Paul Turse's Martial Arts Stories & Plays


Site last updated June 13, 2015, 12:42 a.m., EST.


    The Site's Theme:  The Light in the Forest   

        The light shining down into the darkness of he forest, in the above theme, symbolizes the proverb "It's always darkest just before dawn."  So when you feel lost in a deep depression, you need to simply look for the rays of hope that will soon be breaking through the darkness of your mind, heart, and soul--if you will keep your head held high and maintain your optimistic outlook.  The forest that you are emotionally lost in will soon be bright, and you will find the right path. 

        One thing that judo teaches is that, even though an opponent might have you pinned to ground in a match, you must never give up but keep looking for an avenue of escape.  Even if you do not escape, it is most important that you tried.  For one day, you might be trapped in a more serious situation in life, and you will have learned not to surrender to those forces that will try to keep you from finding the true path.  And you will go on seeking the light. 

        As Robert Frost noted, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep."  And so do you.  And you don't have to be a poet to know it.


         The Pen and the Sword:                      
Both Potent and Poignant Weapons 
The true samurai was both warrior and writer.  It was no accident that, along with his sword, he carried a pen and paper, so that at the time of his demise on the battlefield, he could detach himself from the thought of death and be able still perceive the beauty of nature around him and to capture that moment in a jisei, a deathbed poem.  
Oh, my picture? Well, what did you expect? I'm Italian and from New Joisey. So, fugetaboutit!
Although this site is primarily dedicated to the martial arts, there are stories and interviews that are not martial arts related; however, whenever I can, I give the material a martial arts interpretive view.  Hey, it's like going to some Chinese buffets where you can still find roast beef and pizza.  Something for everyone.-- Paul Turse, a.k.a. "Samurai Raider"
Come and train with me at the Rising Sun Karate Academy, located in Toms River, NJ.   ****************************************************************************
New**  Did Judo Emerge as an Expression of the Meiji Period?

This essay will attempt to answer the question posed in the title:  Did judo emerge as an expression of the Meiji period?  To answer this question in the affirmative, it will be necessary to analyze Meiji Japan by an examination of its social, political, and educational philosophy, and by a perusal of its classical but popular theatre, the Kabuki.  This view of the Meiji Period is designed to illuminate the unique Japanese spirit that gave rise to judo.  The birth of judo parallels that of the Kabuki and should demonstrate how an art form--even a martial art form--emerges as an expression of its time.  To read, click here.


   Willow_BookCoverImage.jpg           The Year of the Gentle Willow
                             A Martial Arts Story

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List Price: $.99   
It is the spring and the start of track season in Bobby's city, located in Washington State and Seahawks territory, and for him, a long-awaited break from judo and the beatings at the hands of Brad, the strongest and best junior brown belt in his dojo. Next to judo, track is Bobby's best sport, and he is one of the top quarter milers in his middle school; and now, he will have one last chance to show his skill in the annual track meet before moving on to high school. He will also now have a chance to impress Vicky, his secret crush and the prettiest cheerleader in the school, who, all year long, has had eyes only for Brad.  
Bobby also has a chance to get the lead in the spring dramatic production and to play opposite Vicky. But just when it looks like Bobby will get his opportunity to star in the play and, perhaps, in Vicky's heart, Brad shows up to try out for the play, demonstrating histrionic skill and the potential to win the lead. To make matters worse, Brad decides to run track—the quarter mile, no less. In his first practice session, Brad shows that he has the potential to outdo Bobby in the city track meet. Bobby has all the necessary physical skills in both judo and track to beat his rival, but he lacks the mental attributes to succeed, often allowing his temper to obstruct the flow of the ki and to block his harmony with natural laws of nature.  
Bobby's inability to understand the "gentle way" of judo is hindering his success both in his athletic life and social life. However, through the teaching of and the personal example set by Sensei Yanagi and the influence of the strange new kid next door, who wears a Raiders jacket and cap and practices ballet, Bobby learns self-control, finds that outward appearances are not always valid, and discovers how to apply martial arts principles to track and to life. 
'The Year of the Gentle Willow" will demonstrate that one need not always search for success or victory, for, if one is in harmony with nature, those goals may find the seeker; and it will also demonstrate that, ultimately, victory does not always go to the strong but, more often as not, goes to the gentle.  

Falling Snow:  A Metaphor?
        Yuki ga furu--  "the falling snow."  It is believed that each snowflake has its own individual pattern or identity.  Perhaps these beautiful, artistic works of nature could stand (or fall) as a metaphor for human beings, for everyone in this stormy life is a unique individual.  The main difference is that when the snowflakes hit the ground, their mission of bringing awe and wonder to the world, as they swirl through the air and land on the snowy and frosty ground, will soon end.  But we, as humans, have the chance to bring goodness and happiness to the world, and--no matter what the forces of nature may throw at us--our attemps do not have to dissolve and end. 

