When Mrs. Gnards asks, "What ya thinking about?" If I'm being truthful, the answer is usually ninjas. What’s it like to be a ninja? What do ninjas dream about (throwing stars)? Why do ninjas do what they do? To this point, a staple to many an action movie is the swarm of ninjas getting their collective asses kicked by a lone warrior. It’s what’s become known as the inverse property of ninjas: the more ninjas you see, the weaker they are. It works for almost any large group, too: whether you’re Mr. Miyagi beating the crap out of underage teenagers or Neo facing an army of Agent Smiths. The odds are almost never in the group's favor. Be more afraid of a ninja by him or herself than a horde of ninjas. Usually because said horde line up in a neat single file row and successively get roundhoused in the face. Do they not teach how to block a roundhouse in ninja academy? Do ninja masters buy bulk ninjas at Costco? Why do Ninjas always attack one at a time?
Too Dark for Group Attacks
Ninjas wear black and attack mostly at night. Black on black is great for stealth, but bad for seeing what your teammates are up to. Ninja invisibility just makes it plain hard to coordinate attacks.
And while the night is excellent for hiding in, it’s also hard to get around in the pitch dark. Especially, consider some ninjas have to wear those mesh goggle things. They can’t possible see what’s going on. Though, lack of sight increases the other senses like smell or touch. Ninjas actually travel by holding on to the ninja in front of them (who sniffs around). Sort of like a ninja conga line or a group of preschoolers crossing the street. Meaning they get led into battle one after another, or roundhouse after roundhouse.
Ninjas are Stupid
Let’s look at the Foot Clan for one. In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films, the Foot Clan is comprised mostly of homeless teens willing to work for videogames and soda. So, becoming a Foot Soldier is really just another foot note in a series of unfortunate life decisions. Never do they ask, “Hey Shredder, it seems like the Foot is really just a giant pyramid scheme with me doing most the work and you getting most the money. So, instead of letting me skateboard indoors and play NARC, how about you share some of the wealth?” But that’s the kind of forward thinking that leads to things like coordinated attacks.
In the TMNT cartoon, the Foot Soldiers were robots. As robots go, they were highly advanced, but not highly advanced killing machines. As ninjas go, they were just plain horrible. They pretty much walked into the Turtles’ attacks. Being robots also made it easier for the Ninja Turtles to mow down their opponents without having to explain the moral dilemma of killing for pizza to kids watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Poorly Trained (Or Ninja Masters do not Care about Black Ninjas)
Training good ninjas takes time and money, which are not things you have when you’re constantly being defeated by the Chuck Norrises of the world. It quite frankly just doesn’t pay to train your ninjas anymore. If you’re a Ninja Master and you control a ninja horde that are good enough to defeat your arch-ninja rival then what’s to stop your ninja horde from turning on you? Ninjas therefor have to be trained to be just good enough to use their weapons (the pointy end goes that way) but not good enough to master it.
Also, after killing a swarm of ninjas, there always seems to be one big ninja, or ninja master, waiting at the end. This is what Muhammad Ali calls rope-a-dope. Tire a hero out with wave after wave of meaningless minions, and he or she should be easier to kill yourself. It’s like in Kill Bill when Beatrix Kiddo cuts down the Crazy 88 on her way to O-Ren Ishii. Do you know how much energy the human body consumes cutting off limbs? Even with the sharpest of Japanese steel? I have no idea, but I imagine it’s a lot. Of course, rope-a-dope didn’t work for O-Ren, but it seldom does when ninja are
Things to Beware for the Working Class Ninja
Never volunteer for a mission that the Ninja Master is going on – I know you’ve always wanted to see your master in a fight, but a mission with the Master is just asking for trouble. Stay back in the ninja castle and make some popcorn instead.
Never work for a Ninja Master who doesn’t know your name – At some point your Ninja Master will kill you whether it’s as cannon fodder or to prove some inane point. However, it’s much harder to cast off a ninja you know the name of much like a farm pig named Babe or Wilbur. In particular, beware of hordes with a numbered system for subordinates or uniforms with the words “Henchman” written on them.
Always get paid in advance.
What’s Wrong with Ninja Weaponry?
Ninja weapons are dangerous and powerful tools for assassination, however, they do have some limitations in a group fight:
Say you’re a martial arts hero surrounded by evil ninjas, if you swing your katana then you're liable to cut into 4 or 5 ninjas with one stroke. You don’t even really have to try or swing with your eyes open. Whereas the evil ninja has to try to attack just one target without accidentally cutting one of their fellow ninjas. This limits the types of strokes and effectiveness of the sword.
Remember as Fezzik said in The Princess Bride, “Bwu ree, bwu mooz wimmrimet womes bwhem bware wmightem mwalf bwa bwoozen pwepel bwen whem bwu donni havvti bworrri abo abo abo.... bwone.” Roughly translated to, “You see, you use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people than when you only have to worry about one.”
So, you’ve surrounded your hero, what’s a ninja to do? Use your throwing stars, of course. However, being better trained the hero can easily dodge, duck, dip, dive, or dodge the throwing stars. And if you’ve surrounded your hero, those throwing stars are now aimed at your teammates.
The Mysteries of Ninja Honor (Shinobi Economics)
Even though they almost always offer a fair fight, there is no code of honor amongst ninja. But you should remember that ninjas are paid assassins. Perhaps ninjas get paid bonuses for confirmed kills, and they can only have confirmed kills if that attack one-on-one. Ninja Ted doesn't share his hard earned bonus with Ninja Steve. Like the scalping of the Wild West (where enemy scalps equaled big cash and prizes), ninjas have to kill their targets in one-on-one contests in order to collect the bounty on the hero’s head. Also, the ninja medical plan is pretty awesome.
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