Ninja Night #2.

 

 

Once again, it was the Saturday Parkour community training session. Not too mention later that night there was to be a ninja night hosted, the second in recent weeks! I hear you ask, what is a ninja night?! Well that is a very good question. Most people within the Parkour communities have started this trend, I can’t tell you exactly who started it first or how it came about, only that (currently) it’s widely practised. It has different names too, some say a ninja night, some call it a stealth mission, a ninja mission and all manner of other titles. Practitioners of Parkour always aim to be silent, this goes hand in hand with what a ninja would practise too. Moving as quietly as possible, being invisible and undetected. Anyway, the point of the night is to come out dressed all in black, like a ninja (face mask included) and then in (our version) we would sneak from one point in the city to another, trying to evade the public and being detected as we went. It’s been great fun so far, since the success of the first one [1] we have had to create another event. You’ll get the gist of the evening as you read through the blog and understand further. As you can imagine, training in the day was very light in preparation for the evenings events.

The plan was to come back to the Orange Walls hotspot for 7pm, just as dusk was upon us. On arriving as a ninja you would have to see if you could spot the others hiding in the shadows of the area, greet each other and then hide and wait for others to arrive too do the same thing until we had all arrived. How would you know when others were arriving? Well, we would text each other when we were heading over to the area so people could prepare and hide. People hid in the trees, in bushes and all manner of places hoping to scare the next ninja. Once it was pitch black dark, at around 8pm that would be when we would make our stealth journey across the city. In the mean time we chat and trained amongst ourselves while it got darker. Training in a ninja mask (t-shirt) tied around the face is very warm, suffocating even and limits your peripheral vision at times too. I guess it being summer didn’t help matter either, making you sweat. The route of the night was along the university building, across the road into the cemetery, then make our way down to the Arboretum to play some capture the castle before moving elsewhere.

There were quite a lot of us out this evening we had Flip, Seanno, David, Nam, Jak, Roger and Shane and then Livewire was set to join us later on. So, the night began, we made our way in single file out of the Orange Walls area, coming to a building, climbing the side of it up onto some thin tin roof, climbing up onto a pointed wall balancing along to the next rooftop. Seeing the lights of the building on, sneaking as we went. It was alright for some moving around, like Phil and Sean who were wearing proper ninja boots. Making sure the coast was clear, all on the wall huddled together, moving as quietly as possible. It was great and got the adrenaline pumping, what would happen if we got caught? How would we explain ourselves, would we all disperse into the shadows, would people even confront us? All questions which went through my head as we moved  along, with us giggling like school girls at stages when someone would slip or get scared. We had to jump off the roof to the floor, simple enough right? It didn’t look a big drop, but wow was we wrong judging that in the dark…

 

 

The first landed and said it was fine, there wasn’t any walls to turn vault so we all took the impact, I flew through the air and landed with a thud, the drop was further than I expected and it buckled my knee as I landed. Though we all waved for the next to drop, each doing a slight cry of pain on landing, rubbing our feet as we hit the hard concrete. We hid amongst a bush, hugging along a wall as we all shuffled along with the first person making sure the coast was clear and was our eyes and ears. We were at the end of the pavement, there was a road with cars going back and forth. Possible people could walk by at any time and a couple did at one stage, whispering quick! Hide! Someone curled into a ball in the shadows and became completely hidden, even we couldn’t see them, so doubt a person walking by would be able too. The rest of use ran back and dived into the bushes and shadows and waited. The road was now clear, we had to make a dash across the road and pop vault a wall into the grave yard… Just as we were all set to run, a car had pulled into the small car park! No doubt to turn around, but it was enough to light up the area entirely and we all panicked and we all scattered away like a pack of animals discovered.

We were had all split up, hiding in the shadows, awaiting for the road to once again be clear. I wonder what the person in the car thought was going on when they used the car park to turn around and we all dispersed? It seemed clear, we ran full sprint across the road pop vaulting the wall into the cemetery as fast as possible. Again, this drop down the grass felt far, we had no perception to see where we were landing either, after being in the light then running into the shadows after the pop vault. I landed with a thud, it felt awesome to just do things without thinking. It was only when we were over that we noticed it was a higher part of the wall, further down it was lower (not that we knew at the time) or that we could have checked before hand. I was over, where was Shane?! I went to peer through the railing to see, but just as I moved he came flying over the wall, landing right on my knee and we crumpled to the floor. Him hitting me in the head too with his elbow. We were too hyped to really feel what had happened, he said he had to wait as another car had come down the road then some people. I wonder where Sean and the others were!?

