Looking up a the Heavens the True and Perfect Art of Heiho is Eternal, Even in Death.
Heihosha Without Equal under the Heavens
Epitaph of Shinmen Musashi Genshin, last descendant of the Akamatsu of Harima.
Died at Kumamoto in the province of Higo on May 19 in the second year of Shoho [June 13,
Erected with respect on April 19, in the third year of Shoo [June 4, 1654] by his pious son.
“ Look for the chances and respond to the changes,” this is the way of the accomplished general.
The practice of the martial arts and the study of soldiery are the preoccupation of an army. Who
was it that let his heart play at the gate of bun and bu, that let his hands work on the practice
grounds of the martial arts, and gained fame for his courage in doing so? It was the nobly born
Musashi Shingen, scion of the Shinmen, last descendant of the Akamatsu of Harima, the man
whose Buddhist name is Niten. By nature he had a magnanimity of heart that did not care about
Truly, was this not the man called Musashi Shingen?
He became the progenitor of the Niten art of heiho. The Buddhist name of his father, Shinmen,
who came from a house known for its mastery of the jitte, was Muni. This tradition was passed on
to Musashi, who, as a result of training from dusk till dawn, came to understand that the jitte was
many times more efficient than a single sword. However, the jitte was not a conventional weapon,
whereas it was normal for samurai to wear two swords. And since there was no harm in applying
the principles of the jitte to the art of fighting with two swords, he chose to abandon the tradition
of fighting with the jitte and founded one in which one fought with two swords. Musashi was a
truly great swordsman. Whether he wielded a shinken or a bokuto, none could escape him, either
by ducking or by running away. The force of his thrust resembled an arrow from a crossbow, and
even the great Yoyu would not have been able to surpass him.
Musashi was a consummate master of the art of heiho,the embodiment of valor. Thus, at the age
of thirteen, he challenged to a duel a man by the name Arima Kihei, a Shinto-ryu swordsman from
Harima, and defeated him instantly. Then, in the summer of his sixteenth year, he went to the
province of Tajima. There, he challenged another swordsman and struck him dead in the blink of
an eye, so that before long his name was known throughout town.
Afterwards, Musashi, went up to Kyoto, where lived the Yoshioka, known as The Foremost
Heihosha in Japan. Musashi challenged them, and fought for his honor with a Yoshioka
descendant by the name of Seijuro on the grounds of the Rendai temple outside the capital. It was
supposed to be a real contest but Musashi floored Seijuro with a single blow of his bokuto,
causing the latter to pass out. And because it was agreed beforehand that they would only
exchange a single blow Musashi did not take Seijuro's life. The latter's deshi came to his aid,
lifted him on a stretcher, and took him home. There, he was given various medical treatments and
eventually recovered. In the end, he abandoned the martial life and took the tonsure.
However, Yoshioka Denshichiro, too, left Kyoto to fight it out with Musashi. He attacked Musashi
with a five foot long bokuto. Seizing the opportunity, Musashi wrested the bokuto from him and
struck him with his own weapon, so that Denshichiro fell to the ground and expired.
The followers of the Yoshioka school were filled with bitterness, conspiring among themselves
saying: “We cannot stand up to him with technical skill alone. Let us therefore resort to tactics.”
And thus, feigning that they had come to practice, Yoshioka Matashichiro and his deshi awaited
Musashi in ambush outside Kyoto at Kudarimatsu. There were several hundreds of deshi, intending
to kill Musashi in a single attack with weapons, as well as bows and arrows. Musashi, however, had