Archive for March, 2011

Nearly Done in Ichimen

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

After a couple of hectic and bloody days, I’ve gotten things largely squared away in Ichimen. The Keshimasu and Soroemasu gangs are both completely destroyed. The evil merchant who was causing trouble in Migaku and Keishutsu turned out to be an easy target. The Mitsugao gang, with their operations in three different districts, were much more difficult, and the Hikone mercenaries were… well, a single trained warrior can be a much harder opponent than a pack of undisciplined gang rabble.

But I have slain them all. (There’s always the chance the Ayamari will move into the power vacuums I’ve created. But that’s a problem for next week, not today.)

I still have to clear some enemies from Denyūmado. The Shimasu clan, a perpetual bother.

For now, I am sitting on the roof of an inn in central Denyūmado, eating a tasty sushi lunch and scanning the streets below me. Seeing the movements of the people, looking for the Shimasu clan crest…

Devising a New Tactic

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

I’m going to have to use a Bright Square kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts. to handle the Mitsugao gang. Clan Noriaibasha has a standard Bright Square tactic for use in urban fighting… but it was only intended for use against small groups, of no more than 5 opponents.

The Mitsugao gang has at least 15 members, maybe 20 or so.

I will have to improvise. I will have to extend the clan’s standard technique, and make it much more powerful. Sadly, I doubt my improvements will become part of the clan’s regular ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.; really, we should not have ever tried to use Bright Square in this situation at all. And we should not do so again. (If we ever do try it again, we should do it my way, but really, we should tell the nobles: “No. We may only use Bright Square under certain specific conditions, and these are not on the list!”)

I am still quite busy with handling Seijun’s team’s sudden crises. This is the part of a combined operationan AJAXified web appan AJAXified web app where we must all work together, in perfect coordination, to achieve victoryensure that my client-side code and their server-side code all integrate properlyensure that my client-side code and their server-side code all integrate properly. I just wish I could coordinate with Seijun’s team as well as I once did with Teruyoshi, back when we both fought with the Yaneuragumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi..

Death From Above!

Monday, March 21st, 2011

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of lying in wait for someone. Especially when you think you’ve got their moves figured out, and you think you can take them… but you’re not quite sure.

I’m at the gate between Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu. I came in across the rooftops, having seen the Hikone mercenary step away to a nearby noodle restaurant for his lunch. My kusarigamaA common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a hook or weight on the end of it.A common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a grappling hook or a weight attached to the end.

The scythe/sickle part alone is a kama, and is a common farming tool. With the chain attached, it’s pretty obviously a weapon, and would be treated as such by any authorities one might encounter.
is ready; my Jeikyū hook is sharp.

I’m lurking in the upper curve of the gate when he gets back. My vantage point is beautiful. I can watch as he prepares to shake down another traveler for gold…

Then I drop on him.

The chain goes around his neck; the hook entangles his already-drawn sword, and I yank, hard. Follow up with a roundhouse kick, to be sure. The mercenary’s would-be victim is stunned, motionless. I put one finger to my lips, just in front of my mask, and softly say, “Shhh.”

I quickly untangle my chain from the mercenary’s body. With my tantoA dagger or utility knife, made in the same style and gracefully curved shape as the samurai’s katana and wakizashi pair.A gracefully curved dagger or hand-knife, in the same style as the samurai’s katana and wakizashi., I cut off his insignia patch, then also cut his purse away from his belt and take it with me. Hooking my chain back into the top of the gate, I start climbing out of sight. Just before vanishing, I tell the terrified onlooker: “You can scream for the city guard now.”

While they’re distracted, I’ll be heading for Shiryō-no-Hako to take out the Mitsugao gang. Soon, they’ll wonder just how many ninjas they’re dealing with.

