Zatoichi meets Yojimbo, Musahi vs Kojiro


You might also like this bad boy, a dramatisation of Miyamoto Musashi VS Sasaki Kojiro on Ganryu island in 1612. This is probably one of the most famous duels in Japanese history. Musashi, a cantankerous purist, fought with a long wooden sword (made from an oar); Kojiro, the young pretender, with a 3-feet iron sword.

There are various versions, but all have the same ending. Miyamoto Musashi killed more than 80 men in duels, and is now considered the greatest samurai to ever live. When Musashi was alive, there was only one warrior that he felt was his equal – an arrogant man by the name of Sasaki Kojiro. The two were rivals for the title of Kensai or “sword saint” for many years. Finally events led to their epic duel on Ganryu island.

Legend has it that the duel was supposed to take place at dawn. Kojiro and most of royal Japan was there waiting. Musashi was still in bed. He woke up an hour after the fight was supposed to have started and painted for a time. Kojiro spent the day furious and bemoaned Musashi as a coward.

Eventually, with the sun high in the sky, Musashi got in his rowboat and his man began the journey to the island. Musashi did not take his long blade. Rather he took only a bokken (wooden sword) he had whittled himself. It was six inches longer than Kojiro’s weapon.

When he arrived at the island, Musashi pulled his boat up so that the sun was in Kojiro’s eyes as he approached. Driven to the point of near madness by anger and anticipation, Kojiro furiously ran towards Musashi, called him a coward, unsheathed his sword and threw his scabbard onto the beach.

Musashi responded, “Kojiro you have already lost.” Kojiro laughed at him and asked him why he thought that. Musashi responded, “Only a man who knows he is about to die would throw his scabbard away.” Kojiro was completely thrown off by the comment, and in a rage did not follow his protocol of gauging distance and circling, instead choosing to rush Musashi.

Both men charged – Kojiro with his Katana and Musashi with his club. They both leapt, and it appeared, connected. The onlookers thought both men had killed each other. An eternal instant later, Kojiro fell to the ground lifeless, his brain crushed in from Musashi’s club. Musashi landed on the ground, and his topknot landed in front of him, on the ground. It had been severed…six inches from his face.

Musashi claimed no one else he would ever fight would reach Kojiro’s level and vowed never to fight again, which he did not. Instead, he retired to the mountains, lived in isolation, and wrote the definitive warrior’s handbook – The Book of Five Rings.

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