The Way of No-Sword

Miyamoto Musashi

One day Musashi is challenged by a belligerent samurai while the two are crossing between islands by ferry.

“What’s your style of fighting,” the samurai demands to know. “No-sword” replied Musashi.

Despite Mushashi’s best efforts to ignore him, the samurai picks a fight and Musashi finally agrees to duel the challenger. But, suggests Musashi, rather than fight on the cramped ferry, they should instead fight on that sandbar the ferry is approaching.

The challenger quickly agrees and leaps overboars as the ferry passes the sandbar.

Landing on the sandbar, the samurai whirls, sword at the ready–only to watch the ferry continue on toward the far shore–a, smiling, waving Musashi still on board!

Hours later, drenched in humiliation and dripping rage, the challenger finally wades ashore where he finds Musashi patiently fishing out of a small rowboat.

“You tricked me!” screams the samurai.

“Your eagerness to die tricked you,” shrugs Musashi.

“Your no-sword cannot defeat my real sword!” declares the challenger, advancing menacingly.

“It already has,” Musashi says smugly.

Confused by his intended victim’s apparent lack of concern for his own safety, the challenger hesitates, for the first time noticing Musashi is unarmed.

“Where is your sword?” the samurai demands, on guard against chicanery.

“The No-Swordsman keeps his sword where it will do the most good,” Musashi replies cryptically.

“No more tricks! Where is your weapon?” demands the samurai, his sword raised high.

“There,” sighs Musashi, pointing to the water lapping at the side of the boar.

Still suspicious, the samurai cautiously bends over the gunwale…

“Bah! I see nothing but my own reflection?”

“And that is where the no-swordsman keeps his weapon…in the mind of his enemy!” Musashi explains as he caves the samurai’s skull in with the rowboat’s heavy oak.

Miyamoto Musashi taught we should make our combat attitude the same as our everyday attitude. Like samurai on the battlefield, we must always be alert and prepared to deal with danger–whether an actual physical attack or a psychological incursion into our mental place. Likewise, we should carry our calm and collected attitude from home, our everyday life, out into the stressful world at large.

Source: “Musashi: No-Sword, No-Mind,” from Mental Dominance, by Haha Lung