The Badass of the Week.

Miyamoto Musashi

He'll stab you in the goddamned face.

Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) was an invincible samurai from Japan's Edo period and was probably the greatest swordsman to ever live.  Born in Mimaska Province to a family of lesser nobility, Musashi taught himself the art of swordfighting at a very young age.  He won his first duel at the age of thirteen, when he challenged some idiot samurai to a duel and then beat his brains in with a wooden sword Legend of Zelda style.  Musashi spent most of his life wandering the countryside just challenging people to duels for no reason other than to prove to everyone how totally badass he was.  Over his lifetime he won over sixty duels, some of them against multiple enemies, and fought successfully in three major military campaigns, including the defense of Osaka Castle.

He even looked the part of a roaming samurai badass.  He contracted severe eczema at an early age as a result of congenital syphilis, so his face was severely scarred and he probably looked pretty intimidating.  Also, he rarely bathed or changed his clothes since he was worried about being caught unaware and unarmed.  As a result, he was basically an ugly dirty guy who wandered around being awesome and crushing a lot of people's skulls with a wooden sword he whittled out of a rowing oar.

Late in his life, after he had perfected his "Two Swords" fighting style, Musashi climbed up a mountain and wrote the definitive treatise on the Zen of Decapitation, which he titled A Book of Five Rings.  I have included some excerpts from it below, just so you can get an idea of how totally rad Musashi was.

Third Technique

The sword is held in the lower position; as the opponent strikes, you strike at his hands from below.  As you strike at his hands, the opponent strikes again; as he tries to knock your sword down, bring it up in rhythm, then chop off his arms sideways after he has struck.  The point is to strike an opponent down all at once from the lower position just as he strikes.  The guard with the sword in the lower position is something that is met with both early on and later on in the course of carrying out this science; is should be practiced with sword in hand.

Stabbing the Face

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 in the intervals between the opponent's sword blows and your own sword blows.  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.  In the midst of battle, as soon as an opponent tries to get out of the way, you have already won.  Therefore it is imperative not to forget the technique of "stabbing the face".  This should be cultivated in the course of practicing martial arts.


Full Text of "A Book of Five Rings"

Miyamoto Musashi Biography


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