One day a great master of the sword was taking a ferry ride down the river to meet a boyhood friend who was another master of kenjutsu. They meet every now and then to eat and drink and talk of old times. During the ferry ride, the sword master sat quietly looking at the riverbank and contemplating life. On another part of the ferry was a gang of young men shouting and drinking, and generally behaving rudely. The gang annoyed one party of travelers and then another, all the time working their way up the ferry towards the master. About halfway through the ferry ride the rowdy youths reached the old man and had begun to taunt him. At first he appeared oblivious to the proceedings, for he was happy contemplating nature.
"Hey old man!" one of the youths shouted. "Move over we want to sit here."
"So sorry" the old man replied, then he stood up and moved along to make way for the rowdy youths. As it was about lunch time he opened up his bento (lunch box) and began eating some pickled radish and rice.
"Hey old man!" the same youth cried, "Give me your food I am hungry too."
The old man looked up and, smiling, offered the youth part of his lunch. "I want it all said the youth. Can't you see I have my friends with me."
The old man replied, "You are welcome to half of what I have, but I am also hungry."
The youth reached out and attempted to snatch the bento from the old man. A subtle move by the sword master and a shift of body weight left the youth snatching at fresh air, then he toppled over on to the deck.
"You will die for that, you stupid fool!" The youth began to pull his sword from its saya. By this time, the captain of the ferry had been called and appeared on the scene.
"What's going on?" he inquired. The youth turned around to face the captain and said sneeringly. "Why Captain, I'm about to teach this old man a lesson he will never forget."
"Do you know who that old man, as you call him, is?" asked the captain.
"No, who is he?"
"That my hasty, hot-tempered friend is the famous Tsukahara Bokuden, the finest swordsman in all of Japan."
The youth laughed out loud, as did his comrades. "He doesn't look as though he could lift a sword let alone wield one." By now the youth had pulled his katana completely out of its saya and pointed it tauntingly at the old man. "Come on old man, fight me and let's see what you can do. Tell me what your style is, so that I will know how inferior it is after I kill you."
"My style is that of the No Fight Style." the old man quietly replied.
"No fight!" jeered the youth. "I have not heard of that school before. It must be a sword school for old men and cripples." And with that derogatory comment the youth burst into laughter. The situation now looked serious. The old man knew that no matter what he did the youth was spoiling for a fight and would not let up until he got one. "If we fight on this ferry the confined space will inhibit our movements, and we could also injure some passengers." The old man then pointed to an island a few hundred yards up the river. "I think we should go to that island and fight there."
The youth gracelessly agreed. The captain allowed them to borrow a rowing boat and they rowed toward the island. The youth was the first out of the boat, almost drawing his sword at the same time, so eager was he to finish the old man off. "Wait said the old man. Is it not customary to stand back to back, walk twenty paces and then turn before we start to fight?"
"Have it anyway you want it old fool. You're going to die whatever we do."
The youth stormed off up the beach, counting loudly up to twenty. At twenty he turned around with his sword raised in the air, only to see that old man merrily rowing back to the ferry. The youth cursed and screamed, but to no avail. "With my No Fight Style one is the victor of a thousand battles!" shouted the sword master.
Tsukahara Bokuden knew his skill with a sword was unsurpassable and so had saved the life of the youth, though the youth did not know it, by using a simple ruse.
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