Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just run at him and kill him

There is an apocryphal story about legendary Japanese swordsman, Miyomoto Musashi, that goes like this:
One time the daughter of a merchant was kidnapped by a ronin (rogue samurai) and the merchant came up to Musashi crying, “My daughter has been taken and you have to go get her back for me!”
Musashi replied, “That is none of my business. I will not go rescue your daughter.”
The merchant, in desperation begged Musashi to teach him enough swordsmanship so that he could go rescue her by himself. Musashi tossed him a sword and told him, “The secret to winning is to just run at the enemy without thought for your own survival, and kill him.”
The merchant, in a moment of enlightenment, took the sword, ran at the ronin, and cut him to pieces, saving his daughter.


  1. Just imagine you are the ronin, and falsely accused of kidnapping someone's daughter! That's a bit of a pickle, isn't it!

  2. it's amazing that the aiki- part of aikido came from the aikijitsu that was implemented by these warriors, but the -do part teaches the opposite philosophy...be completely aware of your and your opponent's safety.

  3. Chris, maybe that's why Musashi didn't want to do the killing himself.

    Or maybe it was because in feudal Japan, merchants were beneath contempt because they were not noble, produced nothing of value, and lived off of the toil of others.

    Maybe Musashi was just trying to get the irritating little merchant killed and was surprised as you and I about the results of his advice - advice that some martial artists now take as gospel straight from the mouth of the sword saint, Musashi.

    ... or maybe not?

  4. Interesting insight into the story, John.

  5. Maybe Musashi was trying to establish a mcdojo franchise of musashi-wannabes?

    Or maybe the ronin was the girl's bf and was caught with his pants down?

    But this is all too true. Martial arts training sometimes creates an inertia - an unchanging speed. Students get used to this constancy and are not able to deal with speed born of violence or the effect of a more experience fighter understanding the idea of broken rhythm. Musashi's advice from Go Rin No Sho is clear though - when you fight instead of the special body cutting grip or pondering the length of your opponent's blade, all you should think about is cutting the opponent.



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