The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

How Ninjas actually walk

The 10 basic walks of ninjas

As ninjas were specialists of espionage, it is matter of course that they were equipped with a number of skills, even different ways of walking. Naturally, the different styles of walking were varied and each one was used depending on the situation. The common point of any walking style was that they did it without making a noise. The reason was as you know, ninjas couldn’t be noticed when walking. We have a certain old book about ninjas and ninjutsu written in the Edo-period named " Shonin-ki (正忍記) ". According to information in this book, ninjas had 10 basic walking methods. Let’s have a look at them.


1.Shinobi-Ashi (忍び足) … To raise a leg by pulling it up from the ground and silently putting the leg onto the ground from firstly the little toe and finally transmitting the weight from the little toe to the big toe. This was the most basic walk for ninjas.


2.Suri-Ashi (すり足) … To bring a leg up without raising it, which looked like brushing the ground. This was a walk used to not tread on some traps like " Makibishi (まきびし) ". In passing, this walk was the most standard step in any kind of Japanese martial arts, like" Kendo (剣道) " , " Karate (空手) " , and " Sumo (相撲) ".


3.Shime-Ashi (しめ足) … To walk by rubbing the inside of the thigh. This was a walk used for the dodging from the attack of an enemy.


4.Tobi-Ashi (とび足) … To walk by jumping, but without a sound. This was a walk used to jump over stones.


5.Kata-Ashi (かた足) … To hop on one foot .


6.O-Ashi (大足) … A long stride walk.


7.Ko-Ashi (小足) … A short step walk.


8.Kizami-Ashi (きざみ足) … A mincing steps walk.


9.Hashiri-Ashi (走り足) … A fast walk.


10.Tsune-no-Ashi (常の足) … A standard walk for ninjas. This was different from that of modern people. This walk is also called " Nanba-Aruki (ナンバ歩き) ". The feature of this style is that the walker swings his right arm forward when he steps forward with his right foot. In the same way, he throws his left arm ahead when he brings his left foot forward. This is the opposite movement to a march. It is considered that the merit of this walk existed in the point that man could keep his stamina and could walk for a long distance without getting tired from walking.



How Ninjas actually walk


" Suri-Ashi " in Sumo (相撲)


How Ninjas actually walk



Other walking methods that ninjas used

Besides walking in the ways above, ninjas acquired some other techniques for walking.


1.Uki-Ashi (浮き足) … This is very similar to " Shinobi-ashi " . The difference between them was that, in the case of " Shinobi-ashi ", a ninja put his leg onto the ground with his little toe first, on the other hand, when using " Uki-Ashi ", the connection is by tiptoe. Generally speaking, " Uki-Ashi " makes less sound than " Shinobi-Ashi ". Ninjas used " Uki-Ashi " for instance when they were walking on dry leaves. Incidentally in Japanese, " Uki-Ashi " sometimes means to be restless, or to flinch.


2.Yoko-Hashiri (横走り) … To crabwalk, with your back to the wall. Ninjas choose this walk when they had to pay attention to both their front and back feet. Unexpectedly, the stride of the left and right feet of humans is so wide that they can move a longer distance than a usual walking style. Ninjas used this walking method while crossing both their hands and feet.


3.Inu-Bashiri (犬走り) … In Japanese, " Inu-Bashiri " means a " dog-running " . Ninjas would put both hands and feet on the ground and move like a dog on all four legs. This walk was used when moving in a narrow space like on a the ceiling.


4.Kitsune-Bashiri (狐走り)… This means " fox-running ". Ninjas would choose this method or " Inu-Bashiri " in small spaces. The difference between them was that in the case of " Inu-Bashiri ", ninjas attached their palms to the ground, and when using " Kitsune-Bashiri ", ninjas supported their weight only with the tips of their hands and toes. " Kitsune-Bashiri " was used in the circumstances where ninjas had to dull the noise they made right down.


5.Shinso-Toho (深草兎歩) … In Japanese, " Shinso-Toho " indicates " a walking rabbit in the deep grass ". This is the ultimate walking style for a ninja. It was demanded a lot of the time and practiced often to master " Shinso-Toho ". If acquired properly, a ninja could walk making the least possible sound with this technique.
The posture of " Shinso-Toho " was that a ninja would put both their palms on the ground and put their feet on them. They would bring their legs forward in this way. A ninja could control their weight well when moving because their sensitive palms were in contact with the ground. According to a certain esoteric writing about ninjutsu (忍術), this walk could be used when passing across a sleeping person. In addition, this posture is low enough to cope with an attack from a high place.
The failure of this skill is maybe that the step was so short that a ninja would get tired easily under this posture. When a ninja became extremely fatigued through walking in this manner, he would bite on a rolled up paper with his molars to stop himself from sighing.

The training of ninja walking styles

It goes without saying that it demanded practice by repetition to acquire these skills. So, how did ninjas trained? Let’s find out..


1.To walk on tip toes on the ground, a wooden board or tatami-mat (畳) .



2.After mastering 1 above. the next skill was jumping up around on tip toes.



3.As well as jumping on your tip toes, the next skill was doing the same on your insteps too.



4. To do various types of walks by moving irregularly on ice or wet paper.



5. Walking around the edge of a tub which is filled with water. Of course, the weight to the water stabilizes the tub and the ninja must never allows the tub to turn over. The amount of water in the tub is reduced as the skill of the ninja improves.


Although the walking techniques discussed were used by only ninjas, they may be helpful for your health and sports if you try to practice them too!


How Ninjas actually walk


A Japanese tub