Seriously, who hasn’t thought about becoming a ninja? That is something that every kid dreams about! 🙂 As kids we have a very vivid and wild imagination and there are a lot of things that fascinate us. I remember that as a kid, I loved to listen to my grandfather’s stories of times long gone and especially his war stories. I also watched many movies and when I learned to read, I also read a lot of things. Somehow I learned about ninjas. Whether it was through my fascination with the movie “Karate Kid”, or through watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or just trading stories as kids, the subject of ninjas grabbed my attention very early on.
These ancient Japanese warriors could use their hands and other parts of their bodies to defeat much larger and stronger opponents and use their tricks to do all kinds of cool things. They could climb walls, throw shurikens (metal stars), create different potions and disappear in clouds of smoke. I was not the only kid that had this fascination and the ninja sparked the imagination of many a kid. We all wanted to be ninjas, playing games where we pretended to be powerful ninja warriors or spies on a mission. Whether the image of the ninja that we have is accurate or not, it is a powerful image and one that still fascinates me to this day.
The theme of ninjas was reflected in many different things during the 1990s. There were movies, cartoons, books, video games and martial arts classes. For example, characters based on ninjas played main roles in such popular cultural phenomenon as Mortal Kombat (mostly video games, but also movies), the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (where the word ninja was even in the name), even G.I. Joe (cartoons, action figures), where several of the characters strongly resemble ninjas.
These characters then sparked our wonder in the real ninjas that they were based on. With ninjas, it is hard to separate fact from fiction. Much of what we hear about ninjas is based on legends passed down from generation to generation. Some of the images of the ninja are, on the other hand, based on modern myths invented only recently. Even the term “ninja” is of more recent origin, as older texts usually refer to shinobi. However all these myths and legends are based on real events and real people.