What is the Chinese Art of Stealth?

Noelle in yinshen shu 隱身術 (invisibility) training. 2020

The Chinese art of stealth, or Yin Fa 隱法, is an ancient art of war, and way of life, that was built upon the principles of penetrating buildings and fortifications using physical skills of stealth, combined with ingenious tools and seemingly outlandish strategies.  Yin fa 隱法 – directly translates as ‘hide-law’:-

隱 yin – hide, hidden, concealed
法 fa – law, principle, method

Perhaps the most accurate explanation for the name of Yin Fa 隱法 might be the ‘art of hiding and concealment’. The name, along with the actual practice, requires the exponent to hide in every way. Hide one’s identity, hide one’s home, hide in plain sight, conceal weapons, and so on. Everything in one’s life must be hidden to live the way of Yin Fa 隱法.1

While the philosophy is to hide and conceal, the ultimate purpose of the art of stealth was for stealing-in. It is all about the physical and mental skills needed to enter, exit, and survive, when penetrating a fortified target structure. Once inside their target area, the stealth operative would execute their mission of assassination, espionage, sabotage, psychological warfare, or thievery. 

Training elements in the art of stealth include martial arts, acrobatic skills, stealth techniques, and Chinese medicine practice. The student of Yin Fa 隱法 trains to become skilled enough to destroy their opponent with anything at hand. That could mean a blade, a spear, or even a hair clip. Where survival is threatened, the art includes skills of escape, evasion, hiding, and concealment. The overriding principle of Yin Fa 隱法 is to remain undetected, and unknown to others, both on missions and in every aspect of daily life. 2

  1. Yan Fat 隱法 in the old Hong Kong Cantonese method.
  2. Les Conn and Noelle Conn, The Chinese Art of Stealth, (2021), p 11-12