The series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, Riker must decide whether to accept command of his own starship, and negative feelings surface when his estranged father arrives to brief him on the mission. Wesley Crusher, La Forge and Data attempt to determine why Worf seems more agitated than usual, and discover that he is upset over not participating in a key Klingon ritual.
The primary plot of the episode deals with Commander Riker's decision about taking a command of his own, complicated by the briefing he must receive on the assignment from his estranged father, Kyle Riker (played by Mitchell Ryan). While initially very reluctant to listen to his father's attempt to reconcile, an anbo-jitsu match finally forces him to listen, and reconcile with his father.
The secondary plot point revolves around Lt. Worf who is acting more agitated than usual. Young Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher, Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Commander Data eventually learn that Worf has missed an important Klingon ceremony marking the anniversary of his Age of Ascension. The crew recreates the ritual, involving him stepping through a gauntlet of Klingon warriors, brandishing pain sticks on the holodeck. While recanting vows of honor, Worf undergoes being stabbed by the stick with each step forward, making it finally through in great agony, however permitting him to return to normal.
Anbo-Jitsu is a fictitious Japanese sport shown in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In it, two armored opponents facing each wear a solid visor, rendering them blind, and fight with a large staff. A proximity sensor is worn by each combatant, alerting them to their opponent's location with an audio signal. A protective cushion is worn on one arm and can be used to shield or deflect attacks. It is called "the ultimate evolution in the martial arts" in the context of the show though all the required paraphernalia seems counter-intuitive to the very nature of most martial arts (which train the body and mind), and most of the moves seem to involve clumsily swinging the staves like baseball bats.
In Japanese, "An" means dark, as the opponents are blind folded. "Bo" means staff. "Jitsu" means technique or skill.