The Salt of Kinjiro’s Sword

One morning he was working in the dining room polishing the long table, carefully facing the doors, but otherwise relaxing his eternal vigilance. He gave the top a final rub with the cloth and rose to his feet when a Mow caught him across his shoulders sending him spread-eagle over the table. The pain penetrated his flesh. He levered himself up from across the board to be smitten with another blow that sent him sprawling once again on the hardwood top.

He rolled off the table into a corner and backed slowly up the wall until he was upright, there was just himself in the room. Kinjiro ground his teeth, he could not understand it, then he caught sight of a bamboo screen swaying gently back and forth, of course the window, he breathed. Oh how I’d like to catch him, thought Kinjiro, but he was no nearer meeting his attacker than he had been on the two previous occasions.

Over the next few weeks, Kinjiro was attacked more than a dozen times, he never got so much as a sight of the attacker and his frustration grew, but also so did his reaction. One day after he had been sent sprawling for the umpteenth time, he managed to turn so swiftly, as he was sent to the ground, that he actually caught a glimpse of his attacker, well just part of him, a long sleeve and what looked like a bamboo pole, disappearing round a doorway. By the lime Kinjiro reached the door, there was no sign of anyone, but he was heartened by his first success in trying to catch the mysterious attacker. Two days after this, he managed to swerve to one side while carrying a heavy bundle down the corridor, when he was attacked from a doorway he had passed, but the blow, although glancing, was sufficient to send him stumbling forward. This further strengthened the young man’s resolve to catch his assailant, although what he would do with him when he did, he hardly dare think. He still made repeated requests to the senior student for permission to start training, but so far he had been refused.

Twice more he manage to avoid the main attack and one he caught a glimpse of the entire back of his attacker, as he dodged round a corner. Without realising it Kinjiro was developing a sixth sense to these sudden and unexpected assaults, and they were now getting few and far between, but still he was occasionally being reached. Until one day, some six months after his arrival, while in the kitchen polishing the great copper lid of one of the largest cooking pots, he had a premonition of danger. Grasping the lid firmly he turned like lightening

source of attack, and as he did so, a tremendous blow descended on the lid driving it back on his chest, but keeping the force from reaching him. He looked up and gazed into the eyes of the fencing master, who held a long bamboo stave between his fingers. He smiled a thin tight lipped smile at the boy lying on his back looking up into his eyes. Report to the dojo tomorrow, Kinjiro, for your second lesson’.