We looked across the grave yard, finding it difficult to see anything, the eyes not adjusting. I’m sure we could see some dark figures running through, but it was too hard to fully tell, the eyes wouldn’t adjust or maybe our eyes were playing tricks on us? just then we could see a floating light, that being one of the guys phone to see where they were running. We all ran to catch up with them, coming to the bottom of the area. The fun part here was trying not to step on the graves or trip over one for that matter with all the uneven ground as we ran like ninjas with our arms in the air behind us, some doing dive rolls as they ran and having fun. Great, another main road was over the other side of the wall. One which was far busier than the one we had previously crossed, it also had the tram line and multiple civilians walking up and down it, I doubted it would ever be clear! We had to wait quite a while, the hardest part would be getting over the tall wall first, that wouldn’t be graceful but then it would be fine after. The plan was to go over in sets of two, as fast as possible, with others following suit until we had all got across. Flip and Sean popped over the wall and sprinted across the road vaulted over the arboretums main stone wall, Flip just dived rolled it and we could hear his impact the other side…

 

 

The rest of us clambered over the wall, running across the road with our hearts pounding from the adrenaline, with some jogging across and a few people giving us strange looks from up the top of the road. No doubt wondering what was going on, or thinking we were some drunken students out on the town. We were now in Arboretum and we could begin to play a game we had in mind. Infiltration (capture the castle) depending what you wanted to call it. As many will know from the training in the tricking garden in Arb you will know how much the walls there look like  castle or fort. That garden was to be the ‘castle’ it’s also where we all set our bags so they would be safe. We then chose three people to be the protectors of the castle while the rest of us were attackers  set to capture it. All we had to do was to climb over the castle walls and then hit a log we had put in the middle of the grass which would also set of the main floodlight for the garden. If you get caught by a defender you then joined then in seeking out the other attackers. Heh, all very simple right? You would think so, we had a set time limit too capture the castle too before we had to all arrive back. Synchronising watches we got ready and scattered to the canons of the Arboretum as that would be our starting point.

It was pitch black and hard to see much of anything, even a few meters in front of you due to no lighting being in the Arb. It felt all very eerie, wondering if we were alone or there were actually other people loitered in the Arboretum, for what ever reason, like at times drunken kids who came to drink at the canons. We did see one person walking through the area, no doubt drunk, but what a brave person to do that. We kept hearing noises, no doubt small creatures and birds moving in the hedges and trees around us, but we could also hear voices too from people but had no idea where it was coming from. Our eyes playing tricks on us within the shadows, numerous time I thought I could see someone and it would end up being just a tree or a shadow. It was slow making process, you had to clear the vast open field first to get to the woodland. Hiding in the bushes and soil, crawling along it like you were on thin ice, seeing and hearing people walk right in front of you. them unable to see or hear you, having your heart pounding as they were centimetres away from you, resisting the temptation to pull their legs from under them. After fifteen minutes Jak had made it to the castle, the light was on, instantly lighting up all the shrubbery below.

He had made it there via going the route of the garden and schools, while the rest of us were still in the foliage below There was a bit of a debate if it was ‘legal’ to use that route as no one was looking that side of the area for the attackers and had made it rather easy to capture the castle and then it was a rule not to use that side of area. A few diversion tactics were used when people were close, like throwing stones to make noise for people to follow, or making slight noises to attract someone over, before running away to hide. Sean had been caught out by Shane as he made a dash for the castle and I sprinted and climbed up during all the commotion. It felt all bit of a mess, but it was only the first game, Flip had come back just as the time limit had ran out stating he had been close all this time just laid on the floor, waiting for a chance to climb but someone was always around. Roger had to call it a day to get his last bus home, annoyingly for him. But there was no other way for him to get home otherwise, maybe the net time he will stay at someone’s house so he can stay out the full duration. It had been a good night and he had enjoyed it immensely even if he was leaving early.

 

 

Sean and Jak went wandering along the back road to try and find the name of a road for Livewire, so he could find somewhere to park nearby and join the rest of us in Arb. The rest of us waited and reflected on the game and night at hand. It was great to take off a few layers, as some of my black clothes were thick jumpers and I can’t tell you how good it felt to take the face mask off, that is what made you feel the hottest, the face dripping with sweat and the hair wet through. When they got back they had a story to tell, while they were busy being Ninjas. Sean had popped over a wall as an incoming car drove down the road, a police car non the less. Jak was left there like a sitting duck, looking suspicious but thankfully the cop car drove past. Just as it had an unmarked car drove up to Jak and then wound the window down, asking what he was up too?! Jak responded the only way he could in that situation, telling him he was playing a ninja game in the arboretum. To which the undercover cop responded quite positive, or maybe he wasn’t that bothered and said, okay, just be careful as it’s dangerous at night you know and then drove off leaving him to it.

