Posts Tagged ‘training/learning’

Back From Hiroshima

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I have returned from Hiroshima and the warriors’ gathering. It was quite an experience, and I am still trying to understand all that I learned and experienced.

There were many others there, from skilled mercenaries to ascetic monks to peasant fighters, and I spent much time meeting new people and exchanging stories and sparring with them. In the evenings, there were grand carousing sessions at the inns.

When I returned to Hoshiakari and Akane, I was quite exhausted.

Since then, the past few days at Castle Noriaibasha have been extremely busy. In my absence, it seems one of the nobles decreed that it is not sufficient that we take the region of Zaiseikyōiku. We must also capture the nearby territory called Kihonzaisei. This is a substantial new undertaking, and our schedule is already tight.

This is not made any easier by the large number of meetings I must attend to come back up to speed on the current situation. Makishi and his group want some more of the gangs who lurk in our target towns eradicated. Sakito was supposed to have made inroads in Zaiseikyōiku, but he has been busy with other campaigns.

In the meantime, the yamabushiThe yamabushi were (and still are) a group of mystical ascetics who live high in the mountains, practicing a nature-based spiritual path called Shugendō. In the world of the ninja coder, they’re invaluable to any clan that aims to conquer more than a tiny territory, because their knowledge of the trails and mountain passes is critical for moving troops and supplies from place to place. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man.Mystical mountain warriors who know the trails and passes in the mountains, and can help clans move troops and supplies around. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man. woman, Kaoru, is continuing her katana course. I missed one session when I was away in Hiroshima, and then there was another when I had just returned and was still too tired from my journeys. I do not know if I can ever catch up. I do not know if I will even try. I have too many other things I must spend my time and energy on without trying to learn the katana right now.

A ninja’s life is very busy.

I Am Honored to Go to a Warriors’ Gathering

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In every town and city in Nippon, in these days of eternal strife, one can find the Mōjin fightersaccessibility issues and outright accessibility bugsaccessibility issues and outright accessibility BUGS. They are always ready to attack an unwary warrior. Like ninjas, they like to operate in stealth; they will never attack a target who has his wits about him. It is only the unwary who fall prey to their surprises.

But how to be on guard against them? Their tactics are strange, and their ways unknown to most fighters.

There will be a gathering of warriors and strategists soon, to discuss this very question. Many sages, fighting monks, and senseiA Japanese word for “teacher”, though it is also often used in the specific sense of “teacher of martial arts”.A Japanese word for “teacher”, though it is also often used in the specific sense of “teacher of martial arts”.s will be there, ready to teach and explain the techniques they have developed. It is some distance to travel, for the gathering is in Hiroshima, on the shore of the Seto Inland Sea, far west of Kansai.

We cannot send all of the fighters on the Keitai team to this gathering (much though we wish we could!). Kento regrets that he cannot go. But I am one of the warriors who had been honored by being chosen to go and represent Clan Noriaibasha. Along with Satonori, I am instructed to train and learn, and bring back the teachings to Tsukimi’s team.

Along with us two ninjas, the clan is also sending Jun-ichi the scout, who has shown himself to be quite expert at spotting the Mōjin, and his friend Daichi, a monk of the Amidist branch of Buddhism, sworn to serve the needs of the poor and dispossessed.

Thought Jun-ichi and Daichi will be helpful, still Satonori and I are the only warriors attending from Noriaibasha. Being chosen is an honor, and it shows that I am well-regarded.

Trying the Katana, One Last Time

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Back when I was a yamabushiThe yamabushi were (and still are) a group of mystical ascetics who live high in the mountains, practicing a nature-based spiritual path called Shugendō. In the world of the ninja coder, they’re invaluable to any clan that aims to conquer more than a tiny territory, because their knowledge of the trails and mountain passes is critical for moving troops and supplies from place to place. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man.Mystical mountain warriors who know the trails and passes in the mountains, and can help clans move troops and supplies around. The word “yamabushi” is both singular and plural; it can mean the group or a single mountain man., I met a woman named Kaoru, who also followed the Way of ShugendōThe mystical path or religion practiced by the yamabushi.The mystical path or religion practiced by the yamabushi.. She is from the Kōga region, just north of Iga Province. She and I were never of the same band of yamabushi, but we got along well, and have occasionally stayed in touch.

Recently, I heard that she was to begin teaching some basic classes in the use of the katana. I once tried to learn to use that noble blade, back when I first began my path as a warrior. I have since discovered that my own natural inclinations lean much more toward other weapons, such as the 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”., sansetsukonA three-sectional staff. Looks vaguely like a nunchaku with an extra section. Famously used as an intimidation technique by one of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, who smiled evilly and then folded it up into a coat-hanger.

Three-sectional staff; weapon that looks like a nunchaku with three sticks instead of two., and 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.)
. But I still feel that I failed by not learning the katana.

Today she started her course, and I have decided I will give it one more try. But if my life becomes too busy, I will give myself permission to leave the class, and not consider it dishonor. After all, I have so many other things I must do, as well!

