In his Gorin no sho Musashi clearly states that from the age of twelve to the age of twenty-seven, he fought as many as sixty duels, but that he was never defeated. Sadly, he spends only a few words on the men he met in duel, and the chroniclers of his time recorded only a limited number of those fights. Indeed, the chroniclers that do recount his deadly duels did so long after the swordsman had passed away, drawing from oral transmissions or now lost records of those who knewn him alive.

Luckily, the records that have survived enable us to reconstruct some of the pivotal duels in the swordsman’s life: his first duel, his encounters with the members of the Yoshioka clan, and the great showdown with Sasaki Kojirō on Ganryū Island. Taken together, they give us a unique insight into the enigmatic swordsman’s approach to the art of combat, an art that relied on more than just his superior dexterity with the sword.

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