The first time I saw her was out of the corner of my eye and everything stopped! … my mind instantly focused and my adrenaline spiked. I do not mean that all physical motion stopped because it did not. Just things inside myself stopped… and I froze. That part of me that is the instinctive animal reflex. Freeze… don’t move in the presence of danger and hope it does not see you. If it does… RUN!

But looking at her with my eyes as she stood in the front entryway of my dojo. I could not understand why my body had instinctively reacted like that. Her stance and body language screamed timidity. With head bowed her downcast eyes roamed the entire dojo seemingly focused at floor level. Yet somehow I ‘knew’ that she saw everything.

Although I didn’t understand I had… even in those first few heartbeats. I had realized the ultimate paradox that is her.

Because as she moved again, my body snapped tight and my nostrils flared to scent the predator. But now my eyes and my mind can see why. It was in her movements, the difference between the movements of a lioness and a gazelle. Both are powerful, and elegant in their own way and graceful yet completely different, but she moved like them both.

There was a special economy, power and grace to her movements. Highly trained precise body mechanics that could not move that way accidentally, or even naturally.

It had been a long time and half a world away since I had seen someone move like that, and he had nearly killed me, Yakuza scum. Son of my skill, pupil of my heart, betrayer of my soul and dead by my hand… scum, just Yakuza scum.

I have not always been this old dojo owner teaching pudgy children to punch, kick and not fall over. Trying to teach obnoxious older children to swing a stick and not stab each other or themselves with it, teaching them the traditional words and beautiful movements. While they stand there on one foot in white canvas pajamas and colored belts… and try not to fall over.

But here I stand as a glorified babysitter watching a lioness stalk my domain hidden in plain sight. Yet I feel more alive than I have for the last 30 years. Strangely somehow I do not think she has spotted me yet.

So I’m content to watch her as she wanders in among my little charges and their Katas. The surprise that is not a surprise happens when she corrects the movements of a young girl into the correct form and motion. Proof she’s been trained in the Bushidō, the Way of the Warrior. Even squatted down she towers over the young girl, she has to be six foot six or more.

The young man that I had been could see her remarkable beauty. Old man I was knew beauty could freeze a man long enough to provide for his death, if she wished to take it. Yet aesthetically old man that I am could appreciate the unique beauty of her too. Faced with that beauty why am I thinking of danger and death?

But I am, and I have no reason to except her movements, those highly trained precise movements. You cannot just train movements like hers. You have to start with something exceptional in the mold. Then you become a blacksmith on a very young child who doesn’t understand. Almost beat it, temper it, and forge it into that truly exceptional warrior.

But the danger she radiates comes from within and can in no way be taught.

Although I was born and raised in Japan, and my wants and sense of what is beauty in a woman was imprinted on me then. I have lived in America long enough to know her beauty is much more than common beauty.

There are a lot of common everyday women who are beautiful; they are feminine and beautiful to men. Especially to their men; to their significant other, to the man that loves them. To their parents, siblings and children they are special and beautiful.

But… There’s that one in ten thousand… no… Hundred thousand that’s something… something more. One whose features are more symmetrical, more ethereal, even somewhat surrealistic; whose body is just several levels closer to aesthetic perfection, whose carriage and movement become close to the dance of life. Most of all they have something… something that says they are ‘other’ then we are. They are almost alien to us, with an internal power and presence that we can see but never emulate.

She could be that professional beauty like the ones in magazines or movies, that .0001%. Even the ones that walked the catwalks… except for that height, she is just too tall.

Aesthetically was the only way I could appreciate her. The like of her would never be for such as I. All men eight to eighty look at a beautiful woman and wonder or want to have her. It is just part of our DNA, part of Homo sapiens cycle of life. Some just do it a lot more bluntly than others, but we all wonder… if. But this one… this one few could have, certainly not me.

It is not only my age that sets us apart. I am short, slight and full blood Japanese. She is tall, very tall, with porcelain white skin and raven dark hair that falls to the small of her back. It is so thick and falls in flowing waves. That resting on the back of her neck it looks to be 6 inches deep. Her apparel speaks of class, money, and yet comfort. Her face speaks of the verdant green hills and rainy isles of Ireland.

I slowly realize that I have no fear of her harming any of my charges. But in that paradox of her… she ‘is’ a lioness and danger, but a mother lioness. One such as her would be far above harming pudgy little children.

