Throughout the history of Japan, no warrior is as invincible as the man named Miyamoto Musashi who lived in the 16th Century. Until these days, he is still highly regarded as the greatest martial artist in the land and more than a hero, he is also a legend. Throughout the history of the samurai, there’s never a warrior who have garnered a reputation equal to a one-man army. Miyamoto Musashi’s invincibility have exceeded credible gauge that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Much of his exploits are taken from Eiji Yoshikawa’s biographical novel. The only thing that equals Miyamoto Musashi’s peerless swordsmanship is his strategy, adaptability and randomness.
However, his first taste of war is wrought with defeat. For the first time, he felt the disgrace of being hunted like a common criminal by the ruthless forces of the Tokugawa army. Any man would have chosen the ritual suicide to avoid being captured and tortured to death. However, Miyamoto Musashi chose to survive and considered this almost impossible task of outwitting an entire army as part of his training. Miyamoto Musashi is simply the kind of man who would do anything to become invincible. It was believed that throughout his time hiding in the wilderness; Miyamoto Musashi, who was then known as young Shinmen Takezo, boosted his notoriety by slaying government swordsmen and mercenaries who picked up his trail. His reputation went from bad to worst; bad enough to change his identity.
It is easy to assume that his unkempt fashion is designed as part of his strategy. Because he looked more like an underfed half-beast with revolting body odor, no warrior would ever take him seriously. When he entered the Yoshioka Fencing School, it was said that he defeated and severely injured every single student in the dojo. Obviously, they let their guard down. Musashi has finally caught the attention of the Yoshioka brothers, grand masters of the fencing school. The honor of the school was already at stake and both of them are determined to crush this upstart in a duel.
The elder brother, Seijuro Yoshioka, was the first to challenge Musashi. Miyamoto Musashi came two hours late. The mental drain and irritation has upset Seijuro’s concentration and his fight with Musashi ended in defeat. He gave up his position to his younger brother, Denshichiro Yoshioka. Being a hothead and a brash youth, he challenged Miyamoto Musashi in a duel for vengeance. It didn’t take so much tactical effort to infuriate the younger Yoshioka master and after one hour of being late, Denshichiro charged at him in blind rage. Musashi has slain the frenzied opponent with ease, disarming him and impaling him with his own weapon. The entire school was so outraged to be beaten by one man that the loyal students themselves conspired and took matters in their own hands, issuing a rematch where each warrior would be given a chance to fight the champion just like the first time. However, they have prepared a detachment of musketeers and archers ready to ambush Musashi as he comes. But Miyamoto Musashi changed his tactics and came very early, where he massacred the assassins who were still about to assemble. One man has defeated an entire fencing school with his cunning and strategy.
Musashi later on fought a challenger named Shishido Baiken. The opponent was said to be a feared opponent because of the peculiar weapon he wielded- a chain and sickle. This weapon has several advantages over a standard sword or spear and being a master of this arsenal, Shishido Baiken was thought to be invincible. But Miyamoto Musashi won because he was able to adapt to the situation. When Shishido’s chain tangled with Musashi’s sword and tugging him relentlessly, the latter simply released his grip on his katana. Shishido tumbled and in the midst of struggling to gain balance, Musashi charged at him with a dagger, killing him.
The same happened during his duel with his sixtieth opponent, Kojiro Sasaki. Kojiro’s one flaw despite his seemingly unblemished repertoire as a samurai was his pride. Kojiro Sasaki is a very proud warrior who would not tolerate insult. It was with his duel with Sasaki that Miyamoto Musashi used every possible means to psyche this reputedly invincible opponent. Being late for nearly four hours has taken a little toll on Kojiro’s patience but as a seasoned warrior, he was able to bare it until Musashi arrived. But when the tardy and untidy champion arrived carrying a long wooden boat oar and taunting the challenger in his arrival, Kojiro’s patience have finally exhausted and he charged at Musashi in searing rage. As far as Kojiro was concerned, it was intolerable that any man would underestimate him with a wooden weapon. The makeshift pole was not only intended for psychological maneuver, but it proved to be a weapon with greater tactical advantage. The oar is twice longer in reach compared to Sasaki’s sword and Musashi have effectively used it to clobber his opponent’s head.
The greatest warrior of Japan has improved the concept of strategy in martial arts. His tactics were simply as ruthless as it was flawless. In every battle, Musashi was already prepared with all the necessary skill he needed in combat. From all his sixty duels, much of his preparation is centered on destroying his enemy’s focus, by finding a way in distracting the mind or catching opponent unwary in any single moment.
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