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KOKURA HIBUN(HONCHO BUGEI SHODEN).pdf


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fell face down and stopped breathing. Since he had fallen with a single blow, Musashi
spared him his life. Seijiro's students laid him out on a plank and carried him off. Thanks to
medicines and baths at the springs, he gradually recovered. Yoshioka eventually gave up
swordsmanship and received the tonsure.
However, a match was later held with Yoshioka Denshichiro, once again on the outskirts of
the capital, to see who was better. Denshichiro came armed with a wooden sword more than
five shaku in length. Adapting to the situation, Musashi wrestled the wooden sword from
him and struck him with it. Yoshioka fell to the ground and died shortly thereafter.
Bearing hatred for Musashi, Yoshioka's disciples secretly schemed, justifying themselves by
saying, 'Strategy allows no meeting the opponent in good faith; an army has to devise plans.'
So they met up with Yoshioka Matashichiro at Sagarimatsu on the outskirts of the capital,
and several hundred of his students, armed with staffs and bows, went out to do harm to
Musashi.
Musashi's genius lay in always foreseeing when something was going to happen and he had
a talent for knowing when the opportunity was right. He immediately caught on to
Yoshioka's deception and told his own students, 'This affair do not concern you directly.
You should disperse immediately. What if they form a great crowd or army enemies full of
hatred? I shall watch this as impassively as the floating clouds. Why should I fear them?'
Seeing Musashi fearlessly rushing toward them, the mob scattered as if chased by a wild
beast, and with their confidence shattered, they returned home. The people of the capital
were amazed at this. The bravery, the intelligent strategy that allowed one man to take on a
myriad of enemies-truly this was the wondrous principle that lies behind the art of
swordsmanship.
Before this, the Yoshioka family had been for generations masters of swordsmen to the
noble houses. They were proclaimed to be the undisputed masters of swordsmanship.
During the reign of Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Muni was called forth and a match was held
between him and Yoshioka. Three bouts were held. Yoshioka won one, but Muni was twice
victorious. For this feat, Muni was awarded the title 'Unmatched swordsman in the land'.
Musashi, too, won several matches with the Yoshioka while he was staying in the capital.
From then, the fortunes of the Yoshioka house waned.
There was a great swordsman whose name was Ganryu. Looking for a chance to fight
Musashi to see who was better, he challenged him to a match with live swords. Musashi
replied, 'You may use a live sword with all its advantages. As for me, I shall bring a wooden
sword and show you its secrets.' Thus a firm pledge was made.
In the waters between Nagato and Buzen, there is an island called Funashima and the two
warriors agreed to arrive at the same time. Ganryu came carrying a live sword more than
three shaku in length, and fought for his life, but Musashi killed him with a single blow of
his wooden sword. It was faster than lightning, quicker than thunder. Because of the duel,
the name of Funashima island changed to the now popular Ganryujima.
From the age of thirteen until he was a grown man of about thirty, Musashi took part in
more than sixty duels and never once did he fail to win. He always said that considered
himself victorious only when he was able to strike the opponent right between the eyebrows,
and he never went back on that pledge. The number of men who since ancient times have
entered into sword duels must reach the thousands and tens thousands; but throughout the
land none of these brave and skilled swordsmen can compare. There is only one Musashi.
His renown has reached across the four seas and his praises have never ceased to be sung.
He truly left a deep impression on even those well versed in such affairs; they agree that he
was strange and wondrous, different from any other swordsman. Indeed, Musashi was truly