Sasaki Ganryu

Miyamoto Musashi continued to travel around Japan looking for suitable adversaries against which to test his skill. Eventually he heard about an undefeated warrior named Sasaki Ganryu who fought with a very long sword (possibly a No-dachi) and won his duels through a combination of skill and a distance advantage (having several more inches of blade than a normal katana)

Musashi challenged Ganryu who eagerly accepted his challenge, the two agreed that the duel would take place on a small island at 8am the next day.

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Ganryu arrived on time but Musashi, as usual, was very, very late. Ganryu was furious. Eventually a boat was spotted approaching the island drifting with the current. The passenger was lazily slouched in the boat, seemingly half asleep and whittling at a long wooden oar. It was Musashi.

When Musashi eventually came ashore he tired a dirty towel around his head and brandished the the long oar that he intended to use as a weapon in the duel. Ganryu was enraged. Musashi had come to fight him, with a dirty towel as a headband and an oar for a sword! How dare he disrespect him so.

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Shishido Baiken

After his duels with the Yoshioka family Miyamoto Musashi began travelling the length and breadth of Japan looking for warriors against which to test his skill. He soon heard of an undefeated warrior called Shishido Baiken who wielded a kusarigama in duels.

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A kusarigama is a Sickle with a long chain attached to it. A steel ball is then attached to the end of the chain. Baiken would swing his ball and chain in an arc building up speed and momentum forcing his opponent onto the back foot by increasing the circumference of the spinning steel ball. He would then hurl the ball at the mans face. His opponent would have to fend off the ball and chain with this sword arm and at that precise moment Baiken would close the distance and use the sickle against his opponents throat. Baiken relied on the weapons ‘exotic-ness’ insofar as a swordsman would struggle to formulate a strategy against this weapon in so short a time, especially when he was already back pedaling.

Musashi was intrigued and wanted to see this weapons in action, but Baiken refused saying the only way he could see the weapon was in a duel, to which Musashi agreed.

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Yoshioka Matashichiro

After Miyamoto Musashi had killed Yoshioka Denshichiro leadership of the Yoshioka house and sword school fell to the 12 year old Yoshioka Matashichiro.

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Shortly after the demise of his brother, the new scion of house Yoshioka challenged Musashi to a duel to the death to reclaim the honor of his house and to avenge his brothers. In the terms of the duel it was requested that the duel take place outside of Kyoto and at night. Musashi suspected duplicity on the part of Matashichiro but agreed anyway.

Unlike his previous duels Musashi arrived very early for this duel and hid in the trees and waited. Matashichiro suspected that Musashi, as usual, would be late and arrived at dusk with a cohort of retainers.

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Yoshioka Denshichiro

After the defeat of his brother Yoshioka Seijuro, by Miyamoto Musashi, the Yoshioka family and sword school was taken over by Yoshioka Denschichiro, a formidable warrior in his own right. Feeling aggrieved that Miyamoto Musashi had so easily bested his brother and brought dishonor upon his school and family, Denschichiro challanged Musashi to a duel. Only this time, it would be to death. Musashi agreed.

The two combatants agreed that the duel would take place outside the Buddhist temple of Sanjusangendo in Kyoto.  The temple is famous for its thousand statues of Kannon, the Shinto goddess of compassion.

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Again Miyamoto Musashi arrived hours later than the agreed upon time to fight Denshichiro. When he did eventually saunter in, he was again armed with a wooden sword or bokken which enraged Denshichiro. This was, after all, supposed to be a duel to death, clearly Musashi was not taking this seriously. Denshichiro himself was armed with a wooden staff that had been banded with iron rings.

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Yoshioka Seijuro

This was likely Miyamoto Musashi’s first official duel

Yoshioka Seijuro was the head of the Yoshioka Dojo (a school specializing in swordsmanship) as well as the patriarch of the Yoshioka family.

It was decided that the fight would take place outside the Jobon-Rendai-ji Temple in  Kyoto. They also decided that the duel would be non-lethal and would be fought with bokken (wooden swords) and that the winner would be declared by the first blow.

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Miyamoto Musashi arrived hours late on the day of the fight. Musashi believed in a total warfare and eking out any potential advantage which included any psychological edge. Musashi eventually sauntered up to the temple, Seijuro was irritated and angry by this point, judging Musashi’s behavior to be completely irreverent and unacceptable.

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