First professional ninja warrior to be paid for his martial art in Japan is actually American

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First professional ninja warrior to be paid for his martial art in Japan is actually American

An American has become the first ever professional ninja to be paid for his martial arts work – in Japan.

Chris O’Neill has been accepted as part of a troop of ninja warriors for a tourism boost, and is the only non-Japanese member.

The 29-year-old, who lives in Tokyo, was one of 235 applicants eager to don the black costume of the deadly denizens of the night.

Ninja were traditionally covert agents in feudal Japan, and are thought to date back the the 12th Century.

Chris Across the WorldChris O'Niell
Chris O’Neill, who has become the first paid ninja in Japan – and he’s from the US

But instead of working as an under-the-radar spy, O’Neill, a former student at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, will be one of six full-time ninjas with a one-year contract.

They’ll be required to perform back flips, using the trademark “shuriken” ninja star weapon and pose for photographs with tourists.

Aichi prefecture in central Japan had been seeking ninjas in a job posting last month which requested candidates of any nationality were welcome.

An astonishing 85% were foreigners, and O’Neill impressed so much during auditions that officials created an extra spot just for him.

An authentic master of ninjutsu martial art, Kazuki Ukita poses in Ninja costume in Ueno

Now “Japan’s first salaried, full-time ninja paid by a local municipality,” Satoshi Adachi of the Aichi’s tourism unit told AFP, O’Neill dazzled the panel with an array of acrobatic back flips.

“He was really amazing,” added Adachi.

“He has great acrobatic skill and the ability to speak in front of the public. He’s also passionate about promoting tourism.”

The new ninja squad will earn a monthly salary of around £1,177 plus bonuses.

O’Neill’s six Japanese colleagues are five men and one woman.

Skilled in espionage and guerrilla warfare, the creeping ninjas became hired mercenaries during the turmoil of Japan’s Sengoku period between the 15th and 17th centuries and have since been immortalised in history books and period television dramas.


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