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We are ninjas : Walk like a ninja!

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/20 Traditional Culture , , , , ,

Ninja walk : “Ashi-nami Jyukkajyou” (Ten walking methods)

There is a ninjutsu-sho (a book about ninja’s tricks) entitled “Shouninki” or “Seininki” (literal meaning is “The notes of correct ninja”), written by a military expert in the “Kishuu” domain (the present Wakayama and a part of Mie area) in 1681.
In this book, there are ten walking methods listed.

“Ashi” means “foot” and / or “leg” in Japanese, but in this case, “gait” would be a more proper word.


Nuki ashi (lit. “Pulling out gait”)

More details below.


Suri ashi (“Shuffling gait”)

In the darkness, you can’t see if there are any obstacles (including the ones you put to prevent enemies from following you) or differences in level on the floor.
So, you walk while raising your one hand in front of you to know if there is something, the other hand on your weapon to be ready for the fight, and without raising your feet from the floor.



Shime ashi (“Tightening gait”)

When you feel the enemy’s presence, walk in a pigeon-toed gait, your thighs together.
This makes it easier to take a step further to respond instantly against the enemy.



Tobi ashi (“Jumping gait”)

When things are scattered on the floor, you jump to go forward.


Kata ashi (“One-foot gait”)

When you have to go through the narrow space, you hop on one foot.


Oo ashi (“Big gait”)

Walk with long strides.


Ko ashi (“Small gait”)

Walk with small steps.


Kizami ashi (“Wiggling gait”)

When you feel a more sense of danger and “shime ashi” is not enough, walk with “kizami ashi”.
Step a little forward with your right foot, then drag your left foot without raising it from the floor like “okuri ashi” of “Kendou”.
(Your left foot will never be placed in front of your right foot)
This makes you easier to draw out your sword quickly.


Hashiri ashi (“Running gait”)


Tsune no ashi (“Usual gait”)

In old days, people walk while swinging the same side of their arms as their feet.
If you step forward with your right foot, you swing your right arm forward.
This way of walking was called “Nanba aruki” (“aruki” means “walk”).
It is said Japanese people walked like this until the Meiji era when western military method was applied, so it was the “usual” way.

You haven’t got to twist your body with “Nanba aruki”, thus it will make you less tired and enable you to go for a longer distance.


“Shinobi ashi”

I assume lots of Japanese have heard of the expression, “Nuki ashi, sashi ashi, shinobi ashi”. (“Pulling out foot, placing foot, ninja foot”)
When I hear this expression, I imagine somebody walking on tiptoe.

But actually, tiptoe walking is called “Uki ashi” (see below).
“Shinobi ashi” is the combination of “nuki ashi” and “sashi ashi”.


Nuki ashi

You raise your leg like when you pull out your leg from mud.



Sashi ashi

Drop your raised foot slowly on the floor, place it starting from the small toe.



Other silent walking methods

When ninja sneaked into the enemy’s territory, they had got to walk silently.
So, it was very important to train particular techniques of walking.


Uki ashi

Place your raised foot from your tiptoe after “nuki ashi”.
“Uki ashi” is quieter than “sashi ashi”.



Shinsoutoho (Rabbit walking in the thick grass)

Traditionally, Japanese people sleep on the floor.
So, you have got to be extremely careful not to make a noise when you pass by somebody sleeping.
This is the quietest way but very difficult to move.

How to do;
1) Place your hands on the floor so that fingertips of one hand are pointing at those of the other.


2) Place your feet on back of your hands.


It’s bare feet in this image, but usually ninja wear their Japanese traditional footwear “waraji” (sandals made from straw rope)

3) Walk.

Because you keep your body in a low position, it’s easier to protect yourself if the enemy attacks you with a sword.



Intentionally making a sound of footsteps

The enemies mistakenly consider the footsteps as an animal or something.
I don’t know why footsteps are easily mistaken, because I couldn’t find details.
Probably ninja make animal sounds too.


Changing their footwear

I’m not sure how ninja confuse the enemies with this method either.
Footprints or footsteps or both, maybe?


Wearing the footwear back to front

The footprints will look as if ninja went the opposite direction.

They are a little bit like tricks in a mystery novel, aren’t they?


“Ashikou aruki” (Instep walk) training

Here is one of the ninja’s training.
Do not attempt !!!
If you harm yourself, I can’t take any responsibilities.

The training method is very easy to explain.
Walk with your insteps.

Instep walkInstep walk
Before trying this, you need to train enough tiptoe-walking.


Related posts:
#The word “ninja”
#What is “ninja”?
#Run like ninja!

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A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

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