Ninjas were some of the world’s first elite commandos, capable of targeted assassinations as well as espionage in Japan’s feudal times.
Now, there’s only a handful left.
Mariko Oi of the BBC reports that Japan is down to one or maybe two certifiable ninja masters. Though they’re very much alive in Hollywood, the art itself, one traditionally handed down from father to son, is facing extinction.
The BBC report states that aside from their obvious lack of demand, ninja methods and techniques were considered “top secret” by their practitioners, leading to institutional shortages of public information.
Jinichi Kawakami, Japan’s last ninja grandmaster, tells the BBC he started learning as a child, at about 6 years old.
“I thought we were just playing and didn’t think I was learning ninjutsu,” he said to Oi. “I even wondered if he was training me to be a thief because he taught me how to walk quietly and how to break into a house.”
Clearly, these ninja skills are still practiced today, except military special operators carry rifles instead of swords. Though Hollywood may lay claim to Ninjutsu in the public eye, their methods for quiet assassination and spying will live on in this generation’s Navy SEALs.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.