Welcome back, my wonderful readers!
What a scare factor October was, right?! Now that we’re in a new month I thought I’d start it with a reflection of one of today’s most pressing issues. We all hear of how such turmoil the world is in. ISIS, Syria, etc. It seems to never end, and yet there are so few heroes nowadays. Not to say EVERYONE should be one for EVERY cause, no, that’s just not possible. But we all can do a little heroic act every once in a while. Something as simple as showing a little support by following the blog of someone whose following their passion (hint…hint… Follow button is on bottom right of your screen) can do wonders!
This week we ponder those who possess the physical skills to help put a stop to conflict, and how it could help change the course of things if only implemented.
Shall we get started…:)
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With only three years of training under his belt, yet a very diligent three years at that, seventeen-year-old Tobias was now fifth among the highest-ranking instructors at the dojo. It was a rather informal school, with the black belts who taught preferring to just be called by their first names. This included Philip, a mentor who was more like a father to Tobias than his biological one had ever been. It was a near perfect relationship, with the one discord being their belief in the role of the modern day Ninja.
Philip believed that the art had evolved to where it could bring about harmony through peaceful means. To put a stop to conflict with positive communication, while turning to violence only as a very last resort.
Although it was a wonderful idea, Tobias knew that reality painted a very different picture. The truth of the matter was, the world had more people willing to inflict unspeakable harm upon innocent lives for their own benefit than ever before. And for most of these darkened souls, their intent is so strong that any hope for reason is out of the question. That in order to truly bring about that peace and harmony, those who are fortunate enough to possess the martial skills of yesterday must use it today to help those in need.
Such a debate had recently taken place between the two. A string of ‘vigilante justice’ had made it onto the evening news, and it didn’t take long for Philip to figure out who was behind it. After a lengthy discussion, the young pupil realized he had no chance of changing his mentor’s perception and therefore obediently let the conversation end.
For weeks Tobias tried his best to abide by the rules of the dojo, but it was as if the universe had different plans for him. With no shortage of bullying and street violence often crossing his path, the guilt he felt for trying to ignore such injustice was infinitely stronger than what he felt for going against his teacher’s wishes. And so keeping as low of a profile as possible, the young warrior returned to his destined path of putting a stop to the conflicts which surrounded him.
Tobias’ hidden secret remained such for the next seven years before he found himself summoned to Philip’s office for a meeting among the head instructors. By now he held the third highest ranking in the training hall, with only Philip and Shidoshi Fukushima above him. As the eldest and the only Japanese among all the teachers, Fukushima was a vibrant seventy-years-old, giving the dojo a feeling of authenticity with his very presence.
Over the years, the five heads had turned into nine, forming somewhat of a council, with Philip acting as overseer. Although they had regular monthly meetings, this particular gathering felt a little different, and as it unfolded, proved such.
Philip started off with a variation of the lecture he was known for. His steadfast belief that the modern role of the Ninja was to bring peace through peaceful means, and that the blood that had been shed over the past two-thousand years of the art’s history had been more than enough, stressing the fact that he had worked over the past forty years to help bring that about.
He then turned his attention to the computer behind him, logged onto a video sharing site and proceeded to play a video entitled Real Life Ninja Delivers Justice to Street Thugs. Although Tobias had never seen nor heard of this video before, his nerves gave him a feeling of who would show up on the clip as they all waited for it to download.
A shaky frame started to pick up the action already in progress. Cloaked head to toe in the traditional and oftentimes copied black outfit, the Real Life Ninja took on a half dozen gang members at a darkened bus stop while at the same time shielding a teenage victim. Unaware he was being captured on video, the vigilante broke bones, shattered faces and tore ligaments. Devastating, but not fatal. After all, the young punks were nothing more than puppets at the hands of this skilled warrior. The video ended with some of the hoodlums dragging away the others and a bus arriving just in time to pick up the young victim, the Ninja having vanished when the camera panned back to find nothing but darkness.
Closing the window to the video site, Philip continued his lecture.
“Everyone has video cameras in their pockets nowadays, which is precisely why I have that sign out front preventing cellphones from entering this dojo. Fifty-thousand views and counting. Not only does this type of footage encourage such impressionable young minds to glorify violence, but it also gives the false sense of security that they too can go out there and do this, ignorant of the fact that these skills are a result of years of training. You’re like a son to me, Tobias, and like a frustrated father, I just don’t know how to get through to you.”
With some of the instructors shocked by the revelation that it was actually him on the video, Tobias stood to face his Shidoshi’s disappointment.