(Such as my Kongōshu style. I must continue working on that…)

My Chain Is Still Mighty

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I have spent the past few weeks mostly scouting, lurking in alleyways and reconnoitering territories in Sanigata. On the rare occasions when I’ve found enemies who must be removed, it has been a simple task to slay them with 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..

Aside from those few, occasional instances of combat, I have spent much time in meetings with Clan Hekoayu.

Yesterday, I spent hours doing kama practice, learning the hikichigaido maneuver, trying to understand it — or at least make it work correctly. Having reached the point where I can follow it by rote, I went back to Yokuaru Shitsumon this morning. There is a warrior there who I needed to kill, for the good of my clan.

After much waiting and lurking, I finally spotted him. Quickly, in my mind, I recalled the motions of the hikichigaido attack. As he drew close to me, I sprang from my concealment and attacked with my kama.

He blocked the first strike, but the hikichigaido is a two-part attack. With my left hand brushing across his eyes, I whirled and completed the maneuver… leaving him dead at my feet!

I was slightly surprised that it had worked. I was even more surprised to see two of his allies coming toward me — and one of them pulling a 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.
from his belt!

It has been too long since I got to use my chain skills. I am afraid I may have gone a bit overboard… both of my attackers were on the ground in moments. I made a quick getaway, knowing that Yokuaru Shitsumon is now safe for our forces.

The only way that could have been better is if I’d had an excuse to use the rooftops. Sadly, Yokuaru Shitsumon is one of the small towns of Sanigata; there’s just no point.

Between Campaigns This Week

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Between Campaigns This Week

The Shiemesu Raisei campaign is starting off with activity in the forests and mountains, so my skills are not needed… yet. Both I and my fellow ninja, Makishi, are instructed to practice the Chiri-dō style and be ready for next week.

However, there is a limit to what we can practice, for we have none of the strange mainland swords that are useful in the Chiri-dō’s odd style. In the meantime, I have caught up on reading certain training scrolls. I should now be qualified to battle armored enemies without being caughtI’m all checked out on "secure coding"I’m all checked out on "secure coding" in the back by surprise.

Also, one of the clan’s ikebanaThe Zen art of flower arrangement.The Zen art of flower arrangement. masters, a woman named Sachi, came to ask for my help in dispatching a 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.-wielding enemy in Ise Province. Ise is quiet, restful, and very pretty, but also some distance to travel.

After the chaos and stress of the previous month, it was nice to see the countryside as I went to find my target.

A Week Full of Training

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

This week, I am assigned to learn about the Chiri-dō ryūA school, tradition, or style in martial arts., which is a strange and complicated fighting style that we will be using in the Shiemesu Raisei campaign. Every morning, I must arrive bright and early at a castle owned by one of our allies, where they train us in the courtyard for hours. It is grueling and unpleasant training, but my orders are to learn. If we do not understand this fighting style, we will not be able to even begin our campaign, much less succeed.

Makishi is with me, and we occasionally amuse ourselves with comments and criticisms of the Chiri-dō’s failings. Truly, it also has many powerful moves and promotes many excellent strategies. But we see some ways in which we wish it could be improved.

I am very busy this week, and the training gives me little time to write any of these tales. Perhaps I may manage to send a few short messages soon, but I cannot guarantee it.

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!”

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.

My First Days at Noriaibasha

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I have now done three days with the armies of Clan Noriaibasha. The pace of life in such a huge clan is very different from that with a small, fresh clan like Tenya or Nettobuku. Even their castle is so large that I know I will never learn the names and faces of all the people in it… and this is but one of the many castles that Clan Noriaibasha has built.

They tell me it will be some time before the armorers can issue me a 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.. In the meantime, I perform what missions I can with 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. — though this clan does not think in terms of missions that take a few hours or a day, so much as in terms of entire campaigns that take many months. One such campaign is still taking shape, and will involve action in Settsu Province as well as some coordination with Clan Zenbutsura. There is a meeting tomorrow to discuss strategy for this campaign, which I am ordered to attend.

Indeed, there are a great many meetings at Clan Noriaibasha. This is no surprise, but it does bear some mention, as it is a great difference from the small upstarts I’m used to. This afternoon, for example, I spent more time in one single meeting than I would have in an entire week at Clan Tenya or Clan Nettobuku.

That meeting was to plan the strategy against a group called the Narisumashi. I have already been dispatched to take down some of their minor members, using my kama. I did so this afternoon, then reported back to my captain, a man named Kento. He is generally satisfied with my performance, but says I should talk to another fighter named Akinori about the Narisumashi’s tactics, and I should check with the priestess Sachi to ensure that I am proceeding in righteousness and harmony.

We never checked in with such priestesses at Clan Tenya. We didn’t even have any such, until a few days before I left the clan. (Even then, her view of the Way seemed… cloudy and subject to change. But I have no wish to speak ill of others’ skills.)

Tomorrow, I will speak with Akinori and with Sachi. And soon, I will gain access to the armory and be issued a wakizashi, and become a more useful member of Clan Noriaibasha.