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Ninjutsu was developed as various survivalist techniques in the feudal war time of Japan upon the fall of the Samurai era. The ninja used their techniques to ensure survival in a time of violent social upheaval. "Ninjutsu" activity included methods of gathering intellignece, and techniques of anti-detection and misdirection. Ninjutsu can also involve training in concealment, escaping, deceiving, archery, and medicine. Spying and assassination skills reached a pinnacle during this time. The "ninja" were literally refered to as “non-humans” ("hi-nin"). After some time the techniques came to be called ninjutsu, and the people who used it were known as "shinobi no mono." Popular misconceptions about this group assumes they were always coniving and brutal. Modern students and teachers of Ninjutsu do not follow that ethic. Nowadays it is approached as a venerable martial art tradition that should only be applied in self-defense situations, that the many non-violent aspects of the art would be used first. The most violent aspects of this martial art that are sometimes glorified in Hollywood movies should only be used as a last resort. Linked to the philosophy/religeon of Shinto and having certain practices originating from ancient India, modern Ninjutsu study, such as under the Bujinkan, is also a pathway toward enlightenment.
"Real ninjutsu is not for assassins or wrongdoers,
but for those who wish to cultivate perseverance and endurance
in order to find better ways of leading a happy life."
(From Hatsumi's book: Essence of Ninjutsu, p 63)
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