“As I’m sure you know in your heart, Shidoshi, not only do I feel such love for you as a father figure, but along with our martial art, I honestly credit you with saving the lives of me and my siblings. But all the gratitude in the world can’t change the fact that Ninjutsu was created for the purpose of bringing a stop to violent conflict by the superior use of both mind and body. To be used to protect those in need. I long for the day when your way will be the way that actually works, but all you have to do to verify we are nowhere near the enlightened world we wish to have is to simply turn on the news. Or walk right outside your front door and down the streets of the city you call home. The truth of the matter is, the world needs us now more than ever. And as long as there is such a need, I refuse to idly stand by and play weekend warrior while in the comforts of a cushioned dojo.”
With this hardened truth, all those in attendance felt a certain level of shame, including Philip, as Tobias continued with what needed to be said.
“If anything, we owe it to those who have come before us to keep the true essence of Ninjutsu alive. They did shed their blood, to ensure that the treasured teachings would continue to be passed on from one generation to the next, to actually be used, not mimed, in the service of protecting the weak and innocent. This is not to take away from those who have chosen a more passive approach with passing on the teachings. Many of you here have families, and I completely agree that you should not put yourselves, and possibly your loved ones, in harm’s way. Our roles in this art are just as diverse as the problems out there that need to be resolved. And so we should be working with each other, utilizing these attributes each of us offer to their fullest. Only then are we truly honoring the essence of Ninjutsu. And as far as encouraging the young and impressionable…
“When their only other realistic option is to either be victims of, or infatuated with, gang members, drug dealers, pimps, and any other scum-of-the-earth trash imposing their will in these kids’ own backyards, I can only hope that the exposure of my actions will lead to at least a few of these young people taking the steps to seek us out. Where it is then our responsibility as those who have inherited this great art, to welcome them, guide them, and train them as the next generation of warriors to continue the tradition of putting those in need above ourselves.
“Now if I’m the only one here who believes this, with the utmost of respect, it is now time for me to say goodbye.”
Silence filled the office…
Until Shidoshi Fukshima rose from his seat and headed for Tobias while removing his tenth-degree black belt. He then lowered himself to bended knee, presenting his ranking in the art to the young warrior with a version of the Japanese bow that was reserved for honoring only at the highest level.
One by one the others followed suit, and when all seven of the black belts were at the feet of Tobias their head Shidoshi walked over to his desk, removed a displayed sword from the wall, and presented it to his young protégé in the same fashion as the instructors had done with the items that had represented their time in Ninjutsu.
The katana was half as old as the art itself, and everyone in that office understood the significance of what had just occurred, including Tobias, who now had a few tears in his eyes as a result. The antique sword had been given to Philip by the grandmaster, and by passing it on to this young warrior it meant that Tobias was now the head Shidoshi of this particular dojo.
With mixed emotions, nothing could have been further from Tobias’ true intentions of just wanting to help those who couldn’t defend themselves. But declining such an offer would have been highly disrespectful, so the young divine warrior accepted his new role as head Shidoshi, while at the same time continuing to stay active in his pursuits of bringing order to chaos.
Tobias was not the only one who had such an honor bestowed upon him at such a young age. The current grandmaster had been chosen as successor by the previous while barely in his thirties, despite the fact of there being quite a number of candidates much older than he. This was an art based on truth, not seniority, and in this case, the young leader was the embodiment of such truth.
After a formal ceremony and an official certification coming out of Japan, Tobias Montgomery now held the title of Shihan. With the exception of three new additions to the dojo, he chose to keep his predecessor’s set-up the same. The first change came about as a result of a suggestion by his council. That an ‘urban combat’ class be added to the black belt curriculum, with of course Tobias being the instructor, as he was the only one who actually possessed the real-life experience of putting the art’s teachings to the test. The other two additions came from the new Shihan himself. One, a class that would focus solely on mikkyo, Ninjutsu’s mind science, to ensure the balance of training. And two, that the dojo put on a monthly fundraiser, the proceeds of which would go towards helping those who wanted to train in the art but could not afford to, as well as having some funds set aside for what Tobias referred to as ‘protection insurance’. Which, in other words, meant money that might be needed when putting a stop to conflict.
Although this short story can stand alone in its message, which is why I chose to post it here, it is actually part of a longer journey, from my critically-acclaimed novella.
“WOW. Bleeding Perseverance was such a thought provoking read. It’s a short read but extremely enthralling. I didn’t want to put it down to pick my kids up from school, It was very tempting to just keep reading and be damned with the consequences. No doubt earning “Worst Mother of the Year Award”… But I have only just gotten rid of that award, so I had to put it down. 😉
This book was written so well it deserves to be judged fairly. It brought to light all the terrible things that happen around in other countries, that we don’t always get to see. And for that I would give it 6 stars if it was allowed. I’d like to thank Mr Lamoureux for sharing this story with the world.”
-Aimie Jennison, author and Goodreads member