsu is a Japanese art).

However, keeping in mind that ninja is another word for assassin there most certainly were Chinese ninja in the sense of Chinese assassins.

As an added bonus you might be interested in knowing that the ninja-to (ninja sword) is completely (historically) fictional as well.

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

An extra extra bonus fact.

The English term “ninja” may also be an incorrect translation.

Karate as a martial art is correctly stated as karate-do (the way of the empty hand/fist or way of the Chinese hand/fist, depends on who you ask). A person who does karate in Japanese is called a karateka (person who does karate).

Ninjitsu is the art (jitsu) of assassination. A person who does ninjitsu is supposedly correctly called a ninka, and they think maybe western explorers got it wrong.

There is (at least) one hole in this theory though. A person who studies judo is correctly called a judoka ;however, judo is a very modern martial sport (based on jujitsu/jujutsu). Also, judoka may be used because a jujitsu person is referred to as a juka (I have seen jujitsuka as well, but not commonly) and that wanted to avoid any confusion.

Anyway, next time a person says ninja you can “correct” them and say it should be ninka (and you stand at least a chance of being correct, but nobody knows for sure). Enjoy!

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

BTW, ninja is Japanese, from nin “hidden, secret” and -ja “one-who-is.”

And before somebody corrects this.

Ninjitsu is not the art of assassination. It is the art of stealth. Ancient ninjitsu was more about staying hidden and sneaking than about specfic combat or assassination techniques. To actually do the killing the ninja would use any of the fighting techniques or practices commonly taught at the time (or in other words the actual fighting techniques taught to a ninja were no different than those taught to other martial artists of the time, but the ninja was also taught sneaking and hiding). Ninja were very commonly used for spying or espionage as opposed to killing anybody.

Modern ninjitsu is very similar to other martial arts in that it has a large focus on fighting technique (practical or otherwise).

Geenius is correct that the breakdown of ninja is a person who is hidden, and I certainly wouldn’t say that ninja is definitely wrong (or even likely to be wrong, personally I think ninja is correct).

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

It’s been my understanding that the term ninja is more of a catch-all word like yakuza, and refers to the families/clans/monasteries/whatever that taught the ninjutsu arts. And that the actual functionaries who went around climbing walls and flinging throwing stars etc are called genin.
Of course there were Chinese assassins; the phrase “Chinese ninja warrior” in the song sounds like jive posturing. Any chance they’re ripping off “Secret Agent Man”?

And BTW, The Chinese influence on Japanese culture is vast, and the Japanese influence on Chinese culture is negligible. Just a simple fact of geography.

I looked up genin (never heard it before) and it says “low ranked person”. Of course, meanings change over time (and from dictionary to dictionary), so maybe in the old days it did mean the buckeroo with the shuriken.

My understanding is that yakuza was the term for highwaymen.

Given that it’s Bob the Angry Flower singing it, I’m pretty sure it’s INTENDED to be jive posturing. Bob is not the most subtle of individuals.

Throwing in my two cents…

I am probably mistaken on this, but I thought that the real Japanese term for a ‘ninja’ was ‘shinobi’. But then I get most of my Japanese education from video games and comic books.
And I think ‘Yakuza’ is a term for a Japanese gangster, like the Mafia is to the Italians. I could probably dig out the origin of the terms if I didn’t have a test I’m supposed to be studying for…

Personally, I’d have no problem living in a country governed by an evil dictator.
As long as I got to be that evil dictator.

Yakuza in modern day Japanese is the Japanese mafia. However, I remember seeing yakuza in a history book and it being listed as a bandit or highwayman (but I certainly could be mistaken).

Shinobi according to my dictionary is a thief or spy which could certainly make it another word for ninja (which is listed as a Japanese spy in my book).

Maybe that is the difference (definitely a WAG). Any old spy is a shinobi but a Japanese spy is a ninja.

Here’s what I remember.

‘Ninja’ definitely refers to a person. ‘Ja’, usually pronounced ‘sha’ as in geisha (art-person), refers to a person. As stated earlier by Geenius, ‘nin’ means secret or hidden.

‘Genin’ (low-person) is the lowest rank in any hierarchy. They are the executioners. There are two other ranks, whose name I forgot. The middle rank is made of organizers/tacticians that are on the ground before and when the mission takes place. The top rank receives and picks the missions and hands them down to the others.

A shinobi was to a ninja what a ronin was to a samurai, a rogue without a clan. A shinobi had to be a full-fledged ninja and then be banished for a major crime, such as refusing to do a mission. Shinobi must have been rare since I imagine execution would have been more common in that case.

This might be of interest: there is also a special word for a female ninja, ‘kunoichi’. They rarely, if ever, wore the stereotypical ninja suit, which was probably dark blue, not black. Blue was a colour every countrymen wore. Black was a very formal colour that would have been suspicious if found on a commoner or someone passing himself as such.

Ninja is a Japanese word, but the ‘profession’, as with many Japanese cultural items, was borrowed from the mainland and then refined until it became something else, something Japanese.

Only humans commit inhuman acts.

Just a clarifying question: wouldn’t the survivor(s) of a clan extermination, or ninja who Ran Away mid-mission, &c. be shinobi? Or did it in your opinion HAVE to involve a legal determination?

I think you’re right. Anything that would make a ninja clanless would make him a shinobi, whether the clan itself does not exist anymore or he’s rejected from the clan. This is a wild-assed guess. I’m no expert.

Only humans commit inhuman acts.

Isn’t a clanless ninja a “Ronin”?


Nope, Inky. A Ronin is a samurai who has for one reason or another lost his “suzerain” (using the Western feudal term because I’m not sure what the Japanese generic term is). This could be because he was canned or because the suzerain got the axe, figuratively or literally.

Re: Suzerain – the word you’re looking for is daimyo, roughly translating to “great name.”

Re: Chinese ninja – I may be quite wrong about this, but it’s my understanding that the White Eyebrow style of gungfu was taught with the specific purpose of murdering people in mind. There are some other rumors floating around about the White Eyebrow, including various stealthy/magical things they could do, and that they were the Chinese predecessors of the Japanese ninja.

No, I didn’t get this from a movie on “USA’s Kung-Fu Theater.” I read it a long time ago in one of the more reputable martial-arts publications. Still, that doesn’t mean much.

–Da Cap’n

I just looked up the ‘ka’ of karateka and judoka. It means ‘someone who practices.’

I think ninja would encourage all those stories of ninja magic to make themselves appear more fearsome. One example I’ve heard of is of a ninja that stuck large wooden poles at regular intervals in a river before going for a mission. Later, he used this route when he was pursued. He escaped by ‘walking’ on water while the pursuing samurai floundered in the water.