Only Loss of a Swordmaster

  By Rider, 9 July 2007; Revised
  Category: Japan: Edo Era
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Muso Gonnosuke was a master of many weapons, but he favoured the bo, a six-foot long stick. No one, even fighting with swords, could beat Gonnosuke in a duel. However, one day, when Gonnosuke was near Edo, he met a master of the blade, Miyamoto Musashi. Miyamoto Musashi is said to be the greatest swordsman of all times, but there was one who could best him.

The First Duel

It is not known if Miyamoto challenged Muso or Muso challenged Miyamoto – in any case it matters not, for they met on a field near Edo. Muso, as he was a practitioner of bo, used it as he could – his first strike was downwards, straight at Miyamoto. However, Miyamoto blocked the bo with his two swords. Muso, as he couldn’t get his bo back, had lost, but Miyamoto saved his life being a man of honour.

The jo

Muso drew into a temple of Shinto after the defeat and he tried to find a way to beat Miyamoto. He spent much time meditating and, after some time, he came up with a solution. He cut a branch of an oak and shaped it like a bo, only he did it shorter than a bo, only four feet long. He named the weapon jo.

After creating a new weapon, Muso started devising moves for it. He came up with a powerful style of combat that struck mainly at the vital parts of the body. It was also faster than the use of a bo, since the jo was shorter and allowed for a closer combat. He trained intensively for more than two years and, afterwards, he started to participate in duels again. None could best him. Miyamoto heard of him and came looking for him.

The Second Duel

Miyamoto and Muso met again in a duel. Now, the situation had changed.  Miyamoto tried as he could, but couldn't do what he had done the first time. Instead, Muso struck at Miyamoto and achieved victory. Muso didn’t kill Miyamoto out of gratitude for what Miyamoto had done for him after their first duel.

The second duel between Muso Gonnosuke and Miyamoto Musashi was the only duel Musashi ever lost.