Bi-Weekly Design Blog #8: Sticking it to the Man

The two disciples lay groaning on the tatami, their attacks neutralized.

Their master was seated again, breathing steadily, eyes closed, meditative.

In the corner of the room the shadows coalesced as black smoke, spreading out like the tendrils of some nightmarish creature. They wrapped themselves unheeded around the master’s neck, thickening into inky black tentacles just before snapping taut across his windpipe.

"Devilry!" The master hissed through clenched teeth.

"No, Sensei," said a voice, a shadowy figure hidden deep in the unnatural shadow filling the room, "there are things even you fail to understand. Techniques beyond your grasp. Today I've surpassed you."

In university a friend and I started practicing kendo at a local dojo. It’s a long story, and one that I blame on Edward Zwick’s “The Last Samurai,” but kendo had a major impact on my life that eventually saw me living in Japan for 5 years and then landing a job as the line developer for a very exciting, soon to be released, East Asian inspired roleplaying setting (pssst, that’s Steampunk Musha).

I didn’t practice kendo for very long, but instead became very interested in iaido, and another Japanese martial art, jodo, or, more correctly, jōdō.

Legend says that the martial art was invented by Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi, after he suffered a defeat at the hands of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. In a second duel, Gonnosuke defeated Musashi with a shortened bo staff and the new martial art he had developed.

How effective is jōdō in real life? The Japanese police use it to this day, and you can see police officers carrying jo when on duty. You couldn’t beat that with a stick!

Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.

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