I was privileged this weekend to witness an intriguing ritual, steeped in mystery. I've often seen it from a distance, but never had the honor of a front row seat. The natives kindly tolerated my presence, though they did glance over at me from time to time, to be sure that I was following the Prime Directive and not interfering.
The alpha male began by gesturing his companions into a circle. They solemnly took their places and listened as he decided who would begin.
The complexities of the give and take began to reveal themselves to my watching eyes. One lunges, another backs up. One swings, another gets tapped and a debate begins.
"Was that one move or two?"
"Only one movement per turn, you know."
"It was one, you're out."
Sighing, the one tapped steps back out of the circle and the dance begins again. Lunges, swings, dives. The ritual attire is clearly designed to withstand numerous falls and scrapes. A few more moments, and another is tapped and removes himself from the circle.
Soon, only two remain.
The alpha is more aggressive, more confident. His combatant uses his moves to back up warily. Finally, alpha is close enough that his final lunge brings him in range of his rival. With a final touch, the dance is complete.
The ritual in question? The game of "ninja" being played by third graders. I've seen this game played at my school, and then observed it in other locations near me. I don't remember kids playing it when I was younger, but all the boys seem to know the rules. Does anyone else see this near them?
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