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The Naked Stars
By
Qaw'Hoch sutai-Let
The First Keeper of the Warrior Flame

Games Warriors Play
Part 1

From the beginning of time, the children of Klingon warriors were required to train for battle. Knowledge in the use of weapons, both offensive and defensive, was paramount for survival and training was started at an early age. Straight competition in the use of hand weapons--one against one, or basic target practice--was adequate. but it did not teach young warriors how to fight for greater good of the clan. For this type of training, games were often used to teach not only skill with weapons, but also how to work together as a fighting unit. One such game was called naghqet, which literally translated means Rock Run. For this competition, two teams of seven to ten players would take the field. (The numbers of players and the size of the field would vary, depending on the age of the players and the level of competition). All members but one of each team would be armed. The last member, usually the smallest, quickest and most agile of the team, called the Runner, would be unarmed and thus basically defenseless, except for his or her own skill at avoiding blows from the opposition team members.

A round rock, the size of a full grown warrior"s head and weighing between 12 and 18 pounds (again, depending on the age of the players and the level of competition) would be placed in the middle of the field. (Legend has it that when this game was first played, thousands of years ago, the actual head of an enemy warrior was used as the game token and thus the rock is still the size and shape of a warrior's head). The object of the games is for the runner of one team to carry the rock across the field and deposit it in a hole at the opponent's end of the field. Meanwhile, the runner of the other team is trying to stop the runner with the rock, take it away from him and take it down the field to place it in the opposite hole. (This is where the term "Stuff it in your hole", or simply "Stuff it" originated). The armed members of the game try to protect their own runner, while at the same time trying to stop the opponents runner from scoring, as well as eliminate as many of the opponents armed members as possible and are thus in constant battle from the start of the game, until the very end.

The runners, while unarmed, may use any forceable means available to stop the opponents runner and place the rock in the other team's hole. Once the rock has been successfully placed in the opponents hole, the game is over. While this may sound like a simple activity, games sometimes go on for hours before a winner is declared. Timeouts are taken only if a runner is so badly injured that he, or she can no longer negotiate the field. The team is then given about 30 minutes to repair the damage to their runner and if the runner can not take the field at the end of the timeout, the game is forfeit. Consequently, members of each team must take great pains to work together in an effort to protect their own runner. In a usual game, about half of each team--usually the front three, called Warders--are armed with swords and shields. Behind them is the second line of defense, usually two warriors called Staffers, armed with 6 foot long spears, or staves. The final member of the team--the final line of defense, the Guard--is frequently the largest and/or strongest member and as his name implies, guards the hole.

His weapon is usually a long staff with either several weighted lengths of thick rawhide or chain at one end (again depending on the level of competition). By swinging this weapon, he can trip up the oncoming runner from a distance if need be, to keep him from scoring and give his own runner a chance to come in and retrive the rock. While the guard will usually aim for the runners legs, to trip him up before he reaches the goal, in games at a higher level of competition, the flailing chains will sometimes be aimed at the runners head or neck, especially if the game has become intense. A typical game of naghqet is played in this fashion. The players take the field that is split down the middle and has a hole at each end. The rock is placed in the center of the field and the teams line up on their own sides, with the runners facing off on either side of the rock. Only the runners are allowed to touch the rock during the game. When the game begins, the runners attack each other, each trying to knock the other runner out of the way, or preferably out of the game and thus obtain possession of the rock.

The warders of both teams also attack each other, in an attempt to eliminate them from play and give their own runner more room in which to work. The staffers move up in defensive positions, to protect their runner if he should come up with the rock and make a break for the opponents goal and to block the other team's runner, if he should move toward their goal with the rock. As the runner with the rock weaves through the opponents playing field heading for the goal, the other runner, as well as the opponents armed members attempt to stop him, while the runner's team members try to protect him from injury and at the same time attempt to clear a path to the goal. Play will frequently flow back and forth across the field numerous times during a game and the team who can eliminate the most of their oponents armed warriors and protect their runner most efficiently has the best chance to win. It is a violent sport and injuries are frequent and sometimes permanently damaging. Younger players are allowed to wear a minimal amount of padded protective gear, but older players and adults play the game in normal battle dress. Clan teams that are repeatedly successful will often play together for years and frequently travel to outlying areas of te Empire to meet teams from other regions in serious and frequently deadly competition. Games such as naghqet help train the young warrior for battles he may face as an adult and helps to keep the adult warrior's skills sharpened and focused. If you are interested in seeing humans actually playing a variation of this game, there is a video available for rent at most video stores called, The Blood of Heroes, which shows that a form of this Klingon games has traveled through both time and space and is even played in Earth's distant future.

Qapla'

The Naked Stars

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