Copyright © 2015
All rights reserved.

The Katana

Richie Rich sits beside Ray;
unsheathes the katana before them.
Richie Rich: “This katana is special;
owned by a famous shogun.
It’s the finest,
privately-owned sword,
in the world.
See this kanji?
It means ‘5-body blade’.
A swordsman,
can take this blade,
with one strike:
cut through 5 bodies at once.
Only a few 5-body blades exist today;
the technology to make this weapon:
centuries ago.

Now I’ll read to you,
of the story of the swordsmith.”
Richie Rich opens up a small book;
begins to read aloud:
“I’d let you read this book yourself,
it’s written in Japanese-

The Swordsmith

In the Age of emperors and shoguns in Japan,
not so long ago,
a great swordsmith,
who’s name has been unfortunately lost to history,
lives in a small village,
neighboring his shogun’s castle.
The swordsmith lives,
what appears to the untrained eye,
a modest life.
as the exclusive swordsmith of the shogunate;
he’s rumored to be:
the richest man in the land.
The swordsmith has five sons;
one daughter.
At the age of twelve,
his third-born son,
becomes his apprentice.

Duty to the Future

The Swordsmith: “It’s the duty of the master,
to make his students better than the master;
future generations will become progressively weaker.
You’re not my first-born son;
not the wisest of my children;
(you are equal to your siblings in intelligence.)
You are,
hard working,
and willing to learn.
These qualities are what I seek in an apprentice,
which is why I’ve chosen only you,
of all my children,
to give my knowledge.
My other children will be provided for;
you will inherit my business.
I’ll teach you all I know about this business.
When your training’s complete,
you’ll surpass me as a swordsmith.”

Do Not Throw Pearls

The Swordsmith’s son: “Why me father?”

The Swordsmith: “You’ve woken up every morning early,
gone into the forge,
since you were eight.
worked hard.
Been diligent in mastering all that’s been taught you.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “But father,
all I’ve ever done is:
I’ve never even touched a sword’s metal!”

The Swordsmith: “Everything I’ve ever asked you to do,
you’ve done.
Everything you’ve ever done,
you’ve done to the best of your ability.
You work so hard,
with such pride,
I know:
you’ll be perfect in all that’s taught you.
You’ll not skip steps,
nor compromise.
You’ll produce the finest swords the world has ever seen.
I’m confident in this.

I am a master.
A master does not waste time teaching the unworthy.
Teaching the unworthy,
throwing fine pearls into a pig trough;
pigs won’t benefit from pearls,
will pigs give gratitude,
for the gift.
A waste of fine pearls.
My time and energy is valuable,
fine pearls;
a treasure.
I will not lavish my treasure,
on anyone unworthy.”

Sit Up

The Swordsmith: “When you were young,
I taught you to:
respect your parents and authority,
work hard,
be humble,
be compassionate,
love and respect others,
This is your core.
At your center you’re a good person:
Now I’ll teach you to be a master.
You were not ready to learn these things as a child:
now you’re ready.
A man must learn to:
sit-up before crawling;
crawl before walking;
walk before running.
Now I’ll teach you other things.”

Iron and Carbon

The swordsmith opens his secret closet;
pulls out a sword,
wrapped in an unassuming cloth.
Father and son face each other on the floor.
The swordsmith removes the cloth,
a sleek,
beautifully polished,
intricately etched,
wooden-scabbard and katana.
He hands the katana to his son.
The Swordsmith: “My finest creation;
examine it.”

His son,
with reverence,
carefully unsheathes the katana.
A high-pitched-ringing sound,
as the blade’s exposed to air.
His son reads the etched-handle aloud:


The Swordsmith’s son: “This katana can cut through five bodies?
At once!?”

The Swordsmith: “Yes.
It’s been tested,
and retested.
The most-powerful weapon ever forged;
to be presented to the Shogun,
a gift from the Emperor.
The Emperor paid me a great deal of money to craft it.
With this weapon,
the Shogun will protect our Emperor.
This is why we make swords.
Without swords,
there would be:
no law,
no order,
no commerce,
no markets,
no justice,
no technology,
no schools,
no peace-
Swords are the instruments of justice!
As the creator of the finest swords,
you’ll be ensuring justice,
to all our Empire’s people.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “But father,
bad men wield swords too:
enemy nations-”

The Swordsmith interrupts:
“They do not wield swords like this!
Do you see why our work is so important?
Without our swords,
we would be under the tyranny of a foreign nation,
under the constant stress of brutal gangs and brigands.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “Father,
I sometimes wish there were no swords.”

