"In the fall of 1981 I moved to Dayton, Ohio to become a ninja..."
And so opens the prologue to an exciting new book by former Black Belt magazine columnist Darryl Caldwell.
This book tells the story of the origin of real ninja training in the West.
In the early 1980s, the word "ninja" was just becoming a household phenomena. The world was just awakening to the story of the mysterious black-clad warriors of Japan. With the appearance of a New York Times best-selling novel and action movies starring martial arts sensations such as Chuck Norris, the once secret ninja, feudal-age Japanese spies and wizards, suddenly became big business. The marketplace was flooded with ninja motorcycles, ninja turtles, and ninja perfume. Paradoxically, the invisible assassins were everywhere to be seen.
But was there any reality to the myths?
The answer may surprise you.
Beyond the hype and insanity, there were small groups of dedicated martial artists meeting in classrooms and in training camps around the world, studying the real art of the ninja. Unbeknownst to most, the legacy of the shadow warriors of Japan's past had survived and were embodied by its last remaining heir, a Japanese doctor named Masaaki Hatsumi. Dr Hatsumi, who is headmaster of at least nine ninja and samurai traditions, showed the world that ninja were far, far more than assassins-for-hire. They were very capable warriors whose unique perspective and insights into nature made them a force to be reckoned with. Here were flesh and blood warriors with hearts and minds.
The Shadow Warrior sheds light on the real art and culture as seen from the eyes of one of its early American practitioners. It highlights Caldwell's tutelage under Stephen K. Hayes, well-known author and one of Hatsumi's first western students. Surviving the bruises, flashing blades, and dizzying shifts in mental outlook, Caldwell emerged as one of the first black belt teachers outside of Japan. His book takes the reader on a wild ride into the modern day ninja dojo. The story uncovers:
- what separates a ninja from an assassin
- how to become a ninja black belt
- who was the shogun's ninja in real life, a namesake later used by director Quentin Taurantino
- how the ninja's unarmed combat distinguishes itself from other systems
- how a fighting staff becomes a living thing
- the story of James Bond and the ninja
- how a group of kids learned first-hand how to make a proper ninja suit
- what a private detective learns when he gets hired to spy on a ninja school
- how to train on your own without a teacher
- what happened on the ninja grandmaster's first trip to the United States
- and a whole lot more...
To celebrate the release of The Shadow Warrior, here is an audio file of Darryl Caldwell reading one of the chapters from the book. The chapter is called "Ninpo-ik-kan! Treasure Your Training" and it highlights the importance of tradition and legacy. It also gives a glimpse of the mental perspective that guides ninja even today. Download it and enjoy!Ninpo-ik-kan! (duration: 5 minutes)
From the forward by Joe Maurantonio, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan:
"It was the middle of summer in 1984 when "The Shadow Warrior" column was first released. I still remember when and where I bought that issue of Black Belt magazine. I don't think I made it out of the bookstore without reading the whole column. Twice. At the time, Darryl was a fledgling writer with a few articles under his belt. His articles were mostly about ninjutsu training or seminars, but the column was a different animal entirely. It was not about the physical motions so much as about living the authentic ninja training. That first column made me think, 'This is cool.'"Available as paperback or PDF download.
Comments on Caldwell's writing...
"Darryl Caldwell displays a brilliance rarely seen in today's martial arts writers. For any martial artist with a desire to understand Ninjutsu beyond the mere physical techniques, this volume is an endless stream of inspiration."--Allan A. Zarbock, author and martial artist
"I know Darryl has captured the unique essence of early ninja training in the West.......because I was there."--Duncan Mills, martial artist
"Darryl's writing skills coupled with his unique, long-standing martial arts skills make this book a must-read."--Roger Stebelton, martial artist
I just purchased Darryl Caldwell's new book The Shadow Warrior. I read it in one sitting! When I was young and just starting Ninpo, Darryl's Black belt Magazine column was a source of inspiration for me. Many times I could not afford the magazine, so I would stand there and read the column, sometimes coming back over and over and rereading it... It is very nice to have them all in one place now.--Richard Ray, martial artist