“Our body is our temple, an ecosystem of light and darkness, and only when we find balance and peace within ourselves are we at our strongest.”
The Koketsu are a passionate people that find strength in understanding and accepting every aspect of oneself. Much like the dark stripes of a tiger, people are defined by both their light and their darkness; one without the other will only bring pain. Because of this, the clan focuses on achieving a meditative state of self-reflection and acceptance of their members. From a young age, members are expected to confront their darkest fears and memories – to accept anger, pain, desperation, all as a part of their soul, and to use it to become stronger. Most Koketsu individuals have a well-developed inner mindscape and have instinctive awareness of the nature chakra that surrounds them because they have trained themselves to recognize their part in the environment.
The Koketsu clan is more of a ecosystem for the members rather than a family. Every indivudal is expected and encouraged to be independent and to pursue their own goals. Instead of being a clansman through blood, one is expected to contribute to the wellbeing and thriving nature of their clan. Whether it be by raising the young cubs or children, by fighting and becoming well-respected individuals, or by bringing home supplies to keep the clan afloat... each person must find their own role in the system.
It is said that long before the formation of the shinobi villages, a man had grown to become family to the tigers that roamed the lands. He was not of a clan, and sought not to fight like many others for land; instead, he hoped to achieve peace and understanding of such a vibrant world. Because he focused little on the war that ravaged the lands, he could instead focus on learning the ways of his tiger brethren. He hunted with them. He swam with them. He slept with them. He even raised their young with them.
And as he grew old and incapable of protecting himself, the tigers promised to do upon him and his offspring as he had done for them. To give love, respect, and true understanding. He had hoped to, one day, build a family of his own much like his tigers. So when he eventually did depart back to humanity, he was remembered with a fondness and a promise from the tigers to always have his back.
Years passed before the man’s son had gone out to find the supposed tigers that he had spoken so fondly of. He scoured every tree, every lake, every inch of the Land of Water to find his father’s most beloved friends. There was hesitation and an early mistrust between human and tiger, but eventually they came to an understanding. The son would bring his old, frail man out to the forests, and would listen in on the tales beast and man would share. His father’s teachings of peace, harmony, and understanding between all would finally click.
The war, however, was still a threat, and eventually claimed the life of the father. They were a peaceful family and untrained in the ways of shinobi. They didn’t have special abilities, fancy jutsus or kekkai genkais. What they had, however, were tigers who would do anything to protect them. And on his deathbed, they made their final promise, to always be by the side of the man’s family. And thus, the contract was formed, binding both tiger and man in this clan.
There are many stories surrounding the foundation of the clan and the centuries-long contract that has been promised and upheld between them and the tigers; nobody is quite certain which one is true.
The clan was not a shinobi one for many generations. They were merchants, civilians, men of the land that simply survived. However, the longer the contract went on, the more potential for shinobi arts they started to display. Having been a part of the Land of Water since many eons ago, they made home in Kirigakure rather easily, and slowly established their role in the village. When supplies were low, the clan was full of hunters that could and would bring back food. They were acknowledged as protectors, and younger generations started to become shinobi as well.
For each child born into the clan, they would adopt a cub from the summoning realm to raise. Their clan compound expanded and soon the clan became famous in Kirigakure for its “Tiger Den”. And with that, the Koketsu clan was formed.
There is no strict hierarchy to the Koketsu clan - birth order does not determine one's status. The leader of the clan holds little influence over their actual actions - their job is the be the owners of the tiger contract. As they grow old, their duty is to choose one of the current contract signers to take their mantal. They speak for the tigers and the clan at village meetings but otherwise cannot make decisions on their own.
Instead, this is done through a council of smaller groups. As each person is expected to contribute in some way to the clan's wellbeing, each 'role' becomes a clique of sorts. In these groups, an alpha will generally rise that will speak for and suggest things from the perspective of their group. These leaders must be chosen by a majority of the group that they represent, the biggest being:
These are the kunoichi and shinobi of the Koketsu Clan. As they have the most experience with ninja affairs, they are expected to contribute and make decisions according to that.
These are often the merchants of the clan, they usually speak up on affairs to do with money, food, and other supplies. They often look after the children and hire ninjas to help with the compound.
These are the individuals with a natural talent for communication with tigers and the cubs. They usually handle affairs that deal with the tigers and partnerships that are formed. In the case that the contract owner dies before choosing a successor, the alpha of this group will make the decision themselves.
The Koketsu clan grounds are home to many of the tiger cubs from their contract. In exchange for raising and providing shinobi opportunities to these summons, members can train to sign on and summon the tigers as needed. The cubs that live in the human world can sometimes form strong bonds with clan children, becoming a familiar that will guide and support their partner. The tigers that stay in the summons realm tend to have better developed chakra systems and are more independent.
Because of their long-term assocciation, Koketsu members can sometimes take on more tiger-like aspects. The King of Tigers has always been a white tiger, and over time, Koketsu members seem to have developed a dominant gene for silvery hair and blue or yellow eyes.
A Tiger's Bond
Children born with Koketsu blood have always had the potential to form bonds with the cubs of their contract. As they grow with their partner, they tend to take on more tiger-like aspects such as a more acute sense of hearing. The tigers will generally learn to speak and interact with humanity.
Loyal to only the Koketsu Clan, the tigers will refuse to contract with anybody that is not Koketsu. Even then, potential summoners will have to prove their loyalty and skill to the clan head, designated owner of the scroll.
Members of the Koketsu clan can not summon other species as all of the clan is contracted to the tigers. Signing on to a different species is considered betrayal and leads to disownment from the clan.