The Swordsmith: “When I was your age,
and even now,
when I hear of massacres and the brutality of war:
I’ve wished there were no swords as well.
A sword is an extension of a man.
In the hands of a righteous man,
a sword is a weapon of:
and justice.
In the wrong hands,
a sword is the weapon of:
anarchy and injustice.
Some men are righteous;
some evil.
We forge the weapons of righteousness.”

The Swordsmith’s son:
“Tell me the secrets of this sword father.
How did you create a sword so-powerful?”

The Swordsmith: The secret of this sword:
the secrets of steel.
Steel is composed of iron and carbon.
Iron is soft.
Carbon is hard.
Hard substances:
hold an edge;
keep their shape.
Soft substances:
absorb punishment;
they create toughness.
Make a sword too:
it will be brittle and shatter.
it will lose its sharpness and bend too-easily.
The secret to making a perfect sword,
like this one:
two types of steel.
Our katanas are really two swords combined.
On the outside:
wrapped around a softer-steel center.
First we forge the softer-steel core,
we wrap it with a hardened-steel shell.
The result:
a sword that can cut through five bodies with a single strike,
not lose its sharpness.”

Making Steel

The Swordsmith: “Iron is a soft substance,
when heated,
atoms separate from one another;
we add charcoal,
to make the alloy harder.
Once the iron-and-carbon-mixture cools,
it fuses creating a new substance:

A man can be like iron:
Such a man will be:
beaten up,
taken advantage of,
and eventually murdered.
if he’s pure iron,
this fate will not bother him.
Strike such a man in the face,
he’d smile at you:
then laugh.
This man,
an iron man:
tough as leather.
If he leads,
it’ll be because he’s loved,
a love so pervasive,
others will follow.
Others follow,
because they believe in him,
not because they’re forced to.

A man can be like carbon:
Such a man will attempt to dominate others.
He’ll never compromise.
Others may despise him;
he won’t care.
He’ll attempt to smash whatever’s in his way.
no matter how-fierce,
no matter how-ferocious,
will be hit with something,
harder than themselves.
Eventually this unyielding-man will be shattered.
This man is hard as diamonds;
pure carbon.
If he leads,
others will follow out of:
and force.

The most-powerful men are a mixture of carbon and iron.
They are tough,
can take-a-beating and smile,
dish-out-a-beating when necessary.
They do not succumb to evil,
unless they have no choice.
A man of steel:
can thrive in any environment;
will lead a long and prosperous life.

Woe to the nation led by:
a man of carbon,
a man of iron!
An iron-nation will be conquered in a day.
A carbon-nation will be completely surrounded then annihilated.”

Richie Rich looks up from the small book-
Richie Rich: “This is what happened to Japan in World War Two.
Imperial Japan went on a war of conquest;
smashed everything in their path,
without mercy.
After a few years:
The U.S. nuked Japan;
forced them to surrender.” 

Hardness vs. Toughness

The Swordsmith: “Hardness versus toughness,
a central-question in the formation of men,
and in the production of swords.
how much of a beating you can take,
and keep moving forward.
how much of a beating you can deliver on someone else.
It’s good for a man,
to be hard on the outside,
and tough on the inside.
This allows him to bend,
instead of being shattered when attacked,
and to strike back,
when able,
with results.
Carbon makes a sword hard and sharp.
Iron makes a sword tough and flexible.
The perfect mixture of these two elements,
yields the perfect sword.

Target Market

The Swordsmith: “Before we craft our first sword,
decide who we will make the sword for.
This is of paramount importance.
Spend too-much time crafting a blade:
it’ll be too-expensive to sell.
Not enough time:
the sword will be worthless junk,
not even fit for practice.
Your first blade will be made for a mid-level samurai:
a one-body blade;
a fearsome weapon;
it will cut a man in half,
with one stroke.
This sword will take you a month to complete.
Our foundry mass-produces these every day.
We have hundreds of men forging blades like this every day.
Normally a ‘one-body-sword’ is the product of many men.
Some men:
Create the raw-steel ingots.
the hard-steel from the soft-steel.
Pound and fold,
the soft-steel core.
Pound and fold,
the hard-steel wrapper.
Quench and etch,
the blade.
Polish and sharpen.
Make the scabbard.
You’ll do everything,
except make the scabbard.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “I want to forge a five-body-blade father,
that would be fun!”

The Swordsmith: “In time son,
you will.”


‘Great art is never finished,
only abandoned.’
Leonardo da Vinci

The Swordsmith’s son:
“How do you know when a sword is finished father?
How do you know how long to:
pound and fold,
sharpen and polish?”

The Swordsmith: “The short answer:
you’re never done.
You can work on ANY project forever.
A project is done when:
it’s your best work in a given period of time.
When every hour-invested experiences diminishing returns.
A man can spend:
a week,
a month,
a year,
or a lifetime on one sword.
90% of a sword’s effectiveness can be finished in a week,
99% in a month,
99.9 in a year,
each successive year,
only nets a tiny percentage-change,
if any.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “How do you know when to stop father?”

The Swordsmith: “Your life is so much more-important than any one sword!
Time with family,
time in study,
time with God,
all these things are important!
Most swordsmiths craft the 90% sword;
a one-body-blade,
this is what common samurai carry.
A profitable business,
as nearly anyone can be taught to make such a sword.
you can expand yourself,
with apprentices,
and semi-skilled labor.
This is the sword that builds empires.
In a month,
a master,
can craft a fine sword,
fit for a general.
These are the men who control the armies.
This is what I create,
when I’m not running my forge.
These swords are very valuable;
require a master to craft every detail.
In a year a master can craft a nearly perfect sword;
I’ve made five of these.
Such a sword is fit for an emperor or his shogun.
These five swords I personally crafted,
all have names,
and are renown,
to be the finest swords in the world.
A master should fashion at-least one sword like this in his lifetime;
a statement of your best work;
a monument to your abilities.
The ability to craft such a sword will give you:
great power,
and influence.
The Emperor or individual samurai can buy 90% swords anywhere,
they buy them exclusively from me,
Even though I don’t make these swords personally,
my customers know:
my mind designed them,
supervised their construction.
They know I’ll never sell a poor product.”

High Ground

The Swordsmith:
“A key secret-to-success is owning the high-ground.
I have made the highest-quality swords,
for emperors and shoguns,
my reputation is good.
This is the high-ground.
Many of my competitors can make a one-body-sword,
of similar quality,
because of our reputation:
we own the high-ground.

The Swordsmith’s son:
“Why is that father?”

The Swordsmith: “Trust.
Our family has been making the finest swords,
in the world,
for generations.
When a samurai spends six-months of his income,
on one of our lower-end swords:
He’s buying from us.
He knows:
he’s getting the best sword for the money,
and is willing to gladly pay a 50% premium for our lower-end product,
vs a similar product from a competitor.
his master owns one of our higher-end swords;
he aspires to have one like that some day.”


The Swordsmith:
Envision what you desire accomplished when you’re done.
Free your mind of all concerns,
After your mind is clear,
vividly imagine the sword you’ll create,
every detail;
when you’ve visualized the perfect sword,
draw it.”

The boy meditates for several minutes,
every detail perfect in his mind.
with time and care:
the boy draws it.
The father smiles,
admiring his son’s drawing,
the quality of the illustration,
the detail of the work.

The Swordsmith: “Let’s forge your sword!”

Three Days to Cook

The Swordsmith: “First,
construct the furnace.
Gather the materials needed.
one-hundred bricks;
iron-sand this high;
charcoal this high.
Come get me when you’re done.”

The boy starts working at sunrise,
at noon he’s finished.

The Swordsmith: “Well done!
Now go:
get a load of mortar;
rush back here.”

The Swordsmith’s son: “OK father.”
The boy gets a full load of heavy mortar.

The Swordsmith: “This is how you lay brick.”

His father shows him.

The Swordsmith: “Now,
construct a furnace,
identical to the furnaces you’ve seen in the foundry;
do not seal the top.
Come get me when you’re done.”

The boy works all day,
without break,
except for water.
Arms sore;
aches from head-to-toe.
he continues working and sweating.
When it gets dark,
the boy’s three-quarters finished.
Skips dinner;
finishes his furnace by 9 P.M.
By this time,
most of the men in the foundry have gone home.

The Swordsmith: “Well done!
Let’s go home and eat,
then rest.
we’ll begin smelting the steel.”

The boy wakes up the next day,
9:30 A.M.
His father,
the swordsmith,
has already left to the foundry.
The boy gets dressed quickly;
runs to find his father.
The Swordsmith’s son: “Father,
Sorry I slept so late!”

The Swordsmith: “Son,
that’s quite alright.
Your body required rest,
so I allowed it.
You’re going to need it!
For the next three days straight,
you’ll be awake!
quickly acquire two bellows.”

When the son returns,
father and son:
Shovel iron-sand and charcoal.
Seal the furnace at the top.
Ignite the furnace.
Begin pumping the bellows.

The Swordsmith: “See that color of the fire?
That is the heat we need;
That color glow,
indicates the fire’s the correct temperature.
Work these bellows constantly;
maintain that color.”

For three days straight,
the boy works the bellows with his father,
taking few breaks.
The boy does nearly all the pumping.
When they’re done smelting,
crack open the furnace;
sort the steel-ingots.

The Swordsmith: “This color ingot indicates high-grade hard-steel,
that color ingot is softer-steel.
we’ll begin pounding your sword.”


The Swordsmith: “This is the soft-steel for the inside.
the hard-steel for the outside.
We must remove the impurities from each.
To remove the impurities:
heat the steel;
pound it flat with the hammer;
fold it;
repeat the process.
See those sparks when I pound the heated steel?”

The Swordsmith’s son: “Yes.”

The Swordsmith: “Those sparks are slag.
Slag is impurities in the steel.
When the hammer contacts hot-steel with slag,
many sparks fly off.
As the slag’s removed,
sparks decrease as you pound the steel.
Keep pounding the steel,
until all slag is gone.

The Swordsmith’s son: “Yes.”

The Swordsmith: “What are you going to do?”

The Swordsmith’s son: Pound,
and pound the steel:
until all slag is gone.

The Swordsmith: “Good!”


the slag’s removed from:
the softer-steel-core ingot,
the harder-steel-outer-wrapper ingot,
the boy gets his father.

The Swordsmith: “Now,
form the sword you conjured on paper.”
The boy pounds the sword all day,
every day.
When the core’s the shape the boy desires:
he wraps the hard-steel around the core,
pounds it into shape,
around the soft-steel.

The Swordsmith: “Looks great,
now we must quench it.”


The boy then heats and cools the blade,
rapidly in succession.
Fusing the two types of steel together.
Giving the katana its slight curve.

Polishing and Sharpening

For the next two weeks,
the boy polishes and sharpens the sword,
using finer and finer stones.
At last:
it is finished.

The Swordsmith: “Are you happy with the sword you forged?”

The Swordsmith’s son: “It took me a month,
and it’s only as good as what comes out of your foundry everyday,
in mass production.
From that standpoint,
I am disappointed.
I love this sword because it’s my creation.
There are many similar,
but this one:
forged from the earth,
brick by brick,
hour after hour in the furnace,
pound after pound with my hammer,
etched and quenched with attention,
polished and sharpened,
with all my effort,
and pride.”

The Swordsmith: “Is it your best work?”

The Swordsmith’s son: “It is.”

The Swordsmith: “Is it worthy of putting your name on it?”

The Swordsmith’s son: “Yes.”

The Swordsmith: “Good.
Next week we’ll go to market.
I’ll introduce you to all the merchants and samurai.
We’ll publicly:
test and sell your first sword.
There’ll be executions tomorrow from the war,
plenty of bodies to test your sword on.”

Expand Yourself

The Swordsmith’s son: “Father.
Why teach others?
Why not keep your knowledge to yourself?”

