Articles

The challenge.

How a name came to be.

One day a hungry old man entering a small village noticed a sign proclaiming the name 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, be defeated, but not killed, he would then by tradition be offered food, and drink. As well as a place to sleep for the night.

Summoning up all of his courage the old man approached the dojo. Then walking boldly in he proclaimed his intention to challenge the sensei to a duel. In response a senior student stepped forward, introduced himself. He said that his sensei was at home resting, but that he would gladly accept the challenge in his place. The old man refused, and instead asked that a student be sent to the sensei's home to tell him of the challenge. 

Upon hearing his student report of the events that had just taken place the sensei immediately put on his swords, and hurried to the dojo. When the sensei arrived he, and the old man, politely bowed to each other, and in turn introduced themselves. The old man re-issued his challenge, but explained that it was not his intention to challenge for ownership of the dojo. This duel was merely to be a test of each man's skill with a sword. The sensei accepted, and because of the nature of the challenge they agreed to fight using only a wooden bokken so that if a customary fatal cut was made, neither man would be killed.

The old man in truth had no skill at all with a sword. He was simply seeking a meal, and a place to rest. This plan had seemed to offer the best prospect for success. He stood facing the dojo's sensei across the tatami mat, and held the wooden sword very casually at his side. The sensei upon observing how open the old man was to an attack, and how unbelievably foolish his defensive posture was, 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. In turn he began to doubt himself, and his own chances for victory.

He 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 there facing one another. Neither of them made even the slightest move. The old man for his part could not understand what was taking so long, but he 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 on the other hand had  thoroughly convinced himself that he did indeed face a true sword 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 of his skill. Even though he now felt sure that he had no chance of winning. 

The old man 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 in fact had no skill at all with the sword. Going on he explained that he had not eaten in days. He had hoped merely to survive the challenge, then be offered a meal, and a place to sleep for the night. Upon hearing this the sensei was suddenly overcome with the realization that by allowing his own doubts to fill his mind, and by fantasizing about his opponents abilities, he had almost defeated himself.

It was then that he decided to change the name of his sword style to, Mu Nen Ryu - The School of No Thought.

Remember: "In life things are not always as they seem. Knowing how to separate fact from fiction can often be the difference between success and failure."