Posts Tagged ‘professionalism’

Do Not Make a Ninja Angry. You Wouldn’t Like Him When He’s Angry.

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Someone in Clan Hekoayu needs to die. Possibly multiple someones.

For some weeks now, they have been providing us maps outlining the territories we’re supposed to be capturing and subduing. In many places, these maps are extremely detailed. This is no coincidence: It is because we specifically required them to give us very detailed maps. After all, we are the ones who will have to operate in these territories, waging life-or-death battles.

Yesterday, I was in Zaiseikyōiku, following the map I had been given. It claimed that the little alley past the marketplace was an excellent shortcut to the back window of the Iron Monkey inn, one of the more important taverns in town. Being able to sneak in the back could be quite important.

Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when I went down the alley and found a small building up against the back wall of the inn — completely covering the window. Imagine also that it was nothing compared to my surprise and annoyance at finding that the building housed a group of thugs affiliated with one of the gangs of the town center.

Luckily, they were also startled by appearance. Luckily, I have much practice in quick-draw techniques, and was able to pull out my 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. and defend myself before the first one’s attack could strike me. And luckily, I was able to escape unharmed.

Whoever produced this map should not be so lucky.

I spent the rest of the afternoon checking other details. There is a place where the map says the gap between two buildings is eight feet wide. It is actually ten feet. If I had attempted to leap that gap unprepared, I could easily have fallen to the street below, risking broken bones or even death.

I have reported the problem to Amon, Makishi, Kento — and of course, to Sakito, who is the only other actual ninja in the field, and who is hence relying on these maps just as much as I am. I have urged them to escalate matters to the priests and the nobles, and to ensure that someone has harsh words with Hekoayu.

For now, we cannot trust anything in these maps. It seems that at least nine parts out of any ten are correct. In any ten claims that the map makes, only one is incorrect. But which one?

The Ninja Perseveres, Even Despite Sickness

Monday, February 13th, 2012

This weekend would have been quite pleasant, except that I got sick during it. I tried for some time to tell myself that I was not ill. “It is merely allergies,” I claimed, as I sniffled and blew my nose.

This morning, it was impossible to deny that I have been afflicted by a cold of some sort. But it was also impossible to deny that I must come to Castle Noriaibasha, get my 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., and then go off to Ogaribamen and see how many enemies I can kill. It is critical that I make as much progress as I can, for tomorrow, I must return to the Emperor’s court, and operations in Sanigata are about to fall behind schedule.

So I am here today. Despite the rain, I left my home and came here to the castle. I have my kama sharpened, and am ready to depart for Ogaribamen, with my straw cloak pulled tightly about me to try to keep me as warm and dry as possible.

It turns out that Sakito is not here today — he is sick. So is Ginsaku. And Kento says he is working elsewhere, at his own home. I can only wonder if perhaps he is afflicted, as well?

No matter. To Ogaribamen I go, and when the day is over, I will go home and Akane says she will make soup for me.

The Uprising In Sakai

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

There was a large peasant uprising in Sakai today — just one part of the ongoing unrest that has gripped all of Izumi Province recently. And as one of the larger and more powerful clans of the province, Clan Noriaibasha was one of the targets of the peasants’ ire.

I arrived to find them gathered in front of the castle, shouting demands and chanting slogans. To be seen entering or leaving the castle would be unwise. Of course, since I am a ninja, I was able to slip past them undetected.

But my heart is heavy at having to do so. I have never been a rich man. I was born and raised in Iga Province, where nearly everyone is a peasant of one sort or another. We are simple folk there, and my heart has always been with the peasants, even as my own fortunes in the world have risen.

In another time, earlier in my life, I would have stood with those peasants, shouting that the rich and powerful must support the poor and weak, not trample them underfoot and use their might to steal what little the people still have left. I still believe those things… but this morning was simply not a time that I could spend making political and philosophical statements. I had to meet with Sakito not long after arriving at the castle. I have duties to my clan-mates, and to Akane.

By the time I went out for lunch, the people had dispersed. I wish I had done something to support them.

Problems With Clan Hekoayu

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Yesterday was full of meetings. First, a variety of clan members met with two representatives from Clan Hekoayu, who are trying to provide guidance on the Saitekika campaign. Then, after lunch, we had a very long session with a man from Clan Eshidieru, the architects of the Chiri-dō ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts.A school, tradition, or style in martial arts.. We asked him how we might use it to achieve the strategies laid out by Hekoayu, and he was able to give us useful guidance.

