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Miyamoto Musashi

to be surprised unarmed. When he took his new name for adulthood, Musashi selected the name of his birthplace, Miyamoto.

According to the introduction of his The Book of Five Rings, where he states some autobiographical details, he had his first successful duel by the age of thirteen. His first opponent was an accomplished samurai Arima Kibei.

According to tradition he fought in the Battle of Sekigahara in the troops of the Pro-Toyotomi forces. He does not mention this in The Book of Five Rings.

After the war was over he left for Edo. According to his adopted son Iori, in 1604 Musashi fought a victorious duel against master swordsman Yoshioka Seijuro using only a bokken, a wooden sword. Reputedly he had a grudge against Yoshioka family for how they had treated his father. After he had defeated the father, he killed both boys in duels though the latter one was more of an ambush. Yoshioka family records claim otherwise.

From 1605 to 1612 he travelled extensively all over Japan in

Musha-Shugyo, a warrior pilgrimage during which he honed his skills with duels. He was said to have used bokken in actual duels. He is also said to have fought over 60 duels and was never defeated. Japanese historians seem to believe that he could not have won all of them alone, without some assistance from his students.

In April 14, 1612 he had his most famous duel with Sasaki Kojiro who was using a nodachi, a long two-handed sword.

Musashi came late and unkempt possibly to unnerve his opponent and killed him with a bokken that he had made from an oar to be longer than the nodachi. After this fight, Musashi fought fully armed opponents mainly using only wooden sticks as his own weapons.

He briefly established a fencing school in 1612.

In 1614-1615 he reputedly joined the troops of Tokugawa Ieyasu when he had besieged the castle of Osaka of the again rebellious Ashikaga family. Other accounts claim he actually served in the defending side, but many historians disagree with them. 1615 he entered the service of Ogasawara Tadanao in Harima province as a construction supervisor. During his service he adopted a boy called Iori and originated the Enmyo Ryu school of kenjutsu.

In 1627 he began to travel again. In 1634 he settled in Ogura with his stepson Iori. Later they apparently entered the service of daimyo Ogasawara Tadazane when he fought in the Shimabara Rebellion.

Six years later Musashi moved to service of Hosokawa Tadatoshi, daimyo of Kumamoto Castle to train and paint. In 1643 he retired to

 

 
 
 
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