What is a ninja?

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This argument has been going on for far too long between my roommate and I and I would very much like some help sorting it out.

A ninja or shinobi was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan who specialized in unorthodox warfare. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and open combat in certain situations. – Wiki

By my reckoning, a ninja is that, and these:

Yagyū Sekishūsai Taira-no-Munetoshi was a samurai in Japan’s Sengoku period famous for mastering the Shinkage-ryū school of combat, and introducing it to the Tokugawa clan.

My roommate would argue however, that these are:

I sort of just want to stick it to him, and end this once and for all. Just because one knows ninjitsu, and assassinates people, that does not make you a ninja.

 
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A ninja is a ninja.

An assassin is an assassin.

Batman is the god damned Batman; and is neither.

 
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True ninja didn’t have a uniform like the modern entertainment archetype of a martial artist in stealthy (typically black) gear. Many of them “hid” by looking and dressing like everyone else. It’s not like there were realistic photographs for people to recognize known assassins by sight. The way of the ninja wasn’t a specific set of fighting skills – they relied on whatever pre-existing fighting styles and instinct for combat they already had. Ninjutsu was an additional approach to subterfuge. Unless you were part of a clan available for hire, you didn’t want people knowing you were a ninja. Invisibility was important to them, and I don’t mean in the mystical sense.

 
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Surprisingly enough, when I was checking when the word ninja was coined in the 1600s. I always wrongly assumed it was much earlier then that.

 
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Ninjas were rebels fighting Samurais.
They used improvised weaponry, since they don’t have enough money to make their own special weapon.

Batman and the Assassins have this arsenal of super-weapons, so I wouldn’t consider them as ninjas. Maybe if ninjas had more money to spare, maybe it would look something like those?

 
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Originally posted by ds_914:

Ninjas were rebels fighting Samurais.

This. The rise of the ninja was to combat the reign of the samurai. The label itself didn’t come into use until Medieval times, although the principles have been attributed to assassins from centuries before that. However, the necessity of improvised weaponry due to a lack of resources wasn’t absolute. In many cases it was just a matter of what was immediately at hand and the training/instinct to make do. For instance, if you have infiltrated your target’s manor as a lowly servant, you may not be able to access the weapons cache without suspicion. However, you may be able to carry hair sticks close enough to impale your target’s throat, eye socket, heart, etc.

 
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Ninjas are people that type shtuff that you wanted to say before you.

 
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Originally posted by IceWeaselX:

True ninja didn’t have a uniform like the modern entertainment archetype of a martial artist in stealthy (typically black) gear. Many of them “hid” by looking and dressing like everyone else. It’s not like there were realistic photographs for people to recognize known assassins by sight.

Stealth was made easier still by the fact that all of those people look the same.

 
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Here is a picture of a Ninja

…Exactly.

 
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Originally posted by Captain_Catface:

A ninja is a ninja.

An assassin is an assassin.

Batman is the god damned Batman; and is neither.

pretty much sums it all up.

but ninja turtles are ninjas and turtles.