Brian Kagen pick: “The Swordsman and the Cat”

“The narrative features a swordsman called Shōken who is beset by a pesky rat. After the neighborhood cats fail to chase the rat away, the swordsman himself tries his hand at getting rid of the rat. Failing miserably himself, he calls on the help of a cat “widely known for her mysterious virtue as the most able rat-catcher.” This cat catches the rat with ease, and that evening all the cats get together to discuss the days events and the art of fighting rats.”

Brian Kagen is an avid web researcher with a particular interest in martial arts. His training background includes both judo and aikido. He has contributed hundreds of article links over the years for AJ readers.

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  1. Cats in fables talk too much. Real cats simply do.

  2. a few rules for rats – traps work. poison works (keep it away from kids & pets). baits work if you want to shoot with an airgun (watch out for what’s behind the bait). the only way you’re likely to take a rat “hand to hand” is outdoors if you can force it against a wall. use shod feet. cats, dogs and rats usually work out a modus vivendi to share any given environment.

  3. I like this one. An easy to understand summary of a lot of religion and philosophy.
    As long as you can get past the rat and cat part.

  4. David Orange says:

    Mochizuki Sensei used to talk about his grandfather catching rats by hand. He said that in the early 20th Century, it was common for Japanese houses to have a sort of open sewer running through the kitchen floor and out under the wall to the sewer beside the street. And often, rats would come through this sewer ditch into the house. So Sensei’s grandfather would sit in seiza on the concrete floor beside the sewer channel inside the house and wait for the rats to come up. He would sit so still that the rats would creep up near him. Then he would grab the rat’s tail and whip it around to smack its head on the concrete and in the same motion toss the body back into the sewer channel and it would wash out into the street sewer.

  5. Brett Jackson says:

    Cats and rat in story are fictions. All cats and rats are already in that state. Some cats will stand and face a dog and otherwise will run from one like a shot it the dark. Either way they are in the state.

    This is what is needed in all sports as well, otherwise one is nervous and those nerves interfere more than the opponent. Hard part is getting there.

    Funny, last night my cat actually deposited a dead rat on my doorstep. Then this morning I read this post and the comments.

    What would O’sensei say? You need to be “one” before you can conquer yourself. How to overcome another if you can’t overcome yourself? Another Sensei might point at the moon. Still another, transform your mind into a living aiki.

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