On the island of Okinawa, there is a cultural sport called bullfighting.

It is quite different from bullfighting in Spain. There, the bull takes on a man. It is very flamboyant, but it can also be very gruesome.

In Okinawa, they pit one bull against another. Two bulls are lead into a ring and put nose to nose. Often, they push against each other until one bull gives way or is brought to its knees. Rarely is there serious injury to either animal.

Many years ago, one of the kings on the island had a mighty bull that he was very proud of. These animals were a status symbol for the people and therefore the king was always making sure that his bull was the best.

He was aware of a karate man, Matsumura, who had an almost-legendary status, among the population, for his powerful techniques and great fighting spirit.

The king decided to do a variation of the bullfight and have Matsumura fight him instead. He issued a challenge and, after some thought, Matsumura consented to it.

A few days after accepting the challenge, Matsumura went to the stables where the prized bull was kept. He bribed the stable master to let him visit the bull. As he approached the pen where the bull was kept, he pulled out a thin, sharp needle.

When the bull charged toward him, he jabbed it in to the soft part of its nose. The bull bellowed in pain and backed away. Matsumura repeated this every morning leading up to the match.

On the day of the match, the whole island population assembled to see the bull fight the legendary karate man.

The huge bull emerged from his pen with a bellow and raced around the ring snorting and pawing the ground. Surely the bull was going to tear Matsumura apart, or so the king and the crowd thought.

However, when Matsumura entered the ring, the bull caught his scent.

Remembering the pain associated with the smell of this man, the bull dropped his head, dashed to the far side of the ring and tried frantically to get far away from him. No matter where Matsumura went in the ring, the bull scrambled to stay away.

The crowd was astonished. Never before had they seen someone best an opponent just by their mere presence.

Matsumura’s reputation as a great fighter grew from this. He had perfectly demonstrated Sun Tzu’s precept that “to subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence”.

Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War, a famous document on conflict and strategy that is still used today by governments, businesses and other organizations.

Matsumura went on to teach many students in the art of karate who went on to form their own unique styles. Most famous among them would be Gichin Funikoski, founder of Shotokan Karate, and the style most-taught throughout the world and also in the Yukon.

Todd Hardy has studied and taught a variety of martial arts over 38 years and has trained with many people from around the world. Would you like to comment on what you read here? Contact him at toddhardymla@gmail.com.