Sunday, December 28, 2008

LARPs and LRRPs


This is true, but it's a bit of a fable...

The Bujinkan gets a lot of heat for the ninja connection. The detractors like to throw the insulting label "LARPers" around. "LARP" stands for "live action role play." If you're not familiar with the term, it's like crossing Dungeons and Dragons with a Renaissance Festival and taking it all to another level. The Society for Creative Anachronism is one kind of LARP.

Obviously, the allegation is that Bujinkan folks are dressing up like 16th Century Japanese assasins and pretending.

"We" tend to resent this. Though many of "us" don't help our cause.

And let me briefly mention at this point that our "unbroken" lineage to 34 generations of ninja masters is disputed by many historians, and not all of them have an axe to grind regarding the issue. The fact seems to be that the paperwork isn't there. "We" tend to argue that there are lots of reasons why the paperwork doesn't match-up: some are good reasons, and some are bad reasons. I've become somewhat agnostic on this particular point. Intellectual honesty demands that I admit the paperwork isn't all together for an independent verification. On the other hand, practice of the techniques identified as ninjutsu leads me to believe something had to be there for Takamatsu. I'll leave it to more qualified minds to prove or disprove whether or not he collected the techniques, expanded on the techniques, or invented the techniques out of thin air.

While there are kata associated with Togakure Ryu, there are also techniques for silent walking. Now these are not described in kata -- at least as they have been taught to me. Silent walking is usually passed on as a series of suggestions or guidance on how to move by subtly shifting your weight and minimizing sound. In order to really master these methods, you have to practice them.

I once taught the silent walking methods to a Vietnam veteran. Back in the day, he was a LRRP. Now "LRRP" should most definitely not be confused with "LARP." LRRP stands for Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol. Soldiers volunteering for LRRP units snuck into enemy-held territory and searched for enemy units. Then they would radio in for artillery, or air strikes, or more conventional infantry. Silence and stealth was their trade. Since they usually deployed in very small teams and specifically sought out much larger bodies of troops, they tried to avoid being found at all costs.

So this old LRRP listened carefully as I briefed him on the "ninja" walking methods. I explained to him that practice was essential, and that I did not claim to have them mastered. He told me the methods were very similar to what he'd been trained to do, or learned by trial and error, in the jungles of Vietnam. Of course, this makes sense, since the human body moves only so many different ways. Not long after this quick training, he was silently sneaking across the mat. Despite the years and mileage, his body quickly relearned the old habits and he was the quietest of any of us.

Learning to walk quietly does not make a person a ninja, any more than it makes them a LRRP. Nor is it an essential martial arts skill -- though I'd suggest it has certain benefits. But if I go out to the park to practice walking silently through the grass, am I LARPing? Or is it only if I put on my AWMA-supplied Shinobi Shozoku (with two piece mask) and hide in the woods?

What about if I throw around blinding powder? Who can deny that learning to blind an opponent is not a useful combative skill? But I'm not denying that I'm LARPing if I play dress up at the same time.

There's a really thin line here. And I think it is all too easy to cross.

10 comments:

mark lane kingsley said...

You have got to be shi%ing me jrf. Of course practicing ninja walking in the park is LARPing. Practicing any martial art in the park in public view is LARPing(except tai chi, I suppose).

But that's OK if you like LARPing. I like LARPing. At my new Bujinkan school, we go way out over the edge and take all of our rank tests in klingon. It ROCKS!

jrf said...

See, this is my question, just where are the LARP boundaries?

Why do you believe any practice of martial arts in public is LARPing? Does that include pro-fights?

If I'm conciously practicing "ninja" walking, then yeah, I'm LARPing.

If I'm practing quiet stepping and shifting my weight slower, for an overall effect of silent movement... Am I LARPing?

Are you sure? Just because it may not fit your view of martial arts does not make it LARPing.

I've had conversations with Traditional Martial Artists who see some value in the quiet stepping and practice it themselves, even if the movement or the goal (in my case: "sneaking across a floor") is not the same. Quiet stepping promotes more control, better movement, and even a certain degree of elegance. Which is one reason why "quiet" movement is also a goal in other movement disciplines -- for example, ballet.

Of course, if all you want to do is beat people up, then practicing anything other than punching, kicking and strangling is a waste of your time.

I'm looking for articulated viewpoints here, not easy attacks invoking "klingons." I suppose there is nothing in your own practice that smacks of LARPing? Like maybe wearing the same brand of fight shorts or t-shirt line as your favorite pro-fighter? If you're going to comment, offer up something to really chew on.

jrf said...