I fear that sometimes, fear one of my charges will be hurt or kidnapped. The deterioration of this neighborhood makes that a real possibility, especially with that gang of animals moving in. So the parents of my little charges I require that they come pick them up in their cars immediately when classes are over.

Except the little ones of the neighborhood that I let come in for free. It is not much, but I try to give them what reason I can to leave the streets and the gangs. Learning ‘kung fu’ is cool and powerful, but the internal discipline they learn can give them strength against peer pressure and the temptations of drugs and alcohol… against the temptation of the gangs.

I have thought about moving the dojo to somewhere safer. But I have had this little dojo for over 30 years. I have built a lot of it with my own hands; I live in the back and teach in the front. It is my world, granted it is a small world, but it is mine and animals will not chase me away.

I decide to move and let her know that I am watching, and to let me stop all this useless wondering about her in my mind. Yes, something about her trips my danger triggers so I should talk to her and find out why. Maybe quit being that foolish old man that I seem to be becoming, bah stupid old man.

Yet that decision to move and a half step that I have just barely begun brings her bow of respect immediately to me. A head down rush of small steps brings her before me. As in correct formal manners and courtesy she holds her bow, at the proper angle, with lowered eyes and waits for my acknowledgment.

By that I know that she ‘had’ always seen me. It was just her courtesy and manners that let me think I was hidden, humoring an old man. That flusters me, so when I welcome her I make a mistake and do it in Japanese.

Honored Lady, please be welcome to my humble little dojo.” I say with the proper bow.

Thank you Shihan Sensei, anyplace that teaches the correct arts to children need not be humble.” As she correctly continues holding her bow.

I had a hard time holding in my expression and my amazement. She not only answered in Japanese but in the correct manner and with honorable titles, Shihan means Master Instructor. Sensei means honored teacher or first teacher. “Thank you Honored Lady my humble self tries to honor the old ways. But with little children sometimes one’s patience is tried, but it is always worthwhile. If I may respectfully ask, what can my humble dojo to for you Honored Lady?”

Again I’m staggered by this woman. When she raised her face and looked into my eyes, I do not think… no I know I did not contain my amazement. Her eyes… Her eyes were Majyo Majikka (witch magic). The Iris was a dazzling blue around its outer rim but very white close to the pupil. The look was startling… intensely beautiful. But they also seem to glow dimly from within. I once saw a dog that they said came from Alaska whose eyes looked very similar, a husky dog.

My Koei chichi (Honored Father) has gifted me with his wisdom and his desire that I should learn Kenjutsu (the Way of the Sword).

Koei chichi started me on learning the Bushidō when I was but a child. Karate, aikido, judo, tae kwon do and other things, even some Israeli Krav Maga used by the American Marine Corps. Plus the Greco-Roman wrestling that’s in the Olympics, and the boxing of the British and Americansthe Capoeira of Brazil, Escrima stick fighting of the Philippinesplus several others.”

Koei chichi shows much wisdom, even in that which breaks with the old traditions. But sometimes the old ways are wrong, nowadays daughters are trained in the Bushidō almost as much as sons. Has your father no sons?”

No, Koei chichi has one son, Elder Brother. He was trained just the same as I. Object you on the training of women?”

Non… No, one ancient as I did not understand why all who wanted trained could not be. But in my youth the Shihan of that time used the even older traditions that excluded females of all ages. But even though I am as old now as they were then, I still do not believe in those teachings. So Honored Lady I would have no trouble teaching you what my humble self has learned from others.”

Koei chichi has told me that he talked to you and bought me lessons and a bokken (practice sword) of hardwood.”

Ah, Koei chichi would be Mr. Daniel Teague then?”


“A small question of understanding, if I may? Does your Koei chichi want you to learn Kendo or Kenjutsu… there are differences. Simply put Kendo would be the modern way of learning the ‘Way of the Sword’ while they often refer Kenjutsu to as the ancient way?”

“Is there more differences than modern or ancient?”

Yes, Kendo has acknowledged national and international chapters. They compete for points, belts and Dan rank. While sparring they wear heavy cotton armor and helmets with faceplates. Their bokken (practice sword) have blades of bamboo stick bundles to lessen the blow, also to hear the clacking of them when they make contact.”

“Kenjutsu has no recognized organization, so there are no awards of belts or ranks. It leaves the structure of the training to the Shihan and the student. The bokken is used to learn the structure of the movements while the forms or Katas are with the naked steel blade and no opponent.”

