Quote: Benkei vs. Ushiwaka

Just a fun quote I came across today (Translation is rough):


The fight was dead even, as if a young eagle just out of the nest and a wild bear from deep in the mountains were struggling on a field.  Benkei began to look annoyed, and shouting “you overrated little brat!” launched an attack.  But (Ushiwaka) jumped up on a bridge post, stepped on Benkei’s naginata with one foot and pushed it down to clank on the ground.

This is from the Chikamatsu Monzaemon play Harami Tokiwa (Pregnant Tokiwa), but the scene is the classic Hashi Benkei fight between Benkei and Yoshitsune (then Ushiwaka), where the young Yoshitsune defeats Benkei and makes him his retainer.  Hashi Benkei is the name of the Nō play that features this particular fight, but the story appears in the Gikeiki (although not on a bridge), which itself was composed from pre-existing stories.

Harami Tokiwa was first staged in 1710 but even now, 300 years later, this is still a totally cool scene!  And it’s familiar to every fan of samurai anime; the “small nimble guy dodges the big slow guy’s sword and jumps on top of it” is a trope that is still very much current.