View Full Version : Victory without fighting

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12-15-2001, 06:43 AM
I found this story of Tsukahara Bokuden, a famous warrior of 16th century Japan, really amuses me. I read this in, "A Way To Victory: The Annotated Book of Five Rings", translated and commented by Hidy Ochiai.

On a boat journey, there was a rowdy samurai showing off and drawing attention to himself.
People were scared and payed attention , but Bokuden ignored this samurai. Angered, the samurai approached Bokuden and demanded his attention. Bokuden still ignored this samurai.

The samurai challenged Bokuden to a duel. Bokuden refused because there were many other people on the boat and they might get hurt. The samurai agreed to wait until they arrive on the nearest island. When the boat arrived at the island, the samurai, already excited, jumped off, sword in hand.

As the samurai landed, Bokuden took an oar and pushed the boat off the island.
Bokuden kept calm even when the samurai called him a coward. Bokuden and the other people on the boat just laughed.

There were commentary that explains the significance of this story. But, I would like to know other perceptions to the story.

12-15-2001, 10:18 AM
This story proves that Aikido principles were used as far as the 16th century :)

12-15-2001, 02:31 PM
Heh thanx for sharing that with us cheered me up!(not that i was upset)glad to see even the great warriors can avoid combat at in a smart way.Infact in my rekoning that is what makes a good warrior along with other skills.


12-20-2001, 05:36 AM
i think that kind of attitude is of Zen or Tao roots.
Reminds me of what the Japanese Admiral says on "Pearl Harbor"; 'the genius will try to find a way without war'. (*or something like that*)

here's a similar story from http://www.rider.edu/users/suler/zenstory/insults.html

The Gift of Insults


There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.
One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior's challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. "How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?"

"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it," the master replied, "to whom does the gift belong?"

12-20-2001, 09:16 AM
Greetings all,
Interestingly enough, as a small sized man, I was once employed as a "bouncer" at a small night club. My small stature compared to other door staff often made me a target of drunk patrons. One of my coworkers called it, "they wanna see what you can do" syndrome.
Mostly I just used my wits, and tried to talk people down, if a physical conflict wasn't already underway.
One evening a fellow was determined to kick my butt in front of all his friends. Seeing that he was not a "regular" member of their entourage, I immediately assumed he was a "skilled tester" with some sort of fighting reputation.
I had no reputation for fighting, but my years of Judo were extremely helpful in a few situations. Mostly, it was my non-activities that seemed to upset the big egos who were looking to "crack some skulls". ( I hadn't been exposed to Aikido at this time, yet.)
I looked at him and simply said, "if you kick my butt in here, you get barred from ever coming back in. But if you kick my butt out there," and I jerked a thumb over my shoulder, referring to the exit of the club, "then you can come back in whenever you want."
He studied me for a moment, and told me to get my sorry but through the door. He waved his arms dramatically and all his friends ran ahead... We walked side by side towards the rear exit, myself quietly, he growling out threats of the beating to come.
When we got closer to the door, (one of his buddies holding it open, while the rest formed a circle) I grabbed him softly by the jacket sleeve, and propelled him through the door, into his buddy, knocking them both to the ground. (whoops! worked better than I thought....:D )
Then I shut the door behind him.
Barred. For a month. All of them.

12-20-2001, 09:36 AM
This story also came from the same chapter...

A brutish man wanted to destroy a bicycle by smashing it on the ground. After a few attempts, the bicycle was still functional. Shortly after, another man came by, a martial artist. He asked the brutish man what he was doing. THe brutish man answered, "I want to destroy this bicycle and get a new one. That's why I'm smashing it into the ground." The martial artist then calmly bent down and with two fingers took the chain off the bicycle. He then turned to the brutish man, "I think your bicycle is dead now."

12-20-2001, 10:36 PM
This post is like a collection of stories! Anyway... I read an interesting one, probably from Sensei Tohei's books or something.

Its about 'living' stillness, but has relevance to the winning without fighting theme we were talking about.

Its about this swordsman, who's reputation was not as great as musashi but have been regarded as undefeated in his time. When he was asked how was it that he managed to remain undefeated all that time, he simply said that before each match he will draw his sword and slightly tap the tip of his opponents sword. From there he could gauge whether his opponent had the living stillness or the dead stillness within him. For those that had the latter, he then proceeded to attack with vigour and win the fight. But for those with the former, he would find some excuse for not fighting. Thus he wouldn't have to scrap in a fight he wasn't assured of winning.

Although not what Thalib had in mind in the beginning of the post, I felt that its a little bit relevant. Because Thalib's samurai there may have well been able to defeat the loudmouth brute, but at what cost? There was no profit in defeating a loudmouth. He has no value in society. A villain would have been a different matter, a reknown swordsman would also have been a worthy fight. So in order to save time, and his ears, he dispatched off that loudmouth without raising his sword.

My story, shows that cunning fighters fight battles that they know they can win. Kamikazis fight any battle. If you read sun tzu, he would advise the same thing. To fight when you overwhelm the opponent, to flank when you are twice his strength, and so on and so forth.

I like ranz's punchline though... :D

12-21-2001, 01:30 AM
I got one! I got one! Not related but a nice story. From my teacher..

