Bokuden, grand master of sword, had three son. One day, he wanted to present them to a colleague and prepared a ploy to show him the level they had reached. He put a vase on the corner of the door so that it falls on the head of whoever enters. He called his eldest son. It arrived at the door, stopped and picked up the vase before entering. Bokuden said to his colleague: “Here is my eldest son, he reached a good level and will soon become a master”. He called his second son , who entered. He succeeded to dodge the falling vase and caught it in flight. Bokuden said: “This is my second son, he still has a lot to learn.” He called his third son, who rushed in, got the vase on his head but succeeded to break the vase with his sword before it touches the ground. Bokuden said: “This is my third son, he is somewhat ashamed of the family, but he is still young.”
Obviously, there may be different ways of understanding this story. Here’s how I understand it. For me, martial arts leads to self control. Toward the ability to be receptive to what is happening in my environment and respond accordingly. In the context of the tale, the father wants to show how his sons are able to be alert for an unexpected perhaps even dangerous situation, and avoid it. In other words, how they perceive and react to what happens in their environment. But to achieve a high level of attention, the calm must be in us.
How to get this peaceful state by the practice of martial arts:
- Through a regular and disciplined practice we reach a high confidence in our ways.
- By our efforts we learn to overcome obstacles.
- Adhering to the philosophical principles that accompany most of the martial arts we become wiser.
- By confronting opponents we learn to control fear.
Did you notice that the third son rushes. The story wants to tell us that this reflects the eagerness of this son. That he has not yet reached that inner calm typical of those who managed to defeat the greatest enemy of all. Oneself. Martial arts are excellent disciplines to confront ourselves. And examples of masters who obtained this kind of control are numerous. In addition to learning the technique of my martial art, I seek regulary to discover unusual masters and I try to be inspired by them. I think I’d be at the second level. And you?
What my teacher says…
With enough time, any man may master the technical aspect of a martial art. With enough knowledge and good will, any man may become wise. The ultimate goal is to master both and surpass the result.
Tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice.