Actor and marital artist Mark Dacascos goes to Japan to study samurai. The medieval warriors were an elite class for 700 years. Dacascos wants to connect with the samurai spirit.
Samurai History (04:07)
The samurai began as warriors serving the Japanese emperor, but they took over and ruled their own provinces. They carried multiple weapons but had the most skill with swords. Samurai followed bushido, the warrior code, which Miyamoto Musashi wrote about.
Miyamoto Musashi (05:07)
Dacascos travels to Musashi's birthplace, where a sword fighting school he founded still operates. Born in 1584, Musashi studied fighting from a young age. At 13, he accepted a challenge from traveling fighter Arima and killed him.
Musashi's Development (07:40)
After killing Arima, Musashi had to fit his fighting style into the dueling culture of 16th century Japan. Dacascos trains at the kenjutsu that Musashi would go on to found. Musashi developed a two-sword fighting technique still taught at the school.
Musashi as a Shugyosha (04:49)
Musashi left his village and became a shugyosha. At 17, he and other shugyosha reached Sekigahara and joined the ensuing battle. He was desperate to prove himself and gain a lord's attention.
Musashi at Sekigahara (03:16)
More than 80,000 soldiers were killed and beheaded at Sekigahara. Musashi distinguished himself in battle but was on the losing side. He went on the run after the battle ended.
Musashi's Training (02:32)
Musashi wrote about his experience at Sekigahara in "The Book of Five Rings." Having lost his chance to become a samurai, he devoted himself to physical and mental training for four years.
Musashi in Kyoto (08:36)
After four years of training alone, Musashi went to Kyoto. Looking for fame, Musashi challenged the owners of a sword school. Using mostly psychological tricks, Musashi defeated them and survived an assassination attempt by their clan.
Musashi's Technique (04:04)
Musashi's successes in Kyoto showed all the principles of a samurai. It showed Musashi's devotion to the sword and his own fighting style.
Musashi's Sword (04:26)
Dacascos travels to one of the oldest sword markers in Japan. They still make swords as they would have during Musashi's time. Musashi believed each sword had its own energy and character.
Musashi's Duels (05:22)
After Kyoto, Musashi fought in 60 duels over 10 years. He fought Shishido, who used a kusarigama, which Musashi called the most difficult weapon to defeat. He then travelled to Edo looking for fights.
Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro (05:17)
Sasaki Kojiro was known as the greatest swordsman, so Musashi challenged him. Kojiro was from a respected family and received formal training, while Musashi was seen as a dangerous outlaw. Musashi made a special weapon for the fight and won.
Musashi and Weaponry (03:32)
Defeating Kojiro was a turning point for Musashi, and he began focusing on mastering different weapons. He also studied martial arts with extraordinary focus.
Musashi's Warfare (08:12)
Dacascos travels to a town of samurai descendants and tries on domaru armor. Musashi fought in the battle of Osaka and wrote about his strategy for war.
Musashi's Later Life (07:50)
Peace came to Japan for 300 years after Osaka and the role of the samurai changed. Musashi established his sword school and began writing "The Book of Five Rings." He spent most of his time at a Buddhist retreat by Reigando Cave.
Musashi's Death (03:33)
Musashi died holding his sword and was buried standing up in domaru armor. "The Book of the Five Rings" outlined his philosophy about life and the samurai, which ended in 1853.
Musashi's Legacy (07:36)
Musashi's life and work was rediscovered inaccurately in 1935. Musashi's philosophy was twisted and used during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Dacascos believes Musashi's philosophy can be used in daily life.
Credits: Samurai (00:20)
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