The Last Ninja Master seeks to establish the first and only online certificate platform for anyone in the world to become a Master of Ninja.

It’s been over five years since the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) was established. Since then, the JNC has undertaken many initiatives to cultivate interest in ninja around the world, including the launch of a YouTube channel in early 2020. Nindo Channel currently has over 11,000 subscribers, with the majority hailing from places outside of Japan such as the U.S., Philippines, India, and Indonesia.

One of the JNC’s ongoing efforts is the rollout of Nindo, the Ninja Academy. This e-learning platform is being developed for anyone in the world to become a certified Master of Ninja while at the same time preserving accurate ninjutsu knowledge and techniques to ensure that they’re passed on to the next generation. The platform is being supervised by none other than Jinichi Kawakami, who is known as “the Last Living Ninja Master.”

▼ Jinichi Kawakami, the 21st head of the Koka Ban Clan, is now in his early 70s. He is also an instructor at Mie University’s Ninja Research Center.

▼ Professor Yuji Yamada also oversees aspects of the platform.

Interestingly, Kawakami originally had no plans to pass along his comprehensive knowledge of ninjutsu to the next generation. However, the advent of formal ninja studies and research at the university level recently changed his mind, as he can now see a place for the philosophy behind ninjutsu and its usefulness in the modern world. The pandemic has also increased the urgency for the online inheritance of knowledge as many physical dojos have been forced to close. Spurred on by these concerns, in mid-May Kawakami released a video message on Kickstarter seeking financial support to help accelerate the development of Nindo through a crowdfunding campaign.

▼ Kawakami’s video message on Kickstarter

Let’s now take a closer look at the structure of Nindo. The curriculum of the online academy is grounded in actual historical writings by ninja masters of the Edo Period (1603-1868), which is further broken into two parallel courses of study, otherwise known as “majors”: Yo-nin, or Intelligence, and Yin-nin, or Practical Skills.

▼ Yo-nin (“Yang”) course and Yin-nin (“Yin”) course

Each course of study is broken into a series of kyu and dan levels, similar to the ranking systems of many martial arts. The three initial kyu for beginners are collectively known as the genin levels. Those are then followed by ten dan, the first three of which are chunin levels followed by six jonin levels. Upon completing the tenth and final dan in each course of study, a student will be considered a Master of Ninja and presented with a certificate of qualification by the JNC.

▼ Can you become a chunin more quickly than Naruto?

As of this writing, the Nindo Ninja Academy Kickstarter campaign has met approximately 17 percent of its goal with a deadline set for July 12. There are a variety of pledge levels to choose from, including fairly basic ones that cover the Nindo annual fee for a year and the cost of specified levels of study, and others that include virtual tours, ninja garb, and even personal training in Japan by Kawakami himself. If the campaign is fully funded, the JNC aims to begin offering the introductory 3-kyu Yo-nin and Yin-nin courses in December 2021 followed by both 2-kyu courses next year.

▼ Yes, you could spend three days in Japan learning directly from Kawakami.

After you’ve made your pledge, perhaps you can visit the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum or practice your shuriken throwing skills with the Ninja Trainer Arcade in the meantime.

Sources, images: PR Times, Kickstarter
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