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kokura hibun.pdf


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a talent for anticipating such events and, seeing through their dishonest scheme, he secretly said to
his deshi: “This is no affair of yours, quickly leave this place. Even if my sworn enemies had
assembled an army, to me it would be no more than a drifting cloud, so why should I fear them?”
And when Musashi proceeded to scatter his enemies apart it seemed as if a wild dog was chasing
away wild beasts. When Musashi returned to the capital having displayed his powers all its citizens
were in awe. His gallant vigor, his superior calculation, the singlehanded defeat of a vast force,
these were the marvelous exploits of a man of war.
Now, prior to this, successive generations of the Yoshioka clan had served as fencing instructors to
the shogun. They were called “The Foremost Heihosha in Japan.” In the time of Shogun Yoshiaki
Musashi's father, Shinmen Munisai, was summoned to the capital and ordered to duel with the
Yoshioka. Of the three bouts the Yoshioka swordsman won once, while Munisai won twice. In
reward for this he received the title of “Heihosha Without Equal in Japan.”
As a result of Musashi's arrival in Kyoto and the subsequent successive defeats of the Yoshioka
swordsmen, the Yoshioka school of swordsmanship ceased to exist.
Now, near here there lived a master swordsman whose name was Ganryu. When Musashi made it
known that he wanted to duel with Ganryu the latter proposed that they fight with real swords. But
Musashi responded saying: “Feel free to use a real sword and display your skills with it, but I will
fight with the bokuto and reveal its secrets.” And thus both men solemnly pledged in writing that
they would meet in duel on Funashima, an island in the sea between the provinces of Buzen and
Nagato. And it was there that both men met at the same time. Ganryu came charging toward
Musashi wielding his three foot longsword, executing all the techniques he had to his disposal. But
Musashi struck him dead with one single blow of his bokuto, and with a speed that seemed faster
than lightning. Since Ganryu died on this island the people henceforth referred to it as Ganryu
island.
From his thirteenth year until the prime of his life Musashi fought more than sixty duels without
ever being beaten. He would invariably say that “ In order to seize victory, one has to strike one's
opponent the very moment they raise their eyebrows in surprise.” And each time he met with
someone in duel he lived up to this dictum. From of old thousands, nay tens of thousands have met
in duel. However, except for Musashi, I have never heard of anyone to squarely face a great
swordsmen and strike him dead, be it in the present or the past, in the capital or in the countryside.
By now Musashi's reputation has spread throughout the country and such is the extent of his
undiminished fame that is impressed on the minds of present day people though the oral traditions
of their elders. Truly, is it not a marvel, is it not a mystery? Indeed, the excellence of his precocious
talent is unparalleled.
Musashi would often say that the art of heiho should mature in one's hands and govern one's heart,
and that as long as one remains utterly unselfish and impartial one can command armies in the
field and that even the affairs of state need not be difficult. Musashi's valor at the time of the
rebellion started by Lord Ishida Mitsunari, the favorite of Taiko Toyotomi Hideyoshi, or at the time
of the disturbance caused by Lord Toyotomi Hideyori, cannot be expressed in words, had oceans
mouths or valleys tongues, and thus I will remain silent on the matter.
Not only was Musashi a consummate swordsman, he was also at home in etiquette, music,
archery,horsemanship, calligraphy, arithmetic, and poetry. Be it in his dabbling in the arts of his
skillful pursuit of his profession, he was never idle. He was the model of a fine human being.
Musashi died in the province of Higo. On his deathbed he wrote the words: “Looking up at the
heavens the true and perfect art of heiho is eternal, even in death.” It was these words that have
inspired me to commemorate his legacy. Hence I, his pious son, have founded this monument, so
that his words and deeds may be passed on and seen by successive generations into eternity.

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