Ninja on a Green Machine – Fifth Graders Shouldn’t be Practicing Judo

I would always come home from my fellow ninja’s house with grass stains on my back. My gai would get stained from my friend and his little brother using me as their judo throw pillow. As a ninja in training, I had little defense against their arm wrenching flips and throws. My friend would effortlessly use my own weight against me to leave me on the dewy lawn, then his brother would tug at my sore and crumpled body for the next self-defense maneuver. After they got bored with their rag doll, the three of us would retreat inside for some Donkey Kong on Colecovision, a popping and helicopter ridden breakdancing session, and some Knight Rider.

Nighttime was ninja time. Sure, you needed daylight to practice your 99-cent throwing star skills with the local Boys and Girls Club’s baseball backstop as your target. Daylight also helped you avoid bruising your knee with the wild business end of a pair of nunchucks pieced together from an old broomstick, a dog collar, eye screws and thumbtacks for studs. The blanket of the dark warmed the ninja’s heart with anticipatory, evil excitement. Our ninja clan would hold slumber parties at whoever’s house had the most oblivious parents and easiest escape route. When the parents tucked us in and trusted us to stay that way we would dig into our backpacks for our weapons of play-death and sneaking costumes. I think I used one of my mom’s scarves in combination with a thermal nose and mouth mask for my ninja head covering. The rest of my costuming was less impressive: black sweatshirt, sweatpants tucked into black dress socks, tennis shoes, and soft soccer shin pads covering my forearms just to be cool and to absorb blocked karate chops from my fellow ninja assassins. Armed with the already mentioned nunchucks, throwing star plus a katana expertly whittled and sanded down to an edge from a 1 x 2, I follow my ninja brethren into the night. We would play paranoid games like avoid any living thing or car, or the street lamps are security cameras before we got down to business and adventured through the 3 foot drainpipes at the bottom of ravines

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Of course we got all our roundhouse kicks, cartilage smashing death blows and physics defying judo throws from the step by step pages of Black Belt magazine. This cheap, convenience store rag inspired us in every ninja act we ever attempted. The most interesting section of the magazine was the backend ads and classifieds where you could mailorder any amount of Asian weaponry imaginable for the right minimum to buy.

I would return home a normal kid after my nights as a ninja, though a little more bruised and tired than usual. I had to hide my weapons of play death from my mom and convince my dad that my little brother ruined his tools.

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