The Illustrated Ninja Handbook: Hidden Techniques of Ninjutsu is an easy-to-follow handbook that mainly comprises of step-by-step photo instructions on executing Bujinkan techniques.
The handbook begins by sharing the roots of the modern Bujinkan system, which is made up of nine schools. Surprisingly, one of these schools was a samurai school, which explains Bujinkan’s proclivity towards the Bushido code. Other topics explored in the initial pages include the role of women as ninja, natural medicine and the folklore of the Tengu. Needless to say, the topic of kuji-in (ninja magic) is also featured within The Illustrated Ninja Handbook: Hidden Techniques of Ninjutsu.
Limited Ninja Information & Possible Biases
While the handbook does well in introducing Bujinkan, ninjutsu and the ninja, I found the historical facts presented to be lacking in detail and understandably biased towards the teachings of Bujinkan. After all, the book is meant to be a Bujinkan technique manual – not a comprehensive source on ninjas or the Bujinkan system. As far as historical ninja goes, the closest we can get to accurate information is from the three ninja manuals: Shoninki, Ninpiden and Bansenshukai. So, if you are seeking factual information about the ninja, you can pass up on this book as its main focus is on demonstrating Bujinkan techniques.
Clear Illustrations of Bujinkan Techniques
The author Remigiusz Borda, is a Polish Bujinkan instructor who has trained with Soke Masaaki Hatsumi. Hence, there is no question as to his qualifications and experience. Bujinkan practitioners and students seeking to supplement their training, correct their techniques and improve their understanding will benefit the most from studying the techniques within.
However, for the average reader and non-martial artist, this is a book you can pass up on or borrow from the library if you wish. I am not a huge advocate for learning martial arts at home from a manual. Firstly, many of the techniques in this book are dangerous and seem to be for intermediate or advanced Bujinkan practitioners (and a portion of techniques require the use of weapons). Secondly, learning martial arts on your own presents many challenges, including the fact that you will never know if you are executing the technique correctly without an instructor’s help.
Should You Get This Book?
This is not a must-have book for the average reader (and non-martial-artists) who are interested in history as opposed to techniques. There are many books that provide more detailed historical information on the ninja and on Bujinkan.
But if you are a Bujinkan practitioner or a martial artist seeking to explore techniques to adapt to your training, “The Illustrated Ninja Handbook: Hidden Techniques of Ninjutsu” is an alright training manual to have. The limited information on Bujinkan and the ninja within this handbook serves to give insight and understanding to practitioners using the manual.
Please share your thoughts about the book and the review! Special thanks to Tuttle Publishing.
Declaration: The “The Illustrated Ninja Handbook: Hidden Techniques of Ninjutsu” was given to me by Tuttle Publishing in return for an honest review. I have not and will not give dishonest reviews for monetary or other benefits, as it is against what Way Of Ninja and I represent.