Sifu Ensho

Mikio sensei meets Sifu Ensho

written by Paul Yanuziello

Ensho the elephant came to visit the dojo in the forest. He came to train with Mikio sensei. The two met up at dawn. The forest floor was bathed in soft light and the sight of Mikio sensei in the embrace of Ensho sifu was breathtaking. Two powerful forces coming together in friendship and admiration. I felt very fortunate to have been allowed to come to the dojo in the woods and watch and learn from the two masters at this early hour.

Sensei had told me the story of how he first met Ensho. They were both much younger then and they still had much to learn. Ensho, being an elephant, is naturally very strong. Back in his younger days, Ensho would challenge anything or anyone who he came across his path.

As I have mentioned, Mikio sensei did a lot of travelling, learning, fighting and winning. Ensho happened upon Mikio one day in the land where Ensho roamed.

Ensho Challenges Mikio to a Duel

Mikio tells the story something like this: I remember that day as if it just happened. A hot day with the sun beating down like fire with such intensity as to set the forest ablaze. I had just arrived from another part of the country and I was well worn out. Relaxing by a stream and keeping an eye out for a fresh fish diner when I feel the earth tremble.

Next thing I know this grey giant comes rumbling out of thick brushwood, trampling down some perfectly good bumbleberry trees.

I shout out to him, “Hey watch where you’re stumbling”. I think I startled him, he wasn’t expecting anybody down by the river and he certainly wouldn’t have been accustomed to anyone telling him anything.

“Who are you he bellows at me”.

“I’m Mikio! And who might you be”, I ask? 

“Ely is my name.”

Back in those days, Ensho had not adopted his martial arts name and so he was just Ely. He shuffled closer swinging his massive head side to side in a menacing fashion.

With no need of a warning, I quickly jumped out of the way of his charge towards my prone body. He did not expect me to move so fast and he plunged directly into the river. The river was flowing very fast and it was quite deep. Elephants don’t really swim they kind of walk on the bottom and hope they can make it to where they’re going before running out of breath. And so off this elephant went submerged underwater and I knew not where he would end up.

There happened to be a shallow part just a short distance down the river and Ely managed to get himself out of the water. You would think the cool river water would have calmed his spirit but that was not the case and as soon as he got back on dry land he came running back through the forest knocking over trees that stood in his path. Ely was eager to engage in combat.

I was ready and had moved into a clearing just next to the forest. Ely in a fit of rage charged once again directly at me. You would think he would have learned from the first time, as he charged with his head down, not seeing anything, it was easy for me to shift out of the way and let him sail past me, perhaps it was more of a rumble. It shook me to my very core but he went past me with a fiery breeze directly into a huge tree.

The force of the crash echoed in the forest and started all the other trees to sway. A moment after the crashing rumble, Ely toppled over, he had knocked himself out.

I checked on him, he was out cold. What is that old saying about the immovable force meeting the unstoppable object?  Ely may yet learn about the unstoppable force paradox. Something always has to give.

I made a poultice of herbs and fresh river water, soaking Ely’s head with the treatment and letting it soothe his massive brow. While he was knocked out I set about preparing a feast for him should he ever wake up.

And if not, I felt that I deserved a good feast anyway.

A few hours later Ely awoke and stumbled up onto his feet. He saw that I was still there and he staggered over to me. He said, “Peace brother, I want no more trouble from you. You can stay down here by the river if you want to. I must know something. I must ask you why didn’t you finish me when you had the chance?”

I told him, “That it is not my way. I have no quarrel with you.  Let us put any transgressions behind us and let us share some of this feast that I have prepared. We can try to  mend our broken fences, or at least your broken head.” 

Ely accepted the apology and partook in the feast I had prepared. And what a feast it was. I had found all the goodies, roots piled as high as me, grasses of every type, many different fruits, and all of the bark from the tree that Ely shattered when he hit it. Elephants can really eat a lot of food. Ely can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a day.

Ely became a student of Mikio after that day, the two became fast friends over time and have remained so ever since.

An Excerpt From Dojo in the Woods by Paul Yanuziello