Daily Journal

Tsukahara Bokuden

My three year old daughter accosted me today with a pot lid and an umbrella, declaring herself a princess-knight. I was very proud. A little known fact is that both my daughters are named after D&D characters of my youth. When it comes to geek-cred, that’s essentially as good as it gets. (I wore down my wife’s resolve… eventually it was just easier to let me have this victory than suffer my ever constant mewling). [As an aside, if I had sired a male, I would have campaigned very hard to name him Tiberius] Going to the bookshelf I retrieved a hallowed tome and handed it her. ‘Look’, I said, ‘A princess-knight’.

This book must be… almost as old as I am now. Scary stuff.

In any event. She is she is too young still to appreciate that Tsukahara Bokuden was once supposed to have defeated Miyamoto Musashi by parrying his sword blow with a pot lid. So her choice of shield/cooking utensil is… I want to say historically apt, but it is unlikely that Miyamoto Musashi and Tsukahara Bokuden actually ever dueled.

There is however one cool story about Tsukahara Bokuden that I really like. The art of no-sword fighting. The ultimate play on manoeuvre warfare.

Tsukahara Bokuden was travelling incognito by ferry when a young, brash swordsman started making trouble. The swordsman was regaling everyone within earshot of his great victories and accomplishments and generally getting in everyones face. Eventually the swordsman noticed Tsukahara sitting down with his eyes closed ignoring the commotion. His eyes fell upon Tsukahara’s swords.

The young swordsman brazenly walked up to Tsukahara and demanded what style of swordsmanship he followed. Tsukahara kept his eyes closed ignoring the antagonist before finally deigning to speak to the swordsman by saying that he followed the school of ‘No sword fighting’.

The brash young swordsman laughed and challenged Tsukahara to a duel saying he would dearly love to see this style of ‘No sword fighting’. Tsukahara considered the man and then agreed to the duel on condition that they duel on a nearby island instead, that way the other passengers on the boat wouldn’t get in the way. The swordsman agreed and Tsukarhara had the captain of the ferry make for the nearby island. Once there, the swordsman jumped ashore and taunted Tsukahara to hurry up. Tsukarhara instead, took a long oar and pushed the boat away from the shore, leaving the enraged swordsman on shore of the island hurling obsentities at the ferry. ‘That’, said Tsukahara is my style of no sword fighting’.

Also known as getting owned in Japan circa 1560.

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