Read an Excerpt
The Best Humanity Has to Offer
The Killing Begins
Who the heck do you think you are? Seriously. Do you have any idea what it's like to be a ninja? Unless you're a ninja the answer is no. Got it?
Welcome to the International Order of Ninjas, a tradition of death.
Right now, unless you are rereading this book for nostalgia, you are a non--ninja with great aspirations toward all things ninja. You are excited about diving in and attacking the path of the ninja with the vigor of the untrustworthy crion.* Depending on how long you remain living or livingish, you will gradually work your way from nothing to nonja, ninjaish, ninjalike, Whoooooooo, and finally I.T.A.N. (Is That a Ninja), the highest level of ninjaness any non--ninja can hope to achieve. Should you reach the exalted status of I.T.A.N. and wish to progress further, the skills and general knowledge contained later in the book can be used in your attempt to become a fully authorized, I.O.N.--endorsed, full--time ninja.
But, as they say, let's not count our dragon eggs before they poison our crion soup.
Along your path, you will run and jump and dive out of the way. You will test parts of your person that you do not yet know are parts of your person.
Ever heard of your "huh"?
You have one, and very soon you will be using it like crazy, unless you want your nickname to be Ol' Splatter Guts.
As you move along the ninja path, this book will act not only as a guide, but also as a friend_._._._a very very dangerous friend that you would never turn your back on.
THE NINJA PATH promises great pain beyond your current conceivable definition. You will study your will up close and learn how threshold is a sliding scale of sanity.
THE NINJA PATH promises skills and the masters to help you master those skills. Skills that if you do not master will most likely lead to a maimed or dead you. Masters who if you do not master the skills they teach will most likely maim or dead you.
THE NINJA PATH promises chance. If we go any further into this at this time, it would negate the very nature of the chance the ninja path promises.
THE NINJA PATH promises death. We were gonna say near--certain death, but why sugarcoat it. Knowing that death is imminent will constantly keep you on your toes. Toes that may very well bring upon the very death you are promised. A promise you will never call us on keeping unless you are an idiot, in which case we'll hop on that promise like ineffectual environmentalism on suburbia.
THE NINJA PATH promises experiences. Some that will cause even your knees to crack open and vomit. Some that you will wish you could give back or grow back. Some that you actually can give back, grow back, or at least swap with an akuma* in the altered state of beans.
While pursuing the ninja path, it is good to keep in mind a bit of advice, advice that we ninjas like to call serious threats:
If you blibber--blab about your enlightenment and techniques, we will kill you.
If you participate in a major motion picture in which the secrets of the ninja are explained and demonstrated within a wacky plot that involves a distant father and a child with extremely dated hair, we will kill you.
If you dress up like a ninja every day and/or start an online show where you dole out "ninja answers," we will kill you and/or syndicate you.
Remember, but never speak, the words of the nameless ninja from askaninja.com, "Ninjas don't kill people_._._._ninjas kill people very very well."
For your journey, this book will be your guide. We suggest fashioning some sort of clip device to keep this book in front of you at all times. You will absolutely never know when you are going to need its wisdom. Aside from this book, you may want to start a den of ninjiquity that includes other ninjaphiles and wannabes. These should be people that you don't mind hanging out with a lot, but that you also -wouldn't feel bad leaving inside a giant radioactive turkey if things happened to go that way.
Let's put the best possible face on it and call the path of the ninja an adventure. Are you ready for the adventure? If you answered yes, you are a fool who only momentarily has his/her head attached to his/ her body. If you answered no, you are a pathetic and weak creature ambling along toward the cannon's mouth of ignorance whose highest aspiration should be one day consuming some
If you did not answer and in fact are not even reading this because you have already turned the page, you have a minuscule chance at becoming a ninja.
Ninjaing, like most things in life and death, is more fun when you have people to share it with. That is why it is strongly suggested that you start a clan.
What Makes a Clan?
1. ONE OR MORE PEOPLE committed to the pursuit of all things ninja.
2. A NAME that sounds both honorable and deadly. This can take some investigation.
First, you have to check the name against the Ninja Clan Registry to make sure it's original. We only have to look at the debacle with the Flying Hound Clans to realize the importance of that. Four clans took that same name. No one knew who was killing what or why or how. They all ended up in a dogfight battling one another for the name. One member from one clan survived and was killed one week later by a cerberus.
Second, make sure the name fits your clan.
This may seem obvious, but for some reason tons of clans put "monkey" in their name when it has nothing to do with their style of killing people. If you call yourself the Skateboard Pain Clan, you'd better not start riding Segways next month.
Third, your clan name should be relatively short and have two components: (1) the most applicable and universal noun associated to your clan member(s) and (2) a powerful verb or adjective that fits with the noun and -doesn't currently have an embarrassing second meaning. You do not want to end up like the Clan of the Five Knuckle Shufflers.
Here is a helpful table for narrowing down possible clan names.
