The Old Master

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A long time ago in China a small old man with a long beard was walking through the woods, leaning on a gnarled walking stick. At a turn in the path he found three bandits attacking a poor peasant who was on his way home from the market. The old man approached the bandits slowly and said in a soft but firm voice, “Stop. Leave that man alone.”

“Go away, old man. Mind your own business! Commanded the leader of the bandits, a towering bearlike man.

Calmly the old man replied, “Don’t you know that if you do evil, evil will come back to you?”

“Stop preaching, old man, or I’ll smash you like this,” said the huge man, and kicked at a nearby tree, smashing it in half.

The old man smiled faintly. “I do not fear you.” he said.

With that, this headstrong bandit lost his temper and kicked out at the small man. Seemingly without effort, the old man brushed aside the kick, and the bandit went crashing on his back in the dust.

The second bandit, a tall wiry woman with piercing eyes, drew her sword and rushed forward toward the old man. She slashed at the man’s head, but before she completed the move, the old man had already moved out of range. The woman turned around to see the third bandit, who had tried to tackle the old man’s legs, go flying through the air and land in a big puddle of mud.

The three bandits, now outraged at this humiliation, growled, cursed and made fierce faces, and attacked the old man all at once. But the little man could not be touched, and the three bandits landed in a heap, one on top of the other.

Realizing that they were in the presence of a master, the three fell to their knees and begged the old man to forgive them. “Take us as your students, please, teach us what you know. Teach us how to fight.”

“I cannot teach you my fighting art,” said the old man, “for this art cannot be given to those who will use it to bully other people. The martial arts are for those of good character who will protect people from bullies like you. In fact, if you do not have the right attitude, I could teach you for the rest of my life and yours, and you still would not comprehend this art.”

But the three bandits continued to plead, and promised they would change their ways and give up their bandit lives. After they apologized to the much-relieved peasant, the bandits and the old man walked off into the woods together.

 

Story taken from The Martial Arts by Susan Ribner and Dr. Richard Chin.

 

A great lesson for today’s martial artists.

Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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