1984 Ninja Night Warriors

Let’s go way back in time, back to the early 1980s. Think of a time when there was no internet, no DVD, no self-publishing, no MP3, no YouTube. Old enough to remember such a time?

We had magazines. We had books. Those were my only possible channels for getting word out to the world that there was a new possibility in the martial arts – the training legacy of the ninja. And those channels were owned and controlled by a tight group of business people known as “the publishing industry”. If a publishing company did not believe that:

  • My credentials were authentic
  • I was capable of delivering what I claimed to deliver
  • I could write effectively and engagingly
  • What I wrote was true and verifiable
  • I was disciplined enough to deliver a finished manuscript on time
  • Other people would want to read what I wrote
  • What I wrote was important enough to see print
  • What I wrote was a good investment for the publisher (“I would make them money”)
  • What I wrote would add to the prestige of the publisher’s reputation
  • What I wrote would so impress readers that it would lead to even more books or articles that would make even more money and prestige for the publisher

…then there would be no way for my message to see print on paper.

Back then, if I were just some silly barely-literate inarticulate poorly-skilled but big-ego wanna-be in a less than mediocre martial art method, I never would have made it in the door of a publisher, and never would have seen my work in print by a reputable company. Of course those were the days before YouTube freedom to willfully and thoroughly embarrass ones foolish self in the eyes of the entire world.

Back in the early 1980s, a new 3rd realm of publishing arose next to magazines and books. Videotape instruction became the new darling of sports trainers and instructors. But early videos focused on the sports of the wealthy who could afford the technology required to watch videos. Everyone knew that martial artists are notoriously lower-class poor as a group (as opposed to golfers or yacht crews), and so the big question was, “Would martial arts instruction ever make it to video?”

I was approached by Robert Clouse, director of “Enter the Dragon”, Bruce Lee’s final film, with a proposal to do a 2-tape VHS video exposition of the ninja martial arts. The company was Hawk Films, the producer was Nigel Binns, and I along with 3 other hand-picked martial stars flew to Ashland, Oregon, to film our four individual projects.

Those two VHS tapes were important in that they gave the world a first-hand look at what was only a frozen-pose 2-dimensional presentation on a page up to that time. I way over-packed the presentation with everything I taught – unarmed classic combat, unarmed modern combat, bo staff, Japanese sword, hanbo cane, shuriken star blades, kusarifundo chain, Ryutai Undo body flexibility, and stalking and climbing. The tapes sold like crazy in the 1980s and into the 1990s.

We eventually converted the two tapes to two DVDs, and added some updated footage. I was a little nervous preparing to watch the reissued scenes. That was 25 years ago when those were filmed. I was middle-30s in age. What if I now embarrassed myself with what I thought was cool or skilled back then but was now only amusing? What if by redistributing those original videos, I accidentally created my own embarrassing YouTube-style exposure? What if I wished everyone would forget what I had done back then?

I watched. I smiled. I nodded “yes”. Young guy in that dark beard way back then did not let me down today. I am delighted to see that what was real back then is still eye-opening today. One training friend (who admitted he was not even born when the originals went on sale) claimed the “paper napkin diner defense” was worth getting the whole set for. One friend cheerfully admitted to what he called “lifting” the sword segments and running them as a Black Belt Club course in his karate school, and he actually looked good with his copycat movement. A few Quest Center owners had school parties for viewing the DVDs together.

The set is now “back from the depths of the vault” and available if you would like to own a piece of ninja history in the Western Hemisphere. CLICK HERE to preview some scenes on your screen. I heartily recommend the DVDs, I am happily relieved to be able to report.

22 comments to “1984 Ninja Night Warriors”

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  1. Ray A. Letteer says: -#1

    …and I still have my original copies of the VHS tapes.

  2. Awesome, I have the original, I can’t wait to get my hands on this version.

  3. An-Shu Hayes, the original “Night Warrior” VHS tapes were some of my all time favorite reference – the amount of subject matter covered is amazing. I’m stoked to soon have an updated DVD version, a true gem. Diner napkin dispensers have NEVER been viewed the same since… !

  4. I remember the first ninjutsu book I ever read I think I was in the sixth grade and the book was Ninja 2, Warrior ways of enlightment. I was only 7 but was hooked. Thank you Mr Hayes for being there for a small child and his dreams of being a ninja, lol. Your the man!!!!!

  5. Yes , some of us are old enough to remember. It was through these videos and your books, that myself and some enthusiastic students , were able to begin our journey. They were like gold, as it was our only means of learning. Fortunately I was able to connect with you in person in the late eightys, at a Seminar in Chester.England. Still as enthusiastic now as I was then.

  6. “What if I wished everyone would forget what I had done back then?” A very brave question to ask oneself, and I am in full agreement with your answer. I never saw the videos myself until quite recently and have enjoyed them immensely. Gambatte kudasai!

  7. I still have my original VHS tapes of the Ninja Night Warriors set. These kids and their new-fangled DVDs and downloads! 8D

  8. Wow,that takes me back! It was either 83 or 84 when I trained with you at Cliff Lendermans hosted seminar in Tacoma, WA…wow….Im trying to remember but I *think* you had Bud and Bonnie with you…You asked me to come at you with a katana and took me out with Kusarigama. Left a lasting inpression 🙂 . I also got my copies of your books autographed and, though dog eared from time and use, they are still here and an active part of my library.
    Thanks for sharing, An-shu
    Don Gaffney
    Irish Samurai Productions

  9. David Hunter says: -#1

    Mine, should be on the way, I guess it was a time when, even the regular martial arts, was magical, not to mention the mysteriousness of ninjutsu.

