Tactical Ninjutsu

By Sensei Stephen Clark

What I wish to address in this article is not another name or term for a martial arts system, but rather the application or tactics of three of the Fundamental Techniques taught commonly in Ninjutsu.

These three kata are the three striking kata taught from the Kihon Happo and are Ichi MonjiJu Monji and Hicho.  The tactics used in these three movements allow practitioners to move through and transition through different ranges and methods of combat.

Kata is designed to teach movement patterns not fighting, though these techniques can easily be applied to combat with very little modification except tightening up and using more economic striking.  By removing large step through movements and using covers such as the Shell and the Foxhole instead of blocking the techniques become more combat effective.

Ichi Monji
The posture used is also known in English as number one posture, as this is the main defensive posture used and is defined as – left side forward, left arm extended and right hand tucked in to left elbow.  This posture is used in different shapes and forms in various martial systems, Geoff Thompson also refers to this posture as The Fence.  This posture was also used by Royce Gracie in his early UFC fights.
The Traditional technique – attacker steps forward with a right punch, defender in a left Ichimonji posture moves right foot back on a 45 degree angle to avoid punch, left hand strikes/blocks punching hand, then steps through with right knife hand strike to collarbone/neck.

Real Tactics- Front hand is used to control distance, rear hand provides powerful striking.  Posture is primarily defensive with feet positioned at an angle for escape.

If attacker cannot get close he cannot hit or grapple, hence the term, fence- an attacker must jump the fence to get into the property or the house – my opponent must get past my extended arm to effectively attack.
Against an attacker mouthing off and moving towards me I extend my front hand to create distance and space, if he chooses to be more aggressive I have striking options available.  Anytime my front hand touches opponent my rear hand can strike from any angle – Cross punches, hooks, uppercut, hammer fist or downward blows.  This is also effective against a grappler looking to shoot.
Ju Monji
Jumonji is an offensive posture with arms crossed in front of body in an X shape while feet are body is straight on with feet slightly off centre, this posture has also been called universal shield as the hands/forearms are used to shield head and body from attack.
Traditional – Opponent steps through with right punch- defender in left Jumonji steps/leans back through knees to slip punch, blocks punch using left hand then continues motion striking to ribs with left fist.

Real Tactics– Use shell or Foxhole to protect head from punches whilst moving forward into close range striking grappling range,  elbows can be used as can clawing/shredding/mauling techniques in combination with controls such as trapping - under and over hooks moving to grappling/ takedowns or just striking finishes.
This can also be applied pre-emptively from a natural position to the shell striking with elbows as arms move up to head.


Hicho is posture used to kick from.  Hands are held as they are in Ichi Monji, with left arm forward left foot sits in crook of right knee.
Traditional – From Ichi Monji (can start standing in Hicho) opponent steps through with right punch to stomach/ribs, step back with right foot on angle into Hicho posture,  block punch with left hand, kick with left foot to ribs, step through with right foot whilst striking with right knife hand to neck.

Real Tactics– Evade or move away from an attackers punches creating distance, as opponent closes stomp kick to knee – attacker should walk into kick.  Against a non committal attacker that faints but won’t commit to forward movement but doesn’t back off much either – use knee stomps to deter them or to open them up so you can enter with further strikes.

These techniques need to be trained so as to be able to transition between them  as conditions and situations can change very quickly and the ability to adapt quickly and positively in combat under stress is an important skill to develop.

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