A video recently uploaded to YouTube shows Iranian female martial arts students practising martial arts skills at a ninjutsu club in Iran.
One could easily mistake the scenes for the latest ninja or kung-fu movie from Japan or China, with ladies brandishing samurai swords, doing kick stunts, blows and gymnastics to the accompaniment of techno-orchestral soundtrack.
Bu this is real life. About 3,500 girls are in training to qualify as Kunoichi (female ninjas) under the supervision of ninjutsu instructor Fatima Muamer, says Press TV report. Muamer, in the six-minute video, told the Iranian Press TV that ninjutsu martial arts training is becoming more popular with Iranian women.
Lissome ladies are shown in the video practising both armed and unarmed combat methods with kicks and chops, and some brandishing swords and other lethal implements of armed combat. The Washington Post quotes a comment by The Atlantic that in spite of the movie-like air of choreographic gymnastics, the women seem to take the training seriously as a means to self-empowerment in a religious conservative society which seeks to relegate them to the background. The Atlantic also points to the impressive fact of the strength of Iranian women in the martial arts from the evidence of their performance in international women's competitions in Chinese martial art wushu , which has produced several female Iranian champions.
What is ninjutsu training really about?
Ninjutsu instructor Mumaer, according to Daily Mail, says: "The most important lesson in ninjutsu is respect and humility. They learn to respect themselves - first to respect their existence and then the art that they are mastering. Calmness is the most important lesson they learn."
Pupils at the ninjutsu school are trained in both armed an unarmed combat. They are taught to use dangerous weapons such as bows, swords, nunchucks and shurikens. Akbar Faraji introduced ninjutsu to Iran when he set up a club 22 years ago which now has 24,000 members. According to the sensei: '"In ninjutsu, we call men ninjas, while females are called kunoichi. Being a ninja is about patience, tolerance, and fortitude. Literally it means the art of becoming invisible. Ninjutsu, or martial arts in general, can be described as a medicine. Just like snake poison, despite the fact that it can be very dangerous, it can be a good antidote as well."
But then comes the inevitable question that Iran must surely hope a Western audience will ask. Could this be part of Iran's preparation in the looming conflict with Israel and the United States over its nuclear program?
As Wired.com points out, surely, this is Iran's warning to the U.S. to keep its Chuck Norrises away from its borders.