Thanks to Sathya for sharing this nice story.
A long time ago, in a land far, far way, there lived two boys. The two
boys were fast friends, and they could be seen together every day.
When one of them wanted to swim in the river, the other went with him.
When one of them wanted to ride horses, the other went with him. When
one of them had chores to do, the other one helped him. They were
always together in everything that they did.
One afternoon, while the boys were down by the river skipping stones,
some other boys a little older than they were came walking by. They
saw the two boys standing by the river laughing and throwing rocks,
and they decided that since no one was around, they could do as they
They walked up behind the two boys and said, “You two! Turn around. We
want to talk to you.”
The two boys dropped their rocks and turned around. They were facing
three older boys. The one in the middle was the one doing the talking.
He said, “Do you have any money?”
The two young boys were frightened, but they answered him firmly,
The older boy said, “Give it to me.”
The boys answered, “No. You get your own money.”
At this the older boys looked at each other in shock. How dare these
two speak to them in such a defiant tone of voice! The two boys were
younger and smaller than they were. They would teach the two boys a
The older boy said, “You should not have said that!” And he ran at
them with his friends. The two boys held up their hands and tried to
struggle, but the older boys pushed them down on the ground and began
The kicks hurt terribly, and two boys screamed for the older boys to
stop kicking them while they lay on the ground. The older boys laughed
and continued kicking until the young boys were beaten soundly. Then
the older boys took their money, and walked away.
After that day the two boys decided that they would learn the art of
karate. They walked together to the home of a man who they knew was a
master instructor of karate. They knocked on his door together, and
they waited together while they heard the shuffling of someone’s feet
coming to the door.
The door opened slowly, and behind it was an old man with grey hair.
He said, “Hello, boys. Why are you here?”
The two boys looked at each other, nodded, and then said at the same
time, “We want you to teach us karate. Would you please, sir?”
“Why would you wish me to teach you karate?” He asked.
The boys answered, “We were beaten down by the river. We need to be
able to protect ourselves.” They nodded after they said this,
emphasizing that they were very ready for karate lessons.
The old man said, “I see. Very well. Come inside why don’t you, and we
will begin your lessons at once.”
The two boys stepped into the old man’s home and looked around. It was
very quiet inside, but in the back he had a large empty room. He took
the two boys back there, and he began to show them karate.
Every day, the two boys would come to the old man’s home at the same
time, wait on his porch, and go inside his house when he finally came
to the door to let them in. Sometimes, while they were waiting, they
would take some of the tools from the shed in the yard and do some
chores. The man was old, and they liked to help him.
The two boys would then go into the old man’s house and practice
karate with him. He taught them to stretch, to roll, to fall, to
punch, kick, throw, wrestle, and everything that he knew, one step at
After a few lessons, it became apparent to the old man that one of the
boys was naturally gifted at karate, for he only needed to see someone
else perform a move or technique to learn it himself. The other boy,
however, despite being just as smart and strong, was not so talented,
and he struggled through each and every lesson to keep up.
The boy who was talented began to feel as though his friend was
holding him back, because the old man gave him so much attention.
Perhaps he was also a little jealous, too. The boy who was not
talented began to feel as though he was being left behind, because he
had to struggle so much to keep up. And, maybe he also felt a little
The old man simply grinned at the two boys and ignored either of them
if they complained about the other. He knew they had been friends
their whole lives and had done everything together, and that they were
growing in new ways and would have to learn to accept these changes
and understand them. When they asked him questions about it, he
answered them honestly.
“Why is my friend better at karate than I am? We have the same
lessons. We practice the same! It does not seem fair!” One of them
asked one day.
The old man replied, “It is because you are unique and different
people, growing up to be different men. Your friend can move without
thinking. You cannot move without thinking. Do you understand?”
He did not. Neither did his friend when he asked why the other was so
As the months went by, the boys continued to train together under the
master’s eye. The very talented boy would always win any match between
the two, moving quickly and easily around the room, hitting his friend
with controlled blows which did not injure him, but were still just as
humiliating. This would cause untalented friend to spend long time
alone practicing on his own, writing notes to himself, and thinking
about his karate practice so that he could keep up.
The boy with talent would beat him again at their next meeting. The
boy without talent would struggle through, and then would think deeply
about why this had happened and what he could do about it. Sometimes
he would ask the old man questions about different ways to practice
when he was alone, and the old man would advise him on the particulars
of what he was doing.
The years went by, and the boys grew into young men. One of them was
always learning things as if he already knew how to do them, the other
was always struggling, analyzing, struggling some more, and thinking.
More years passed, and the two young men became fully grown men, got
married, and moved into their own houses. But they still visited the
old man’s house every now and then to practice karate with him
watching and coaching the weaker of the two.