Then we went to an enkaiA ceremonial drinking party, generally organized by a company or other organization. Though an enkai is done by and for the members of a given company, it’s not held in the company offices; envision a company-sponsored pub-crawl.

See more detailed descriptions of enkai.A ceremonial drinking party, generally organized by a company or other organization. Though an enkai is done by and for the members of a given company, it’s not held in the company offices; envision a company-sponsored pub-crawl. for a clan-member who will soon be having a baby. Much sake was drunk and people were happy. Eventually, most others had left, and Makishi, Amon, and I were able to discuss some of our feelings about the way one of the Hekoayu representatives comports herself.

This woman, named Kimiko, seems very easily flustered by even the simplest questions about the Hekoayu plans. It is as if she expects us to simply accept all their plans with smiles and awed gratitude. But the fate of the entire Saitekika campaign hangs on the soundness, both the harmony and the righteousness, of these plans. If we see flaws, we must point them out.

So far, we have not done so. We have simply asked for clarification, and even that has resulted in her making sour faces and acting disturbed. Yet there are serious flaws we can see, and we are pondering how to diplomatically point them out. Makishi, Amon, and I are warriors; we do not have the silver tongues of Tendai priests.

Perhaps I will discuss my concerns with one of our priests, and see if they can relay the problems to the Hekoayu.

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.

The Last Temptation Before the New Era

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Back in July, I met with one of the nobles and one of the fighters of Clan Ōkiten, who are based in Kamishichiken. This clan operates in the same areas as Clan Iwinaga, so my knowledge would be useful… and they also need ninjas with Pagoda Bearer skill.

But they are very busy and hectic, like a small upstart group, and I am not sure I would thrive there.

Today, I suddenly received a message from their herald. It is not simply a request for another appointment or negotiation; they want to actually offer me a position with the clan. I could use my ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”., not the strangely curved wakizashiThe shorter of the two gracefully curved swords that a samurai carries. Much like the longer katana in shape and style, except short enough to be a one-handed, secondary blade. The wakizashi is effectively the katana’s “baby brother”.

Note that the ninja-tō, the sword most often carried by ninjas, is not a wakizashi. It’s about the same length, but straight rather than curved — and generally of inferior workmanship, as ninjas couldn’t afford the materials or smiths that samurai had access to.The shorter sword of the two that a samurai carries; the “baby brother” of the longer katana. that Noriaibasha would require. I would roam the back streets and alleys of the pleasant Kamishichiken district, and never have to travel to Izumi Province…

But I do not think I would thrive. And negotiations with Noriaibasha are so close to being completely concluded.

I have told Ōkiten no.

And, almost like a blessing from Buddha, a few minutes later I received a message from Megumi, the herald 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.: I can report to Castle Noriaibasha tomorrow to begin my service there.

Your Herald Only Hurts Your Clan’s Cause

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I have just spoken with a man from a clan called Supurānku, who have need of fighters. They are growing quickly; already they are large enough to meet my size requirements easily. But they are still a young clan, and they retain the mentality of one. According to the captain I spoke with, the clan “strives to retain the culture of a small, young, and eager clan.”

This is exactly what I do not need. I told him of my misgivings, and this is a great step for me. Normally, when a clan’s representative tells me that they like my skills and they want to move forward with negotiations, I do not know how to say, “I am honored, but I must respectfully decline, for your clan’s Way and mine are not in alignment.” But I am learning, and I told the captain that I was doubtful.

It only makes me angry then, to have this politeness and professionalism returned by the sudden arrival of one of their heralds, who tried to convince me that I should continue negotiations with Supurānku, and that I will never find an army that gives me what I need. He proved entirely unable to notice my polite statements that we had nothing further to discuss, and I spent far longer talking to him — and listening to his unwanted pep talk — than he deserved.

So even as I am learning to say, professionally, “Your clan is not for me”, it seems I must work harder on learning to say, professionally, “You are irritating me and wasting both our time. You will go away, now.”

When the captain left, my impression of Clan Supurānku was simply that it was a nice enough clan, but not for me. Now, my impression is one of distaste and, honestly, anger. But I have no time for rage; I must put on my tabithe split-toed boots worn by ninjasthe split-toed boots worn by ninjas and prepare to journey into Yagyū, to meet with a man from Clan Kaiketsusaku, who may perhaps be more reasonable.