"Master, can you tell me what Gyokku Ninja training in the way of the sword is like?"
This is very common in Japanese culture. For example, the Go Rin No Sho, the book of five rings, written by Miyamoto Musashi, said to be one of the greatest swordsmen who ever lived, is a whole book of strategy for the sword. And there are many other such books.
That is one view of sword combat in Japanese culture. Another view states that it is not strategy that counts, but battle experience. In the Gyokku Ninja Clan, we try to do both. We study books of strategy, AND each ninja is expected to build massive battle experience.
Each ninja is expected to complete ten thousand duels with the sword (of course, in heavy battle armor) before we can call ourselves masters of the sword. The thinking behind this is that the human mind keeps learning, so (so long as a warrior knows all the possible moves and counter moves) what is really needed for ultimate mastery is battle experience. The ten thousand duels of the ninja provide this battle experience, and with that, ultimate mastery over the Way of the Sword.
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Regarding winning and losing, it is considered the ultimate mastery to show no emotion in victory or defeat - to fight (mentally) in a place beyond emotion. Thus, ninja train at not letting the situation touch their emotions.
For example if I face an opponent with a wooden practice sword, and we are sparring, of course we try to cut each other without getting cut ourselves. But whether we cut the opponent or get cut ourselves, we train not to feel any undue emotion, whether positive or negative - and this emotional control spills into our everyday lives, and into real-life combat situations.
Also, ninja train - or even fight - in a spirit of great brotherhood. We try to ensure that all ninja are equally trained. This means that if a ninja is slower or less good at combat, stronger and faster ninja will duel him all the time, NOT to show up his weakness, but to raise him to their level of combat capability.
There were ninja I know who once could not touch me when we dueled, but now I have to fight hard when I duel them. This is good. We do not have competitions - our combats are an intense, gruelling system where both sides grow as brothers, and the weaker always grows to be the equal of the stronger.
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