True Accomplishment

from Hagakure

In the secret principles of Yagyu Tajima no kami Munenori there is the saying, “There are no military tactics for a man of great strength.” As proof of this, there was once a certain vassal of the shogun who came to Master Yagyu and asked to become a disciple. Master Yagyu said, “You seem to be a man who is very accomplished in some school of martial art. Let us make the master-disciple contract after I learn the name of the school.”

But the man replied, “I have never practiced one of the martial arts.”

Master Yagyu said, “Have you come to make sport of Tajima no kami? Is my perception amiss in thinking that you are a teacher to the shogun?” But the man swore to it and Master Yagyu then asked, “That being so, do you not have some deep conviction?”

The man replied, “When I was a child, I once became suddenly aware that a warrior is a man who does not hold his life in regret. Since I have held that in my heart for many years, it has become a deep conviction, and today I never think about death. Other than that I have no special conviction.”

Master Yagyu was deeply impressed and said, “My perceptions were not the least bit awry. The deepest principle of my military tactics is just that one thing. Up until now, among all the many hundreds of disciples I have had, there is not one who is licensed in this deepest principle. It is not necessary for you to take up the wooden sword. I will initiate you right now.” And it is said that he promptly handed him the certified scroll.

This is a story of Muragawa Soden’s.