Miyamoto Musashi

2013.05.02 [HISTORY,WHAT'S NEW]

Musashi’s Musha Shugyo, Warriors’ Training

Having defeated the Yoshioka School, Musashi spent a few months
at the Hozoin, a Zen temple in the south of Kyoto where even today,
the monks train in a traditional spear technique. Between 1605 and
1612 Musashi undertook Musha Shugyo, a warriors training in which
he traveled extensively testing himself and improving his skills with
the sword.  During this time he faced opponents such as Shishido
Baiken, a master of the Kusarigama, a sickle, ball and chain weapon,
and Muso Gonnosuke, a strong swordsman and master of the short
staff. Musashi faced Muso twice in non-lethal combat, winning both.


Musashi also spent three years in Nagoya, teaching his Enmei Ryu,
two sword style to the Owari samurai of Nagoya Castle in conjunction
with the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu style favored by the mighty Tokugawa Clan.


Musashi’s most famous duel was fought on April 13, 1612 on the island
formerly known as Funashima, or Boat Island, against Sasaki Kojiro,
creator of the Ganryu Style of fencing, and an expert in the Nodachi,
an extra long sword.


The two rivals, Musashi and Kojiro had agreed to meet on the island at 8am, however Musashi
failed to arrive until a little after 10. As he was being rowed to the small island, Musashi is said
to have fashioned a wooden sword from an oar, with the intention of fighting with that, instead
of a real sword. As his boat approached the beach, he nimbly jumped out into knee deep water
and faced Kojiro.



“You’re late!” snarled Kojiro, drawing his oversized sword and angrily casting the scabbard into
the water. “You’ve lost,…” answered Musashi. “What makes you think that?” spat Kojiro moving
menacingly forward. “If you were going to win, you’d need your scabbard again later,” answered
Musashi calmly striding out of the water and onto the beach, holding his carved oar behind him.


With a roar, Kojiro made the first move, and in an instant Musashi struck him down.  
Musashi then bowed to the official witnesses, returned to his boat, and was rowed away.



 After Ganryujima

In 1614 and 1615 he participated in the winter and summer Battles of Osaka, fighting
for the Tokugawa against the Toyotomi, before entering the services  of Ogasawara Tadanao supervising the construction of Akashi Castle, design  of the garden, and
organizing the layout of Himeji Town. Here he adopted a son, Mikinosuke, who would
be accepted as a retainer to the Honda of Himeji In 1622.


The swordsman once again began to travel, arriving up in Edo in 1623 where he
became friends with the Confucian scholar and advisor to the Shogun, Hayashi Razan. Through Hayashi, Musashi petitioned the shogun for a position as sword instructor.
He was declined as there were already two sword-masters appointed.


Musashi later made his way to Yamagata and adopted a second son, Iori.
His first son, Mikinosuke visited Musashi and Iori in 1626, explaining that with death
of Honda, he would follow his master in death by suicide in the tradition known as 
Junshi.  The following year Musashi and Iori stayed in Ogura, before traveling again to Kokura joining the Lord of Kumamoto Castle, Hosokawa Tadatoshi.




Musashi took part in quelling the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637, however, suffered a leg injury in battle
from a thrown rock. Iori instead would be recognized for his gallant efforts.



In 1641, Musashi wrote the “Hyoho Sanju Go“, or “The Thirty-five Articles of War ” for Lord Hosokawa,
which would form the basis of his masterpiece, the “Go Rin No Sho”.  By 1642, Musashi was suffering
bouts of neuralgia, a painful disorder of the nerves. Realising his end was near, Musashi retired to the
Reigendo, a cave outside of Kumamoto to write “The Book of Five Rings” which he completed early 1645.
Three months later, he wrote ‘Dokkodo‘, or “The Way of Walking Alone”, a book on self-discipline, which
was intended as a guide to future generations.


Miyamoto Musashi died of what is believed to have been thoracic cancer in the Reigando cave about
June 13, 1645. His body was buried in full armor on the main road through the village of Yuge near
Mt. Iwato. In Kumamoto Prefecture.




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