Once there was a young samurai who was very good with shooting the bow and arrow. One day his teacher said to him, "I have taught you all that I can. You must seek this man. He can teach you more."
The student went to a higher ranking teacher in the bow and explained that he had learned all that he could from his old teacher so he had been sent to him. The man said, "Let me see your skill. Shoot that fly buzzing over there." And the samurai did. "That's very good but I can not help you. You must seek another teacher. I am not great enough to teach you." Teh young man continued his quest to be the greatest samurai of bow and arrow for some time, going from teacher to teacher. None could help. At last the young man reached the greatest teacher of the bow and arrow in all of the world.
Desparate he exclaimed, "Sensei, you must help me, I've been to every other teacher and they could not. Can you teach me how to be the best?"
The teacher looked at him and said, "Well, let's see. Shoot that fly over there through the eye."
The young man did.
"Pretty good. Yes, I think I can help you."
The young samurai so relieved that his quest was over happily asked, "What can I do?"
The teacher fired an arrow.

12-21-2001, 01:32 AM
You can also see this played out in "Enter the Dragon" Woot!
I think one interpertation could be, victory by any means.


There were commentary that explains the significance of this story. But, I would like to know other perceptions to the story. [/B]

12-21-2001, 10:32 AM
First of all, I like to thank you for sharing your stories on behalf of all the readers of this forum. They are all very helpful on all of our journey.

I'll write down the commentary on the pugnacious samurai by Hidy Ochiai.

When you consider Bokuden's attitude in dealing with the bragging, pugnacious samurai, you maybe struck by his calmness, which was the result of confidence in his own ability. A truly confident person never loses self-control in whatever situation he is forced into. Bokuden was not the least disturbed by the samurai's challenge to a duel, which would have been a life-and-death combat.

In contrast to Bokuden's serene, mature manner, which is that of a truly strong person, the arrogant samurai's attitude was almost comical. In any society, there are always insecure individuals who boast about whatever they think they are, or whatever they think they can do. This type of individual is usually desperately seeking recognition and attention from others. O fcourse it is natural that one wants to be "counted" and to be thought of as someone of worth. But it is comical when an individual demonstrates this desire, basic to all human beings, in an antisocial, undisciplined, and immature way.

12-21-2001, 10:46 AM
Very nicely put, Abas-san. And I believe I heard that story of living calmness also... just forgot where I read it. It is true... all great swordsman avoided fights that they couldn't win, even Musashi testified to this.

The commentary continues...

It should be also be appreciated that Bokuden, who was believed to be virtually invincible in sword fighting, did not respond to the bad samurai's challeng in the manner that an ordinary person might have expected. It would have been easy for him to face this threatening samurai with his sword and cut him down with one stroke. But Bokuden was not eager to use his awesome skill in sword fighting.

Again, the truism exists in any society - a really strong person does not resort to violence unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Bokuden knew that life is precious, no matter what, and at the same time, he knew he had to teach a lesson to the belligerent samurai. Bokuden considered his skill of sword fighting to be too precious to be used against a samurai of such low attitude. The superiority of the true master was obvious in his non-aggressive attitude.

12-21-2001, 10:54 AM
The following commentary has correlation to Abas-san's reply.

It is also noteworthy that Bokuden's ingenuity taught the bad samurai a lesson in a more devastating way than fighting could have done. If killed, the samurai would have never learned a lesson. If he was injured in combat against Bokuden, it would only have shown that he was defeated in combat by Bokuden.

But when he was left alone on the shore, shouting helplessly, he realized that his mind was no match against Bokuden's. This was a great lesson to him as well as to those who watched the scene. Considering the fact that losing face is the worst humiliation of a samurai, Bokuden's tactics defeated the man more clearly than any other way.

12-21-2001, 04:24 PM
Here is a story from a sunday tabloid. (the people june 94)

A man who lived to 105 years old was asked the secret of old age. He replied " That he never argued with anyone ". When the reporter fiercely attacked his opinion saying " Don't be stupid, that can't be the secret to old age", he replied " Maybe your right".

:square: :circle: :triangle:

12-21-2001, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by JPT
Here is a story from a sunday tabloid. (the people june 94)

A man who lived to 105 years old was asked the secret of old age. He replied " That he never argued with anyone ". When the reporter fiercely attacked his opinion saying " Don't be stupid, that can't be the secret to old age", he replied " Maybe your right".

:square: :circle: :triangle:

If the opposite is true, I will die at a very young age :(

12-22-2001, 11:22 PM
If the opposite is true, I will die at a very young age

my sincere condolences edward... :D

12-22-2001, 11:56 PM
Originally posted by Edward

If the opposite is true, I will die at a very young age :(

Maybe you're right.

12-23-2001, 08:25 AM
This next commentary is on the bicycle and the martial artist:

In observing the world situation, one cannot help wondering why there are so many military conflicts, large and small, that always bring hardship, misery, and pain ordinary citizens. There must be methods of resolution other than ones that involve the use of weapons of destruction, no matter how complicated and difficult the problems may be.

Thank you to Hidy Ochiai for this commentary...

Since this is my last post this year (I'll be goin to Bali for vacation monday afternoon - WIB), so I would like to say:

"Have a merry christmas and a happy new year, and to all peace on earth"

12-23-2001, 09:18 AM
Hey Mal, i'd be going to Bali too tomorrow!
(*sorry OOT*) but just had to bring it up since u're online :P maybe we'd meet in the airport.

btw, like the stories everyone. check out the zen humour at the chitchat block.