The Swordsmith:
“So there would-be less-men with my knowledge?
I’d be more-powerful?”

The Swordsmith’s son: “Exactly.”

The Swordsmith smiles.
The Swordsmith: “A carbon vs iron argument.
The carbon in me:
the hard man;
the competitor;
the selfish man-
sees the world like that:
Keep knowledge to yourself,
the price of swords will rise,
my skills will become infinitely more valuable.
The iron in me,
the soft man desires:
to help others;
to benefit the hundreds of men,
in my village employed,
in the foundry;
my empire to have the finest weapons on Earth-
The iron man doesn’t care about money,
The steel man sees it this way:
If there’s a demand for something,
it will exist.
Whether I do it,
or someone else does it.
If I didn’t mass-produce a utility-one-body-sword,
others will.
There are many,
samurai requiring arms.
They’ll buy them,
If not from me,
then from someone else.
by training the unskilled to forge this product for me:
I gain wealth;
my men earn livings;
my empire receives the highest-quality,
mass-produced swords available.”


The Swordsmith: The swords I craft,
my men will never be able to create,
apart from me.
I teach them a specialized talent,
they learn one part of the business very well.
Very few of my employees could forge a complete-sword by themselves.
To manufacture a sword requires,
knowledge of the entire forging-process:
capital equipment,
the forge,
sharpening stones-;
sales skills;
marketing skills;
raw material;
many other things-
If one of my employees attempted to forge a sword by himself,
(apart from our foundry,)
his cost of production would be higher,
than one of my mass-produced swords,
and his swords’ quality far inferior.”

Low End

The Swordsmith: “Additionally,
at this point in time,
my low-end business,
helps my high-end business.
When a samurai comes to me as a young man,
he’s short of the funds-needed to purchase,
even my least-expensive weapon,
I view him as worthy:
I’ll sell him a sword on credit.
allow him to repay me at a later time,
with interest.
I’ve done this for many samurai.
Some of these samurai return to me,
years later,
rich men.
They wouldn’t even consider going to a competitor,
I treated them right when they were young.
Our current shogun was once a penniless samurai,
from an insignificant family.
I’ve sold him five swords.
His first sword purchased on credit,
the rest he paid cash for.

By expanding myself,
through teaching others,
and selling a high-quality low-end product:
The swords I make custom become even more valuable,
than they would be,
if I just forged a few high-end swords a year as a swordsmith.
Our low-end product,
an advertisement for our high-end product;
Our high-end product,
an object of desire,
an aspiration,
a goal.
By employing hundreds,
and arming thousands:
I’ve become the wealthiest merchant in the kingdom.
By crafting the finest swords in the world,
high-end and low-end,
and selling to our empire exclusively:
our empire has doubled its size in my lifetime.
Because of my relationship,
with the Emperor and the Shogun,
I have more power than anyone in the kingdom.
I tell you the truth,
times got bad.
All the fish in the ocean,
Our nation surrounded,
on all sides.
Whole villages,
even imperial courts may starve,
the Shogun and Emperor would fight,
to the last man to protect:
our family,
and our foundry.
Without this foundry,
the empire would cease to exist.


The Swordsmith:
“Wealth is important.
Wealth is power.
The more value-created,
the more wealth-created,
the more power-earned.
True wealth:
can’t be stolen,
can’t be won,
can only be earned by creating value for others.
The sword you created didn’t exist a month ago.
your mind,
your labor,
your intelligence,
your imagination,
your passion,
and your energy:
you transformed worthless mud,
into something of great value.

A samurai without a sword has limited value.
A samurai,
armed with your intelligence-incarnate,
(your sword,)
is the deadliest weapon on Earth.
Without your sword in hand,
a samurai would be naked,
Your sword has transformed him into a powerful,
new being.

Even though it took you a month to fashion a sword,
of similar quality,
to the swords I mass-produce every week,
through my employees in the foundry,
by the dozens.
A samurai could not create a sword in one-hundred lifetimes.
They do not possess the skill,
nor knowledge to do that.

