Heart of the American Dream
The burning question of the century: Ninjas or samurais…
by Gavin Elliott
The struggle of the samurai vs. the ninja. Noble vs. mysterious. Forget good and evil’this one’s for real.
The philosophical battle between these two martial figures is universal and well worth the consideration.
If we were to judge this duel on romanticism, the samurai would win hands down. For that is where most of the fascination with the samurai comes from.
The samurai’s chivalrous code of living has earned him respect from movie producers and feudal Japan geeks alike.
They say he exhibits beauty in his extremely focused movements and his sense of honor is matched by none – all easy things to make a blockbuster out of. Especially if you throw Tom Cruise in the mix.
But romanticism isn’t quite the rock to build your beach port bungalow on. More like sands through the hourglass.
Bushido is the soul of the samurai and instills power into his every action. Honor is the name of his game, and a life without honor, to the samurai, is a life not worth living.
Honor, honor, honor?
This can’t be stressed enough.
However, this strict chivalrous code, which led the samurai and earned him such veneration, left no room for compromise. No ‘buts’ and no ‘ifs.’ Bushido has no patience for exceptions.
Aside from a stiff, unchanging view of reality, the samurai was a tool.
Yes, I said it – a tool – plain and simple.
The samurai’s model code of ethics came from the emperor. Which, when it comes down to it, isn’t as romantic as first thought. If his code of ethics came from within, it might be a different story. But not so.
The samurai inherited the cause of the emperor whose service he was indebted to. The emperor, knowing this, need only flick his wrist to exercise the use of this feudal killing machine, however corrupt his intentions may be.
The samurai made the corrupt desires of the emperor his own virtues. For shame?
And now, the ninja. The stealth. The outlaw. One-hundred eighty degrees away from the samurai resides the ninja.
Where the samurai memorizes a discipline of combat and fights within it, the ninja re-writes the rule book. And keeps re-writing it.
The ninja acknowledges that every situation, whether on the battlefield or in the face of a moral dilemma, is unique and should be faced as such. Not every situation is going to fit itself into a nicely prescribed plan.
The samurai expects the blade to come from the right, since it is described in detail in the samurai manual as such. The ninja thinks, ‘This stubborn samurai assumes my blade is coming from the right.’ So he lobs off the samurai’s left arm. And the samurai screams, ?Cheater! That?s not in the samurai manual.’ To which the ninja responds, ?I?m not a samurai. Stupid.’ Then bows and walks off.
The ninja stays open and is flexible. Which is why he can accomplish on his own what 10,000 stampeding samurai can’t.
The samurai is the stone, the ninja is water.
Where a stone may make a few ripples in the water, water eventually overcomes, turning granite into dust.
Thus is the way of the ninja. The dogmatic assassin.
This little analogous duel can also be likened back to the American Revolution. The Empire vs. the Revolutionaries.
The Redcoats followed a strict code of battle, too. Line up in rows like bowling pins with bullets and bayonets and rely on a numerical value to overcome the enemy.
It was silly. Seriously. And why the troops of the British army agreed to these terms is beyond me. Perhaps they were promised virtue and straight-toothed women when they returned?
At any rate, the American Revolutionaries would have none of this. And if they had adhered to the British law of combat, they’d have been crushed.
But they re-wrote the rulebook as well.
Instead of falling into easy-to-hit rows of sitting ducks, our forefathers opted to duck behind trees and prop their guns against barns for a surer aim.
The Brits yelled, ‘Hey! You can’t do that! Come out from behind that tree!’
And the ‘deserters’ yelled back, ‘Screw you, buddy! I’m harder to hit behind this tree. But you keep standing in rows. Save bullets.?
Yes, the Brits called us cowards for using our noggins instead of sticking to ridiculous ‘rules of combat.’ As I’m sure the samurai said of the ninja.
But look at the scoreboard.
I’m sure there is a moral in there somewhere. But if all you get out of it is that you’re going to start wearing black jumpsuits and disappearing into a cloud of smoke from class, then so be it. Because ninjas are the coolest thing to ever walk the planet. Followed by Reebok Pumps.