Do you think that ninja tactics and samurai strategies could ever become useful in real life? While you may relate the two with shuriken and swords, these types of warriors can actually teach us a lot about their different methods.

What is it?

Ninjas and Samurais were different types of warriors that used different kinds of methods. Ninjas were tacticians and Samurais were strategists.

Why is it useful?

Strategies are long term structures that inform things. Tactics are what those in those structures use to navigate them. Its useful to be able to identify strategies and tactics as the concepts can apply under many circumstances.

How do I use Ninja Tactics and Samurai Strategy? 

See what examples of strategies and tactics you can observe in daily life. Try to notice when you are using ninja tactics and when you are being a samurai, using strategies instead.


The name Samurai means ‘those who serve in close attendance to the nobility’. Samurai began as powerful regional clans who found favour with the central government. They became the dominant ruling power in 12th Century Japan.

The philosophy of the Samurai was to serve the master. It was considered honourable to fight and die for a military leader or emperor. In contrast Ninjas were mercenaries who used covert methods to wage war. The ninja was a user of tactics whereas the Samurai had strict rules about honor and combat more akin to a strategy.1 Few historical records exists on the Ninja as they were often recruited from the farming classes and little literary interest was taken in them.2

Strategy from Afar

In war, military commanders watch from afar having planned out a strategy beforehand for the movement of regiments of infantry and cavalry who have to employ tactics on the battlefield and react to their direct environment as best they can. The strategy is constructed from a viewpoint which affords an overview of circumstances. It is made from afar, although it can be revised and updated as new information comes in, it is still an ideology.


The board game of chess is a representation of the four divisions of the military; pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. It is prudent to have a strategy in mind before play but you cannot fully predict the playing out of the game, which is the realm of ninja tactics. Different pieces on the chess board have different tactical abilities; the knights are able to leap other pieces, move in a particular way and can change the point of focus of the game in a non-linear way which is similar to a detournement. Through the history of the game, the pieces have evolved to reflect the culture of context. Perhaps a modern iteration would include pieces which represented capitalist corporations.

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