When a samurai pays six-months wages,
for your first sword,
when we go to market:
You’ve increased your wealth by six-months wages.
The samurai has increased his value by one-million times!
Or more!
Your intelligence incarnate,
(the sword you created,)
has made:
you wealthier,
the individual-samurai more valuable,
and our empire stronger,
and wealthier.
You’ve benefited not just yourself,
the individual samurai,
the Emperor,
the Shogun,
and every subject in the empire.
Without your intelligence and labor,
your sword would still be just a pile of dirt and charcoal.
When you create a great product,
with your mind and effort,
and sell the product,
you gain wealth;
your customer gains value.
Everyone benefits,
when a man focuses his mind,
on creating wealth,
by creating value for others.
True selfishness is generosity.
True greed is altruistic.
By teaching others,
expanding yourself,
creating jobs,
loaning assets,
expanding supply and thereby lowering-prices:
you benefit others and yourself.
Show me a self-made rich merchant,
I’ll show you someone who’s sacrificed much and benefited many.”

Who Are You?

Richie Rich closes the little book.
looks up at his son,

Richie Rich: “Do you understand the story?”

Ray: “Yes sifu.”

Richie Rich: “Who are you in the story?”

Ray: “I am the boy sifu.”

Richie Rich: “Do you know what a metaphor is?”

Ray: “Yes sifu.”

Richie Rich: “Ray,
you’re not just the boy,
you are the sword!

Every challenge,
a hammer pounding your body,
removing slag,
making you stronger.

Everything learned,
a hammer pounding your body,
removing slag,
making you stronger.

it all has a purpose,
you may not see,
at least at first,
but is 100% necessary.

The other important metaphor,
be two types of steel:
hard and tough,
carbon and iron,
rigid and flexible.
A sword made of iron,
made of carbon is equally useless.
A man who’s too-hard,
too-soft is equally useless.
To become great,
absorbing both iron and carbon.
Only you can determine,
how much of each,
you’ll absorb.

While you’re in training here,
in the dojo,
the only rule:

What you choose to accept is up to you.
Furai teach:
iron and carbon,
hard and soft.
A true Furai sees value in both.
Some Furai are nearly pure carbon,
some nearly pure iron.
Learn everything you can about both:
choose the path making the most-sense to you.”

Ray: “Sifu.
What if I reject all iron,
become pure carbon?”

Richie Rich’s thoughts betray him for a split second,
Ray sees alarm in his father’s eyes.
Richie Rich smiles reassuringly.

Richie Rich: “The path of the dark wizard,
a path chosen by some Furai.
Such men are valuable,
They can be amusing to listen to.
my highest-ranking dark-wizard,
is a close friend of mine.
It is not the path I chose,
is it a path I recommend.
It can be a lonely path often leading to a violent death.
as long as you learn and master:
light and dark;
iron and carbon;
soft and hard-
Learn the strengths and weaknesses of both paths,
whatever path you choose,
I will support your decision.
If you find iron has no value to you,
remove your living heart:
replacing it with a black-one-”

Richie Rich pauses,
as if receiving a painful vision.

Richie Rich: “If that day comes,
you’ll be,
a far more-powerful dark-wizard,
if you know:
iron men inside and out.
of the weaknesses of the dark path:
they’re so self-centered,
they’re blind to:
the value,
and weaknesses of others.
As a Furai you’ll study and learn both paths,
whatever your destiny is:
I’ll accept.
If your destiny is to become a dark-wizard,
I’ll make sure:
you become the darkest wizard ever.
Most dark-wizards do not have apprentices,
those that do,
often their mentors hold back,
their most-powerful dark-majik out of:
Dark-wizards are not known for being generous,
it’s against their inner nature.
unconditional love,
my love for you as my son,
will allow me to teach you things,
I may disagree with,
because I know,
if you learn the dark arts,
from some carnival-performer,
posing as a dark-wizard,
you will not be worthy of the title:


  1. Pingback: ** If your destiny is to become a dark-wizard, I’ll make sure you become the darkest wizard ever #magick #philosophy – Richard Skeet's Blog

  2. Pingback: ** If your destiny is to become a dark-wizard, I’ll make sure you become the darkest wizard ever #magick #philosophy –

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