I think Jak thought he was going to be arrested for sure, while Sean could hear the whole conversation from the other side of the wall. It was a bit of a relief, as at least we won’t get arrested if anyone comes across us tonight. While waiting for Livewire to arrive, we played another game of capture the castle. We made our way to the forest of the Arb area again, with a direct plan of action. I pretty much did the same route as before, I do remember hiding behind a tree with others before we all entered the foliage, tripping up on some metal wire and getting spiked by some plant. Once again in the pitch black, hiding behind the trees and bushes, trying not to step on anything which would snap like twigs alerting anyone of my presence. I couldn’t see or hear the others, I was crawling along the soil under a bush when I saw someone walk right past me, I was sure I would be spotted! I wasn’t about to be caught and so made a dash for cover elsewhere, only to see the dark figure, waving frantically. Hearing a slight ‘psst, it’s me!’ how was I meant to know who ‘me’ was, we all looked the same in black. It was Shane, but I still thought this was some sort of trap from the protectors and carried on running into the darkness.

All the noise has drawn over the protectors, we both dropped to the floor. I felt like I was in a Metal Gear Solid game, with having to crawl so slowly on the floor, peering around the trees to see if anyone was there. All of a sudden the area was lit up by light, the floodlight was on, I was blinded and couldn’t see anything. It was a good ploy by the protectors, to get us to move and be possibly seen if the light lit up where we lurked. I could see Shane crouched next to a bush, with Flip walking down towards him, walking past then quickly double taking and lunging on him, he had been captured. Being meters away from them both, trying to breath quietly, which is hard to do in a t-shirt mask, with limited vision too. Seeing as it was quiet again and it seemed like many of them had ran down further into the forest once someone shouted they had seen someone there, I made my dash for the wall. I hoisted up onto the wall, I had made it and captured the castle. A few moments later David popped up and then the time limit was up and we all came back.

 

 

Livewire had arrived, we explained the infiltration game and this time the rule was one person was the defender and everyone else was attackers. If you got caught, you became a defender and even if you get to the castle uncaught and capture the castle you still have to help the defenders, so it became more of a man hunt. I can’t remember much of this game or what happened, unless someone can enlighten me with their memories. We had played this game for long enough and decided to ninja back to Orange Walls and then to the Rescue Rooms rooftops. We were at the front of Arb, while we awaited for the coast to be clear. Livewire stood atop of a pillar like a giant gargoyle, taunting the few people as they passed by. Only one guy was further up the road, it was time, in single file we all popped over the wall and dashed across the road then pop vaulted six foot wall. Nearly crashing into each other as we landed once again. Livewire told us all to look back over the wall, as the guy who was up the road was pretty freaked out by our antics and god knows what he thought was happening! He was walking really slowly, moving left and right to try and work out if what he had seen really happened or was afraid of what might happen next…

We jogged up the grave yard and had to dive behind the grave stones at once point as some late night roamers walked through the area. We got to Orange Walls without much trouble at all and once there we had a quick group count, we were missing someone, but who? It was Shane, David went back to see where he was. He was stuck once again as some cars must have come down the road after we all got across and Shane had to wait for them to pass. Oh, then there was the fact he couldn’t get over the wall, his trainers kept slipping and so that had slowed him down too. We made our way up to the student flats on Chaucer St. Usually there was an open car park, though tonight it was all closed off so we had to climb up the concrete slabs at the side, which allowed you to climb up and into the car park, then drop down in there. It all felt very militant the way we were moving and gaining access. It was loud, due to all the student parties and booming music from above, we hugged the walls avoiding the cameras, not that they would have been on, at least we hoped.

We came close to the alleyway we wanted to go down, we had a problem though… There was a giant double door open, which we would have to pass to get access. Tim and Sean peered round the door frame, it was some convention and stage with people sat at tables. You could see people sitting there and moving around. If all our black figures ran across the door, we would surely been seen by all the people in there and cause someone to come out. There was no other way around these doors which looked out into the car park. There were noisy fans near the frame too, covered with metal cages. Livewire thought fast and instantly climbed the fan cages and up onto the top of the door frame, climbing down the opposite side. Why didn’t we just do Parkour like that in the first place?! The rest of us followed suit, climbing up one at a time and down the other side. We were all nearly over, when Jak said ‘imagine if someone was to come out we’d be screwed. They might think we were trying to burgle the place’. Now I think he may have jinxed us as while a couple were still on the top of the door frame a guy had come out on a fag break and using his phone so they had to wait for him to finish and go back in, luckily he was non the wiser and too interested in his phone to look above or around!

