** clap clap **
The first year students rush to form two lines, each with five children. They are fresh and clean, and their gi sparkle with whiteness. They assume a rigid attention stance, waiting for their sensei to begin class. Some, still unused to the discipline, fidget a bit.
"Greetings class" the instructor says.
"Greetings, Sensei" the class says in unison.
"Today, I think we shall have our lessons in the fishpond garden, since it is a very nice day. First we must offer our homage to Lady Doji, Lord Kakita, and our Headmaster." The instructor says quietly. The children smile, this is going to be a fun class after all.
In silence, all in the room kneel, and bow to the framed portraits on the wall of the dojo. Hanging from each stud, is a scroll, with wisdom from Kakita's "The Sword", and other great Grandmasters of the Kakita Academy. Once they finish their homage, the students and teacher file out of the dojo, turning and bowing deeply to the empty dojo before leaving. In silence, they walk out of the building into the great gardens. After a few minutes, they arrive at a clearing with several small ponds, and an area with stone benches. The sun shines with a brilliant light, warming the area.
Once seated, the master looks around and smiles. "Truly this is a glorious day" he says and looks around at the expectant faces of these young ones. "Today we are going to discuss some of the writings of the great masters of Rokugan. So that we may better understand ourselves, and those of other clans."
"Kakita Ueshiba, what did Toshimoko-sensei mean when he said 'While you rest, your enemy practices.'?" The master asks.
"Sensei, he meant that one should never rest, and always practice." The young one says without hesitation.
"Very good. However, would you not say that it is less a formal injunction to always practice, than a warning that your enemies are always preparing themselves, and for you to do less would let down yourself, your family, your clan, and your empire? Furthermore, what kind of practice did Toshimoko-sensei refer to? Doji Kanazawa, your thoughts?"
A petite girl steps up "Master, Toshimoko-sensei was referring to practicing with the sword. Since he WAS the greatest swordsman to live."
"I see, this is important, because you are partly right. Toshimoko
understood that there are more ways to practice, because he understood, that
every endeavor where one competes with another, is a form of warfare. Working in
the courts to discuss a treaty, marshaling soldiers on a battlefield,
negotiating a trade. All of these are ways to use the art of advantage. The
sword itself is but a tool. The mind is the weapon. Always work to sharpen the
mind." The master replied, with a smile.
"Do you understand children, that every endeavor is a challenge, and whenever you are in a position to be confronted by someone who is in disagreement, you are in a state of war? This is a harsh reality. Conflict happens no matter where you are, especially when you are with another person who disagrees with you on a point. It becomes incumbent on you as a warrior to be able to handle each situation, with the same gravity but resolving it using the appropriate tool. For example, if you are in court, and someone insults you, do you immediately challenge them to a duel? No. You turn the insult back on the one who insulted you, and when they challenge you, you are ready. Remember, when faced in a battle, and you have to draw your sword, you have lost the war, if you are provoked into drawing before you are ready. And by practicing the arts which you are learning here, constantly, you shall be the one who practices while your enemy rests. Consider this, students, and you shall understand the way of things. Class dismissed." The aged master stands, and the students bow to him, he returns the bow, and the children disperse, save one.
"Doji Tenzen, why have you not gone to play, like the others?" the master asks.
"I am unsure I understand your lesson. Should I behave like a soldier all the time?" Tenzen asks, with a fearful look. "Isn't that what Lions do?"
"Tenzen, you ask very good questions. First, you should behave as a warrior. Soldiers follow the orders of those in the chain of command, and are restricted in how they may behave. A warrior answers to himself and his lord, to do what is needed at the moment. Yes, Lions are the consummate soldiers. They follow their chain of command, and will do what they are told. This is commendable. However, they become out of their element anywhere except in battle. A warrior is in his element everywhere, because he sets himself to study the Ten Abilities and Seven Arts, this prepares him for any situation, be it when he is in court, to when he is in a duel, to when he is on the battlefield. His preparations allow him to be ready for whatever comes, and he will know the correct way to handle a situation, without requiring time to ponder. For this is a truth, no matter where you are, if one hesitates, even for the space of the blink of an eye, one can be lost. Practice, and reflection, can teach you the Way. Now come, let us see if the cook has any treats, for I am hungry." At that, the master stands, and walks down the path, his hand on the shoulder of the student.