The Badass of the Week.

Hanzo Hattori

Hanzo Hattori was the leader of the Iga Ninja Clan in 16th Century Japan and is considered by many to be the most badass ninja to ever live.  His exploits have become the thing of legend in his native land, and all who study the arts of Ninjitsu and Kicking Ass look to Hanzo as the shining example of what it means to be totally fucking awesome.

Hanzo Hattori began his training by climbing a mountain at the age of eight and seeking instruction from the most hardcore ninja masters in all of Japan.  He busted his nuts every single day for four years, practicing insane ninja skills like jumping, flying, and stabbing, finally being declared a full-on ninja at age twelve.  By the time he was sixteen, he had already proven himself as the ultimate badass, serving in battles for the Oda Clan, where he earned the nicknames, “Hanzo the Ghost”, and “Devil Hanzo”, probably because he would sneak around undetected and then nail motherfuckers in the face with a flying side kick when they least expected it.  Then he’d drop a smoke bomb and vanish into the night, only to re-appear moments later, chopping off some jerk’s head and doing backflips for no reason at all.

Hanzo began to make a name for himself while in the service of a dude named Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was a General in the Oda Clan.  Tokugawa would eventually go on to kick the asses of everyone in Feudal Japan, unify the country Qin Shi Huangdi-style and earn the esteemed title of Shogun, so Hanzo could tell everyone he knew Ieyasu “back in the day”, and everyone would know he was O.G.  Hanzo fought valiantly at the Battle of Anagawa in 1570, where Tokugawa’s men slogged through some brutal hand-to-hand combat in the middle of a river, and later at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1572, where Devil Hanzo and his ninja motherfuckers kicked asses despite being outnumbered four to one by an army of hardcore samurai.  After the first day of fighting Tokugawa's had been overwhelmed, and the enemy was preparing to make their final assault on the Oda Clan positions when Hanzo and his ninjas launched a balls-out night raid against the enemy's main camp, lopping off heads, hitting people in the face with nunchucks, hurling ninja stars all over thep lace, causing disorder and chaos, and forcing the withdrawl of the invading armies.

Now you don’t become the most legendary ninja in history by not being fucking awesome.  Hanzo is reputed to have possessed otherworldly skills, and supposedly could teleport, turn invisible, and make shit explode just by swearing at it.  He could reportedly hold his breath underwater for like two days straight, and his martial arts moves were so sweet that it made people barf all over their kimonos (in a good way).  His Ninja Clan, the “Men of Iga”, were recruited to spy on the enemies of Tokugawa, as well as perform assassinations, reconnaissance, sabotage, demolitions, kidnappings, and other forms of espionage black ops shit, sort of like the Navy SEALS, only with more stabbing and climbing and fewer Southern accents.  He had ninja operatives working undercover as ronin warriors in the castles of many of the Tokugawa’s enemies, and his spies were more omnipresent than the fucking CIA and the KGB smashed together into one giant Voltron of Secrecy.  Hanzo Hattori and his Iga Ninjas were so effective that many people credit much of Tokugawa’s rise to power on his successful deployment of crazy ninja badasses throughout the country and his utilization of their superhuman skills.

Hanzo the Ghost would pull off his most famous accomplishment in 1582, while he was out kicking asses with Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Osaka Prefecture.  Hanzo had just gotten finished executing an unprecedented one hundred fifty-eight hit combo on some jackass rival ninja master, culminating with a Shoruken Dragon Punch that made his opponent's head explode into a geyser of blood, when all of a sudden word came down that the warlord Akechi Mitsuhide had just betrayed and assassinated his master, Oda Nobunaga.  Since Nobunaga was the leader of Tokugawa’s Clan, it meant that shit was about to get really fucking hairy for the future shogun in a hurry.  They knew Akechi was going put up security checkpoints and send out roving bands of samurai looking to decapitate Tokugawa and bury his head in a drainage ditch somewhere, and now he appeared to be trapped, alone, and surrounded, with a few hundred miles separating him from his castle in Mikawa Prefecture.

Hanzo somersaulted into action like the motherfucking ball-busting ninja that he was, telling Tokugawa to stay back and let the Iga Clan handle shit.  He snuck into the nearby Koga and Iga Prefectures, climbed the highest mountain he could find, and started wailing a bitchin’ guitar solo so loud, flaming, and technically challenging that it started setting off explosions and fireworks in the sky above him.  When nearby ninjas saw how much ass Hanzo was kicking, they all met up with him and formed an insane entourage of 300 Master Ninjas all prepared to escort Tokugawa to safety or die trying.  Using diplomacy, secrecy, advanced reconnaissance and the occasional jump-spinning 360-degree roundhouse kick, Hanzo and his ninja bodyguards were able to successfully escort Tokugawa to the safety of Mikawa.  Tokugawa was so impressed by this display of bravery and badassitude that he kept two hundred of the ninjas on his payroll, officially forming the “Men of Iga”, under the command of Hanzo Hattori.  They were assigned the critical duty of protecting the West Gate of Edo Castle – the gate most susceptible to a surprise attack by enemy forces.  Tokugawa knew that if shit was going to go down, he wanted Hanzo Hattori and his Goddamned Ninja Army to be the ones on the front lines.  The West entrance to Edo was renamed Hanzo-Mon, and to this day “Hanzo’s Gate” still stands proudly, just daring motherfuckers to mess with it.

Hanzo served bravely until 1590 when he died valiantly in battle at age fifty-five.  He had been chasing down a rival ninja clan, kicking everyone’s ass, when he ran into a trap and was burned to death by flaming oil, going out in a blaze of glory (nyuk nyuk) and probably looking awesome even in death.  To this day Hanzo is such a legendary, popular figure in Japan that characters bearing his name appear in all sorts of games, television shows, and other shit, and it’s a well-known fact that two-thirds of all Japanese Ninja Cartoons feature at least one character called Hanzo Hattori.  Of course, there were like three different dudes from history known as Hanzo Hattori (I only covered the most well-known one here), but whatever.  Most famously he was played by ultimate badass Sonny Chiba in the show “Shadow Warriors”, where Hanzo was depicted as the no-bullshit asskicker he was in real life, spending his free time slicing evil ninjas in half, kicking ronins in the teeth, and getting babes to take their shirts off.  Chiba even reprised the role for the movie Kill Bill, when his badass skills and Hanzo Steel were needed to help The Bride exact brutal revenge on her mortal enemy, and dismember an entire gang of wannabe Yakuza dumbasses in the process.

Another thing to keep in mind when discussing the badassitude of Hanzo Hattori is that we probably don’t know half of the awesome shit he did in his lifetime, because most if it was behind-closed-doors cloak-and-dagger type insanity.  Like the sort of Black Ops shit that never gets declassified because it's too hardcore.  I mean, for all we know he could have single-handedly wiped out an entire clan of ninjas like Ryu Hayabasa or Shinobi, but there just isn’t any historical record of it because as far as Tokugawa was concerned it never happened.  Mission Impossible type shit – “if you are caught or captured we will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”  He’s like Wolf the Quarrelsome - we don’t know everything he was involved in, but what we do know about him is totally badassed.


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