A swordsman is someone practices martial art, or any from of combat involving a sword. Samurai, fencers, and knights are all types of swordsman. The greatest swordsmen are the ones who are so skilled that their names are known even today, by people interested in swordsmanship, but also in movies, and tv shows. Some of the greatest swordsmen had hundreds of students, and never lost a duel, even against multiple people, or when using a wooden sword against a real one.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Minamoto was a general of the Minamoto clan. A clan from the early Kamakura period in Japan. He was a Genius military general, and an expert swordsman. He famously defeated the legendary warrior monk known as Benkei in a duel. Benkei was a 6 foot, 7 inch monk said to have the attributes of a demon, and supposedly defeated 200 people in every battle he fought. After Minamoto defeated Benkei, he took him on as his right hand man. Minamoto won countless battles for his clan, and even toppled the the Ise-Heishi. Even though he accomplised so much for his clan he was eventually betrayed by his brother, but managed to fake his death and escape. What happened after this is widely debated some theories claim he went to live with his lover who was a mysterious non-Japanese women, and a discredited theory claims he went on to become Genghis Khan. One story claims that he committed seppuku while Benkei guarded him. Benkei stood on a bridge blocking the way to him and supposedly defeated 300 enemies, before dying because of an arrow wound. The giant man had died in a standing position, which is known as the “Standing Death of Benkei”.
Jack Churchill fought throughout the entire second world war with nothing but a Scottish broadsword, a longbow, and bagpipes. He didn’t use a gun but managed to stand up to people who did, he was the only person during the war to do this, and probably the only one who could. He must have been an exceptional swordsman to be able to fight like that. He was known as Mad Jack, because of his motto, “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.” He also has the last recorded longbow, and arrow killing during in action when he shot an enemy German in a French village in 1940.
Sasaki Kojiro is a famous Japanese swordsman and considered one of the greatest swordsmen of all time. One time he even defeated three opponents at the same time, using nothing but a steel fan. After this victory he was honoured as the chief weapons master of the Hosokawa fief north of Kyushu. Kojiro defeated countless opponents, and his techniques became famous all throughout Japan. His favourite technique was the swallow cut, which was feared by even the greatest swordsmen at the time. Althoufh he was such a skilled swordsman, he is most famous for his duel against legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi which he lost.
Johannes Liechtenauer was a German fencing master. Liechtenauer travelled to many different lands and learnt from many different people. This way he learnt the art in a way that was thorough and rightful. Liechtenauer was a true master of the art and had a big influence on the German fencing tradition. He tought his students orally and didn’t write down his lessons, but his students took it upon themselves to write down his lesson. They did so however in a coded way to make sure that the “uninitiated” would not be able to understand his teachings.
Fiore dei Liberi
Fiore dei Liberi was knight, diplomat and master swordsman from the 1300’s. Out of all of histories greatest swordsmen, very few leave any written instructions on swordplay, that have lasted until now. Liberi is unique in this respect as he left an entire martial arts manual which still survives today, called Flower of Battle. Flower of battle is one of the oldest fencing manuals in existence. Liberi started training from a young age, and learnt the art from some of the greatest swordsmen in the Holy Roman Empire. He felt that many of the masters he met weren’t really masters as they claimed and said they didn’t even have the skill of a good student. He would end up duelling these fakes as a matter of honour, and always won without injury. Some of his best students went on to become famous mercenary leaders, and master swordsmen themselves.
William Marshall was the first Earl of Pembroke and known to be one of the greatest knights of all time. Before Marshall was knighted in 1166 he was a successful tournament fighter, and knight errant. Marshall’s life is well documented because soon after his death his son, commissioned a record of his life to be made.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
Georges was a master fencer from the 1700’s. He was born in 1745, his father was a wealthy painter and his mother, was his father’s slave. Georges eventually became colonel of the first all black regiment in Europe during the French revolution, fighting on the side of the rebellion. Georges began to learn fencing at 13, and he improved so quickly that he was beating the best students at 15 and he developed the greatest speed imaginable. He hadn’t even graduated when he defeated one of the greatest swordsmen around, who had been mocking him publicly. After Georges graduated he became an officer of the Kings bodyguard.
Sigmund Ringeck is a 14 to 15 century fencing master shrouded in mystery. He was included in a memorial to deceased masters of the Society of Liechtenauer. The fact that Ringeck was includedd in the memorial means he was among the greatest swordsmen of his time. It’s possible he was even a student of the Grandmaster Liechtenauer himself.
Kamiizumi Nobutsuna was a famous samurai from the Japan’s Sengoku period, and created the well known Shinkage-Ryu school of combat. Nobutsuna learnt three different schools of combat, before adapting them to make Shinkage-Ryu. Nobutsuna was also a general for much of his life, and served under multiple lords, he became known as one of the “Sixteen Spears of Nagano House”, and eventually became known as the strongest spearsmen of Kozuke. Nobutsuna taught Shinkage-Ryu to many people and eventually had hundreds of students. He demonstrated his art to the Shogun (military dictator), and the Shogun announced his school of combat to be unparalleled. Some of Nobutsuna’s students went on to become famous samurai, who spread shinkage-ryu and some started their own schools.
Miyamoto musasji is one of the greatest swordsmen of all time, and widely considered to be the greatest, and without an equal. Musashi fought 60 duels and never lost a single one, even taking on legendary swordsmen like, Sasaki Kojiro. Musashi was impressive not only for his skill with the blade, but also for fighting with strategy and intellect, and fighting in a way that nobody had fought like before. He learnt swordplay from his father, from a young age and fought his first duel at the age of 13. He fought more and more duels throughout his life, and never lost a single one. Musashi defeated many masters and was granted the title “Unrivalled Under Heaven”. Musashi fought his last duel against Sasaki Kojiro, who was known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces”. The duel was arranged to be on an island. Musashi arrived late, and only fought with a wooden sword he had carved out of an oar on the boat he used to get there. He killed Kojiro with the wooden sword and then quickly fled from his vengeful allies.