The students of the great master Winfang Li came up to him and said, “Master, the villagers feel that Yokomita Kuwahara, who lives in the mountains, is the greatest martial artist alive.”
Winfang Li, a seventh generation martial artist, who lived in the woods, merely smiled in response.
The students continued, “But that’s not true, master. You are the greatest martial artist ever!”
After a protracted silence, the master said, “There is no greatest and there is no smallest. We are all children of nature and she sees no differences.”
“What if the other person thinks otherwise?”
“A true martial artist does not worry about other people’s thoughts but only responds appropriately to the situation.”
“Isn’t it our duty to correct his attitude? He claims to be a great master. Remember you said that there are no bad students but only bad teachers. If the teacher has the feeling that he is the greatest, then what will happen to his students?”
“How do you know what he has claimed? Have you met him? Do you even know him?”
“No master, we it heard from his students.”
“Students say that out of love for their teacher. Just like how you say things about me.”
“Let us train.”
The master silenced them, but only for a while. Time and again the topic came up and every time, the students’ argument got stronger. On one occasion, they said, “Master, the students of that Kuwahara are creating nuisance in the village. Today they beat up a village boy for no fault of his. You must do something about it.”
“Did you see that happening? Do you have all the facts before you make a judgment?”
“No, we heard about it, but why would anybody lie about such things?”
The master did not respond but the students continued, “Master, you should fight Kuwahara in public and show that you are greater. Then his students will know that they were following a wrong teacher. You should show them the right way.”
At some point the master gave in. He thought that perhaps there was some truth in this and he might solve the problem by meeting with Kuwahara, if not sparring with him. He gave his consent.
Up in the mountains, pupils of the venerated Yokomita Kuwahara had been saying similar things about Winfang Li, who lived in the woods. The master paid no heed to them. And so, when his students told him that Winfang Li’s students have invited him for a public fight with their master, he was amused, not shaken.
The two masters met at the appointed place and time. All the villagers had gathered in anticipation of an exciting contest. The students of both sides were cheering and shouting slogans. Winfang Li entered first and took his position on the mat. Yokomita Kuwahara entered next, with unhurried steps, and stood calmly in front of his adversary. His mind was nowhere in particular.
A single glance into the master’s eyes and Winfang Li realized his mistake. Here was no martial artist tainted with ego. Standing in front of him was a wise man who emanated peace from his very being. How to fight against a person who is ego-less? The idea is absurd. And so, when the gong was struck and the fight was to begin amidst much noise and fanfare, Winfang Li bowed respectfully to Yokomita Kuwahara, pointed to the direction of the village market, and said in a gentle voice, “Sensei, please join me for a cup of tea.”
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Hari Ravikumar, from the fifth batch of BWW, is a man who wears many hats. Some of which include, musician, teacher, philosopher, writer, and translator. He is an avid reader of the classics and adores the fiction of Saki. His last assignment with BWW was to date someone and base a story on the date. We have been waiting for a comprehensive report since then.
About Hari Ravikumar
Hari Ravikumar aspires to be a writer, musician, martial artist, designer, and polyglot. After transiting from being a Mechanical Engineering student to a Software Programmer to a Content Manager/Editor, he is now semi-retired and spends most of his time in solitude figuring out ways to simplify his life. He is also the co-author of ‘The New Bhagavad-Gita: Timeless wisdom in the language of our times’ with Koti Shreekrishna.
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