“Kenjutsu Sensei, I have no want of belts or rankings. I quit the quest for such as I was still a young girl. Plus I have great respect for the wisdom of the ancients and their traditions.”

Well, children’s practice time has run out. Let me dismiss them to their parent’s cars then we can have some tea and you can tell me of yourself Honored Lady.”

After dismissing the children’s class I led her to a small alcove with a low table and cushions for seating. I made this alcove years ago. Just for a purpose like this, the one to one private conversation with the customer.

It had small appropriate paintings and tapestries on the walls. Also some small weapons and ancient knickknacks, such an American word knickknacks, or is it British? Plus a small door in the alcove led right into my tiny kitchen. So I had hot water and tea ready shortly after she sat down.

“If you would not mind Honored Lady, please tell me of yourself. Your Koei chichi only referred to you as Betsy but somehow I do not think that is your name. So please tell this humble one some of your story.”

“In my Honored Father’s house I was Elizabeth Ann Teague. My father is Daniel Neal Teague and my mother was Assanna Einin O’Lanigan, in her father’s house. But Mother died of cancer when I was a young woman. Elder brother is Donald Barrett Teague and is my elder by two years.”

“I’m 36 years old and married with two children, a boy and a girl. My daughter Michelle Jeanette is two years older than my son Jonathan Daniel. My husband’s name is Robert David Williamson. He’s a commission artist who does portraits, but will do anything the customer desires and his own imaginings too.”

{{ 36… 36! I thought she was a student in her early 20s and a disciple of fitness. Definitely not a married mother of two! }}

“I’m a lawyer by trade but I never get into a courtroom. My specialty is in corporate law but what I really do is called a corporate negotiator or sometimes I’m even a court-appointed arbitrator. I get involved when companies want to merge, or one company wants to buy out the other. But my worst cases are those of corporate raiders who try to stage hostile takeovers of other companies. So if we get into Kenjutsu training sometimes my work takes me away for weeks at a time, yet sometimes the reverse is true as well.”

“How is it that Koei chichi trained you and Elder Brother in so many ways of the Bushidō?”

“My honored parents were great planners, but neither of them came from families of wealth or influence. So they made plans to better themselves early in their life. They married while they were still in high school yet immediately split paths upon graduation.

Mother went into a nursing college and Father went into the Marine Corps and sent his pay back to mother for her education. After Father left the Marine Corps she worked in the hospital to help pay for Father’s college education, with the help of the money he earned from the G.I. Bill. Those two money sources got him through college and into married life.

After graduating with dual degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering Father built his own company, Einin Microsystems. Because of three inventions and the company he formed Koei chichi became very wealthy.”

“When he was in the Marine Corps Father met a Sergeant who gave him a ‘Way’ or a path to live your life. Much like the Bushidō is the ‘Way of the Warrior’, this might be called the ‘Way of Life’. It involves all three parts of a person; body, mind and the soul of life. They could call it ‘The Glory Road’ because it’s a way to live your life so that those three parts will become the absolute best they can be and bring glory to that person.”

“In fact a lot of the parts of it reminded me very much of the Bushidō. But the main area that they differ is in their attitude toward violence. Honored father’s ‘Way of Life’ isn’t completely passive, but teaches violence as a last resort and then only for defense.”

“The section of Father’s Way, that body, mind and soul we must consider here today, is the body element. That element’s divided with the first part called the Temple part, the Temple of your body.

It deals with dietary issues and the things of that nature. Things you need to moderate if you use them, or the things that you need to exclude from the Temple of your body. But I won’t get into that today.”

“The Sgt. that told Koei chichi of this way of life was obsessed with car analogies, so your body is the car you drive around in. Thus the second part of the body element is his ‘car care system’. Simply put his car care system is large doses of physical training and discipline. That discipline is of course the hardest part because his is so very rigid.”

“Each and every single day, every… single… day you do a large amount of physical training. No days off, no vacations, no sick days, not even a Sunday off. Plus he was Marine Corps through and through. So physical training was the Marine Corps Way. Each day started with calisthenics in the morning followed by a long run, then weight training in the afternoon. Of course the next day was the same, and kept repeating endlessly. Also in the ‘Sergeant’s Way’ training started early in life, at about 10 years old. Continuing the rest of your life, every single day, and I still continue.”