The ancient aspects of the Hand’s training and culture were likely lost forever with the subversion of the order by the Snakeroot clan shortly after the Hand’s founding in 1588. The Snakeroot, and their patron demon known as the Beast, imparted their own training and initiation methods. Many of these are occult, including an unknown means of dissolving a Hand ninja’s body at death. Also unknown are details of the Hand’s internal structure. A hierarchy exists, as does a leadership group, but leaders seem to be chosen and disposed of according to procedures that remain opaque.
Brief summaries of the Hand’s known internal disciplines follow.
This class is the Hand’s standard infiltrator. They are trained to fight without seeing, and the most experienced Katana-class Hand often deploy smoke in the middle of a combat. Exquisitely trained in fighting by ear, the Katana Hand strikes from within the smoke. The advantage of this ability is largely negated by close physical proximity. SHIELD combat manuals recommend fighting Katana-discipline Hand personnel with the Scrapper skill set when possible.
This class specializes in the counterstrike and in using an opponent’s mass and momentum. They have preternatural battlefield awareness that makes it nearly impossible to corner or subdue them. In fact, they are likely to turn such an attempt into a lethal counterattack. S.H.I.E.L.D. manuals suggest that Infiltrator-class personnel are the most likely to possess the necessary close-combat control to negate the Naginata training.
As its name indicates, the two-sword Hand discipline is devoted to fighting with double blades. The paragon of this class is known as the Shadow. Through an unknown means, Blood Ninjutsu taps the wounds of a bleeding enemy to replenish the Shadow’s own strength. It is not known whether the Hand’s notorious death-and-resurrection ritual is used to convey the power of Blood Ninjutsu. S.H.I.E.L.D. suggests that the best opposition to the Two-Sword is the Bruiser class’s physical mass and strength.
POWERS: The accident that blinded Daredevil (see below) rendered his remaining senses superhumanly acute. He can tell whether or not someone is lying by listening to their heartbeat; he can read books by touching the imprint the ink makes on the page. Furthermore he has a sixth “radar sense” that allows him to locate physical objects in space. All of these abilities make him a superlative hand-to-hand combatant.
UNIQUE WEAPONS: Daredevil has constructed a billy club he uses as a throwing weapon. It also contains a grappling line that allows him to swing from building to building.
KNOWN HISTORY: Young Murdock pushed an old man out of the way of an out-of-control truck carrying a heretofore unknown isotope (see observations). The radioactive material spilled from the back, robbing Matt of his sight as well as granting him superhuman senses.
After he graduated law school, Murdock’s father, a small-time boxer, was murdered by gangsters. S.H.I.E.L.D. believes he adopted the mantle of Daredevil to revenge himself on the mob. Despite this and other tragedies, Daredevil is one of New York City’s more successful vigilantes, although now that the press has outed his secret identity, it has made it very difficult for him to practice law as opposing lawyers use his vigilante past to taint the minds of juries against him. Now by day he offers legal advice so his clients can defend themselves while donning the costume of Daredevil at night to take his own brand of justice to the streets.
Observations: “Few of us who choose this life are immune to tragedy or pain. Matt Murdock has suffered more of his share than most, but he keeps soldiering on, doing what he believes is right. The fact he has been able to take what most people call a ‘disability’ and turn into his greatest strength, the fact a blind man takes to the streets every night to defend strangers, at huge personal cost --
“Well. I know people look up to me.
“I look up to Daredevil.”— Captain America (Steve Rogers)