I had no master and I attended no Dojo. I was introduced to the ways of the ninja by an old friend that I still see today…
Enter the Ninja (1981)
I must have rented this movie about 50 times before getting my own copy. VideoFlix and Bandito Video provided me with many other teachers too.
There was Revenge of the Ninja.
Ninja 3: The Domination.
And let us not forget 9 Deaths of the Ninja
Sho Kosugi was at his best in this one. Especially when he tackled a group of midgets dressed like the Blues Brothers.
Special mention must also go to Gymkata.
I never liked Gymkata as a child because I thought it was wrong for true ninjas to use machine guns. As it turns out they weren’t really ninjas at all just a bunch of weirdos from some fake country called Parmistan (or Yukislovia). The hero wasn’t a ninja either. He was Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Kurt Thomas. Still there were some memorable scenes.
Sure these films taught me many of the ninja techniques (and pommel horse techniques) but Enter the Ninja was my master.
Allow me to enlighten you on my typical Saturday as a suburban boy ninja.
I would begin with laying out my ninja gi on my bedroom floor.
(the one my parents brought me back from the China Town in San Francisco)
I added to this a pair of my dads black dress socks. I would tuck in the toes to make them look like tabi boots.
Beside my gi I would lay out my ninja weaponry.
The above picture is similar to what I saw in my head as I laid out my arsenal. In truth it was a sad state of affairs. No matter how many times we visited the Dixie Mall and the Yonge and Dundas flea market my parents refused to allow me to purchase any real ninja weapons. Therefore I was forced to fight and train with fake and homemade ones. I had the usual plastic ninja sword, butterfly knife and rubber throwing stars. Most of these were purchased from Zellers or the IDA drug store around Halloween.
My homemade weapons were a little weirder.
To the 9 year old ninja, the discarded broom stick is the greatest of allies. Wrap some hockey tape around the middle and you have a Bo staff that Donatello would be proud of.
Cut it into pieces and nail an old dog chain to it and you have a sweet pair of Nunchuks.
My favorite though were my homemade sais.
They were made out of a couple of long thick nails that I found up by the railway tracks and the prongs of an old barbeque rotisserie set.
I thought I was a genius when I came up with that. Much like the man that got this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back piece.
The ancient arts of the ninja were to be performed with the utmost secrecy. For the 9 year old ninja, to be discovered could result in ridicule, grounding, or the ultimate dishonor… confiscation and destruction of the homemade weapons.
I would don my gi minus the hood and await the parental departure to Leon’s or Mr. Grocer. I’d pass the time thumbing through my well read copies of the TMNT Official Martial Arts Training Manuals.
Trying to tell time by looking in our cats eyes, an ancient ninja technique.
Or Practice My Ninja Kuji (all copied from Enter the Ninja).
When I sensed (looked out the window) that the parental car had left the driveway. It was time to begin suiting up.
Anyone that is familiar with 80s action movies knows how important the suiting up scene is.
Rambo 2 had one.
Commando maybe had the best one.
And Enter the Ninja had one too.
Basically I would put on all my ninja junk while humming some kind of dramatic music.
Dunh dunh duuunnhh dunnnhhh du dunh dunh duuunnnhh duunnnhhh.
Finally it was time to fight ninjas. Hundreds of ninjas.
I would fight wave after wave of imaginary ninjas all around my house. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Sometimes the battles would spill out onto the back deck, down to the yard and back through the patio doors. (God, my neighbors must have thought I was fucking retarded). I would do this until one of four things happened. My parents came home, I hurt myself (this happened often), I broke something in the house (this also happened often) or I just became too exhausted to swing my broom stick anymore.
Then it was off the kitchen to eat a can of Beefaroni