Though Musashi never actually entered anyone’s service, he did on occasion admit to the patronage some of Japan’s most influential warlords. Notably, all of these warlords supported Tokugawa Ieyasu in his quest to unite the Japanese realm under central control, which is evidence in itself that Musashi too supported Ieyasu’s cause, even though he turned down the Shōgun’s offer to become one of his private fencing instructors, or shihan (see Edo castle). By that time, after all, Ieyasu had become the undisputed master of the realm. As such, it was an offer that would have brought him the kind of wealth and prestige enjoyed by that other great swordsmen of his day, Yagyū Munenori. Yet that the great swordsman was too proud and too much of a loner.

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