Ready to Attack My Week

Monday, March 21st, 2011

This morning, I stopped by Castle Noriaibasha very briefly. In the chamber that I share with the others, I said hello to Fumiaki and Chifumi. (Ginsaku, as usual, had not arrived yet.) Chifumi will soon be leaving us to join one of the clans of Settsu Province, headquartered in Naniwa. Today, her replacement has just arrived from the monastery, and Chifumi is training her.

I made my polite greetings, then took my manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
from its locker and departed for Ichimen. I have much to accomplish there before tomorrow is done.

In one week, we shall have two more warriors in the Keitai Team to assist me and Ginsaku. Two of the fighters I have recently tested were able to perform the Three-and-Five Strike, and have accepted positions with our clan. Haruna is a somewhat junior kunoichiA term for a female ninja.A term for a female ninja.. She is shy and deferential, but she has good warrior skills. With some training, I think she will be quite deadly. Then there is Denkurō, who is more skilled and experienced. He knows how to use the Jeikyū grappling hook, and has experience in city fighting and rooftop combat.

In the meantime, I have now arrived at Ichimen, and I’m ready for a little rooftop combat of my own. The Machigaeru gang are running scared, but not yet vanquished. And there are still those Hikone mercenaries to deal with.

There were storms and rain over the weekend, and I hope the roofs will not be too slippery. May AmaterasuOne of the greatest Shinto deities, and specifically the Goddess of the Sun.One of the greatest Shinto deities, and specifically the Goddess of the Sun. shine Her sun on me today! I will need luck to assist my skill, for I have so very much to do.

What a Real Samurai Can Do

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

A friend has been visiting from Edo for the past few days. Last night, Akane and I had dinner at a fancy restaurant in the capital with him and his childhood friend, a samurai woman named Beniko. During the meal, the conversation turned to the difficulties of recruiting skilled fighters.

Akane said, “Oh, I know! Have her try the Three-and Five Strike,” and so I told Beniko what the requirements are. One of the nice things about it as a warriors’ test is that it doesn’t bother to state what the warrior’s movements, footwork, or other technique should look like. It simply specifies what you must do to the target. This means it will work with any weapon at all — even though I’ve been testing manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling. Obviously, the movements and style for using it are VERY different from the samurai sword!A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

Obviously, the movements, strikes, and footwork for using a manrikigusari are very different from those that work with a katana!

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.) fighters, I could still ask Beniko to perform it with her katana and have the test make sense. So we briefly stepped out into the restaurant’s ornamental garden…

And she performed it beautifully, with hardly any hesitation. There are a couple of aspects of the Three-and-Five Strike that are a bit trickyThere are a particular couple of bugs that people usually make the first time they try to write FizzBuzz, but they’re the sort of thing a decent programmer should be able to catch and fix when asked a couple of leading questions.There are a particular couple of bugs that people usually make the first time they try to write FizzBuzz, but they’re the sort of thing a decent programmer should be able to catch and fix when asked a couple of leading questions. — the first time you try to do it. But that mistake teaches you how to do it properly, if you have any skill or training at all.

Beniko’s execution, however, was nearly flawless. Each time she was about to make one of the standard mistakes, she spotted the problem ahead of time, and simply worked it into her motions. It was a joy to behold.

Once again, I see that a true warrior can do a Three-and-Five Strike easily, and it is absolutely not too hard to use as a test for Clan Noriaibasha.

Time For a Bloody Rampage

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Okay, targets identified. There are the Machigaeru gang, who roam throughout Ichimen. The Mitsugao, who are active in Migaku and the twin districts of Kurabero-no-Hako and Shiryō-no-Hako.

A team of mercenaries from Hikone have split up and started demanding tolls at all the gates that lead from one district of the city to another. There is one at the great gate between Ichibanyōshi and Keishutsu; another bars the way from Keishutsu to the trio of districts held by the Mitsugao.

The Keshimasu and Soroemasu gangs are battling over Keishutsu; I will end their conflict by annihilating both gangs. And there’s an evil merchant who’s fomenting some kind of conflict between Migaku and Keishutsu. I don’t know what he’s getting out of it, and I don’t care. He’s one of my targets; therefore, he is not long for this world.

