Compared to the world of the ancient Vikings using their brute strength to overpower their enemies, or the combative Spartans – who used their savvy and tactics, the ancient clans of the ninja were spies and they employed agility, speed and subversive tactics to win their battles.
The ninja were highly skilled, and trained, in reconnaissance, espionage and infiltration. Their fighting skills involved complex martial arts, including ninjutsu, as well as their agility and light feet. This made the ninja very powerful enemies, as they were very difficult to follow or predict. But we are asking what does it take to become a modern day ninja? What skills and training do you need?
We need to start with a rounded approach that covers the whole body, but focuses on speed and agility, and not strength directly;
Aerobic Training – We need to build up a good level of endurance through cardiovascular fitness and Interval Training at high intensities. Ballistic Training – We also need to be build strength through the ankles, calves, quads and hamstrings, recruiting fast twitch muscle fibre using explosive jumping movements, whether unilaterally (one side), or bilaterally (both sides) Grip Strength – Our hands, fingers and wrists need to be strong to haul ourselves upwards, or to take weight and impact. Flexibility and Mobility – these two training facets will help stave off injuries and strengthen the body through its maximum ranges and unusual positions, whilst reinforcing joint, nervous system and muscle health. Speed Drills – Hand and Foot speed are key to maintaining a ninjas way. Quick feet, hands and reflexes will ensure awareness and confidence in a variety of scenarios.
For aerobic training, we can practice bouts of LISS (Long Interval Steady State) Cardio work, whether running, rowing, climbing or any other sport, to build up our endurance. We need to keep our aerobic systems active to stay as ninja ready as possible. We can then look to incorporate sprints, boxing (or martial arts) and foot ladder drills to improve our ballistic speed.
Further to that we can improve ballistics by working on our knees over toes training, jump squats, jumping lunges, hop ups, or any work that involves drills that involve plyometrics and work our kinetic chains throughout the body. Power and speed from rotation is key to mastering the ninja arsenal, so grab a weighted ball or medicine ball in your next session and you’ll never look back.
Grip strength is something we can work using calisthenics and bar based work, including barbell training. Pull Ups, Deadlifts, Handstands, Clean And Press, Hack Squats and Muscle Ups are just some of the exercises we can use to help our grip strength and range. We also want to work our false grip to help us keep that ninja strength and agility in the most difficult circumstances.
Flexibility and mobility are key to any ninjas mastery of their arts. Your body needs to be prepared, and strong enough, to explosively power out of any situation, regardless of position. Forward Rolls, Explosive Press ups, Burpees, Pull Ups to the chest and gymnastic work help with the explosiveness, but front split and mid split training will help your flexibility in the most amazing ways.
I am a huge Bruce Lee fan, and I would recommend researching how he trains, he was improving his reflexes, speed and strength simultaneously. His methods used a lot of isometrics to improve his power, which was very rare at the time he was training. Also his mental acuity was amazing. Keeping mentally sharp is also vital to keep up with the way of the ninja. Your mental strength, determination and consistency are just as powerful as any fists.
Show us you journey along the path of the ninja by tagging us @gravity.fitness on IG! We can’t wait to see how you’re getting on!