Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed.

us on
The Asian ApertureNinja Home Training
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, January 13, 2013    Share

I remember being awestruck with the ninja back in the 80ís watching Sho Kosugi in Revenge of the Ninja on HBO, only to learn later that Kosugi was using karate techniques. During the mega popularity of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, the turtles were using flashy Tae Kwon Do kicks and basic karate moves. In fact throughout the 80ís there was a Ninja Boom with several movies, comic books, and martial arts books on the market. To separate the fantasy from the reality there were books about Ninjutsu by Stephen K. Hayes, the first American to travel to Japan to train with Ninja Grandmaster, Masaaki Hatsumi. I remember reading The Mystic Arts of the Ninja back at Antioch Middle School. I was hooked in by Hayesí persuasive writing. I wanted to find a teacher but couldnít find a sensei so I settled on jujitsu because the later was listed in the yellow pages. Maybe true ninja donít advertise. So to further my study, in order to better appreciate martial arts movies, I decided to take a look at The Art of the Ninja: Volume 1 from Blackbelt magazine on DVD.

The main problem is that finding source material for the origins of Ninjutsu is extremely difficult. So that makes it hard to determine a true lineage so you donít get fooled into signing up for lessons with a fake sensei. Other arts such as karate and jujitsu donít have this problem because you can ask the sensei at a school about his or her lineage and if you are still doubtful you can see the scroll to validate it. One style of Ninjutsu that Hayes and others embrace is Togakure-ryu, which is said to be the oldest and is hard to find concrete documentation on. In fact, Masaaki Hatsumi and his Bujinkan dojo have come under attacked due to lack of evidence. You could take elements of many different martial arts and blend them all together and just call it Ninjutsu, put someone in a black outfit that matches the fantasy ninja in the movies, and sell it around the world. That could count for all the videotapes, DVDs, and books out there. Looking at Japanese history it is hard to find anything substantial on the Ninja. Couldnít a Ninja really be a wandering samurai, bandits, or thieves? Couldnít a group of villages tired of being attacked put on different clothes and become vigilantes? That might have been the case.

When my DVD came in the mail on Saturday afternoon, I immediately put it in my Blu-ray player and sat down on my comfy sofa. First, the video quality is really bad and this is obviously a bad VHS transfer with lines appearing across the top of the screen that occur intermittently. This is very jarring when you are attempting to learn how to do something by watching. Second, the Shidoshi, Jack Hoban, appears to introduce the training and his voice doesnít match up with the audio track. Blackbelt magazine could have done a much better job of preparing The Art of the Ninja for a DVD transfer. If you care about having top audio and video quality then this is not for you.

Now, if you can overlook all the problems, the training is good and Jack Hoban has a lot of enthusiasm and passion for Ninjutsu. He starts off showing you how to loosen up your feet and how to give yourself a foot massage. Techniques that I donít really associated with a deadly ninja. Then he goes on to show you basic stretching exercises that are really not that different from any other martial art. However, stretching slow and carefully is important to prepare the body for a more vigorous workout and Hoban does point this out.
Here is where the training is confusing. Without having a instructor to watch your body movements it is hard to tell if you are doing the movements correctly. Hoban has an assistant show the technique from different angles and then he performs each one slow and up to speed. It is sometimes hard to see what he is doing and how to copy it. Also, he assumes you know how to get into the correct stance like the ichimonji no kamae. Hoban just gets into the stance without explaining how to position your legs and how much weight should be applied to each leg. If you miss that important step, your whole balance will be off. Maybe he will show how to get into the various stances correctly in another DVD in the series but that is a backwards way of teaching, the basics like stances should be taught first and then the exercises associated with them. However, to watch Jack Hoban and his assistants perform the techniques you do get a good visual of how the technique should work and if it could be effective. That is assuming this is real Ninjutsu and not a watered down combination of different martial arts.

One important thing to remember is that Jack Hoban is a former Marine, meaning his body is in excellent shape due to basic training. You are not going to be in that kind of shape without all the running, pushups, and physical training learned in basic unless you jog or run regularly.

Overall, I was pleased with how the techniques look and work and less pleased with the horrible video and audio quality. Watching Jack Hoban and hearing him speak is like spending the day with a personal trainer at your local gym. The question remains, is this real Ninjutsu?


2 out of 5 Stars for terrible transfer and numerous video and audio problems.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

Share This Article on Facebook!     Email

Columns Currently on Crazed Fanboy:

The Bad News Bears Go to Japan (1978)
Karate Girl
Maison Ikkoku (anime series 1986-1988)
Sucking Cinema
We Don't Care About Music Anyway (2009)
Circle of Iron
Dick Briefer's Frankenstein
Son of Raw Fish: Book Review
Bruce vs. Bill
Orlando Japan Festival 2013
Shock Waves (1976)
Spaced Invaders
Tomie (1999)
Shadocon 2013
Hardware (1990)
Metal Meltdown
Otaku Orlando
City Hunter
Fighting Mantis!

The Galaxy Invader
Grave of the Vampire
Killers From Space
The Return of the Living Dead
The Wizard of Gore
The Crazies
Terror on Tape
American Grindhouse