Peace Initiative - Martial Arts Educator
Practical Martial Arts & Spirituality
Jujutsu Master Tesshu served in the household of the Emperor Meiji as Japan transformed from a feudal to a modern society. Meiji enjoyed Sumo wrestling and often wrestled with his aids. Since he was the Emperor his opponents always let him win, giving Meiji a false impression of his own abilities. One evening Tesshu was drinking sake with the emperor and some of the other aids when the emperor challenged Tesshu to a sumo match.
Since he did wanted neither to humiliate the emperor nor fake a loss, Tesshu politely declined to wrestle the emperor. Meiji insisted and, having drunk a lot of sake, became angry at Tesshu’s continued refusal. Meiji began to shove Tesshu but found him to be solidly grounded. He threw a punch at Tesshu, but Tesshu moved slightly to the side, causing the emperor to lose his balance and tumble to the floor. Tesshu then pinned him to the ground while the other aids shouted at him to be appropriately respectful. Eventually Tesshu released the emperor and went to another room.
Everyone demanded that Tesshu immediately apologize for causing such humiliation to the emperor, but Tesshu only said “If I deliberately let him throw me I would be nothing better than a lackey, whereas I have pledged my life to him. He must learn not to lose his temper and not to be a bully. If he does not learn defeat in a wrestling match he will become a tyrant. Tell him what I have said and if he orders me to commit suicide I will do so immediately.
The emperor sent Tesshu a message to say that he would henceforth abstain from both sake and sumo….
This story represents perhaps the most important lesson that one can learn from martial arts and spirituality. I believe that human beings learn humility, peace and kindness through personal experience that sometimes is not very pleasant. “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”.
Martial arts today have become very arrogant. From violent sports to nasty, humiliating videos depicting people hurting one another all over the Internet. The goal seems only to be “get the other guy before he gets you.” This is the teacher’s fault, not the student.
Like Tesshu, the Sensei or instructor today must teach the student the martial arts with a greater goal in mind. Most people enter the martial arts to learn how to defend themselves. The student must be taught what it feels like to be struck before he is allowed to ever strike anyone else. It is amazing that when one is taught this simple lesson, one is less likely to engage in mindless violence. There is an old saying; “One who has never been in war is always the first to rush off to war”.
Sensei Ted Hanulak
Sensokan Dojo Indianapolis