The transcript below is from the video “The Real NINJA who Taught Keanu Reeves Ninjutsu | JAPAN PROS #4” by JapanPro.

JapanPro (YouTube channel about all the latest attractions, anime & game stuff, cutting-edge technology, and inspirational stories from Japan.):

Meet Japan’s most aspiring real Ninja, Mr. Yaen Sasuke. Sasuke has been training Nin-jutsu since he was three years old, and he has won the National Shuriken Throwing Competition two years in a row, in 2019 and 2020, for the first time in history.

In this video, Sasuke explains what Nin-jutsu is about, his missions as a present-day Ninja, the relationship with his master Mr. Jinichi Kawakami (aka the “Last Ninja”), and things he taught to the world’s renowned actor, Mr. Keanu Reeves, for the movie John Wick 3.

Sasuke:

“I’m Yaen Sasuke. I’ve been practicing Nin-jutsu since the age of 3.”

Yasu:

Hey guys, welcome back. So today, we’re going to interview the most aspiring young ninja in Japan, Mr. Sasuke.

Julian:

Yeah and I heard that his skills are so good that he even taught some ninja moves to Keanu Reeves when he was preparing for the movie “John Wick”.

Yasu:

I’ve heard about that. And in fact, he’s going to teach us some essential ninja moves.

Julian:

Wow! I can’t wait! So, let’s go meet him.

Yasu:

How exactly would you describe the art of ‘Ninjutsu’?

Sasuke:

The basis of Nin-jutsu is the ancient Japanese martial art of Koryu-bujutsu. It’s a combination of various martial arts, such as: Empty-handed combat skills, Japanese swordsmanship, Shuriken (throwing knife) techniques, and we also practice using bows. Lot’s of different things.

Yasu:

In addition to martial arts, you practise survival skills too, right?

Sasuke:

That’s right. For example, ropeworks. We practise using ropes to run away from enemies. Or how to climb trees. How to navigate by looking at your surroundings. We learn all those survival techniques.

Yasu:

Including surviving in the forest like here?

Sasuke:

Yes. Including things like that. Surviving and bringing back information is key mission of any Ninja. So how to hide from enemies, or what to do when it suddenly starts to rain…all of these are useful survival techniques. Probably the most important part of Ninjutsu is its way of thinking. There are many people, especially in Japan, that can’t think outside the box. Ninjas can’t survive unless you have a free way of thinking. You can’t survive in the real world by just following things you have learned. So free thoughts, free ways of living, free viewpoints…those are things I want people to learn through Ninjutsu. And utilize them for living in the real world.

Yasu:

What’s your main activity right now?

Sasuke:

I mainly perform as a ninja for various types of events and productions, in order to promote better and wider understanding of Ninjas throughout the world.

Julian:

Okay so we’re gonna just learn how to unsheathe this beast of a sword.

Julian to Sasuke:

So, there’s a few steps right?

Sasuke (giving demo):

Push this up. Grab. Over head. Open your chest. And bend your knees and open your back like this.

Julian:

Oh! It’s a workout, isn’t it? Okay! Okay! Okay! It looks so simple. Okay, let’s try. Thank you.

Julian (trying to unsheathe sword):

What was first? Push up. Grab. Above the head. Wide. Bend my knees. Wow! It’s so long. That was tricky. It’s so hard to balance. It’s just so long. It’s like the maximum length of your arm. This is very difficult.

Yasu:

I heard you won the Shuriken Competition?

Sasuke:

There’s something called the National Shuriken Throwing Competition, which is held once every year in Iga (the home of Iga-ryu Ninja). Over 400 people across the nation attend the preliminaries and people who won proceed to the finals in Iga. We throw shurikens (stars and knives) at targets and compete on the accuracy of throwing. I won the one held last year in 2020 and the one the year before in 2019. So I’ve won two years in a row.

Yasu:

Would you be able to show me the proper way to throw a shuriken?

Sasuke:

Sure, let’s start with the ‘Shaken’ (star-shaped shuriken). So for the shaken, you want to hold at the point like this. Instead of thinking of throwing it like a ball, it’s more like striking with a sword. You will swing your arm straight down from above and release.

Yasu:

Okay so now I’m gonna try throwing a shuriken by myself.

Yasu (cheering):

Not bad.

Yasu:

So what’s different about these two types of shuriken?

Sasuke:

Well as you can see, the main differences are in the shape. The one (Bou-shuriken) is a thin rod and the other (Hiragata-shuriken) is like a spinning blade. This one is a cross shape with 4 points but they can also have 5 points. The stick-shaped one is definitely more difficult to use.

Yasu:

Oh I see.

Sasuke:

When throwing the star, you have to intentionally spin it to increase its stability. However you want to minimize rotation when throwing the stick-shaped one.

Yasu:

I heard you taught Keanu Reeves about Ninjas?

Sasuke:

I got an offer through a group of Ninjas that I belong to and got the opportunity to teach Mr. Keanu Reeves about Ninjas. I taught him Ninja’s “Toin” or “Kuji-kiri”, which is an important ritual for Ninjas before going to a battle. We do that to fend off evil spirits. I knew that Mr. Reeves likes Japanese culture in general. But he was especially interested in Ninjas. While teaching him, he asked me many questions about the moves. I was happy to see how passionate he was about Ninjas. I taught Kuji-kiri to Mr. Reeves and other actors and did it together to pray for the success of the movie “John Wick 3”.

Yasu:

Do you know about Jinichi Kawakami aka ‘The Last Ninja’?

Sasuke:

Of course, I know. He recently started a YouTube channel about Nindo (the way of Ninja). The channel introduces various Ninja stuff to people outside of Japan. Actually, I appear on his YouTube channel as his student.

Yasu:

Oh really?

Sasuke:

So he’s like my master. He’s literally the last surviving Ninja in today’s world. He’s succeeded in the real art of Ninjutsu, he’s not just a self-proclaimed ninja who’s only learned martial arts. He has succeeded various survival techniques too. I think that is truly impressive.

Yasu:

So I suppose you’re also learning from Kawakami-sensei?

Sasuke:

Yes, indeed. I think I can learn a lot more from him. I want to keep learning from him and share that knowledge with people in the world.

Yasu:

How’s the reaction been so far to what you’ve been sharing online?

Sasuke:

The reactions have been big and positive. Especially people outside Japan. There’ve been people reaching out to me saying that they want to learn Nin-jutsu. So I’m starting online lessons on Instagram, starting in two months time. There are several students signed up already. So this will also be part of my mission soon.




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