ninja_coder: (Default)
( Jul. 9th, 2009 03:32 pm)
For many years now, starting with my time with Clan Iwinaga, I have been largely cast in the role of a city fighter, working on rooftops with my chain and grappling hook. When employed by clans and armies, it's always been other people who fight in the mountains or the forests. Alternatively, there are times when I work on my own projects, and fight with the ninja-to wherever I can. When I was with the Totemo Akarui-gumi, I mostly fought alone; even if I knew Amon was battling other foes somewhere else, I couldn't actually see him doing so.

Over the past two days with the Yaneura-gumi, however, I have been working alongside a man named Teruyoshi. While I've been doing Pagoda Bearer style work with my ninja-to, he has been leaping from rooftop to rooftop, whirling his manrikigusari and grappling hook about. It's quite an interesting change.

Of course, the fact that I also know grappling-hook styles has made me that much more effective in supporting his efforts. We've been working well together. It is refreshing and pleasant.
ninja_coder: (Default)
( Jun. 23rd, 2009 12:52 pm)
The Yaneura-gumi supplies their own ninja-tos. They use a Buddhist hilt-wrapping style, instead of the Shinto type I'm more accustomed to, so the sword feels strange and awkward in my hand. And, unlike most of my recent ventures, I have actually been assigned to forest duty, not work in the cities or towns.

In a way, this is most refreshing.

Despite the unfamiliar ninja-to, I am performing satisfactorily. I have hunted down and slain the enemies assigned to me, and will receive another assignment after lunch.

This will only be for a week, but the gold will be useful for Akane and myself.
All that I attempt goes awry. Have I angered Bishamonten? I must certainly go to His temple and make offerings, for every step I perform in the Pagoda Bearer style today is off balance, or malformed somehow. A bitter, evil wind is blowing from the northeast, the demon gate that lets evil in.

I must make offerings. I must re-sharpen my sword. And I must continue to persevere. The enemies that now seem so invincible — soon I will find a way to slay them. The ninja endures; the ninja perseveres.
As usual, the Totemo Akarui-gumi had its ninja meeting today. Daichi was a bit tired after a late-night mission last night.

There is little left to be done for Clan Kuruma-no-Danshaku, until they determine what the next stage of their strategy will be. Apparently we have been quite successful in removing all opposition to their initial goals, but they may acquire new enemies in a while.

I have a new mission, which concerns the gumi's own internal ryū. It is a style which attempts to mimic the famed Jōgesen school of sansetsukon fighting, except with a ninja-to. Our form is not as polished, of course, but it has seen some use already in our battles on behalf of Clan Sanatsui and the Phantom Dance-gumi. But we have realized something our ryū lacks, and which it needs:

The ability to be used with a poisoned blade.

I have been given the task of adding such an ability to our gumi's fighting style. We are also trying to find a good name for this style; "Totemo Akarui-ryū" doesn't quite seem to work, and besides, there is some possibility of changing the gumi's name, too.

At any rate... such a mission should keep me busy for a few days.
Having slaughtered a great many adversaries for clients such as Clan Seikatsu-sanbyakugojū and the Yūrei-no-Hitosashi-gumi (or "Phantom Dance" gumi)... I am now staking out the Castle of Lord Joukyū for the Daiyokaru monks.

It seems that the Daiyokaru's problems frequently involve powerful daimyō who have impenetrable fortresses. Perhaps the monks simply have their own ways of dealing with lesser foes, and only require the aid of ninjas when all other avenues are exhausted?

Regardless, I have determined that fulfilling this task will require a careful knowledge of the Shibishiarema branch of the Shizuka-ryū style. I am studying this path, and it is most perplexing. It seems I may need the kata called Heavenly Clouds Moving in a Group.

Looking deeper into the ways of this ryū, I see that this move is actually based on one called Heavenly Clouds Take Form. That, in turn, is based on the move called Storm Clouds Take Form.

Which, in its own turn, is based on one called Clouds Ascending Like Dragons. I have little doubt that when I learn more, I will see that Clouds Ascending Like Dragons is based on something else — Dragon Spits Fire, perhaps, or Dragon Needs Food, Badly.

In the meantime, I must get back to Iga, for I have a vase of shōchū that my friend Junna desperately needs, after the struggles of her own day. The Shibishiarema ryū will just have to wait.
I have just spoken with a man from a small clan in Nara, who are seeking a ninja with sansetsukon and Jōgesen skills. Sadly, it seems they want someone with much more skill in these matters than I have. I was asked about the Three-Headed Dragon ryū, which I understand fairly well, but then when asked about FOO and Ghost Fighting techniques, I had to admit that I have not yet used these aspects of the sansetsukon.