Finally, there’s the local Shimasu clan in Denyūmado. They’re small-time, but they’ll have to go, too. All resistance must be pacified.

Even as I’ve been scouting, I’ve already had to take down a few folks who got in my way. The Chitai gang, in Ichibanyōshi, are no longer an issue; neither are the Kōza. For that matter, the Machigaeru may be ready to retreat from here (though I’m sure they’ll just crop up again in some other city).

Let’s see how fast I can do this. The streets of Ichimen are about to run very red. The body count will make Kuwabatake Sanjūrō envious.

A Busy Week

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

On Monday, I spoke to the Keitai Team about the tacticsCross-Site Scripting and Cross-Site Request Forgery flaws, and the kinds of attacks that can target themCross-Site Scripting and Cross-Site Request Forgery flaws, and the kinds of attacks that can target them and fighting styles of the Ayamari and the Hakkā clan, and how we can most effectively defeat them. Some of the measures we should take are things that the samurai would have to do in the forests and hillsides, but there are some important things we city fighters should be aware of, too. The other warriors seemed to appreciate my knowledge.

One in particular, named Satonori, had many other useful points to add. I have not mentioned him before, but he is skilled, and he has obviously been studying Hakkā tactics.

In the meantime, my week is flying by far too quickly. Seijun has alerted me to a series of enemies in Ichimen. I must identify and neutralize them by next Friday. Today I’m scouting, discovering who they are and where they’re located. Then I can strike hard and fast, and mop them up quickly. But that will have to wait for next week.

This weekend, there is a major celebration in Iga Province that Akane and I must prepare for. I’ll be leaving Ichimen earlier than usual. Then when I return on Monday, I’ll have to be as efficient and deadly on the rooftops as I’ve ever been before.

頑張ります!Pronounced “Ganbarimasu!”, this is Japanese for “I will do my best”, or “I will persevere and not give up”. It could even be likened, slightly, to “Charge!”Pronounced “Ganbarimasu!”, this is Japanese for “I will do my best”, or “I will persevere and not give up”. It could even be likened, slightly, to “Charge!”

Clan Noriaibasha Makes an Offer

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Late on Friday afternoon, I was preparing for my presentation on Hakkā attacks when Kento asked to speak with me. Of course, I am always ready for such things; he is my captain. But I was not ready for him to lead me away to one of the private chambers of the castle. What could he want?, I wondered.

He wanted to ask me if I would be interested in becoming a full member of Clan Noriaibasha.

I asked him for more details. Would I spend more time at the castle? Would the clan’s physicians be able to tend to Akane as well as me? What other arrangements would change?

It is likely that I would have to spend more time at the castle, but not much. (This could be changed if only we could find a few competent warriors to pick up the load.) Also, I would have more holiday time. The clan’s physicians would be able to care for Akane, which is a good thing.

I would no longer be in the same chamber with Ginsaku and Fumiaki and Chifumi; I would have my own chambera cubicle, not a full office… but a cube with pretty high wallsa cubicle, not a full office… but a cube with pretty high walls and locker.

I still must inquire about how much gold I might earn. If Noriaibasha no longer has to pay the upkeep of the Shomei-gumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi., they may be able to save money while paying me more.

Regardless, this is a very good thing. I have been thinking of it over the weekend, and I have checked in with my contact at Shomei. I will shortly go to Kento and tell him: Yes.

In the meantime, there are other things afoot, of which I must write soon.

Learning Living Stone Style With the Manrikigusari

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I have lately been studying Living Stone kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts. using the manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
. Very few chain-fighters even realize that you can use it in a Living Stone style. The more advanced warriors among us know that it’s possible, but I myself haven’t bothered to do so. Well, except back when I was at Clan Nettobuku, where Jimon and Bunmei insisted on doing everything in the Living Stone ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.… but that was when we were using the Mūtou grappling hook, which made it much easier.

