Two samurai, Isao and Kyuzo, each seeking saki and shelter during a night of heavy rain, became aware of each other seated separately on the tatami mats around the same low table in the bar of a country inn. The weather discouraged both travel (retreat) and outdoor swordplay, while samurai nature required evaluation of a rival’s skill (and all samurai regarded each other as potential rivals).
Talk being largely unnecessary among samurai, Isao picked up a cherry from a fruit bowl on the table, tossed it up into the darkness hiding the ceiling, then in a flash unsheathed his katana, twisted it blade up and sliced, and two halves of cherry, one pitted and one with pit, fell to the table on either side of the blade.
Kyuzo chuckled, picked up a cherry and tossed it up into the darkness above them, then all in a flash unsheathed his katana, twisted it blade up slicing, then twisted it blade down slicing, finishing with the sword held level and its blade horizontal. Two halves of cherry, pitted, fell on the table on either side of the sword, and the pit rested on the flat of Kyuzo’s blade.
Isao was impressed but not put off. There were a number of flies buzzing overhead, attracted by food that was still out, and the leftovers and scraps that had not yet been cleared away. One bluebottle fly was circling them annoyingly with a heavy buzz:
Isao pointed to it and said “watch.” He stood in a calm stillness like a tree in a forest, while the fly circled him.
In a flash he unsheathed his katana, slicing in an arc to his right —
then rested for a moment at the end of his stroke, and carefully sheathed his sword. He pointed with his outstretched palm to a part of the floor, and when a lantern was brought up close the two neatly sliced halves of the fly could be seen.
“Not bad,” said Kyuzo, and pointing to another big bluebottle fly, said “watch that big boy.”
He stood in a calm stillness like a tree in a forest, while the fly circled him.
In a flash he unsheathed his katana, slicing in a tightening arc to his right twisting into an upward cut —
Kyuzo sheathed his katana, as the fly raced around erratically, issuing its excited high-pitched buzz,
The above is my elaboration of a story I learned from Tom FitzPatrick, an avid rugby player, in 1978. This story is part of the vast, earthy oral tradition among rugby players. While presenting it here as text helps to preserve it in cyberspace, the audio effects which are intrinsic to an oral presentation are missing. The following “sound” definitions of letter-strings used above may help:
zuzuzuzuzu… = low-pitched, buzzing sound,
zeeeeeeeeee… = high-pitched buzzing sound,
uuP! = the sudden cessation of a low-pitched buzz.
A photo of Tom FitzPatrick’s chalkboard in February 1978 (Ah, boy talk in student days):