The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #71: Readings from Stephen K. Hayes’ Ninjutsu: The Art of the Invisible Warrior

Episode #71: Readings from Stephen K. Hayes’ Ninjutsu: The Art of the Invisible Warrior

I’ve recently rediscovered ninjutsu after a nearly 20 year hiatus.  After having trained in martial arts more than half my life at this point, it’s fun and eye-opening to start as a beginner at something almost totally new (since I can’t say I really remember much from my initial foray into the art — see Episode #47 for more).  In this week’s podcast, I reflect a little on the journey and read a few segments on conditioning, diet, and meditative practices from Stephen K. Hayes’ 1984 book, Ninjutsu: the Art of the Invisible Warrior.

I totally remember sitting on the floor of my local library reading this book (and the many others Mr. Hayes wrote) when I was a kid (and not really understanding most of it, I should add, since I mostly just looked at the pictures and tried to figure out how to throw shuriken).  Of course, it was much harder to find these kinds of books then (pre-internet), so thanks to so-called modern technology, what were considered priceless secrets to a twelve year old can now be easily found via Amazon, eBay, and by an adult decades later 🙂  Even though the book is over 30 years old, the advice inside is still as applicable today as it was years ago.  It expands the world of the martial arts to the world at large.  It takes specific skills learned for a specific purpose and makes them applicable to the world of everyday life … which, I suppose, is what they are all about to begin with.

In this short clip, Stephen K. Hayes talks a little about his own personal journey and the heroic ideal, which I thought was appropriate for a site that talks about fantasy stories and the hero’s journey:



Click on the image of the book above to read more about it on Amazon. 

Thanks for listening!


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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #47: Guest Conversation with Justin Part 1

Episode #47: My Friend Justin Joins the Show Part 1 – Gymnastics, Breakdancing, Martial Arts, Learning New Skills, and Not Giving Up

Get ready for a massive interview spaced out over the next two weeks!  One of my best friends from college joins me for a walk down memory lane as we reminiscence about the years we spent training in gymnastics, breakdancing, and martial arts.  If you have any interest in those topics, you’ll likely find something of interest in this week’s episode.  Some of the topics covered:

-Trying to learn breakdancing by watching old, grainy VHS tapes of pioneer bboys like Crumbs, Ivan, and Storm

-There was only one or two digital video clips we had access to in the beginning (no Youtube).  We watched this unnamed guy doing windmills in his garage countless times and must have dissected it hundreds more – whoever you are, late 90s windmill guy, we are grateful.

-The bboy crew Justin and started with two other college friends, Sherwood and Tim, Sympoh, is still around and continues to amaze us.

-The freeform aspect of hip-hop/beaking vs. the emphasis on doing things a certain set way in gymnastics and many martial arts

-How doing gymnastics is involved in learning your limits and conquering fear, applicable to other aspects of life (i.e. “there are no dumb gymnasts” per my high school coach)

-How to reconcile the “stay tight in the air” philosophy of gymnastics with the “relax in the air” philosophy of martial arts (we don’t actually resolve this, but it’s an interesting contrast)

-If you were two college kids who wanted to be ninjas, what do you do?

-How we found ninjitsu training

-You can still buy this grappling hook online (though you may not want to)

SZCO Supplies Grappling Hook with Cord

This series of explanatory ninjitsu books by Stephen K. Hayes were the ones I recall most vividly from childhood 

-Unlike in our childhoods, you can now easily find ninjitsu books by Stephen K. Hayes and his teacher, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumu, on Amazon.  The man who taught Justin and I years ago, Jack Hoban, now has training videos, referenced here.

-We spend a fair amount of time touching on the process of learning new skills, e.g.:

-What’s the Dunning Kruger effect?

-What’s the Feldenkrais method?  And how can slow, deliberate movements done with good form in optimal conditions counterintuitively help learn new skills faster?

-We debate whether innovation can/should be taught from the get go or should fundamentals be stressed first

-The beginner’s journey – even as a “master,” hopefully you are still continuing to learn (symbolized by the journey from white belt to black back to white again as the outer coloring of the belt gets frayed with time).

-The importance of not giving up too early – fitting given the meaning of the characters for ninja (忍者 – “one who endures” in Chinese)

-We discuss how martial arts and these other skills have shaped us as people.

There was a natural breaking point here, so I’ve split the interview into two parts for ease of listening.  Justin will return next week with more discussion on fitness and healthy eating.  In the meantime, check out his blog at

In other news, since Instagram changed the amount of video they will allow to 60 seconds, I’ve been trying to distill songs that influenced the soundtrack and writing of The Thirteenth Hour down to 1 min in synthesized form.  There are also a few snippets from the soundtrack itself there – all at the Instagram account of @the13thhr.ost.

-E.g.: The Thirteenth Hour Theme, heard in the intro and outro of these podcasts

As always, thanks for listening


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
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  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!