Eventually, the old man died. The two men were very sad to have lost
him. “I cannot believe our master is dead!” The strong one said.
The weaker one said, “Yes, it is quite terrible, and nothing shall
ever be the same again.” And they were both very, very mournful, and
they grieved by not practicing karate any longer. They had grown up,
and were both very strong, and everyone knew that they had mastered
the art of karate at the feet of the village master. They no longer
had any need of constant practice, for no one would bother them now.
Time passed, and the two men no longer lived near one another. The
stronger of the two had moved off to find his fortune, and the weaker
of the two had stayed behind in the village. Eventually, the weaker of
them had children of his own, and his children eventually asked him,
“Father, I wish to learn karate. Can you teach me?”
“Yes, of course. Are you sure you wish to learn karate? If you do,
then we must ask the village to help me build a dojo, because I do not
know how to build one myself.” The children did wish it, and so he
asked the village to help him add a large, empty room to the back of
his home where he could teach his children karate.
The men of the village agreed to help him build a dojo on the back of
his house, but before they would help him, they made him agree to a
bargain. “If we help you build this dojo, then you must also teach our
children as well, so that all of the children in the village can grow
up to be as wise in the ways of men as you are.”
The weaker of the two men agreed to this demand, and asked that they
please build the building.
The men of the village gathered with tools at his home, and after a
few days, a nice, large room was ready for him to begin teaching his
children and all of the children of the village. The next day, in the
afternoon, all of the children from around town had gathered on his
front porch, and he took them inside, just as the old man had done for
him, and he brought them to the room and he taught them.
He was very patient and kind with his students, and he helped them
with their karate technique. Some of them were naturally gifted, and
it seemed as though they only needed to be shown a technique or move
one time to be able to do it. Others required more attention, for they
could not move without thinking. The strong ones seemed very talented,
and the others seemed to struggle through every lesson, even though
the weaker of the two men was kind and patient with his explanations.
How could he be otherwise? It was how he had learned at his teacher’s
Eventually, one of the weaker children he was teaching approached him
and said, “I am very weak at karate, and I always lose my matches.
Everything I try seems not as good as the others. This seems hopeless.
I am no good at karate, and I will never be a great teacher like you.”
The weaker of the two men stared at the child for a moment, and then
he smiled and said, “One day, I will introduce you to my friend, who
is very strong, and he will tell you the secret of becoming the
greatest karate expert in the land. He is a great fighter, and he has
never lost a match. He is very fast, very strong, and very impressive.
Will you wait until you meet him to decide?”
The child agreed, and sulked as he walked back to his lessons.
Every day the children came to his house to learn karate. Every day,
the strong ones defeated the weaker ones, and the weaker of the two
men taught them and his children all of his tricks, strategies,
special practices, and understanding of karate so that they could
overcome their weaknesses and reach their potential.
One day, the weaker of the two men opened his door to let in the
children, and he saw his front porch had more than just his usual
students sitting there. Standing in the yard at the foot of the steps
of his home was the stronger of the two men, much older now, with two
young boys standing next to him.
The eyes of the weaker of the two men opened very wide in joy and
surprise and he yelled, “Aha! My old and dear friend! How I have
missed you these long years! You look well and stronger than I as
always! I have so looked forward to you coming to my home and teaching
my students the secret of becoming a great karate teacher!”
The stronger of the two said, “Indeed I shall teach your students that
secret right now. I am a great champion of karate. I have defeated
every karate man that I have ever met. I can kick and punch faster
than anyone. My movements are naturally graceful and strong. I am
gifted with talent that was given to me on the day that I was born.
There is no other who can oppose me in a match of karate fighting and
hope to win.”
The children stared at the strong man standing with the two boys.
“When my two sons became old enough, they asked me to teach them
karate and make them into champions as well. Of course I agreed. I am
the greatest champion in the land, so why should I not do this?”
The children looked at the boys, envious that they were learning from
the greatest karate man they had ever seen.
“But my sons did not inherit my natural gift. They are like their
mother, not me. They cannot move without thinking. So every time they
move, they must think about it. They ask me many questions, but I have
no answers. They ask me how to do things, and I cannot tell them. I
never struggled when I learned, for I never had to try. I never
thought about how to move, because I could move without thinking.”
The children looked at the boys, sad for them that they did not have
the great champion’s natural talent.
The champion continued, “I realized yesterday that I cannot teach
karate. I can only do karate. I have brought my sons here to be taught
by you, old friend. I am the champion, but you are the master. It is
you who struggled through many problems. It is you who thought deeply
about how to move best. It is you who knows the many mysterious ways
to overcome obstacles and improve despite having no talent.
“The greatest karate teacher in the land is you, because you cannot
move without thinking. I beg of you, please teach my sons.”
And the master agreed.