Miyamoto Musashi's Biography (Books)
Miyamoto Musashi (1584 - June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezo, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Doraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and ronin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent and unique double bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 60 duels (next to "only" 33 of Ito Ittosai). He was the founder of the Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu or Niten-ryu style of swordsmanship and in his final years authored The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin no Sho), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.
The details of Miyamoto Musashi's early life are difficult to verify. Musashi himself simply states in The Book of Five Rings that he was born in Harima Province. Niten Ki (an early biography of Musashi) supports the theory that Musashi was born in 1584: "[He] was born in Banshu, in Tensho 12 1584, the Year of the Monkey."
The historian Kamiko Tadashi, commenting on Musashi's text, notes: "... Munisai was Musashi's father...he lived in Miyamoto village, in the Yoshino district [of Mimasaka Province]. Musashi was most probably born here." His childhood name was Bennosuke.
Musashi gives his full name and title in The Book of Five Rings as Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin. His father, Shinmen Munisai was an accomplished martial artist and master of the sword and jutte (also jitte). Munisai, in turn, was the son of Hirata Shogen, a vassal of Shinmen Iga no Kami, the lord of Takayama Castle in the Yoshino district of Mimasaka Province. Hirata was relied upon by Lord Shinmen and so was allowed to use the Shinmen name. As for "Musashi", Musashi no Kami was a court title, making him the nominal governor of Musashi province. "Fujiwara" was the lineage from which Musashi claimed descent.
Musashi created and refined a two-sword kenjutsu technique called niten'ichi ("two heavens as one") or nitoichi ("two swords as one") or 'Niten Ichi-ryu' (A Kongen Buddhist Sutra refers to the two heavens as the two guardians of Buddha). In this technique, the swordsman uses both a large sword, and a "companion sword" at the same time, such as a katana with a wakizashi.