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27 Feb, 2010 06:12

Legendary art of the Ninja finds followers among Russians

The legendary art of the Ninja, which originated in medieval Japan, is being revived in Russia. For more than 15 years, a Ninja school in Moscow has been keeping the ancient culture alive.

Sofia, a student at the school, says the ancient art has helped her gain the skills and confidence to protect herself in the city. She is learning to use a fan – an elegant but deadly weapon.

The traditional Ninja fan can cut arteries or the forehead, so blood would spill down the face and the enemy would be blinded,” she explains.

Hand-to-hand combat, archery, mastering the sword and more are on the list of skills a Ninja should possess. Back in feudal Japan, Ninjas were dubbed “demons of the night” and were often contrasted to the samurai, who were a warrior caste.

Ninjas used to hide under the water breathing through a tube,” says one of the student ninjas. “But as soon as a Samurai appeared above, they used it to attack him with poisonous arrows."

The Ninja culture is estimated to date back to the 11th Century AD, when refugees from China took shelter in Japan. Many of them were warriors and began passing their skills to the locals. By the start of the 15th Century, these warriors had become known as Ninjas.

But students at the school say their aim is not so much to learn the skills of combat as to develop a strong and balanced personality and learn tolerance and patience.