Musashi vs. Baiken the Last Great Warrior

KusarigamaThis is a continuation of my discussion of Warriors.

Miyamoto Musashi challenged Shishido Baiken to a duel.

Baiken represented the old order of Samurai who follow a strict code for which fearlessness and a willingness to die were necessary qualities. He was growing old and had never been defeated in a duel. Baiken's weapon of choice was a kusarigama, a short staff with a hooked chain. Musashi fought with his sword.

They met on a bridge near Edo and Baiken stuck first with his kusarigama the chain wrapped and then instantly dulled and bent Musashi's blade. As the gap between them closed, Musashi pulled out his short sword, used exclusively for suicide. Baiken, seeing this, did the honorable thing and hesitated so that Musashi could save face by doing himself in. In that split second, Musashi turned the blade around and stuck it in Baiken. As they stared into each others eyes Baiken smiled and said, "Thank you."

Musashi Dueling the Whale of Tradition
Painting of Musashi Dueling the Whale of Tradition.