Friday, May 2, 2008

Wooden Sword vs. Katana, Musashi vs. Kojiro

Some of the martial art schools start training with wooden swords. That means less danger in fencing, but even a wooden sword may be a very dangerous weapon. Look at this historic samurai Duel at Ganryu Island, legendary Miyamoto Musashi vs. Sasaki Kojiro:

That's a movie, not a true fight.

First of all, in this movie Musashi looks much older than 30 years (that great fight was 13th of April, 1612, and Musashi aged approximately 30).

Second, Musashi struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken (wooden sword), not a short sword drawn with his left hand as shown in the video.

And the third, Kojiro was armed by Nodachi instead of Katana.

According to wikipedia, there are two version of this fight.

Musashi arrived more than three hours late, and goaded Kojiro by taunting him. When Kojiro attacked, his blow came as close as to sever Musashi's topknot or ponytail. He came close to victory several times until, supposedly blinded by the sunset behind Musashi, Musashi struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken (wooden sword), which was over 90 centimeters long. Musashi supposedly fashioned the long bokken, a type called a suburito due to its above-average length, by shaving down the spare oar of the boat in which he arrived at the duel with his wakizashi (the wood was very hard). Musashi had been late for the duel on purpose in order to psychologically unnerve his opponent (a tactic used by him on previous occasions, such as during his series of duels with the Yoshioka swordsmen).

Another version of the legend recounts that when Musashi finally arrived, Kojiro shouted insults at him, but Musashi just smiled. Angered even further, Kojiro leapt into combat, blinded by rage. Kojiro attempted his famous "swallow's blade" or "swallow cut," but Musashi's oversized bokken hit Kojiro first, causing him to fall down; before Kojiro could finish his swallow cut, Musashi smashed Kojiro's left rib, puncturing his lungs and killing him. Musashi then hastily retreated to his boat and sailed away.

This was Musashi's last fatal duel.


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