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old man eating in diner

An old man was eating lunch at a truck stop when a trio of rough-looking bikers strolled in.

As they passed by the old man’s table, the first biker put his cigarette out into the old man’s apple pie. He laughed and grabbed a stool at the counter.

The second biker snatched up the old man’s soda and spit into it. He laughed and grabbed a stool at the counter.

Not to be outdone, the third biker flipped over the old man’s plate across his table. Now all three of the bikers were roaring with laughter at the counter.

Without saying a word, the old man dropped some money on the table, quietly got up, and walked out of the diner.

“Not much of a man, was he?” the first biker said to the waitress.

“Not much of a truck driver either.” the waitress replied, “He just backed his big rig over three motorcycles in the parking lot!”

The Style of No Sword

The story of Tsukahara Bokuden and the ruffian is a classic example of the “Style of No Sword.” This style of swordsmanship is not about defeating your opponent with a sword but rather about avoiding conflict altogether. Bokuden was a master of this style, and he was able to defeat the ruffian without even drawing his sword.

The ruffian was a typical hot-headed young man, eager to prove himself. He challenged Bokuden out of arrogance, thinking that he would easily defeat the older man. Bokuden, however, was a master of patience and understanding. He knew that the ruffian was looking for a fight and was not interested in giving him one.

Instead, Bokuden offered to take the ruffian to a nearby island where they could fight without disturbing anyone. The ruffian agreed, thinking he would have the advantage of fighting on home turf. However, when they arrived on the island, Bokuden pushed the boat back out to sea, leaving the ruffian stranded.

The ruffian was furious, but Bokuden smiled and said, “This is my no-sword school.” The ruffian finally realized that Bokuden was not interested in fighting, and he gave up and swam back to shore.

The story of Tsukahara Bokuden and the ruffian is a reminder that violence is not always the answer. There are many ways to resolve conflict without resorting to violence. We can often avoid confrontation by being patient, understanding, and willing to compromise.

Here are some of the key principles of the “no-sword” school:

  • Avoid conflict whenever possible. The best way to win a fight is to never have one in the first place.
  • Use superior tactics and strategy. A skilled swordsman can use superior tactics and strategy to defeat an opponent without ever drawing their sword.
  • Understand the psychology of fighting. A skilled swordsman understands the psychology of warfare and can use this knowledge to their advantage.
  • Be patient and calm. A skilled swordsman is patient and calm, even in the face of danger.


If you can master these principles, you will be well on your way to becoming a skilled swordsman in the “no-sword” school.

The Art of Fighting Without Fighting

Bruce Lee was a big fan of the story of Tsukahara Bokuden and the ruffian. He often used it as an example of the “no-sword” school of thought. In a scene from Enter the Dragon (1973), Lee is challenged to a fight by a bully named Parsons on a boat heading for a tournament.

The bully asks Lee what style he practices, and Lee replies that he studies the “art of fighting without fighting.” The bully laughs and challenges Lee to a fight, but Lee refuses. He says he would be happy to fight the bully, but only on an island. The bully agrees, and Lee lets him get into a row boat first.

Instead of following the bully, Lee pushes the boat out to sea, stranding the bully. The bully is furious and is defeated with no punches thrown.

This scene perfectly exemplifies Lee’s philosophy of “fighting without fighting.” Lee shows that defeating an opponent without ever resorting to violence is possible. He does this by using superior tactics, strategy, and psychology. He also shows that it is essential to be patient and calm, even in the face of danger.

Lee’s message is that true fighting isn’t about aggression and brute force but strategy and finesse. This scene showcases Lee’s mastery of martial arts and highlights the philosophy behind his teachings. His approach not only diffuses the immediate situation but can also set a positive example for others and promote a more peaceful way of handling disputes.

Lee’s martial arts philosophy was far beyond just the physical aspects of fighting. He believed that martial arts should be used for self-defense and self-improvement. Lee also believed that martial arts could achieve inner peace and harmony. The way Lee handles the situation with Parsons on the boat shows his ability to use his mind instead of relying solely on his physical skills. This scene is a significant moment in cinema and reflects Lee’s beliefs and values.

Three Stories, One Theme

OK, maybe the first joke and the Tsukahara Bokuden / Bruce Lee scene aren’t exactly the same.

However, they both highlight the same important lesson: sometimes, the best way to win is to walk away.

In the joke, the old man can avoid a fight by simply walking away. He does not need to engage in a physical altercation to protect himself. He walks away, and the bullies are left looking foolish.

In the Tsukahara Bokuden story / Bruce Lee scene, the warriors can defeat their opponents without throwing a punch. They do this by using superior tactics, strategy, and psychology. They understand that avoiding a fight is the best way to win it.

These stories are a reminder that violence is not always the answer. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a conflict is to walk away. This may be challenging but it is often the safest and most effective option. However, it is always important to be prepared for the possibility of escalating conflict. As such, carrying a personal safety device such as pepper spray or a stun gun is a good idea. These devices can deter or stop an attacker, giving you additional time to escape safely.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


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