In the realm of the Ninja’s martial art training, despite the huge number of techniques, strategies, and tactics – there are only a few critical concepts and principles that make everything else work. And, while many students make the mistake of fixating on path of exile ninja step-by-step, mechanics of the techniques they’re learning, if you’re goal is no-less-than mastery, then you should avoid making the same mistake!
One of the most important concepts in the art of ninjutsu is that of footwork. However, just as with most things in the Ninja’s art, the footwork that we’re talking about is not the same that is taught in the more conventional, sport-oriented martial arts.
What I mean by this is that you should not confuse foot placement or movement – with footwork!
I know that might sound confusing, but, if we’re gong to make any significant progress in our ninja martial arts training, beyond the basic level of “form,” then we need to understand this fundamental difference. We need to avoid bringing the idea of the stationary bouncing, shuffling, and “fancy footwork” we’re used to seeing in the world of boxing, sport karate, and mixed martial arts, out of the realm of ninjutsu.
One of the most important concepts in ninpo-taijutsu (“neen-poe tie-joo-tsoo”), the Ninja’s unarmed “body-art,” is the idea of moving on constantly bending knees. Please read that again and notice that I didn’t say moving on “bent” knees.
This is the secret to the Ninja’s ability to do such amazing things as:
Strike and kick with bone-jarring power, but without the same energy used by other fighters
Quickly and easily respond and adapt to the opponent’s movements and attacks
Effortlessly go from punching to grappling, only to shift again to deliver a kicking attack, and…
Execute leaps, rolls, and breakfalls as defensive AND offensive tactics… from any point within a self defense scenario!
And yet, one of the most common mistakes made by the new student is to try to move on what I call “positionally-bent” knees. This is the tendency to place the knees in a bent or flexed position, and then move around as though this will work better than moving on straight legs.
What this strategy ignores is the basic truth of human movement that says that we cannot move quickly or efficiently unless both feet are on the ground. Even when we’re doing something as simple as walking, we find it difficult to stear or change direction while one of our feet is up and off the floor. Imagine how much more difficult it is to do anything more than simple forward and back, or side to side shifting…
…with BOTH feet of the ground!
When we talk about the concept of footwork in the Ninja’s martial art, we’re not speaking of this primitive, two-dimensional, bent-knee hopping about. We’re pointing to the use of your knees in such a way as to efficiently and effectively shift the weight from leg to leg, while maintaining balance control and allowing for each foot to “work” in the way that best serves our needs at the moment.