An old man once entered a village and noticed a sign proclaiming the me of a local Iaido school. Knowing that it was customary for a dojo’s Sensei to accept all challenges, the old man decided upon a very dangerous plan. If he could entice the Sensei into a duel and be defeated but not killed, he would by tradition be offered food and drink, as well as a place to sleep for the night.
THE VOICE WITHIN
Summoning all his courage, the old man walked boldly into the dojo and proclaimed his intention to challenge the Sensei to a duel. Upon hearing his students’ report of the events, the Sensei immediately put on his swords and hurried to the dojo. The two politely bowed to each other and introduced themselves. The old man re-issued his challenge, explaining that it was not his intention to challenge for ownership, but merely to test each man’s skill with the sword.
The Sensei accepted and because of the ture of the challenge, they agreed to fight using wooden practice swords. Since the old man had no skill at all with a sword, he stood facing the Sensei with the wooden sword held casually at his side. The Sensei upon observing how open the old man was to an attack and how unbelievably foolish his defensive posture appeared, suddenly began to believe that this duel might not have been such a good idea after all. Slowly in his mind he began to wonder about the old man’s skill, and in turn he began to doubt himself and his chances for victory.
The Sensei knew, however, that his own reputation and that of his dojo was at stake. So he took an aggressive posture. For what seemed a very long time, the two men just stood facing one another, neither of them making the slightest move. The old man knew he had no choice in the matter; all he could do was wait for the Sensei to attack and claim his victory.
The Sensei had meanwhile thoroughly convinced himself that he did indeed face a true Iaido master, but even so he knew that he must do something very soon. So he started to move towards the old man, determined to press home his attack with all his skill.
The old man on seeing the look on the Sensei’s face and sensing that he was about to be attacked in full force, quickly dropped his sword. Falling to his knees, he broke down and confessed that he had not eaten in days, that he hoped merely to survive the challenge and be offered a meal and a place to sleep for the night.
Upon hearing this, the Sensei was suddenly realized that by allowing his own doubts to fill his mind and by fantasizing about his opponents abilities, he had almost defeated himself. He decided then and there to change the me of his fighting style to ‘Mu Nen Ryu’ - The School of No Thought.