Many people are familiar with Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Aikido, Kendo, Judo, Kyudo, Iaido, Jodo and Bujutsu. Old forms such as “koryu” tranlates; “old martial ways” or “Budo”- literally meaning the “warrior way”. In Japan, by the 17th century there were over 60 fighting systems in Japan and close to almost 9,000 formal schools (ryu).



Miyamoto Musashi was born in 1584, at the age of thirteen Musashi killed Arima Kihei in a duel. Kihei, a skilled samurai who came to Musashi’s home villiage, put up a banner calling for any swordfighter who wants to try to beat him, come fight. Musashi caught the katana wielding Kihei off guard by simply charging in and beating him to death with a stick. Miyamoto Musashi, picked up a sword and became the greatest swordsmen ever to walk the earth, Founder of the acclaimed Niten Ichi-Ryu sword style, which basicly translates to “One sword is good, two is better”. Musashi eventually found his way to Kyoto, where he challenged Yoshioka Seijuro, head of the famous Yoshioka School of Swordsmanship, to a duel. Yoshioka showed up, but Musashi wasn’t there. Musashi didn’t show up for almost three hours. And when he did, he was dirty, disheveled, this was all part of Musashi’s plan. You see, the Yoshioka school was revered for the amount of intense concentration it’s students used, enabling them to defeat opponents with precision and ease. Musashi knew this, and purposefully didn’t show for hours because he wanted Yoshioka mad. Musashi won the duel not only because he was a skilled swordsman, but he knew his opponents mind. Yoshioka’s brother Denshiciro challenged Musashi for revenge, he again showed up late. When Musashi was again victorious, the entire Yoshioka School attacked him. Musashi slaughtered two thirds of them before he reached the young heir to the Yoshioka school, killing him and ending the Yoshioka school forever. Musashi’s most famous duel took place when he was around 29 years old. The fight was against Sasaki Kojiro, a swordsman whose skill was just as revered as Musashi’s. Kojiro, like Musashi, had been undefeated in battle and was highly adept in a style of his own making. Unlike Musashi, who was known for being crude, dirty and in some areas a downright outlaw, Kojiro came from a immensely powerful samurai family, held high positions among several provinces, and was held with the utmost regard amongst the entire Japanese community. Again, Musashi showed up late to mess with Kojiro’s head, but he also added another irritant to the pot: he came without a sword. Instead, he stepped off the boat armed with a wooden practice sword that he had carved out of one of the boat’s oars. When Kojiro moved in for the attack, he was relying on the one great strength his sword style gave him: a long reach. Musashi countered this strength by making his so called harmless wooden blade a few inches longer than Kojiro’s blade, making his advantage essentially useless. Musashi landed the first blow and cracked open Kojiro’s skull, killing him instantly. When all was said in done, Musashi fought and won almost 60 duels throughout his whole life.

Samurai are often portrayed as having modern ideas about fairness and justice. Samurai are even depicted as being protectors of the poor and weak against the tyranny of the elite. Nothing could be further from the truth. Samurai were used by lords to extract taxes and tribute from commoners. A Samurai could kill a commoner for the slightest insult and were widely feared by the Japanese population. It is unlikely that many Samurai had modern ideas about fairness and equality as they are portrayed in popular myth. infighting and disputes amongst Samurai were commonplace and Samurai could be disloyal or deceitful. The primary motivation for Seppuku was to avoid a terrible end at the hands of one’s enemies. They had other questionable traits. When remains from the site of the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580 were DNA-tested, 35 out of 105 bodies were female. A 16th century samurai was very slim and ranging from (5’3 inches to 5’5 inches) in height. Only about 7% of the population of Japan was Samurai.


Iai translates; “Sword-drawing to kill”, Jo; “Stick”.





Iaijo Dojo
Karate Judo Aikido

2217 Hwy 87E.
Billings, Mt. 59101

Telephone: (406)248-5836