This article is one little piece of an ongoing effort by The MMA UnderGround to understand what really works in martial arts. The focus is not on what happens in the arena, but rather what happens on the street, or in this case, in the gym. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
1. Martial Arts on The Street
2. Dojo Storms
3. Style vs. Style
We all know this wasn't a real ninja because you can see him, and you can't see a real ninja. There is truth behind that joke though - Ninjitsu is a fraudulent martial arts system - there is no more a real ninja today than there is a real Batman.
While there are valid account of ninja historically - although they were not called that - anyone claiming to teach ninjutsu today is a fraud. You can google it. It might also be useful to you can check out a 5th-degree black belt test in ninja, with leventy-leventh degree black belt Hatsumi looking on, while doing his keenest Ronald McDonald impersonation.
That's the background to his video from October 18, 2008. Some unfortunate who had long been duped with Ninja lessons, and decided to test his skills in an MMA gym. The good news is he decided to pressure test his skills; that's amazing, and is at the heart of all real martial arts. The bad news is that, however unknowingly his skills were in LARPing. And the worse news is, the gym he decided to test himself at was home to future world champion and bantamweight G.O.A.T. candidate Dominick Cruz, a man with little love in his glove.
The "ninja" is in quick, strong, and has a good range of motion. He can take a shot and not quit. He lasted far longer than UFC 2's Scott Morris who distinguished himself by "pulling mount" on his opponent. In sum, the best performance ever by a ninja in mixed martial arts.
The Ninja comes out in a bladed (sideways) stance, characteristic of sport karate. His hands are waving around dramatically. Cruz is in an orthodox MMA stance.
The Ninja throws a shuffle round kick to the head, which Cruz blocks while moving backwards. Dominick Cruz is brilliant at getting reads on his opponent, able to do in a second what can take others half a round.
The Ninja attempts a second shuffle round kick; Cruz times it, and takes the action down to the mat. It is immediately evident that the Ninja has zero ground experience. Instead, he holds onto the head and tries to stand up, without technique.
Jason Von Flue had beaten Alex Karalexis with a choke counter to the headlock two years before, but the Von Flue Choke still wasn't widely known. And Cruz was just a white belt in jiu-jitsu. Otherwise it might have been over sooner still.
Cruz calmly established side control, and gets mount on his second attempt. Then the punches start.
The Ninja, knowing nothing, turns over. Cruz transitions to Back Mount after a scramble. Then it's back to Mount. All the while Cruz is landing solid punches and elbows. The ninja is game, but the end is inescapable. Eventually he taps.
As is typical when individuals who have been duped into a fraudulent martial art are faced with reality, the Ninja still doesn't get it, and asks for another round.
The Ninja a couple of hapless strikes, but Cruz understands his game intimately, likely better than the Ninja himself does, and lands several clean shots. Finally, the Ninja gets it, and verbally taps out.
Here's the fight from another angle.
To anyone reading this, if you are taking lessons in Ninjitsu, stop. You are the identical equivalent of someone who wanders around in store-bought cape and cowl, and believes themselves to be a Batman. If the classes were in Batman, everyone would understand that it's a joke. Unfortunately, martial arts too often gets a pass, and people are conned into believing things, ardently, that they in any other context would know are absurd.