A tale of impatience related to training and results. 

Matajuro (a.k.a. Munefuyu) Yagyu (1613-75) was the son of the famous swordsman Munenori Yagyu who was a fencing teacher to the Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa. Believing that Matajuro was too undisciplined to ever achieve mastery, Munenori disowned him.

So Matajuro, hoping to redeem himself in his father’s eyes, went to seek out a famous swordsman named Banzo, who had retired to Mount Futara.

“You wish to learn swordsmanship under my guidance?” asked Banzo. “You cannot fulfill the requirements.”

” I will work very hard, how many years will it take me to become a master?” asked the youth.

“Oh, maybe ten years,” Banzo replied.

“I can’t wait that long,” continued Matajuro. “If I work far more intensively, how long would it take me?”

“Oh, maybe thirty years,” said Banzo.

“Why is that?” asked Matajuro.

“Well,” said Banzo, “with one eye fixed on your destination, you have only one eye to find your way.”

“Very well,” declared the youth, understanding that he was being rebuked for impatience, “I will be your devoted servant and endure any hardship, Please teach me.”

Banzo agreed under the condition that Matajuro never speaks of fencing and never touches a sword. For three years Matajuro cooked for his master, washed the dishes, made his bed, and cared for the garden, all without a word of swordsmanship. He had begun to think he would never learn the art he had come to learn, when one day, while Matajuro was cooking rice, Banzo crept up behind him and hit him quite hard with a wooden sword.

The following day, when Matajuro was fetching water from the well, Banzo again sprang upon him unexpectedly.

After that, day and night, Matajuro had to defend himself from unexpected thrusts. Not a moment passed in any day that he did not have to stay alert to avoid the sword of the master.

He learned so quickly that his Zanshin (awareness), concentration, speed, and a sort of sixth sense enabled him to avoid Banzo’s attacks. Then one day, before completing ten years after his arrival, the master told him he had nothing more to teach him.


Matajuro returned home to his father and proved himself to be one of the best swordsmen in the land. He eventually took over as head of the Edo branch of the Yagyu Shinkage-Ryu, and while in service to the shogunate, he too rose to the level of a minor daimyo, like Munenori.

The story is a reminder to be patient, that oftentimes in training we don’t see changes quickly, and to realize that consistency day and night (sleep/recovery) is necessary if one truly wants to see lasting results. Or in other words “Good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who endure.”.

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