Matajuro Yagyu was the son of a famous swordsman. His father, believing that his
son’s work was too mediocre to anticipate mastership, disowned him.
So Matajuro went to Mount Futara and there found the famous swordsman Banzo. But
Banzo confirmed the father’s judgment. “You wished to learn swordsmanship under
my guidance?” asked Banzo. “You cannot fulfill the requirements.”
“But if I work hard, how many years will it take me to become a master?”
persisted the youth.
“The rest of your life,” replied Banzo.
“I cannot wait that long,” explained Matajuro. “I am willing to pass through any
hardship if only you will teach me. If I become your devoted servant, how long
might it be?”
“Oh, maybe ten years,” Banzo relented.
“My father is getting old, and soon I must take care of him.” continued
Matajuro. “If I more intensively, how long would it take me?”
“Oh, maybe thirty years,” said Banzo.
“Why is that?” asked Matajuro. “First you say ten and now thirty years. I will
undergo any hardship to master this art in the shortest time.”
“Well,” said Banzo, “in that case you have to remain with me for seventy years.
A man in such a hurry as you are to get results seldom learns quickly.”
“Very well,” declared the youth, understanding at last that he
was being rebuked for impatience, “I agree.”
Matajuro was told never to speak of fencing and never to touch a sword. He
cooked for his master, washed the dishes, made his bed, cleaned the yard, cared
for the garden, all without a word of swordsmanship.
Three years passed. Still Matajuro labored on. Thinking of his future, he was
sad. He had not even begun to learn the art to which he had devoted his life.
But one day Banzo crept up behind him and gave him a terrific blow with a wooden
The following day, when Matajuro was cooking rice, Banzo again sprang upon him,
After that, day and night, Matajuro had to defend himself from unexpected
thrusts. Not a moment passed in any day that he did not have to think of the
taste of Banzo’s sword.
He learned so rapidly he brought smiles to the face of his master. Matajuro
became the greatest swordsman in the land.