In the 1980's "Enter the Ninja" The movie, hit the big screens (starring Franco Nero and directed by the great Menahem Golan).
Back then, when there were fewer entertainment options, people were influenced by the movie and the sequels that followed. A new fighter had emerged, a Bruce Lee alternative.
I used to practice Karate, and walked around carrying a Shuriken I hacked from my mother's blender knife. I was climbing trees, building camps and making weapons like: wooden catapults, a device that shoots darts out of an antenna pipe, a stick that shoots rubber bands or a fork turned into a stabbing device - these were common in the neighborhood where I grew up. Training and fighting with the kids in the adjacent neighborhood were part of everyday life and I was ready for anything, or so I thought.
Seriousness began after I was eighteen. When I enlisted, I stopped practicing Karate and looked for a way to continue training since my old dojo had closed. One Friday as I walked around Tel Aviv I was enlightened when I saw an ad that read: "Come train in the Ninjas' martial arts.
I went to class with my brother. We saw about twenty people there and stepped on to the mat. The instructor introduced himself and asked that we call him by his name and not use any title. The lesson began with a sentence in Japanese, that I didn't understand, some strange clapping of hands and a bow. And then it began: a really unbelievably hard warm-up of almost forty minutes of push-ups, sit-ups and what have you, some fast exercises, blocks and kiai. That's how I remember it to this day, still slightly foggy I guess.
I went home with my body in pain and the experience repeated itself every Tuesday. My brother quit after a month and a half. I continued because at some point we began sparring which was the highlight of the training session. It was much tougher than anything I experienced before, but it was fun to come home with an aching body, scratches and black marks, noticing that my body is still in one piece, but still feeling great.
Today I'm on the other side - I am a Ninjutsu instructor. It took me sixteen years to understand the difference between dreams and patience.
Newcomers ask me: so, are you a Ninja yet?
Let's just say that today it is less important, life is not a movie, you cannot set off a smoke bomb and disappear every time something doesn't work out for you in life, you have to work and invest time every day in order to do something.
These days, every child watches Friday morning TV, and then comes to practice thinking that within a week they would be the best Ninja in the world. I look at them, and in their eyes I can still see they don't understand walking the path, they just dream of reaching the goal. But I am at ease; these are the Ninjas of the next generation.