Shortly after his series of duels with the Yoshioka Clan in 1605, Miyamoto Musashi went to Hozoin Temple in the south of Kyoto where he had a series of non-lethal contests with the monks, who were renowned for being masters of the spear.
He stayed at the temple for a few months, studying and exchanging fighting technique with the monks. Musashi also enjoyed talking about Zen for hours on end with the head monk. Even today, the monks of Hozoin still train in their renowned traditional spear technique.
Historians say that from 1605 to 1612, Musashi wandered all over Japan while on a Musha Shugyo, a warrior's journey, during which he traveled extensively to test and improve his Kenjutsu skills.
While on his way to Edo in the autumn of 1607, Miyamoto Musashi had a duel with Shishido Baiken, a skilled swordsman, who was a master of the kusarigama, a sickle with a chain and a weight attached to one end. Baiken wanted to end Musashi's reputation as an invincible duelist, but was unsuccessful. Musashi struck a deadly blow first, and as Baiken fell on the floor, his pupils began to attack Musashi, but quickly ran away, frightened by Musashi's skills with two blades.
Later that year, Muso Gonnosuke, a famous and arrogant swordsman, challenged Musashi to a duel. Gonnosuke was a master of the Tenshin Katori Shinto Ryu and the founder of the Koryu school of jojutsu (jujutsu is a short staff technique as opposed to bojutsu) known as Shinto Musoryu. It was claimed that Gonnosuke had never lost a duel, and had defeated Japan's finest swordsman. Historians say that Musashi's father, Shinmen Munisai, had previously fought against Gonnosuke in a non-lethal duel.
Both Miyamoto Musashi and his opponent agreed to fight with wooden swords. Gonnosuke was quickly disabled with a single blow from Musashi's bokuto. Strongly affected by his defeat, Gonnosuke withdrew to a Shinto monastery where he contemplated his defeat and developed new techniques that he hoped would allow him to defeat Musashi.
Musashi and Gonnosuke dueled again sometime later and even though Gonnosuke used his newly developed Jojutsu techniques this time, the outcome was still the same: Musashi won again.
Shortly after, Musashi was about to encounter his greatest and most skilled opponent, Sasaki Kojiro.