So I have been studying, and yesterday I spoke to Ginsaku about it. A good thing I did, because he said he has been studying a scroll by a sage from Clan Yamazaru. Yamazaru was once the mightiest of the clans to come from the city of Ōtsu, in Ōmi Province, until they were eclipsed by Clan Tokugawa and its superior strategies. But Yamazaru is still a force to be reckoned with, and more importantly, they still have the esteemed Kurokkufōdo-senseiIn schools and universities, “teacher” or “professor”. In martial arts, it still means “teacher”, but has more overtones of “master”. A term of respect.In schools and universities, "teacher" or "professor". In martial arts, it still means "teacher", but has more overtones of "master". A term of respect. among their ranks. Kurokkufōdo-sensei was among the first to recognize that the lowly chain, despised by most fighters, could be a truly effective weapon; the mere fact that Ginsaku’s scroll is by one of Kurokkufōdo-sensei’s colleagues makes it worth taking seriously.

And so I am studying it, and learning. But soon I must rejoin Seijun and his samurai team in Ichimen; while they work in the streets, I must clear off the rooftops. With my chain. It’s just the sort of work I love.

In the meantime, I have a message from my contact among the Shomei-gumi this morning. He wants to know what is wrong with the warriors they have sent, and how they can be improved. I have told him, quite honestly, that knowledge of the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. is not enough. We need fighters who know how to use the manrikigusari, even if it has no grappling hook. We need warriors who understand the very basics of footwork, of attack and defense — the fundamentals of fighting. Far too many “fighters” know only one or two attacks by rote, and perhaps one block, and no dodges. And when they have exhausted those few moves, they have nothing left, no adaptability.

My Own Scroll Is Well-Received

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Now that Seijun and his team are working in Ichimen, I’ve been keeping myself busy with some other tasks. One of the other small teams within Clan Noriaibasha, called the Anzen Team, has produced a scroll intended to show us how to defend against attacks by the Ayamari, and by the evil Hakkāyes, this is how you say “hacker” in Japaneseyes, this is how you say "hacker" in Japanese bandits who are known to attack all other clans.

Their scroll describes some things we should do to keep ourselves safe from Hakkā attacks… but it never describes what the attacks are, which means we have no idea why this scroll is giving us these particular commands. For example, if a we’ve delivered a successful blow to a Hakkā that leaves him in a sideways stance, why should we immediately jump back? Would it not be useful to press the advantage while we have it?

So I have spent the past few days scouting and silently observing the Ayamari and the Hakkā, as well as reading some other sages’ writings about those groups’ tactics. And I have learned many things about their fighting styles. For example, the Hakkā fighters are quite adept at something called the Cross-Body Hidden GrabCross-Site Request ForgeryCross-Site Request Forgery… which is performed from a sideways stance, and this explains why we should jump back if we see that: It will keep us from getting grabbed.

So I have distilled the things I’ve learned, and written a scroll of my own. Instead of simply saying “Do this. Don’t do that.”, I have described the moves we can expect to face, as one fighter to another.

Yesterday, I sent copies of my scroll to Ginsaku and to my commander, Kento. Kento soon told me that this was very good work, and could I please also send it to the other fighters on the Keitai Team. And Ginsaku says that perhaps I do some more explanations next Monday, when we have our weekly team meeting of the Keitai warriors.

I am flattered and honored. I shall be well-prepared for my presentation.

In the meantime, however, I must interview another prospective candidate for clan-membership this afternoon. He is another one from the Shomei-gumi“group”Japanese for “group”; can refer to anything from a “five-person group” (a common work-unit in Japanese corporations) up to an entire branch of the Yakuza such as the Yamaguchi-gumi., so I hope he will prove able to complete the Three-and-Five Strike, and so bring more honor to my gumi.