"Mark Lane Kingsley Says:

October 26th, 2008 at 10:13 am
I should not do this, and will deny it if pressed but I cannot leave this unattended. My name is Mark L. Kingsley. I am a bonty hunter from the year 2082. I work for the NAPG ( North American Provincial Goverment). You all are on the right track but there are alot of things that you are not looking at and the “end” as it were came and went in 2014 ( the Mayans were not far off). But it was not due to the things you are writing of here.Recycling plastic and aluminium lead to the change. I know it sounds stupid, but that is what the Huntington Commission found in the investigation. Please, stop recycling. Spread the word.Save yourselves."

I found this googling the name attached to the comment. Maybe he really does practice Klingon Ninjutsu...

This is my own fault for letting the blog sit so long. :-(

James Tiberius Kirk said...

Did someone say that there are Klingons here?

Anonymous said...

Didn't realize training in public view had a name, let alone an acronym. That's cool.

mlk said...

Is that the sound of a nerve being hit?

So I like to screw with the conspiracy freaks AND the martial arts LARPers.So what?

True warriors train for war and make war. Hence the WAR in WARrior.

Computer programmers and shoe salesmen dressed in their ninja suits practicing in the park or throwing each other on a mat dressed in their karate pajamas are not really warriors. Neither are the MMA meatheads. The only thing MMA has done is given bald men a venue to act cool. Don't take yourself too seriously jrf.

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
A real gangsta-ass nigga plays his cards right
A real gangsta-ass nigga never runs his fuckin mouth
Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas don't start fights
And niggas always gotta high cap
Showin' all his boys how he shot em
But real gangsta-ass niggas don't flex nuts
Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em
And everythings cool in the mind of a gangsta
Cuz gangsta-ass niggas think deep
Up three-sixty-five a year 24/7
Cuz real gangsta ass niggas don't sleep

And all I gotta say to you
Wannabe, gonnabe, cocksuckin', pussy-eatin' prankstas
Cuz when the fry dies down what the fuck you gonna do
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Feedin' the poor and hepin out wit they bills
Although I was born in Jamaica
Now I'm in the US makin' deals
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
I mean one that you don't really know
Ridin' around town in a drop-top Benz
Hittin' switches in my black six-fo'
Now gangsta-ass niggas come in all shapes and colors
Some got killed in the past
But this gangtsa here is a smart one
Started living for the lord and I'll last

Now all I gotta say to you
Wannabe, gonnabe, pussy-eatin' cocksuckin' prankstas
When the shit jumps off what the fuck you gonna do
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta


Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
A real gangta-ass nigga knows the play
Real gangsta-ass niggas get the flyest of the bitches
Ask that gangsta-ass nigga Little Jake
Now bitches look at gangsta-ass niggas like a stop sign
And play the role of Little Miss Sweet
But catch the bitch all alone get the digit take her out
and then dump-hittin' the ass with the meat
Cuz gangsta-ass niggas be the gang playas
And everythings quiet in the clique
A gangsta-ass nigga pulls the trigger
And his partners in the posse ain't tellin' off shit
Real gangsta-ass niggas don't talk much
All ya hear is the black from the gun blast
And real gangsta-ass niggas don't run for shit
Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas can't run fast
Now when you in the free world talkin' shit do the shit
Hit the pen and let the mothafuckas shank ya
But niggas like myself kick back and peep game
Cuz damn it feels good to be a gangsta

And now, a word from the President!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Gettin voted into the White House
Everything lookin good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down
like lettin' a big drug shipment through
And send 'em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who
So voters of the world keep supportin' me
And I promise to take you very far
Other leaders better not upset me
Or I'll send a million troops to die at war
To all you Republicans, that helped me win
I sincerely like to thank you
Cuz now I got the world swingin' from my nuts
And damn it feels good to be a gangsta

Happy LARPing jrf

jrf said...

A nerve, MLK? Hardly. Your posts here and elsewhere make it clear you're a troll. The only reason I give you any attention is that it occasionally serves my own purposes.

I'm not real keen on your taste in poetry, but if all this really amuses you that much, troll on, mighty keyboard warrior.

mlk said...

Actually, I did dress as a troll once during a d & d game. Very estute doll toucher. Diddler of child like toys. But is that any different than dressing in black pajamas(bdus) and swinging a naginata around and paying top coin for a computer geek to show you real killer silent karate moves?It's all LARPing my friend. As for craving attention... who's blog is this and who is writing it again? And besides, you know I'm right anyway! Do you ever wear your kung fu jammies to bed? Or maybe when you are painting your barbies? Nothing personal mr. skywalker but the metaclorians will stunt your growth and keep you from getting laid. nanoo nanoo.

jrf said...

Maybe I should stop touching your nerve... I feel all dirty.

mlk said...

My nerve is REALLY big. Just try to stop touching it sir.