The Crab & The Seagull – A Story Of Survival

4 Jul

The within tale is an adaptation of an ancient Zen fable. It is; however, based upon actual events.

Growing up in New Jersey the best part of the summer involved visits to the unique boundary where the Atlantic Ocean kisses the sand. Many a memorable summer day was spent on various beaches of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape May, New Jersey to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My visits to the shore were not always recreational. Most visits to the beach, I practice my Karate-Do kata. Sometimes, my karate students accompany me. It was in the mid-1990’s during one such training session that the following true events leapt from the pages of Zen fable into the physical realm.

While training my students and I witnessed an encounter involving a seagull and a blue claw crab. In the original Zen fable, there was a fox, (represented by the seagull) and a rabbit (represented by the blue-claw crab).

The tide washed a blue claw crab up onto the beach. A seagull, being ever vigilant, was quick to seize the opportunity. The seagull landed on the beach and chased the crab in an attempt to make the crab its dinner. The crab used its claws to fend off the seagull. The seagull took to the air to attempt an air assault upon its reluctant dinner guest. The crab raised is claws and scuttled to and fro. The battle continued in this manner.
I asked my students, ”Who should win the fight?” They naturally said the seagull. After all, it was larger, stronger and given it had the capacity for flight, was more mobile than the crab. I informed my students that, according to an ancient fable, the crab should win. My students and I continued to watch the encounter. The fight continued with the crab fending off the sea gull. Eventually a large wave washed a-shore and carried the still fighting crab away to safety. The frustrated sea-gull flew away.

My students asked “Why should the crab win?” The answer is simple.
The seagull was fighting for its dinner, but, the blue claw crab was fighting for its life. The crab must win because it had more at stake in the confrontation. Simply stated, the winner of a physical confrontation between an aggressor and the person forced to defend against attack would be the person with the most to lose in the confrontation.


This week’s featured video:

Bonus Seienchin Kata Video – With Wild Horses!

Respectfully submitted,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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