Secret Finger Jutsu


LP reports that in elementary and middle school it was popular to prank fellow classmates with the “secret finger jutsu,” typically learned from the anime, “Naruto.” This involves folding both hands together with the index and middle finger out, sneaking up behind someone, and stabbing their buttocks with the extended fingers.


LP is a college graduate who grew up in Beverly Hills, CA, attending the public schools in the area.

Here, LP was describing what pranks he would witness in elementary and middle school. He recalls that after one boy, who had watched “Naruto” and learned the behavior from the show, started doing it, the prank was adapted several other members of the group, even those who had not watched the show and did not know its origin. This was practiced exclusively by boys to other boys, LP reports. While he did not take part in the prank itself, he says that he was wary of situations where he might be vulnerable to those who do, especially climbing stairways.


The “secret finger jutsu” is directly linked to the influence of the anime, “Naruto,” meaning it comes from an official source. However, its implementation into the social dynamic of American school children was largely unstructured. Its spread and adoption by other members of the group underscores the rapid transmission of folk behaviors within a peer group and the pressure to be aware of these fluid changes. The gender specificity of this prank suggests certain expectations within this community about which behaviors are acceptable among boys and which may cross the line when it comes to girls. In accordance to Freud’s theory of repression and sublimation, boys in this peer group were using the shared humor learned by this TV program to act on aggressive urges in a way that simultaneously relieved them of said urges and affirmed their standing in the social order.