Famous Swordsmen - Miyamoto Musashi - Expert Japanese Swordsman
Miyamoto Musashi was a swordsman and rōnin in Japan that lived in 16th and 17th century. He is famous for his excellent swordsmanship, as an artist,
philosopher and writer.
Exact day of his birth and his father is not known for sure. Early biography of Musashi “Niten Ki” says that he is born 1584 by father Shinmen Munisai who
was an accomplished martial artist and master of the sword and jutte. Mother is even less known. Problem is because Shinmen Munisai’s grave says that he
died in 1580. Some other documents say that Musashi was born in 1582 which doesn’t help either. There is possibility that he was adopted by Munisai’s widow
as an orphan from the Akamatsu clan. There is also possibility that grave is wrong and Munisai is really Munisashi’s father. There are as well other
Munisashi’s childhood name was Bennosuke. In his most famous The Book of Five Rings` where he deals with strategy, tactics, and philosophy, he states that
his full name and title is Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin. When he was seven years old, he was raised by his uncle, Dorinbo, in Shoreian
temple, where he learned Buddhism, reading and writing. He was also trained by Munisai in the sword, and in the family art of the jutte, a sort of short
iron bar weapon. After his father was ordered by Shinmen Sokan to kill his student Honiden Gekinosuke, whole family had to leave the village.
Musashi had his first duel at the age of 13. He defeated Arima Kihei, who was traveling to perfect his skill and posted a public challenge. Musashi applied
for challenge. His uncle tried to prevent the duel but Arima demanded public apology at the time of the duel as a mean of preserving his honor. When the
time came, Musashi’s uncle Dorin started apologizing but Musashi charged Arima with a bo. Arima attacked with a wakizashi but Musashi knocked him down and
then beat him to death.
Musashi left his village in his 16th year to travel and engage in duels. In 1600 he fought in a war between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans. In his 21st he
arrived in Kyoto where he began a series of duels against the Yoshioka School which was the best of the eight major schools of martial arts in Kyoto. He
defeated Yoshioka Seijūrō, master of the Yoshioka School and then his brother Yoshioka Denshichirō. He was then challenged to a duel by a now head of
Yoshioka family, 12-year old Yoshioka Matashichiro but saw through an ambush taht was prepared for him and killed Matashichiro while escaping from an
ambush which destroyed this branch of the Yoshioka School.
After that he continues to travel the Japan, perfecting his skill but in most cases he didn’t use metal sword unless both opponents agreed. He used wooden
sword - bokken. In time he had many duels and he developed a technique of fighting with two swords as well as fighting with throwing weapons. He had over
60 encounters and never lost. He also became artist, sculptor and calligrapher. In his book “The Book of Five Rings”, he deals with swordsmanship and
martial arts but from philosophical point of view.