Japanese Swordsmanship is now known to be "Kendo". The name, "Kendo" was the one given after Meiji Restoration in 1867. Before Meiji era, it was referred to as either "Kenjutsu" or "Hyoho". It was the end of the sixteenth century and first half of the seventeenth century when Japanese Swordsmanship started to be systematized. It was this period when legendary masters of "Kendo" appeared and left their extraordinary stories on their skills, fights, and spirits.
"Ono" was the second pupil of the legendary master, "Ito". Ito had two pupils. The older pupil was "Zenki." Zenki was a big and powerful swordsman. Earlier, he was helping Ito to show their swordsmanship to opponents. Later he became jealous of his own master, Ito. The master Ito did not like Zenki's style of using his body size and power as an advantage to defeat enemies. However, he was strong and continued to defeat Ito's enemies. Ono, in contrast, was a moderately built, skinny person. He was more an intellectual type than a swordsman. He was skillful, speedy, and flexible. He could win against fighters who were bigger and stronger than him. Ono could not win against Zenki however. Zenki's strength was power, skill, and speed combined.
Ito, close to his death, summoned these two pupils and told them to fight. He showed the Book of Mysteries for Ito style Kenjutsu to both of them. He concluded that the swordsman, who won, would be given the book and the name to be the official successor of Ito style Kenjutsu.
Zenki was glad. He believed he would win and become the Master. Ono thought his chances of winning were not large. He did not give up and continued to think of how to win. During the fight, Ono used "Willow tree technique" rather than going against the power Zenki tried to use. Ono defeated Zenki.
The master Ito summoned Ono, after their fight. He handed a lacquer painted box to Ono and asked him to open it. Ono bowed to his master and the box and opened the box. It was empty. There was nothing inside of black lacquered box. Puzzled, Ono asked Ito the meaning. Ito said, "You defeated the person you and others believed to be stronger than you. That was the mysteries of my style of Kenjutsu." Ono was still frowning. Ito continued, "Do not you understand? It is you. You are the mysteries of my swordsmanship." The master continued that there were two essential reasons why Ono won. i. Ono did not give up. ii. He continued to think about how to win.
Ito meant that Ono mastered the essentials of swordsmanship by defeating an obviously opponent than himself. No matter how many times a swordsman wins, if he defeats only weaker people, he is not a master. Only ones who win obviously stronger enemies are an invincible. Therefore, he was the master. He did not need any book, any more.
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