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The Circle, By Shihan Randolph James

Posted on 28 March 2017

In the village of Karujii lived a boy named Jinso, and like all the other boys of the village, Jinso wanted badly to be a warrior. The village was known to hire out the most skilled warriors, and many lords would often hire them for secret missions. Jinso would often watch as the young men of the village would train, practicing the village's special art of "Bone Breaking". He admired this special art in comparison to the other warrior clans' Martial Arts. For some clans used poison, some used explosives, yet to take one's opponent using the empty hands suited Jinso, for he felt it held much honor.

Tired of watching the training, Jinso approached the master leading the class. "I am Jinso, age 16 and I want to train," he said in a small sturdy tone. "So...you want to train, do you?" replied Master Shinji. "Then go, and fetch firewood from the forest, and then I will teach you." Jinso could not believe his ears, for he had performed this same ritual over and over every year from the age of twelve and had not gotten even as much as a look from Master Shinji. "I must hurry and get the firewood least this chance be lost," Jinso now thought as he raced to the forest entrance looking for firewood. The forest was large and only small trees could be found there. No loose limbs or twigs could be found. "How am I to bring firewood when there are only trees here?" Jinso thought to himself. "I have no tool to use to cut the trees, so what can I do?" Not wishing to return empty handed, Jinso continued to look around the forest for any type of wood he could bring to the Master. Not finding any, he decided to return to the village.

"I have failed Master, I could not find any wood." Jinso sadly exclaimed. Upon seeing Jinso's disappointment, Master Shinji spoke. "Did you not see any trees in this forest?" he asked. "Yes," Jinso replied. "Then when you defeat them, your dream will be fulfilled." Upon returning to the forest the next day, Jinso found the smallest tree he could find. He remembered the words of the Master and thought carefully on the meaning of them. "If I defeat them, my dreams will be fulfilled? How do you defeat a tree?" he asked himself. Unable to find an answer, Jinso, filled with anger, struck the tree with a tremendous blow, using a seiken (forefist) punch. With a "crack" the limb of the tree splintered, yet it remained firm on the tree. "What was that?" Jinso exclaimed in shock. Realizing he had cracked the tree, he finally understood what the the Master meant. He immediately began to strike the tree branches using his hands and feet. After several strikes, the branch fell to the ground. Jinso was so excited that he didn't notice that his hands and feet were both covered in blood. Jinso continued this method until he had cut several branches off of the smaller trees.

Returning to the village, Jinso rushed to the Master to present the pile of wood. Upon seeing the young man approach, the Master began to smile. "Master, I understand now!" Jinso quickly shouted. "Good, your training has begun." For the next ten years of his life, Jinso returned daily to the forest to "cut wood" and as he grew into a man, he learned various methods of striking and locking joints to break them all. He became known as "Iron Hand Jin", a name that would soon be challenged.

It was often a custom for the various villages to hold a tournament in which the champion of one would meet the champion of another. And the village that won this event would receive a contract from the local lord as escorts. It came as no surprise to anyone that Jinso was chosen as the champion of the village of Karujii. His family felt honored, especially knowing that finally Jinso had achieved his dream. His opponent was called "Juko the Thrower" and his skill was that of tossing men and smashing them against the ground. Juko had been known to let men toss a coin in the air, and his opponent would be killed before the coin hit the ground. (usually with one throw). The reputation of his foe overwhelmed Jinso, this being his first real combat situation. "How will I defeat him if his skill is so sharp!" he wondered. He then sought out his Master to seek out how he should handle this new challenge. "What is the difference between a man and a tree?" Master Shinji inquired.

"A tree is made of wood and a man is made of flesh," Jinso replied, proud of his answer. "No," came the stinging reply of his Master. "Both have roots and limbs. Destroy a tree's root and it will surely die. Destroy it's limbs and it will not be able to provide shade. Do you understand?" With this, Master Shinji turned around and left, leaving Jinso to find the answer himself. On the day of the contest, both Jinso and Juko arrived early, both to prepare for this life or death match. The men didn't say a word to each other; they only occasionally glanced in the direction of one another. The bout would start when the two village chiefs rang a large gong. It hung from the village's front gate and usually was rung to welcome visiting lords. When the gong was rung, both men ran to the center of the area designated for the bout and assumed a fighting posture. Juko's hand's were positioned as to imitate a large bear, both hands held out in an open position. While Jinso's position was that of a large bow ,with arrow drawn. His front hand formed a fist, while his rear hand remained opened in a knife hand position, his stance low, and balanced.

It was Juko who attacked first, lunging to grab Jinso with both hands trying to grab for Jinso's lapels. Jinso immediately sidestepped the attack, and taking advantage of Juko's forward movement, quickly threw a right leg roundhouse kick to his opponent's head. The kick smashed into Juko's face with such fury that many of the villagers swore they heard the sound of bone breaking. But Juko was no ordinary man and the kick only momentarily dazed him, and in no time he had started his second attack. The second attack was that of a feint kick (front) followed by a wrist grab, body turn and then shoulder throw. Instantly, as Juko grabbed at his wrist, Jinso slammed a knife hand down onto Juko's forearm snapping it like a twig. Jinso then followed this strike with a low joint kick that shattered the right knee of Juko, sending him crashing down onto the ground.

Unable to continue Juko shouted, "I submit!" to the amazement of the crowd. The people of the villages had never seen such a quick and furious match. Both men were filled with such energy that everyone in the crowd could feel every movement of the two men. Jinso's defeat of Juko meant that the village of Karujii would now win the escort position being offered by the local lord. And as Jinso walked out of the match area, his Master met him. "I see you have won," the proud master exclaimed. "Truly you are my best student." Upon hearing this, Jinso turned and walked away. He thought to himself, "How can I be the best when I feared so much?" Master Shinji, seeing the expression on the face of his student followed Jinso and stopped him again. "What is the problem my son?" he asked. "Master, how can I be your best student when I feared Juko so much?" Jinso sadly stated to his teacher. "Ah, so this is the problem, now I understand," Master Shinji noted.

"Listen to me, Jinso, yes you were afraid of your opponent. But in the midst of fighting you rose above your fear. Your way showed itself, and it served you well! If you were not my best student you would certainly not be here speaking with me, understand?" And with this, Master Shinji turned and walked away leaving Jinso to his thoughts. Jinso had understood what his master had explained to him, and he returned to the village. He became the instructor's assistant and taught well for Master Shinji. Then one day while he taught class, a young boy aged around fifteen approached him.

"I want to learn how to be a warrior!" he exclaimed. Jinso, upon hearing this, turned to face the boy. A small smile appeared across Jinso's face. Then he said to the boy, "Go and fetch me firewood from the forest and your dreams will become true."

"When life is lead in a perfect way, it will become... a circle"

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