As a child, there was a singular moment of power, as stick twirling wildly around your head, you smote down your enemies with deadly and unerring skill. Perhaps as an adult you pretend you’re above such things but admit it, every time you walk past a foam sword your imagination runs wild with fantasies of your secret ninja persona. Well, now you have a chance to make those dreams a reality right here in Mumbai.
Soke Cyrus Rustomji of the Combative School of Martial Arts (CSMA) has been pracisting his craft for over four decades and now teaches a variety of disciplines ranging from Ninjutsu to his specialisation Kenjutsu. He is also the proprietor of Mumbai’s first and only store of its kind, Ninja Outdoor Survival in Mahim. Here he displays his collection of weapons from around the world, swords, throwing stars and nunchakus line the walls looking deceptively harmless. This is the only place in the city you could go to get one of your own made, but be warned these are not toys and a lot of training goes in to be able to handle these weapons safely. Each weapon is carefully crafted out of solid wood or metal using techniques and designs that date back centuries, so don’t expect them to come cheap. Between the cost of authentic materials and the skill needed to create them, even a basic weapon could set you back thousands. But for those who truly intend to earn the right to wield them, it’s a small price to pay for such a rare and authentic item.
Ninjutsu is a subset of the true art of Ninpo - the art of a true ninja - it’s discipline that is an amalgamation of 18 different martial arts, and in addition to this it integrates elements of philosophy so as to actually conquer the practice involves mastering all the disciplines individually which could potentially take a lifetime. Today, people tend to opt for the more accessible option of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which is similar but requires far less finesse and dedication than traditional ninjutsu. When he returned to India and began teaching, Cyrus was one of the few people in the country who offered the opportunity to study what has now become MMA.
He believes that the reason there are so few martial arts masters left is down to modernisation. “With all the gadgets and the distractions of the internet, people just don’t have the time to dedicate to learning the craft,” he says ruefully. He himself has studied under masters from three continents, trained under a Sensei in Japan and travelled the world competing to earn his current rank. “Ninjutsu”, he says, “Is not an art you can learn in a hurry, even if I taught a student 3 techniques a day, it would still take over 3 years to master the basics.”
Between the time, physical endurance, mental stamina and sheer force of will it takes to train successfully in the many aspects needed to attain mastery of ninpo, many prefer to opt out. You could always try your hand at Kenjutsu, MMA, Modern Arnis (Phillipino stick fighting) or Krav Maga, just some of the other disciplines offered at CSMA. But if you suddenly feel a yen to explore the many secrets of a truly ancient art, visit this one of a kind store and sign yourself up to follow the path of the ninja.
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