I am neither Kakita nor Mirumoto, though I can claim some measure of understanding in their histories and their names. In these pages, I have recorded the lessons of the sword that I sought out and experienced, as a gift to the two clans who did not forsake me, and as my duty to honor the Path and the Way.
- Kakita Koshin
A swordmaster is one who understands limits; he can perceive both those of others, and those of his own body, skill and soul. In knowing his limits, the swordmaster can force himself to greater pinnacles. By knowing the limits of his enemies, he can force them beyond them, to defeat and self-decay. To recognize these limits is something that cannot be grasped during self-training, no matter how rigorous; even one's own limitations are more vivid in the face of a worthy foe.
A swordmaster is one who lives in the moment; he does not fight beyond or behind the breath of combat, reacting to his enemies in the heartless time between their strike. This does not mean that a swordmaster should lack foresight, or that he should abandon the lessons he has learned: rather, it is important that he does not trust his perceptions to the extent of abandoning self-awareness, and that he must recognize his past lessons as mere facets of the moment of the fight.
There are those in the world who are proficient with many weapons; like waves upon sand, they flow and change from one to another, their skills resting in both versatility and scattered form. For the swordmaster, there is one the One Weapon. I do not speak of one sword, or two swords, but instead of the one being, man and weapons, that, through spirit and diligence, is formed for the fight. To perfect this One Weapon, the swordmaster must know his blade as he knows his own body; he must not be limited by it, nor permitted by sword or style to be restrained.
There is within all a strength that defies all others; the will to live, the drive to survive. For the swordmaster, who lives beneath constant danger, he must understand that importance and need for life, for himself and also for others, for it is in that power that he will find the strength to triumph when others fall. This is not a lesson that can be learned in forms and lessons, but by living life, with courage and honor, moment by moment, day by day.
There are those schools who attempt to forge their disciples into a pillar of perfect strength and power, but a swordmaster knows better than to believe in such Ways. The swordmaster is one who understands and cherishes even his weaknesses, knowing himself as one who denies nothing of who he is. In this way, he can gain the ability to know both strength and weakness can serve his lessons with the sword.
Even with his enemies, a swordmaster is merciful, knowing that life is a precious and beautiful thing. The swordmaster is one who seeks to wield a blade of both destruction and salvation, forever balanced on the edge of Tengoku and Jigoku. For this reason, the true warrior must hold the ability to give and take life in the greatest of virtues, and never destroy when there exists another way. This is not a lesson based upon practicality or sacrifices, but rather upon the importance of the lessons of all things.
As the swordmaster acts to improve upon his strength and powers, he must be wary, not to look too high towards the end of the path. The nature of the swordmaster is a Way that is never-ending, with each horizon revealing a greater peak. As he walks the Way, the swordmaster must live for the one step that he is taking, always remembering the ideals and abilities for which he is striving, while never letting them cloud the moment he now knows.
Hatred has no place in the stance of a man of the Kouryo-no-Ken; the art of hatred and raw emotion is not the Way of the sword. To those who you do battle with, in any arena, do not allow yourself to be forced into seeing them through eyes of hatred, for those eyes live for blood alone. It must be with eyes who see things clearly, unfettered by sadness or anger that the swordmaster should do battle, searching for truth, not justice, with the strength of his One Sword.
The swordmaster is one who must walk the path that few would follow; for much of his journey, he must rely upon himself and be alone. However, the Path of the sword is one that is drawn from the lessons that are gained from other people; not only adversaries, but friends and students and others the warrior might barely have known. For that reason, a swordmaster must not strive to divide himself from the physical world, for it is that world from which much wisdom may flow.
In times in the life of the swordmaster, he will be forced to take lives even with a sword of honor, and he will be challenged, in body and soul. At times, these lessons will hold little solace or wisdom; at those times, a true warrior must seek the answers on his own. Add to these words the sum and breath of your own experience; in that way you renew the truth within them, and make their words a piece of your own.