Although the Great Pirate and Ninja Debate has been ongoing for centuries, many know very little about it. This spurred me to do some more research on the subject myself, in order to help better inform others.
The History of the Pirates
In 1986, the discovery of a jaw bone and a large stick side by side in a paleontological dig in Ghana led to a new theory of the beginnings of piracy. Scientists discovered that the jaw bone belonged to a member of the species Australopithecus hominus, extinct primates believed by evolutionary biologists to be one of the forerunners of modern humans. Many anthropologists now believe piracy can be traced back to a clan of Austrolopithicus hominus living in modern day Ghana during the Paleocene era. A famine is believed to have hit this corner of Africa late in the era, driving the hungry clan to raid other hominid villages. With the invention of the boat, believed by many to be the accidental invention of Olaf the Cave Man in 56,000 B.C., the descendants of the clan moved to raiding by sea.
a page from the Book of Elishamma
More conservative historians remain skeptical of this theory, however. The earliest written evidence of piracy can be found in Jewish religious writings dating back to 1,400 B.C. The Apocryphal book of Elishamma contains the supposed writings of a little known Jewish prophet prophesying the destruction of Adad–Baal, a Phoenician who terrorized the coasts of Israel from 1,380 B.C. until his sudden death in 1,412 B.C. Adad–Baal was the first to call himself a pirate, coining the term from the Phoenician words py, “glorious,” and raeat, “raider.”
The book of the words of Elishamma, the son of Elihiel, the son of Elhanan, the son of Ezechiel, of the seed of Phineas, of the tribe of Napthali, which he prophecied concerning Adad–Baal: Woe to thee, Adad–Baal of the Phoenecians, who hast said, I shall call myself Glorious, and hath declared, A raider shalt I be. A day shall come in which thy name shalt be a curse to all nations and at the sound of name all peoples shall gnash their teeth. Selah.
Piracy continued to be popular after the death of Adad–Baal wherever there were boats, rum, and stuff to steal. Piracy was a very ecumenical profession, attracting men and women from all nationalities and creeds. As the movement grew, however, the diversity of the pirates led to the need for greater organization and discipline. In 1721, the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew filled this need by formulating the Pirate Code, a definitive code of pirate conduct, which, though rarely followed, has remained the standard for piracy to this day.
The History of the Ninjas
The Most Esteemed Order of Ninjas was founded by Japanese martial arts master Katsutoshi Fuyu circa 1,111 B.C. Fuyu wrote extensively, stressing the need for simplicity and rigorous discipline, and his followers adopted a monastic, ascetic lifestyle. Traditionally, ninjas begin their training at the age of three, the age at which an individual first displays “The Gift,” as Fuyu described the mystical ability to teleport and disappear that characterizes all ninjas. Very little else is known about ninjas. They are so rarely seen that some skeptics believe that the order is a conspiracy created by the Japanese government.
In his most famous book, conspiracy theorist John Johnson argues that the Japanese government created the order to instill fear in neighboring countries. Although the book has won great popularity and has even been optioned as a major Hollywood film, little real credit is afforded to Johnson’s claim.
A rare undercover shot of the fabled Ninja Conference reputed to be held each year in Kyoto.
The Beginnings of the Pirate-Ninja Debate
Although the exact origins of the controversy are unclear, most historians point to the middle of the 18th century. Beginning in 1795, Ninja Warlord Masayoshi Ken’ichi began writing pamphlets against pirate captain Tobias “Terrible Toby” Smith after an alleged offense. A pamphlet war was soon launched after Smith responded with pamphlet of his own, and a flurry of pamphlets were soon written and published by both sides. In the heat of the controversy, the original offense was forgotten. However, the rift between the pirates and ninjas has never healed to this day, despite a recent conciliatory movement led by a group called the “Pirinjas.”