"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The jo (Japanese short staff) has been recognised as the ultimate fighting weapon in martial arts. It was invented and used by Muso Gonnosuke, the only man to defeat Musashi Miyamoto, Japan’s greatest swordsman, in combat.

In the first duel between these two antagonists, Muso fought with a rokushaku bo (Japanese long staff, literally a ‘six foot stick’).

The battle that took place resulted in his first and only defeat at the hands of Musashi, the master swords-man in the early 1600s.

Retreating to the mountains to meditate upon his defeat, Muso considered how Musashi had successfully fought him with a long and a short sword. These weapons had blocked Muso’s bo in such a way that he was unable to withdraw his weapon safely.

Muso scrutinised his bo and observed that it was most prominently scored at the two ends by Musashi’s sword cuts. These marks were roughly in the last one foot at each end of the bo. In other words, the central four feet of this six foot weapon remained largely unmarked.

Enlightened by a ‘divine insight’ Muso decided to chop off the two marked ends and thus created the jo ~ a four-foot staff. His logic was that if he could learn how to fight with the shorter weapon, Musashi’s sword strokes, assuming they followed the previous pattern, would predominantly miss the jo. This would enable Muso to enter and attack Musashi with greater success.

Muso developed a new style of fighting, calling it shindo muso ryu jojutsu. In a second duel between these two combatants, Muso inflicted Musashi’s only defeat. He too spared his opponent’s life, and entered the history books by becoming the only man to ever beat the master swordsman.

Muso applied the ‘Measles Chart’ in his thinking by noticing the sword cuts on his bo, and using his ‘divine insight’ to eliminate these disadvantageous areas.

~ I am indebted to Sensei Julio Toribio for this slice of history.

[Excerpted from the book, 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

Say Keng's personal comments:

Please stay tuned for a forthcoming blog post on the 'Measles Chart' from Dilip Mukerjea's itinerant toolbox.

Miyamoto Musashi is Japan's most revered combat strategist from the 16th century. His work as embodied in the 'Book of Five Rings' is well-read by Japanese businessmen as a strategy guide, just like Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' by the world at large.

To me, one of the greatest lessons I have picked up from the sword saint is that you must train daily in the way of strategy: "Practice, Practice, Practice".

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