This Story was submitted by Brian DiGiovanni.
During the time of the Han Dynasty, a young man (whose
name is lost in time) desired to train with the
Shaolin Monks. Each day he arrived at the monastery
and sat in the lotus position outside of the gates.
After waiting every day for 8 hours, he was told to
return tomorrow - perhaps the monks would allow him to
This cycle of arriving, waiting, and leaving without
teaching continued for 6 months. Finally, the young
man, after six months, unable to contain himself any
longer, arrived one morning, banging on the gates,
demanding to be taught, as he had expressed the proper
amount of respect and self-restraint these past 6
months. The monks immediately let the young man in,
noting that one has only to ask the proper question to
be ready to train.
For the next year, the young man trained under the
supervision of one of the monks. Every morning,
passing other students arrayed in lines, performing
forms and kata, he found the monk overseeing his
studies. Without fail, that monk directed him to a
large bin of water, and instructed him to slap at the
water with the front and back of his hands, just so.
The disgruntled young man did as he was asked for 6
months, slapping water for days on end.
One day, the young man needed to stay home to tend to
his parents, and thus did not train for a day. During
the day, he finally spoke of his training to his
family, who until now knew only that he had been
training with he monks. The young man tried to avoid
discussing his training, embarrassed as he was of the
silly nature of his daily activity. When asked to
demonstrate some of the many techniques he had
learned, unable to restrain himself, he shouted.
"After waiting to train for 6 months, and for the last
year, all day long, all I do is slap water. Slapping
water! I am a washer of clothes without the clothes!"
And with that, he sprang up and struck the heavy oaken
table with the flat of his hand.
With a thunderous crack, the table split in two.