Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cycle of Ninja and Samurai

When I first started playing derby, one of my fellow freshandmeaties was horribly shocked when one of the vets told us the best time to hit another blocker was when she wasn't looking.  "That's terrible!  That's sneaky and underhanded and I am really disappointed in a sport that promotes that kind of thinking!"  She didn't last long in derby, but not because she was morally superior to derby; she felt like people shouldn't hit her because they were her friends, but that's a different story.  I want to focus on the idea of being sneaky.  Should you be?  Should you be a samurai or a ninja on the track?

People underestimate me.  I've been called skinny, gangly and wiry; even though I'm tall, I don't have a lot of bulk to go with my height.  Most people would put me in the "not a big hitter" category, and I've grown to accept that as part of my "public derby identity" which has worked well for me in the past and now, because people rarely see me coming, until it's too late.

I was going to just put a black box....ha! Art by me.
When someone underestimates you, you have the power of invisibility.  People are overwhelmed on the derby track in every jam, especially blockers; if they don't think you're the biggest threat on the track, many times they mentally dismiss you. You exist in their blind spot, and that can be an amazing thing, especially if you're doing offense for your jammer.  Am I sneaky?  Hell yes.  I wait for a blocker to get distracted and then I attack; blockers who turn their heads away from me, or let me sidle up to their side without trying to reposition, or hold me off.  Those are prime targets! Smoke bomb!

Now that's a boutfit,  Image found  here.

Unfortunately for ninjas, if you're really good at your job, someone will eventually notice the mayhem you're causing and you lose your ability to be invisible!  That's when you need to don the helmet of the samurai and charge into battle.  Samurai are the heroes of the track, and they are usually targeted by the other team as a threat.  If you've lost your ability to be a sneaky ninja, then you need to step up as that threat on the track and be a distraction to the other team.  Samurai don't hide what they do; they charge in and take all challengers on.  But Q, I'm not that good!  I need the sneaky!  Don't worry, my warrior friend.  Just being a distraction can be a huge help to your jammer on the track.  Once you've been identified as someone who is getting something done, you are taking attention away from your jammer or from other blockers who can now enjoy the ninja role.  Eventually, if you aren't effective as a samurai, the other team will stop targeting you and you can once again enjoy the perks of being a ninja. 

It's a derby cycle I see play out over and over again.  Sometimes I don't even see the ninja like feats of players on the track until I sit down and watch the footage!  There are derby ninja on your team, and I bet you don't even see what amazing things they're doing.  Don't just keep an eye on the samurai; be ready for that sneaky ninja attack!

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