  10. An-Shu,
    I still have the videotapes and remember imitating the moves and techniques at home…..that was MY first long distance training set !!
    What I remember the most is the sound of the voice….” lesson number 1….” wich was then followed by the technique.
    Just recently, they were just “relics” of the past lying around in a box.
    A White plastic case and 1 black VHS,….Bigger than a 6 dvd set and impossible to find a way to get the wisdom out of it….outdated technology….
    Thank you for updating….again.

  11. Chris Miller says: -#1

    Interesting after nearly fifteen years of no formal or active training, I find this month to tirelessly search the web for the roots of my childhood training. A small Bujinkan dojo back in Dayton (The Quest Centers as they are known now hadn’t yet really started, if I recall correctly). I felt a welling curiosity like a snap on the head. The feeling was as if an old teacher standing behind me, while wondering if I would move before they strike.

    As I started my search, I was not sure what I was looking for or what I would find. I began diving through the teachers, associations and societies I could remember. I eventually found my way to this post after a few days of surfing the net. Along side it the post, “Real Ninja Spirit Power?”

    I realize in this art there have been many advances. In each generation the discovery teeters from teacher to student as a history learned or lost. The notable styles, names and documents are all amazing historical works of art that pass on the craft’s secrets. In this day and age technology can bombard us and potentially misguide us, in their origins. I am thankful to find that some of the strokes still have a canvas.

    These movies helped to open a doorway to a new method of recorded history. I hope they continue to stand the test of time with all the other forms of knowledge that has been passed in this spirit.

  12. Stephen, I have seen the “Wind” chapter (downloaded, naughty I know). Dude, it is so simple and focused solely on the movements. Excellent. Awesome. I’ll bought a copy, what a bargain. This was a period when you taught str8 Ninjutsu. I love you.

    I loved how they were in black and white… without music.

    *me waits patiently for DVD* if you don’t get this then you are missing out.

  13. I’m in the UK so where can I get this for region 2 DVD?
    How much canI get this for in sterling?

  14. Scott Rutherford says: -#1

    Indeed a journey down memory lane! I have several sets of the originals (always keeping a spare set in case anything happened to the ones in use). Stephen, I’m glad to see the set is back from the vault…

  15. im so glad you did these in the 80s if it wasnt for these and your help with soke getting his foundations of togakure ryu vhs videos in the 80s i would have been lost! (you should see mr hayes getting tossed in those!,good stuff !)

    the importance of these videos is very underrated nowdays if it wasnt for these two sets of vhs tapes the art would not have florished as well because i know for a fact i am not alone in not having any dojos around me anywhere back then.
    just another great product that shows you have lived the life talked the talk walked it and will forever be the man responsible for opening up REAL ninjutsu to the usa PUBLIC.
    and yes this is a good thing thank you anshu for everything you did back then…

  16. i remember the videos, i bought 1 as a kid in the 80s.what i remember more is the ninja magizines ,they was very informative even on the mind of a 7 yr old

  17. i was just talking of this with my shihan, on how we as southamericans, just rely on our mails, (no internet then, dreaming on how to get some books, or asking somebody going to USA to bought them. Really diferent times!!!, and now, you google an image of hira no kamae.,.. and appears anshu hayes silouet.. I wonder,hoy many new ninjutsu students know he is the one back in those pictures? really… we lived the world ninjutsu story.

  18. Gary Farlow says: -#1

    what can be said of you Sir that has not already been said. The truth you share with is remarkable if not just common sense if we only spent sometime and thought about. Your books I still have and REFUSE to loan out…I’m 38 now. Still have most if not all the NINJA mag, Black Belt mags from back then. Now that I’ve found you on the web I will always use your information to assist in my path of enlightenment of the way….thank you and always my greatest regards.

  19. Lantz Hastings says: -#1

    I have the first set too. great vhs tapes. I remember writing Mr Hayes back in ’84 suggesting he make these videos. At that time I was a soldier in the us army and in the army hospital orthopedic ward bea. I wrote Anhshu reguarding my need to train and being unable to train at the only dojo in the usa. He wrote me a letter back stating that my suggestion was being taken into consideration. Soon after these vhs tapes came out.

    If I actually inspired the idea or it was already in the works I have no idea but being young at the time I thought I had some act in their inspiration.

    These two tapes had a lot to do with my recovery from phisical injury and they were the Only physical thearapy I was afforded in the military hospital.

    These tapes are great. I recommend them.

  20. Joseph Bongiovanni says: -#1

    I also have these original vhs tapes.Cases and tapes in perfect condition.I purchased them 2 years before my daughter was born,and she will be 24 in Oct.They opened my eyes my mind,my heart.And is also why I own EVERY publication book video and dvd.Anshu Stephen and Rumiko.I believe I picked my Mentors wisely.I was honored to be a part of the Barn Dojo, and the Dayton Quest Center Hence my e-mail AN for the school Iam so proud to be part of Shodan for the honor you’ve bestowed upon me,01 the year I received that. Jo is a play on words,the fighting tool and my name
    Joe. Many Happy Years together .Happy Anniversary. Sincerely yours

  21. Kyle Watson says: -#1

    I can remember reading about it..I also remember when all I did was read..am I showing my age?

  22. Thanks forr finally talking about >To-Shin Do | 1984 Ninjna Night Warriors <Liked it!

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