Lets face it, Samurai are pretty fucking awesome. And of all the samurai who lived, Miyamoto Musashi managed to up that awesomeness level to 11
Not much is really known about Musashi when he was a young chap, but what we do know is that he was born to a samurai family, and that his father was a well respected samurai in his own right.
Also at the age of thirteen, Musashi killed a man.
Let us repeat that.
At the tender age of thirteen, that is 1 followed by a 3, Musashi fought and killed a man in a duel. This may come off as a bit extreme, but you have to admit killing a man is a bit more colorful than everyone else was doing at that wonderful age.
This was pretty much us
The dead man in question was Arima Kihei, a skilled samurai who came to Musashi's hometown basically just to start some shit. Kihei put up a banner calling for any schmuck with the balls to take him on to come on down and get an ass whoopin.
Musashi-who again we must stress had barely started sporting his first pubes--answered Kihei's call to arms and challenged him to a duel. Thing was, Kihei was a pretty skilled swordsman, and up until that point, Musashi hadn't really had that much training when it came to the slashy slash part of being a samurai. To remedy this, Musashi caught the katana wielding Kihei off guard by simply charging in like a madman and beating him to death with a stick.
After the famed club-on-skull crack fest, Musashi picked up a real sword and started to wander around Japan, looking for work as a sword for hire. He managed to wind up at the Battle of Sekigahara, which was for all intents and purposes the Gettysburg of Japanese history. It was here that he started to make a name for himself, as he managed to kick some serious amount of ass.
Even the fact that he fought on the loosing side of the battle didn't deter his kickass nature, as he managed to walk away from the battlefield without a single wound. Also, did we mention that he was only seventeen at the time? Shit, at this point if someone said he banged the Emperor's wife afterward, we'd be inclined to consider it as fact and call it a day.
Oh yeah, Im sooooo tappin this
So, to recap, Musashi had beaten a man's head into fine paste, wandered as a mercenary and came out of one of the largest battles in Japanese history without a scratch, all before the lot of us could enjoy our first legal beer. Fuck, what more can this man do to cement his status as a badass?
Musashi continued wandering around, challenging folks to duels wherever he could find them. It was during this time that he created his own sword style in which instead of the single katana that all the other bitches were using, he wielded two shorter swords. This unique style allowed him to both defend and attack at the same time, and totally beating John Woo to making akimbo awesome by about three hundred years.
All thats missing is a flock of doves
Musashi eventually found his way to Kyoto, where he challenged Yoshioka Seijuro, head of the famous Yoshioka School of Swordsmanship, to a duel. Yoshioka didn't really consider the vagabond to be that much of a challenge, as he only saw Musashi as just some boob who wandered in from the street and started talkin' smack.
You know the type
Regardless, Yoshioka was honor bound to accept, and told Musashi to meet him the next morning for the Thunderdome throw down. However, when Yoshioka showed up, Musashi wasn't there. In fact, Musashi didn't show up for almost three hours. And when he did, he was dirty, disheveled, and didn't even bother to apologize for being late. Needless to say, Yoshioka was pissed
However, this was all part of Musashi's plan. You see, the Yoshioka school was revered for the amount of intense concentration it's students used, enabling them to defeat opponents with precision and ease. Musashi knew this, and purposefully didn't show for hours because he wanted Yoshioka mad. The usually cool as ice Yoshioka charged Musashi in a fit of rage, and his ass wound up as dead as fried chicken because of it.
He also didn't encounter Musashi during a transitional period
Musashi won the duel not only because he was a skilled swordsman, but that he knew just how to fuck with his opponents head. The trick seemed to work well, because when Yoshioka's brother Denshiciro challenged Musashi for revenge, he again showed up late just to piss the dude off. When Musashi was again victorious, the entire Yoshioka School exhaled a collective "Fuck it" and threw everyone they had at him.
Knowing the so called "duel" was really going to be a royal clusterfuck, Musashi decided to break his fashionably late habit and actually scoped out the duel site ahead of time. When the angry mob of armed swordsmen arrived, Musashi leapt out of the brush and managed to slaughter a good two thirds of them before he reached the young heir to the Yoshioka school, killing him and ending the Yoshioka school forever. Again, legend has it that Musashi took no damage during the fight, and in fact the only part of him that did receive a hit was his sleeve when an arrow pierced it.
Reports of Musashi being The One have yet to be verified.
Musashi's most famous duel took place when he was around 29 years old. The fight was against Sasaki Kojiro, a swordsman whose skill was just as revered as Musashi's. Kojiro, like Musashi, had been undefeated in battle and was highly adept in a style of his own making. Unlike Musashi, who was known for being crude, dirty and in some areas a downright outlaw, Kojiro came from a immensely powerful samurai family, held high positions among several provinces, and was held with the utmost regard amongst the entire Japanese community.
Musashi had heard about Kojiro's legendary skill with a nodachi, or really fuckin' long sword, and decided the best course of action was to attempt to end the noble prick's life. He called out Kojiro for a duel, and he agreed, promising to meet him-and we're not making this up-at sunrise on the remote island of Ganryu. Tarantino himself couldn't write up shit as good as this.
Take a second to consider what this duel meant to folks back then: You have the two most famous warriors in Japan, one known for his immense influence and skill and the other infamous for his unconventional tactics and crude demeanor. This would be like watching George Clooney and Kevin Smith go head to head in a Highlander-esque duel to oblivion.
Get us a movie about THAT, Hollywood!
Again, Musashi showed up late to mess with Kojiro's head, but he also added another irritant to the pot: he came without a sword. Instead, he stepped off the boat armed with a wooden practice sword that he had carved out of one of the boat's oars. Kojiro took this as a figurative spit on his honor, as Musashi was pretty much saying "You ain't worth gettin' my blade dirty for."
But again, Musashi had the whole thing planned out. When Kojiro moved in for the attack, he was relying on the one great strength his sword style gave him: a pretty damn long reach. Musashi countered this strength by making his so called harmless wooden blade a few inches longer than Kojiro's blade, making his advantage essentially useless. Musashi landed the first blow and cracked open Kojiro's skull, killing him instantly. This is perhaps one of the few times in history that a "my dick is bigger than yours" argument had a literal element to it.
History has a way of repeating itself. Over and over and over.....
When all was said in done, Musashi fought and won almost 60 duels throughout his whole life. But after a while, Musashi grew a bit weary of all the killing and ass kicking. He spent his last few years living in seclusion, meditating on his life and what it meant to be a warrior. He put these thoughts to paper in the form of The Book of Five Rings, a book whose general message can be boiled down to this hand-to-God verbatim quote:
When you are even with an opponent, it is essential to keep thinking of stabbing him in the face with the tip of your sword...When you have the intention of stabbing your opponent in the face, he will try to get both his face and body out of the way. As soon as an opponent tries to get out of the way, you have already won.
Ladies and gentlemen, Miyamoto Musashi: Warrior. Philosopher. Face-stabbing conouisuer.
Often imitated, never equaled
Musashi died at the ge of sixty from stomach cancer, but even the Reaper had some issues getting him to go nice and quiet like.. Knowing he was going to be knock knock knockin' on Heaven's door pretty damn soon, Musashi stoked his manly morning stubble, tightened his belt, held his sword tightly in his right hand, sat up on one knee and died right then and there in that pose. Most folks prefer to die warm in their beds surrounded by loved ones, but Musashi decided to proudly ruin any chance that we had of making our deaths as bitchin' as his.
But we're sure as shit gonna try.