My latest ninja-to kata have been coming along nicely, and so it is nearly time for me to switch my focus back to Jōgesen practice. I must work harder, and make sure my skills are at their highest peak. The winter is likely to be long and hard, and Akane is counting on me.
I have not made a report for quite some time. As I wrote before, my time with Clan Nettobuku is done, and not by my choice.

I returned to Castle Nettobuku to inform Commander Kobushi and Lord Tai of my decision, and to take my leave of the other clan-members. Everyone seemed sorry to see me go. (Jimon was not there that day.) Daigo, in particular, seemed quite stunned and somewhat upset.

Kobushi and Tai were both pleased by my professionalism, and promised to give good report of me to any other clans that might ask. They say that the campaigns Nettobuku has engaged in, and the skills required of me, have been completely different from what I originally was told. As true as this may be, however, I feel that the ability to adapt to unexpected and changing circumstances is a necessary skill for a ninja. My failure to do so disturbs me greatly.

Shortly after leaving the castle for the last time, I became ill, and spent two weeks recovering. Since then, I have been in Henshukoku, practicing my skills.

I have reconsecrated the town's shrine to Bishamonten. I have cleared out some space in the yard of the house I share with Akane, and set up some practice dummies that I can use to practice strikes against. The yard now qualifies as a small dōjō of its own, set up for practice of both sansetsukon and ninja-to kata as well as the weighted chain. (I'm still in good shape with the chain... but I've gotten very rusty at using the Pirōto-style hook, which is far more popular than the Mūtou-style that Nettobuku favored.)

I have set myself a training regime, and I spend part of each day doing kata and drills. I have been converting one of my ninja-to kata into the Living Stone style, for a firm grounding in the Living Stone ryū is an absolute necessity. I have also been learning the art of poisoning my weapons, and adapting my kata to take account for the poison's effects.

And I go every day to Yagyū, to spend time in the inns and hiring halls where messengers from the martial clans and armies come to recruit skilled warriors for Nihon's never-ending battles and war campaigns. But right now, everyone is preparing for o-shōgatsu, so there are no messengers to be found. I can only hope that things will improve once the holidays are over.
I spent part of my weekend practicing more kata with the ninja-ken, only to discover that there may soon be a massive upheaval in the ranks of the ninjas. The news is traveling far and wide that the weaponsmiths have made decisions that will make it awkward to use the new batch of ninja-ken. Even the yamabushi have heard about it, and are looking at us with some mixture of sympathy and pity.

But there are still a great many clans that rely on ninjas. Not just ninjas, but ninjas who use the Pagoda Bearer school of ninja-ken fighting. Awkward or not, I'd best make sure I'm still skilled with it.

In the meantime, I have also paid another visit to Ōtsu, and am quickly getting acquainted with the new order of things there, under Lord Mitsuhiro. The local underworld is thriving, and there are many contacts and "people of interest" that I should befriend. The rooftops are still as inviting as ever for a ninja. And, while it doesn't actually affect my work in any important way, it's nice to see that there are a few new okonomiyaki stands where I can grab a bite to eat between assignments.

Back at work for Clan Nettobuku now, I have some difficult enemies to deal with in Hikone — it seems some real opposition is developing in the Ātosugijei district... and once I deal with them, Bunmei is busy with quite a few Ayamari, and could use an assist...
ninja_coder: (ninja coder writing)
( Oct. 24th, 2008 01:27 pm)
I have improved my knowledge of the clan's new and special kata, so that I no longer feel that I am useless to Clan Nettobuku. Yesterday, I was even able to aid Bunmei by taking out one of the targets he was too busy to handle on his own.

In Henshukoku, I have been continuing with my ninja-ken kata, ensuring that I am still adept with it in case I find a clan that needs blade-work instead of sansetsukon experts. For now, I am doing my kata in the Journey of a Thousand Steps ryū, so that later I can revise the whole sequence into the style of the Living Stone school and compare the differences.

However, I am already starting to figure out some ways to use acrobatic rolls and other defensive techniques that are new to me. Not all the time, but I've managed to slip a few in here and there, and I'm getting better at them. This is a good thing, as more fighting groups are starting to see the uses of acrobatics.

At Clan Nettobuku... in addition to Benjirō, who joined us just over a week ago, we will soon be adding another ninja. He is a young, untested fighter named Saimei. He seems likable enough, but I am not sure that he has enough experience in dealing with larger teams. When the new year comes, I look forward to finding a different clan.

And I am revisiting Ōtsu, to see how the city has changed under the new Lord Mitsuhiro's rulership. The rooftops are as flat and inviting as ever, and I think it will be a most excellent place to practice my skills.


ninja_coder: (Default)


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