The term Ninjutsu is applied to the various skills and arts practised by the Ninja. This would include for example unarmed combat, weaponry, escape & evasion, stealth & concealment and trap construction, though there are far more than this.
When you come to your first lesson you will begin the introductory course. This is a 5 lesson course designed to introduce you to some of the basic principles and techniques of Ninjutsu. Its aim is allow you to see if Ninjutsu is the art for you and to give you a chance to study the art first hand without the need to pay a membership fee. During this time you will study grappling, striking, weaponry, and unarmed defence against a weapon. If you wish to continue training and learn the art fully you will need to become a member. This can be done at any point during the 5 lessons. Once you are a member you will hold the grade of 10th Kyu and will wear a white belt. The grading system is discussed more fully later on.
The main emphasis of your training will be unarmed combat. This will include all aspects of fighting; Striking methods such as kicks, punches and elbows and grappling methods such as locks, pins and throws.
As your unarmed skills develop you will be given to opportunity to study a weapon. This is not left until the higher belts but is introduced very early on in your training. The weapon skill taught is likely to be a Bojutsu, which is 6ft staff training. The body movements used with this weapon, as with all other weapons, are the same as unarmed, so these skills will improve as well. Bo Staff will be followed by the Hanbo, a 3ft stick Other weapons to be studied will include ropes and chains, and bladed weapons such as the sword.
Stealth and concealment are also taught as these are useful in developing awareness of your surroundings, which is a very important survival skill. Also a high level of physical fitness is encouraged. Though you do not need to be fit in order to train in Ninjutsu, good physical fitness will enable you to get the most out of the training and out of life in general. You will notice a gradual increase in you strength, flexibility and fitness levels as you train.
To further increase your ability, a lot of time is spent training outside as well as in the dojo hall. This gives us far more room, especially when using the Bo staff, and gets you accustomed to different types of environmental and weather conditions and is a vital part of the stealth & concealment training. Like all aspects of the art, the progress is gradual and you will only ever be given something to do that your instructor feels you are capable of doing.
Like many other martial arts, Ninjutsu has a grading system, by which you can measure your development and progress.
Training up to Black belt level is divided into 3 main stages. To reach the first grade in each level a grading must be taken and passed.
The purpose here is to become familiar with the way in which the body is used in Ninjutsu. You will be shown how it is used differently with different elements, and how to combine the different elements together (Follow the link on the left for an explanation of the elements). All the different fighting methods are also introduced at this stage, namely the methods of grappling and striking. Students are also taught how to combine these two areas.
Most of the Katas are taught during this level. The katas are mostly performed with a partner. They are not merely a set of moves to be learnt step by step, but a series of techniques designed to teach a key principle of the art.
The elementary stage is made up of 3 Kyu grades: 9th, 8th & 7th. Students wear a green belt for 9th Kyu, and one or two stripes for 8th and 7th. Once on this level, the student should steadily progress up the remaining two grades. Once this has been achieved they will have to take a second grading to pass onto the next level.
Students will now need to consolidate basic skills of body movement, and begin to use them in more challenging ways. They will also learn many new techniques and more advanced ways of performing ones already learnt. The final Katas will now be learnt, and the student will be expected to teach some of the basics to complete beginners.
This level is made up of 3 Kyu grades: 6th, 5th & 4th. A blue belt is worn for 6th Kyu, with stripes to represent 5th and 4th. When ready, the student will take another grading to reach the next level.
The student has now reached the advanced level of Kyu training. As such they now wear a brown belt. The traditional side of the art, though still important will be taught less, as more of the emphasis is placed on actual combat. Students will need to develop a high level of both physical and mental conditioning, as the training is very demanding.
Like all other levels, advanced training is divided into 3 parts, 3rd, 2nd & 1st Kyu. A Brown belt, followed by 1 or 2 stripes represent these grades. An additional grading is done to achieve the rank of 1st Kyu. Because this is the final belt before black belt a tough grading ensures that only the most skilled and dedicated students are given the opportunity to train and grade to 1st Dan.
The black belt levels are divided into Dan grades, starting with first Dan and ending with 10th Dan.