Born in Miyamoto
village in 1584, and has as much legend
as well as fact
written about him. It is rumoured that he when he was 13 he killed
known as Arima Kigei by throwing him, and hitting him with a stick. Musashi favoured the wooden
katana, or bokken
, over the more traditional katana
His father, Munisai died when Musashi was only seven years old, and so he was adopted by his uncle, a buddhist priest. It is not known whether or not it was his uncle that ushered him into Kendo or if it was his own choice, however, he was soon to enlist in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army, at around his 16th birthday.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was one of Japan's most famous Shoguns who managed to create some form of national unity, he died in 1600 (around the time Musashi joined up)and was replaced by Mitsunari Ishida, who was drawn into a terrible battle by Tokugawa where his army was almost completely destroyed. Musashi managed to escape.
Musashi went on to taunt the Yoshioka family in Kyoto. He fought Seijiro Yoshioka first, in his usual blunt manner, resulting in Seijiro cutting off his own topknot in shame. He stayed in Kyoto, serving as an annoying reminder to the Yoshioka's. Soon enough, Denshichiro Yoshioka challenged Musashi, this battle ended very abrubtly with the skull of Denshichiro being crushed. Finally, the family sent a young boy, Hanshichiro Yoshioka to challenge him. Hanshichiro was not yet in his teens, and was escorted by a large group of armed men, intent on killing Musashi. Musashi, leaped into the centre of them, killing the boy, and cutting a path in the men, before escaping.
Musashi, wandered throughout Japan, becoming a legend in his own time, defeating opponent upon opponent regardless of what weapon they were using.
He was also a master strategician, leading an army to destroy Christian daimyos of Shimawara in 1638.
He wrote The Book of Five Rings less than a month before his death in 1645.
Information sources: The Book of Five Rings, By Miyamoto Musashi, and some other, smaller sources.