Once, there was an old man who every day practiced martial arts. And one day, upon seeing the old man practice martial arts, his granddaughter came to him and said, “Grandfather, you’re so good at fighting. Teach me how to fight.”
But he refused.
She came to him on another day, and begged, “Please, grandfather. I want to learn how to fight.”
Again, he said no.
Another day, she came to him and pleaded with him, “Grandfather, come on. You have to teach me how to fight.”
Seeing how determined she was, and admiring her spirit to not give up, he finally agreed, saying, “I will teach you the most important aspect of self-defense,” and so her training began.
Firstly, the old man said to his granddaughter, “Martial arts is for defense only.” Following a nod of her head as a response that she understood, the old man then taught his granddaughter how to have a strong stance. He showed her how to deflect and how to block and how to dodge attacks. And for many hours he had her repeating punches and kicks. She mirrored his every move, trained hard, and was proud of what she was learning, and he was proud of her.
As the old man noticed his granddaughter becoming so sure of herself and her abilities, so did she notice this of herself, and with a hint of arrogance, she argued with her grandfather that it was now time for her to spar with him and learn how to face a real opponent.
Hesitant, her grandfather agreed.
She faced him in a ready stance while he simply stood there. He said, “Begin,” and she rushed at him and was knocked to ground before she realized what had occurred. She got back up, dusted herself off, stood in a ready stance, and again found herself lying in the dirt.
This happened again and again. The old man would stand in one place, say, “Begin,” and she would throw a punch that he would block and counter by throwing her to the ground. She would lunge at him with a kick that he would deflect then trip her to the ground. Again and again, he would stand in one place, say, “Begin,” and she would punch and be tossed to the ground, and she would kick and be taken to the ground.
And the more this happened, the more frustrated she became, and the harder she attacked him, trying desperately to win.
She attacked and he pushed her to the ground. She attacked and he threw her to the ground. Again and again, she would attack and he would stand in one place and he would deflect and block and dodge, and she would end up on the ground every single time.
Seething with anger, she pounded her fists to the dirt as she sat up, turned, and screamed at him, “Why do you keep doing this?! You said you would teach me how to fight a real opponent! Just beating up on me isn’t teaching me anything!”
Patiently, he answered, “I said I would teach you the most important aspect of self-defense.”
Battling the tears welling up in her eyes, she exclaimed, “But I’m the only one of us doing anything! I’m sure if you tried to punch and kick me, I could block and throw you to the ground! You’re not giving me a chance!”
Hands behind his back, the old man said, “Martial arts is for defense only.”
Still frustrated, she objected, “But that’s not fair! One of us has to be the aggressor! If you don’t attack me and I don’t attack you, then there won’t be a fight!”
As his granddaughter sat in her dirt and grass-stained clothes, breathing heavy, holding the most serious stare on him, the old man flashed an innocent smile, bowed to her, and calmly said, “Exactly.”
Exhaling, the granddaughter calmed herself, rose up, and stood before her grandfather. “Begin,” he said.
Taking a breath, she held her hands crossed in front of her and did nothing as the old man let out a young smile.