Miyamoto Musashi


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Miyamoto Musashi

A short biography

Origin: Shimmen Musashi No Kami Fujiwara No Genshin was born in 1584 in a village called Miyamoto in the province of Mimasaka. His father Hirata Munisai was a samurai in the service of the sovereign, and his mother Omasa came from the Shinmen clan. Musashi bore the name Shinmen Bennosuke for a long time, which he later changed again. Musashi was already known for his wild nature in his younger years. It is said that he fought and won his first battle at the age of 13 against a skilled samurai named Arima Kihei. It is not entirely known where Musashi was apprenticed. Only assumptions have been made. When he reached the age of 16, he began travelling throughout Japan. From this point on, he only called himself Miyamoto Musashi. During his journey, he fought in six wars and contested over 60 duels, all of which he won. He also fought in the legendary Battle of Sehigahara. Musashi dedicated his life entirely to his swordsmanship. Here he developed his swordsmanship in numerous duels. What was typical of his art was fighting with both long and short swords. This was very unusual at the time as the short sword (kodachi) was actually used for ceremonial purposes and emergencies. According to Musashi’s philosophy, you should use everything at your disposal in battle. As it says in the Gorin-no-sho (Book of the 5 Rings)

“realising the effectiveness of the two swords? that’s what the Niten ichi ryu is all about… because the truth is that you should use all the weapons you have instead of throwing your life away. To die with an unused weapon in your belt would be unfortunate”

At the age of 20, he began to search for the deeper meaning of his martial art. Legend has it that, at the height of his art, he fought a battle with a bokken against Sasaki Kojiro, who was considered the best samurai at the time. On the way to the island where the fight was to take place, he carved a bokken out of a paddle, which he then used in the legendary fight. He realised that one should not only try to achieve perfection in the art of swordsmanship, but also in other arts. So he devoted himself to blacksmithing, calligraphy and other arts and honed all of them to perfection. Musashi perfected his arts and wrote a book (Gorin-no-sho) shortly before his death and gave it to his favourite student. He died on 16 June 1645 in the Reigendo cave.

Musashi’s legacy: Musashi has taken on an important role in the history of Japan today and has become something of a legend. In the many legends that surround him, he epitomises the spirit of Japan and its quest for perfection. Musashi left behind a book in which he set down the universally applicable insights of his way of thinking.

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