First, use petty infighting and irrational arguments with your clan members to narrow your potential clan--name components down to a maximum of 10 for each of the above categories. Then mix and match the components until the best name naturally presents
Using even the few examples above, there are many potential clan names. Most of them are pretty bad: Truck--Shaped Olive Clan (the visual is too hard to conjure and once imagined -doesn't really instill any real fear or dread), Clan of the Papaya Whip Stymphalian Bird (just a scooch too long and would probably be better fit for a dessert at Bennigan's), Pitchfork Shoebox Clan (maybe if you were a country fusion band in the mid--1970s). Then there are a few that sound okay, but aren't quite right: Clan of the Basting Lynda Carter (sexy and hot, but a bit too relaxed and somewhat cannibalistic), the Papaya Whip Pitchfork Clan (exciting and in motion, but the color is too urban for such a rural weapon). The obvious and best named that can be formed from the examples is the Clan of the Basting Shoebox. What's in that shoebox? Why is that shoebox basting? Is the thing inside the shoebox basting too? I don't think I'm going to mess with that shoebox until I get more information. These are the type of thoughts you want your enemies to have when they hear you name.
3. ONCE YOU HAVE A NAME, you need an oath, something simple and straightforward that boldly states the mission of the clan and what sets this clan apart from other clans. Here are a few sample oaths from real ninja clans.
CLAN OF THE FATAL FOG
On the life of Blake I swear
I shall move like water on air
I shall not be seen coming or going
I shall surround without anyone knowing
I shall not be touched but touch at will
I shall pay a 10% royalty to John Carpenter for each thing I kill
PHOENIX FIRE CLAN
With fire I pledge
I shall kill other people at all times
I shall keep myself physically, mentally,
and morally flexible
I shall never die for real
DUDES OF DEATH CLAN
I will do my thing no matter the deal
Whatever the mess, I will roll as I roll
On the vibes of honor I will ride
Killer will be as killer as I am
4. ONCE YOU HAVE PEOPLE, a name, and an oath, now you need to combine all of those things into a kick--butt flag or crest. Some sort of visual emblem expressed in hot melt--glued felt that will represent and endure for the length of your ninjafication.
Let's Make a Flag
Design: The first rule of design has always been "simple is better, but too simple is dumb." You will not truly know if your design is good until it's too late and you're already being judged by it. That bit of encouragement should offer you the bravery and license to really go for it in the design phase. Take the boldest aspirations of your clan and boil them down into powerful clear images. Do not choose any image without experiencing it firsthand. For example, if you think that pain is a big part of what your clan is about, take some time to really explore exactly what painful thing represents you specifically. Put on your painful thinking caps. Is it a buggane*? Go to the Isle of Man and meet one. Watch him tear the arms off of someone. Do their screams epitomize the screams you wish to induce? Maybe you equate pain with a unicorn on fire. Light one up, ride it around for a while. How bad does it hurt? Perhaps it's an object like a pillow soaked in acid. If that's the case, what kind of acid?
This is your flag. Do your homework. Make sure whatever you pick is enduring. One particularly regretful clan chose Mickey Mouse Club-era Christina Aguilera as their emblem of virtue. Now people think that one of their core tenants is awkward sluttishness.
Try not to pick too many things, but make sure you have enough. You don't want to settle on this_._._.
When the clan one town over has this_._._.
Construction: Due to the fact that you are very much not a ninja yet, the construction of your clan flag will most likely go as follows.
1. YOU WILL DESIGN a flippin' wicked, dynamic, kick--ass flag in your mind, but will lack the general skills, talent, and vocabulary to represent it in any way to anyone.
2. YOU WILL ASK your mom if she can sew or work a hot--glue gun. (Note: If a mom is not available, go to the nearest flea market and look for a lady with a picture of her cat on her sweatshirt.)
3. SHE WILL TAKE you to Thimblina's Fabric Supply Store where you will purchase about $40 of random crap.
4. YOU WILL DESCRIBE with animated gestures the symbols and ferocity that belong on your clan's flag.
5. YOUR MOTHER (OR crazy cat--craft lady) will propose some alternate ideas. You will get into an argument about the appropriateness of the symbols. You will take a box of crackers and go up to your room sulking and immediately regret choosing crackers instead of cookies and not bringing anything to drink.
6. YOU COME DOWNSTAIRS only to find that the flag materials have been put in that giant plastic tub where most of your family's unfinished projects go to die. You apologize and barter three weeks of allowance or cat sitting to get your creative partner to pull it out and make your awesome flag that you really really really want.
7. YOU WILL THEN watch carefully as your mother (or wirehaired Insanknitty club member) botches everything up and shows no ability to powerfully or even remotely represent in fabric the glorious wonderfulness and genius you envisioned.
8. YOU AWKWARDLY THANK her as you accept the stupid thing. You hide the flag in your school locker or work cubicle, lying to your clan members about ever saying, "No, I'm making the flag. I've got an awesome idea and_._._._Yeah, it's gonna have these things. It's gonna be insane."
Don't worry about it. You are completely non--ninja right now. Soon you will have the skill and power to make that breathtakingly rockin' flag the way you originally imagined it. All will gaze upon it in astonishment and many eyes will explode.
From the Trade Paperback edition.