        It would not be a super stretch of the imagination to note that the snowflakes parallel the cherry blossoms, which were the symbol of the samurai.  You see, unlike other blossoms that wither and die on the vine or branch, the cherry blossoms fall from their trees while still in full bloom, bringing beauty to all who may watch them as they swirl through the wind as if not caring about the death ready to befall them on the lonely and often dark and cold ground below.  So, the samurai, like the cherry blossoms, were willing to give their lives for loyalty and honor while they were still in "full blossom." ******************************************************************* 

Do you remember the 2001 NBA semi-finals between the Raptors and the 76ers?  Although the game occurred nearly nine years ago, the issue that was raised might be relevant today.  After the final shot to win the game was attempted by Vince Carter, the reaction by some sportswriters brought into question the values of our society when it comes to the over-emphasis of athletics.  Do you think that attitude prevails today?  Read "A Question of Values" and answer the question.


Can judo be a "cure" for drug addiction?  Check out the featured story, "Judo as Drug Therapy."  For the original article, which was published in Black Belt magazine, click on BB mag.


Although it might not conform to the definition of a formal orthodox religion, judo, for some practitioners, can be a way of attaining harmony and spirituality; in fact, it might very well fulfill some of the needs that many religions seek to do.  For more on this theory, see this reprinted issue of Black Belt magazine and read my article, "Judo as a Religion." 


The Wooden Sword 

        In early Japan, there was a chief bodyguard who had faithfully served his emperor for many years, risking his life in many battles to preserve the reign of his master.  However, he was getting past his prime, and the emperor wanted to reward this loyal samurai by relieving him of his duties and allowing him to spend his remaining years with his wife and family and enjoy the peace he had helped to maintain. 

        But now, the emperor needed to find another chief bodyguard, and although there were many young and strong samurai in his service, he wanted to be sure to choose the best.  And so, he devised a test:  Since it was believed that the soul of the samurai was in his sword, the shogun gave each of the candidates a large lump of metal and tasked them to make the best sword that they could and to present it to him.  The one who could forge the best sword would be elected to the position of chief bodyguard.   

        Makoto, a samurai from a very poor family, decided that he would take the test, even though the other samurai, who were from wealthy families, had better resources.  However, Makoto resolved to do his best.  Although his cances for success seemed slim, he built the hottest fire he could and worked until his body was dripping wet.  However, as hard as he could, the sword would not forge but melted and dripped into the fire, like the sweat on his brow.   Nevertheless, Makoto could not return to the emperor without a sword, so he went out into the forest and cut down the sturdiest tree branch he could find and carved a wooden sword. 

        How humiliating it was for him to stand there with all the other samurai, who were ready to present to the emperor their beautifully forged swords with jeweled hilts.  Yet, Makoto stood in line ready to face whatever dishonor or punishment the emperor would bestow upon him for offering such a disgraceful gift. 

        Which sword did the emperor choose?  And why?  To find out, click on “The Wooden Sword.” 


Outside the Martial Arts Box

        Too often, martial arts training, both physical and mental, becomes too stereotypical, and thus students must be taught to sometimes think outside the martial arts "box," as the following anecdote suggests:

The thirty-five and one-half inch staff 

(Edited and updated August 17, 2008)

        A master who was renowned for his skill with a short staff had just finished defeating all of his opponents in a tournament, despite his shorter weapon.  When packing his staff away in its carrying case, he noticed that his staff was being observed by a group of students, who apparently were in awe of the master’s skill, especially with a weapon somewhat shorter than most.  One student mustered the courage to question the length of the staff.  The master looked up, pausing before he tucked the weapon away, and asked the students why they thought he had carved this shorter weapon to the odd dimension of thirty-five and one-half inches. 

        Several responded:  One believed it was so that he could achieve greater speed, another thought it was to attain better balance, some claimed that it was to gain easier mobility. 

        “Those are all good answers,” said the master.  “But the real reason is so that it would fit in my carrying case, which just happens to be about 36 inches long.” 

        With that, he closed the case, strapped it to his back, and left the students to ponder the wisdom of his words.


Essays online:

"Martial Arts and Acting Arts"

"What Makes a Martial Activity an Art?"


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                                        Copyright © 2008 - 2015 Paul Turse.  All rights reserved.*

*Most of the plays, stories, and essays on this site have individual copyright dates.


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