Black Ninja Handbook, by The Dark Lords, is an informative and creative attempt to develop a Ninjutsu philosophy and practice for the modern world. I like how the authors emphasize the sinister, dangerous nature of the ninja (the “Black Ninja”, as they call them), instead of trying to pass them off as a tame group of gi-wearing martial arts enthusiasts down at the local dojo. The reality is that the historical ninja were spies, commandos and terrorists, not black belt dojo warriors, and the authors make this point well.

Another thing I enjoyed is their discussion of the mysticism and black magic of the historical ninja. Ninpo incorporates a fascinating mix of Eastern systems, including esoteric Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto and Japanese folk magic, and this book gives a brief but informative overview of these elements.

I also like how the authors discuss excerpts from the classical Ninjutsu scrolls (Bansenshukai, Shoninki, Ninpiden) to give the book an air of authenticity and timelessness. However, this is not an “orthodox Ninjutsu” book. The Dark Lords have their own agenda and some innovative ideas that aren’t part of the Japanese tradition. Those who are looking for a strictly historical book or a “Bujinkan” style manual will find some things objectionable.

All in all, Black Ninja Handbook is an intriguing synthesis of the historical ninja path with a creative new take on a “Black Ninja” cult for the darkening modern world.

Get a copy of Black Ninja Handbook here.

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