 

 

Down the alleyway and up some very steep and noisy metal fire escape steps, clunking as we moved up it. To get to the roofs, we had to precision across to a railing, which I believe Tim did and Sean climbed around a different way, while the rest of us had to climb down and squeeze between this vent thing, being careful not to make noise. I remember this part of the roofs from a previous time [1] we had ventured here with Flx and Andy. There was a long drop, but we navigated across to the other fire escape and climbed up the various steps and ladders to the roofs. We had made the entire journey without being caught, we all had a drink and reflected, seeing the night light of the bars below us. A few of the guys went onto the roofs above them, posing and taunting the public in the Rescue Rooms. It wasn’t long before people could see the shadows and it started to gain attention of the piss heads, which was funny as I bet most thought they were pissed and seeing things. Some were taking videos and photos of these mysterious shadow ninjas as well as getting more rowdy, shouting things up to us. It was near midnight and I would have to get going soon, just in time due to the unwanted attention we were getting.

A guy randomly appeared on a walkway, shouting up to us ‘Oi! Oi you! I’ve called the cops’ it seemed like it was the owner, maybe it was some random guy having a joke, who knows?! Either way, we all realized that maybe it would be better to get down and hide. Though it’s not like the police could even get to us here, even if they were called, so we would be safe? We decided to bolt, panicking as we didn’t really think how we were going to get down. The way we came took too long, and would be the first likely place they would look. Sean said there was a quicker way down, onto another fire escape, but it had a bit of a drop! He dropped down first, then ran down and out to the road to check if any police had be called. Just as he ran out to the street, I landed on the fire escape and saw Sean get grabbed violently and maybe tackled, I was already hidden by that point and had just seen some guys pounce on him as he got to the street. The people shouted up to us ‘Oi, come here now!’ Said in a very aggressive tone.

I was curled up into a ball, hidden from view as they could only see the people peering out from the rooftop wanting to come down and Livewire who was half way down the roof at the time. I was out of sight, if I waited for a bit then I could make my escape, scot free I thought. The same guy shouted again ‘Come on down, all of you. We have one of your buddies’ there were now more bouncers there too. One by one, everyone climbed down onto the escape and then joined them. Each person landing, looking at me laid on the floor, asking what it was I was doing then having to walk down the steps. Flip was near one of the last to descend telling me to come down too. It looked like our night was finally over… The bouncers were on walkie talkies and I don’t think they were expecting as many people that had coming off the roof. They asked what the hell we thought we were doing, and why were were all in black?! I think in the end they started to see the funny side of things, once people explained…

 

 

With comments like;

    • If we ever need the crown jewels stolen we’ll know where to come!
    • How the fuck did you all manage to even get onto the roofs in the first place?!
    • It’s private property if anything had happened it would have been our necks on the line, even if you do know what your doing!
    • You guys are seriously crazy!!!

 

All said with a smile mind you, amazed, bewildered more than annoyed, plus it would have been some great excitement for them too. Minutes later a police car arrived, the police officer was over reacting, shouting and trying to be tough, like he owned our asses. Bossing us about, annoyed that he was going to have to take all our names, and possibly to the station. Did someone forget to have a sugar intake today? He didn’t seem to listen to what anyone had to say, and it all seemed to be one sided, annoyingly. A riot van had pulled up to see what all the commotion was. The two officers in there were more pleasant in how they interacted with us, stating they know what Parkour is and explained why it’s not cool to go on roofs that are private property and especially not on a Saturday night, dressed all in black like some sort of cat burglars…

The first officer on scene was still very much angry with us. While one of the second officers actually knew Flip or his dad and started to chat to him about the situation and turned to myself and said he had seen me and a few others training at various locations and sometimes has reports to move us off areas. Then his other fellow man came out the van and looked directly at me and proclaimed ‘not you again! You’ve got to watch this one, he’s like dog shit he’s literally everywhere I look, climbing walls, jumping around doing all that Parkour stuff’ to which everyone in the group burst out laughing at. Thankfully these officers had calmed down the situation and taken over, letting the first go back to the station. With a few names checked on the system and all this over, we just warned not to do it again and maybe call it a night.

On leaving we realized David wasn’t with us, he had been the true ninja of the night and had sneaked away in all the ruckus and vanished home, undetected. All in all it had been a fantastic night and hopefully next time we do a ninja night, no one will get caught and we’ll have many more attendees to it too.

 

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