Japan rediscovered the ninja in the 1950s and '60s. They became favorite characters in comic books and movies. The first appearance of a ninja in a popular western work was in the 1964 James Bond novel, "You Only Live Twice." When the movie version appeared in 1967, the popularity of ninja exploded across Europe and North America.
Since then, ninja have appeared everywhere. The G.I. Joe character Snake Eyes and his archenemy Storm Shadow were ninja. Martial arts star Chuck Norris fought off hordes of ninja in many of his popular action movies. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were pop icons in the late '80s and early '90s. Some martial arts schools have taken up ninja training as a separate discipline, alongside the more common forms of hand-to-hand combat training.
Modern equivalents of true ninja can be found in the special operatives and espionage agents used by military forces around the world. These elite troops combine combat skills, stealth, and technology to infiltrate enemy strongholds, gather secret information, and spread disinformation -- just like their ninja forefathers hundreds of years ago.
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