Of Monks and Ninjas


Note: I’ve decided to synthesize my experiences with Choi Li Fut and Zen Buddhism into my blog thread about Li-Li and Kailifae. I know this might make purists blanch in horror, but there are times I wonder where the creators of the lore got their information about martial arts in the first place (for their lore is nothing if not synthesis). Enough of that, else I begin ranting on and on.




I could feel Li-Li watching me closely, her eyes hidden behind the wide brim of her douli. I couldn’t read the halfling’s expression; nevertheless, I let myself go into the jingong, drawing  the bowstring back as if I were reeling silk. I was blindfolded, but that didn’t stop me.

The arrow hit its mark, shattering the clay jug Li-Li had placed in the crook of a tree only moments before.

“That’s jingong alright,” Li-Li praised me. “But that’s not how I taught you.”

“What?” my elvish temper rising.

“I said it’s not the way I taught you,” Li-Li chuckled.

I pulled at my scarf, pulled it just far enough so that it still covered my face from the nose down. I felt like kicking yelling, but I knew that wouldn’t go over nearly as well as my anger told me it would.

“That’s shadow skill,” Li-Li said. “That’s ninja training. You’re not one of my monks any longer.”

“Sigung,” I began–

“–you think sitting pillow all day long is for you? You’ve moved on. I told you this path you tread was dark.” She met my gaze, her hat trailing comically on her back now. “My followers are monks. You are shadow-ninja. Understand?”

I nodded because I thought it would cover my confusion. Images from the Eight Heroes painting from Li-Li’s sitting room floated back to me. Each of them were monks. Each of them practiced, mastered, and taught our Meteor-Hand technique, but none of them ever took a life.They were saints, using deadly hand-to-hand techniques in order to gain enlightenment, never to kill.

“You are a killer,” Li-Li said. “I was once too, but no longer. All that is behind me now.”

“Then what am I to do, sigung? I will do as you say.”

“Each of us takes a part in this dance. You are the only disciple I have ever taught that walked the jingong, the dark path. You kill, yes, but what is it that you kill? Saints?”

“I kill creatures that would kill me first,” I said.

“There, see? You are an agent of the jingong path. You are a life-taker, a handmaiden to balance. Remember this icon,” she asked, tracing a circle in the air with her finger.

“The True Balance,” I said, “the Great Ultimate.”

“I abide in the lighter portion, a mere monk,” her finger pointed to the right of the imaginary circle, “and you, girl, you abide to the left. I seek liberation from this life and you create the balance so that monks like me can sit pillow without fear of an early death at the hands of bandits. Yes?”

Li-Li began the walk back to the ramshackle temple, leaving me in her wake, a bit broken, a bit dumbfounded.

“Thoughts lead to actions, and actions lead to destiny, ” I said to myself, suddenly proud of my progress. But what of the jingong? There was so much I did not know, so much I ached to know. But I suppose that’s the dance…just like Li-Li said. An intricate dance swallowed whole by light and dark, all bound together in the Great Ultimate with the jingong river flowing in between.



4 Responses to “Of Monks and Ninjas”

  1. Such an expressive way to describe the world of the ninja. Looking forward to more. This is great stuff!

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