Yagyu Tajima (Jap. romaji)
born:  1571
died:  1646

place:  Japan
Zen master:  
Zen disciples:  

Ancient Music in the Pines, ch. 5
    oshobob  The Living Workshop                                        
                                                  Zen Masters
Yagyu Tajima no Kami Munenori was a teacher of
swordsmanship to the shogun.
One of the personal guards of the shogun came
to Tajima no Kami one day asking to be trained in
“As I observe, you seem to be a master of the art
yourself,” said the teacher.  “Please tell me to
what school you belong before we enter into the
relationship of teacher and pupil.”

The guardsman said, “I do not belong to any
school, I have never studied the art.”

“It is no use trying to fool me,” said the master.
“My judging eye never fails.”

“I am sorry to defy, your honor,” said the guard,
“but I really know nothing.”

“If you say so then it must be true, but I am sure
that you are the master of something, so tell me
about yourself.”

“There is one thing,” said the guard.  “When I was
a child I thought that a samurai should never be
afraid of death. So I grappled with the problem,
and now the thought of death has ceased to worry

“That’s it!” exclaimed the teacher.  “The ultimate
secrets of swordsmanship lie in being released
from the thought of death. You need no technical
training, you are already a master.”

…Because when you are fighting with a sword, if
you are afraid of death, thinking will continue.

Now let me tell you one basic truth: thinking is out
of fear. All thinking is out of fear. The more you
become afraid, the more you think. Whenever
there is no fear, thinking stops. If you have fallen
in love with someone, there are moments with
your beloved or your lover when thinking stops.
Just sitting by the lake, doing nothing, holding
hands, looking at the moon or the stars, or just
gazing into the darkness of the night, sometimes
thoughts stop because there is no fear. Love
dispels fear just as light dispels darkness.

If even for a moment you have been in love with
someone, fear disappears and thinking stops.
With fear, thinking continues. The more you are
afraid, the more you have to think – because by
thinking you will create security. By thinking you
will create a citadel around you. By thinking you
will manage, or try to manage, how to fight.

A swordsman, if he is afraid of death, cannot be a
real swordsman because the fear will make him
tremble. A slight trembling inside, a slight thinking
inside, and he will not be able to act out of no-

                  Ancient Music in the Pines, ch. 5
Chin.: Liusheng Danma
aka: Yagyu Munenori 柳生 宗矩 – Yagyu is
his family name.

Tajima no Kami 但馬守

Yagyu Tajima was a Japanese swordsman, founder
of the Edo branch of
Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, whose
father and sons were also trained in this branch of
the martial arts.