THE VOICE WITHIN
Matajuro was the son of a famous samurai. When he came of age, Matajuro asked his father to take him under his wing and teach him swordsmanship. But his father refused outright, saying Matajuro lacked the qualities to be a good swordsman.
Bitterly disappointed, Matajuro left home. After much wandering, he made his way to the famed academy of Banzo, the greatest swordsman in the land. But the master confirmed what Matajuro’s father had judged.
“You wish to learn swordsmanship under my tutelage? But you do not have what it takes to become one!” pronounced Banzo.
“If I work hard, how many years will it take to become a master?” persisted Matajuro.
“The rest of your life,” replied Banzo.
“I cannot wait that long! After I become your devoted servant, how long might it take?” asked Matajuro
“Oh, maybe ten years,” Banzo seemed to relent.
“My father is getting old. Soon I must take care of my family,” continued Matajuro, “If I work intensively day and night, would it take lesser time?”
“In that case, maybe thirty years,” said Banzo.
“Why is that? First you say ten and now thirty years! I will undergo any hardship to master this art in the shortest possible time,” Matajuro pleaded.
“Well,” said Banzo, “you will then have to remain with me for seventy years. A man in such hurry as you to get results seldom learns quickly.”
The youth understood. He was being rebuked for impatience. “I agree to whatever you deem fit, master,” he bowed humbly.
Matajuro was sternly ordered never to speak of swordsmanship, not even to touch a sword. He cooked for his master, washed the dishes, made his bed, cleaned the house and yard, cared for the garden.
Three years passed. Matajuro labored on. Sometimes he would think of his future, and grow sad. He had not even begun to learn the basics of the art to which he had devoted his life.
Then one day, Banzo crept up behind him in the yard and gave him a terrific blow with a wooden sword.
The following day, when Matajuro was cooking, Banzo sprang upon him, inflicting another lusty hit.
Day and night after that, Matajuro had to defend himself from unexpected thrusts. Every moment, he was obsessed with just one thought — how to avoid getting a taste of Banzo’s sword.
The youth learned rapidly — parrying, lunging, and thrusting with lightning accuracy. Before long, he made his master very proud. Matajuro went on to become the greatest swordsman in the land.