Tree-Hang Training


{ The following is an excerpt from Sith Academy: The Ninja Handbook. }


The Ninja operative needs to be able to hang for long periods over an area, from tree branches, walls, beams, etc., as part of reconnaissance or infiltration missions. The historical Ninja trained in this skill from a young age, starting by hanging from low branches for a few minutes. As they grew older and stronger, they would hang from higher branches for longer periods, until they were able to hang from branches fifty feet in the air for up to an hour. This not only required tremendous strength and endurance, but great willpower and mastery of one’s fear of heights. This makes the tree-hang one of the best all-around Ninja training exercises one can do.

To begin this exercise, find a branch or bar that is a little higher than your outstretched arms. Jump up and grab the bar with both hands, and simply hang naturally. As you hang, keep your body perfectly still and your breathing quiet. You may only be able to do this for a minute or two as a beginner before you tire and have to drop to the ground. Perform this exercise every day as part of your daily training; use a timer to set your hang time, increasing it by a small increment (10-20 seconds) every three days. After a week or two of this, find a higher branch so you are hanging several feet off the ground. Continue increasing your hang times and heights until you are able to hang motionless for ten minutes or more from a height of at least ten feet, and you will have achieved a Ninja Acolyte level of proficiency at the tree-hang skill.

Note: After I wrote this, I did some tree-hang training at a nearby beach, as shown in the picture above. Seconds after the picture was taken, I lost my grip while I was swinging back to the trunk to get down, and fell about eight feet straight onto my tailbone. This was a good, but painful, lesson in the importance of developing a strong grip, mindfulness of my body and agility in falling. Better to learn this from a height of eight feet than eighty!