Thousands of Iranian Women Training to Become Ninjas

Ninjutsu is considered to be one of the deadliest forms of martial arts in the world. But this doesn’t deter the 3,500 odd Iranian women who are currently receiving official training in the sport.

In fact, when I saw a video of these women in action, I was awestruck by their agility and the ease with which they performed gravity-defying stunts and back flips. I couldn’t even tell that the ninjas were female until they removed the masks from their faces.  Iran, like many other Islamic countries, has stringent rules regarding the freedom and conduct of women. The laws severely restrict them from participating freely in society; perhaps this is where they derive their quiet strength from. The Ninjustu school in Iran was started in 1989 by Sensei Akbar Faraji. This was the first time the martial art was introduced to the country. While the club now has over 24,000 members, the number of female participants is slowly on the rise. According to Faraji, in Ninjutsu, men are called ninjas, while women are addressed as kunoichi.

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The club’s female instructor, Fatima Muamer, says that the sport appeals to women as it helps in maintaining a balance between body and mind. She also points out that the most important lessons in Ninjutsu are respect and humility. “They learn to respect themselves – first to respect their existence and then the art that they are mastering.” Students at the school are also taught to use dangerous weapons – including bows, swords, nunchucks and shurikens – small traditional Japanese implements known as ‘swords in the hand’.


This is not the first time Iranian women have made their mark in sports. In 2005, two Iranian women scaled Mount Everest, becoming the first Muslim women in the world to summit the peak. These women have left their mark in rugby, soccer, and several other sports in the Olympics. This proves that no law can truly suppress the spirit of strong-willed women, such as these Iranians.

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