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Musashi Miyamoto
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Niten-Ichi-Ryu.

The heavenly school of two swords.

Musashi Miyamoto was a lonely man who dedicated much of his life to mastering Zen Buddhism and swordsmanship. In the beginning of the 17th century, he created a very unique kenjutsu school which used both the long sword (katana) and the short sword (wakizashi) simultaneously.

Musashi named his two-sword kenjutsu technique "Niten Ichi Ryu" ("two heavens as one") or "Nito Ryu" ("the school of the two swords"). Some historians believes that Musashi was inspired to create his unique Kenjutsu style after watching the performance of the Japanese taiko drum. Some other scholars believes that Musashi was inspired by his father’s sword fighting style that was utilized both the katana and the jutte simultaneously.

Since there is no fluidity of movement when both hands are used, Musashi did not support the use of both hands on the sword. His explanation was that if a sword was held in both hands it would not be easy to wield it freely to either side. Musashi also objected to the use of both hands when one is on horseback or riding in marshes, fields, or among people.

Having mastered the simultaneous use of two swords, Musashi declared that his technique would considerably improve one’s mastery of a longsword and a companion sword, such as wakizashi. His argument was that if you master the art of wielding the long sword, you will naturally have acquired the power of the Way, and you will thus be able to wield the other sword as well.

Musashi's technique was totally against tradition as most swordsmen of the time were in the habit of holding the katana with both hands. One tremendous advantage of Musashi’s technique was that it was sophisticated, efficient and powerful. It involved no flashy, impulsive, or unwanted movements. Another great advantage was that it offered perfect distancing and timing. Consequently, the attack would be very tight and there would be no wasteful movements.

The unique sword style developed by Musashi; that is, using a katana and a wakizashi together, has been praised for how it facilitates the efficient use of both weapons at the same time. The method also has several single sword techniques as well as throwing methods. For example, Musashi used to throw his wakizashi during the fight.

It should be noted that the Niten Ichi Ryu style was designed from Musashi's direct experience. Within this style, one can discern the passion for innovation and perfection shown by a master swordsman. Although this method has become famous mainly because of the practice of simultaneously using two swords, it also involves techniques with the tachi (a single long sword), kodachi (a short sword), and the bo (a long wooden stick).

Musashi became renowned as a master of throwing weapons. He quite often threw his short sword perfectly. Kenji Tokitsu strongly believes that the real secret technique of Niten Ichi Ryu was the shuriken technique for the wakizashi.

Today, Yoshimoti Kiyoshi continues the long lineage of the great Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu style as a member of its 12th generation of practitioners.