Thousands of Iranian women are training to become female ninjas
Thousands of Iranian women are training to become Kunoichi (female ninjas) in a small Ninjutsu club in Iran.
The school opened in 1989 and now has 3,500 women mastering the increasingly popular form of martial arts.
In a video recently uploaded to YouTube, reported by Iranian TV station Press TV, the women are shown practising their skills in the club and outdoors in what could be mistaken for a martial arts film trailer.
In an intense training session the women demonstrate choreographed combat moves with kicks and chops and impressive gymnastics.
They are also shown brandishing dangerous weapons such as bows, swords, nunchucks and shurikens – allowed to be used after two years of training. Reporter Gisoo Misha Ahmadi calls the shurikens “the most iconic weapon in Ninjutsu.”
Ninjutsu was established in Iran by Sensei Akbar Faraji when he set up the club 22 years ago; it now has 24,000 members.
Mr Faraji told Press TV: “’In Ninjutsu, we call men Ninjas, while females are called Kunoichi.”
He added: “Being a ninja is about patience, tolerance and fortitude…It literally means the art of becoming invisible.”
Ninjutsu, considered to be the deadliest form of martial art, is reported to have become increasingly popular among women because it teaches them how to maintain a healthy mental and physical balance.
Ninjutsu instructor Fatima Muamer told Press TV: “the most important lesson is respect and humility.”
“They learn to respect themselves. First respect their existence and then the art they are mastering.
“Calmness is the most important lesson they learn.”
Looking past the combat moves and production of the video, the most important point is how seriously the women take the sport as a means of self-empowerment.
In a society that seeks to rob them of power, it is perhaps not surprising that it is proving so popular.