Two Samurai Duel

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 —

Zuzu-uuP! —

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,


Isao conceded.


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):

2 thoughts on “Two Samurai Duel

  1. Amend this vicious tale forthwith or you will live forever in cyberspace as 2016!, the ape (male) who never made it into the enlightened Third Millennium. Empower the insects, one with an elegant naturale eius debent, another with a limp penis and the third with a mindset that has brought it to midpoint in a sex change. (Don’t say that at your age you can’t see that small. Get a magnifying glass.) Change the Asiatic brutes to Nazi-skins armed with defective flyswatters. You may in this way escape the public pillory but you will have to end your days (luckily in your case not many) in itchy guilt, clad in sackcloth. Skip the ashes. Even the lowest of oldies have given up smoking.

    • Oh no! The arbiters of up-to-the-moment “socially acceptable speak & labels” have caught me violating their strict superior enlightened code for discourse among properly trained people, causing psychological injury to their refined 21st century sensibilities by my wallowing in the recreational parlance and atavistic attitudes of the previous century! I tremble in fear at the imminent opprobrium I shall suffer in the form of disciplinary “old-shaming” and “man-shaming” and “boy-talk shaming!” Oh!, the cruelty of ostracism by modern inclusiveness! O, cowardly new world that has such people in’t!

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