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Old 10-10-2005, 05:59 PM
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Default Miyamoto Musashi

Anyone who is a Samurai buff should know very well the name Miyamoto Musashi. The legendary swordsman, traveller and author of The Book of 5 Rings. Unfortunately, Musashi was later 16th century.

Though much of his youth is shrouded in mystery, it is generally accepted that Musashi was born in the village of Miyamoto to a samurai family, under the name Shinmen Musashi no Kami Fujiwara no Genshin, indicating that he was of the Shinmen, Musashi branch, of the Fujiwara and his adult given name was Genshin (You may have heard of the Fujiwara clan - they dominated Japanese politics through the Heian period, and still held a good deal of influence in the following eras).

Supposedly, Musashi's mother died in child-birth, leaving his mother's brother, a priest, to raise him. Musashi met his father only on rare occasion.

According to The Book of 5 Rings, Musashi won his first duel at the age of thirteen against an accomplished samurai by the name of Arima Kihei of Kashima, who fought with the Shinto-Ryu style (one of the last existing koryu).

In 1604, according to Musashi's adopted son Iori, Musashi fought a duel against the master swordsman Yoshioka Seijuro and won, usingly only a bokken. Through to 1612, Musashi traveled extensively through Japan, honing his skills as a warrior and participating in over sixty duels. He was supposedly never defeated, though that point is contested by Japenese historians who argue that he could not have won certain duels without assistance from his students.

It is written that Musashi participated in campaigns with or was in service under such greats as Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the general who united Japan) and Ieyasu Tokugawa, as well as daimyo Ogasawara Tadazane of Kokura and daimyo Hosokawa Tadatoshi of Kumamoto Castle.

It was in 1643 that Musashi became a hermit, hiding himself away in the cave named Reigando, to write The Book of 5 Rings. He finished it just before his death in 1645.

During his lifetime, Musashi succeeded in a number of achievements:
He perfected the two-sword kenjutsu technique niten'ichi (two heavens as one). This technique took advantage of the wakizashi, employing both that and the katana at the same time. His sword style is now known as Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu. Supposedly, he was inspired to the style as he watched temple drummers - in actuality, it may have been more attributed to his father, who taught a style which employed a long sword and jitte at the same time.

Musashi was an accomplished artist, sculptor and calligrapher. Supposedly he was also a skilled architect. Musashi sacrificed the aesthetic considerations that were a part of certain kenjutsu styles, taking a more brutal, no-nonsense bent on his fighting. This is attributed to his real-life fighting experience.

He was posthumously named a Kensei (Sword-saint), a wandering warrior-monk who dedicated his entire existence to mastering his chosen style of combat.

This is an incredible wealth of information on Miyamoto Musashi available. The warrior has also been written into a large number of fiction pieces. William Scott Wilson's The Lone Samurai is a good source of information on him.
"Gold offers a beautiful reflection, but can drag one to the river floor as quickly as a stone." -Nobuwa-Ryuu to Rikuren

Last edited by MattyQ; 10-10-2005 at 07:50 PM.
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