For millennia, we’ve been utilizing swords to settle heated debates, as what’s conflict however a debate that received actually out of hand? Opposite to widespread opinion, although, the sword isn’t the simplest weapon to grasp, not like what Recreation of Thrones would have you ever imagine. Many different weapons are far more practical on the battlefield and simpler to be taught, however for these born with a expertise for it, the sword can certainly be one of many deadliest weapons to wield. Nicely, it was once at one level, anyway, till firearms made it out of date.

Due to its excessive talent ceiling, the sword has been sparingly utilized in battle in historical past, and true mastery of it exhibits up in solely a handful of cultures. Due to that, legendary swordsmen are few and much between, even when those we do know of have been a few of the most badass melee fighters of all time.

10 Minamoto Yoshitsune

Minamoto Yoshitsune is without doubt one of the extra well-known samurai in Japanese historical past. Not solely was he a succesful warrior, however he was additionally a superb strategist. He was one of many sons of Minamoto Yoshitomo—head of a robust samurai clan in Twelfth-century Japan—who was killed in his conflict towards the rival Taira clan. Happily for the historical past books, and sadly for the Tairas, they spared Yoshitsune.

Whereas rising up in a monastery, he discovered from any supply he may discover, together with Solar Tzu’s Artwork of Battle. He left the monastery to journey and additional honed his talent by preventing anybody silly sufficient to duel him, selecting up numerous completely different types of preventing on the best way.

Yoshitsune went on to turn into one of many best samurai generals Japan has ever seen and ultimately helped his older brother, Minamoto Yorimoto, to annihilate Taira forces and set up the primary shogunate of Japan. Nonetheless, the 2 brothers would later have a falling out, main Yoshitsune to aim to insurgent towards Yorimoto.[1]

9 Fiore Dei Liberi

Fiore dei Liberi is the creator of one of many oldest surviving treatises on fencing—Flower of Battle—as nicely among the finest swordsmen and fencing masters of medieval Europe. Even when the precise methods talked about in it are of no use within the trendy period, it’s nonetheless extensively studied by college students and YouTube martial arts gurus alike.

Not a lot is thought about Liberi from outdoors sources, although the guide locations him as having been born someplace round 1350.[2] He was the son of the lord of a small Italian city known as Premariacco and had been working towards for half a century earlier than the guide was written, in keeping with its contents.

Except for writing the definitive guide on swordsmanship, he was additionally a instructor to lots of the royal homes within the surrounding areas and is mostly regarded by historians as among the finest swordsmen in Europe’s historical past. He’s well-known for profitable duels towards many nice swordsmen of the period, together with his well-known fights towards 5 of the most effective fencing masters of the time.

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8 Kamiizumi Nobutsuna

Regardless of our greatest efforts to maintain this record geographically numerous, Japanese samurai nonetheless characteristic closely on it. No different area on the planet has had a extra profound affect on the event of swordsmanship via the years than Japan, which is why it’s house to a few of the best sword masters in historical past.

Kamiizumi Nobutsuna was a famend samurai in Sixteenth-century Japan. He’s credited with bettering upon the Kage-ryu (shadow college) fashion of sword preventing and developing along with his personal college known as Shinkage-ryu (new shadow college). Whereas different colleges had been centered on dealing the utmost quantity of harm as quick as potential, Shinkage-ryu is extra defensive, counting on a low stance and defending the physique—not less than till you can deal that one blow that might end the duel, because it additionally depends on the idea of “the sword of just one minimize.”[3]

Shinkage-ryu was the first martial arts college all through the Tokugawa interval, which was the final shogunate earlier than Japan determined to industrialize and . . . nicely, everyone knows what occurred then.

7 Donald McBane

Born in probably essentially the most well-known metropolis of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness, Donald McBane remains to be considered one in all Europe’s greatest swordsmen. Like most different notable European sword masters, he was a famend fencing grasp and wrote all about it in his autobiography, The Skilled Sword-Man’s Companion.

Whereas his early historical past entails fairly a little bit of shedding and working away from battles—particularly throughout clan battles within the Highlands—his sword preventing profession started when he received into an argument with a senior officer preventing within the 9 Years’ Battle. He figured that studying the way to battle himself was the easiest way ahead, although due to his mood, he couldn’t keep in anybody regiment.

He quickly made his approach again to Eire and began a fencing college of his personal. He made his mark when he defeated 4 fencing masters of rival colleges. Curiously, McBane’s college additionally served as a brothel. He claimed to have gained practically 100 duels.[4] Even when which may be a bit exaggerated, practically all sources verify that he didn’t lose any duels.

6 Tsukahara Bokuden

The Sengoku interval, spanning roughly 150 years within the fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries, was one of the defining durations in Japanese historical past. It was a time of warring factions, social change, and normal chaos. If there’s a film or recreation set in samurai-era Japan, it’s almost definitely from that point.

The Sengoku interval was additionally the backdrop for the rise of one of many best samurai to have ever lived: Tsukahara Bokuden. If data are something to go by, Bokuden by no means misplaced a duel in his life, defeating adversaries who had been way more skilled than him.[5] He fought quite a few duels with a few of the greatest fighters across the nation and taught many essential figures of that point, essentially the most notable being shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.

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His philosophy, whereas broadly accepted now, was at odds with fighters of that period. He believed in not attacking till completely mandatory, which influenced the preventing fashion of his Shinto-ryu college.

5 Johannes Liechtenauer

Johannes Liechtenauer was one of the influential fencing masters from the German fashion of fencing, and his affect could be nonetheless be seen in trendy fencing traditions. Born in 14th-century Germany, he traveled far and huge, selecting up sword preventing methods from many locations in Europe and past earlier than developing along with his personal.

The Liechtenauer system, as these with a ardour for fencing would remember, remains to be a broadly recognized college of fencing. It depends on calculated blows to interrupt the opponent’s guard and has influenced many subsequent types of fencing within the years since.

Liechtenauer’s affect could be gauged by the truth that his disciples went on to turn into celebrated sword masters in their very own proper. They got here up with distinct methods of their very own, all of which kind an intrinsic a part of the German fencing fashion.[6]

4 Joseph Bologne

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was among the finest swordsmen in Europe within the late 18th century. Born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, which was below French rule on the time, he was an illegitimate son of a plantation proprietor and an African slave. He ultimately moved to mainland France and shortly proved himself to be gifted at many issues, together with fencing, music composition, and enjoying the violin.

Bologne grew as much as be a gifted violinist and composer, in addition to an adept fighter. He commanded a legion of fighters on the facet of the Republic through the French Revolution, which unofficially got here to be often known as the St. George Legion on account of his reputation and talent.[7] Regardless of being good at extra issues than most of us will ever be (or due to it, maybe), he confronted racial discrimination at many factors in his life, together with two assassination makes an attempt. Revolution or not, it was nonetheless 18th-century France.

3 Ito Ittosai Kagehisa

One other one in all Japan’s legendary sword masters to emerge out of the Sengoku interval, Ito Ittosai Kagehisa was a gifted fighter since his childhood. Born on a small island east of the Izu peninsula, his life was primarily a sequence of ever-escalating fights that he saved profitable. When he was 14, he challenged an well-known kendo grasp and emerged victorious. A neighborhood priest was so impressed by it that he gifted Ito a legendary sword, which began his profession as an authorized badass.

Ito traveled the nation and skilled with the most effective masters, and it’s mentioned that he didn’t lose a duel in his total life. He even established his personal college of preventing known as Itto-ryu, which—together with the above-mentioned Shinkage-ryu—turned the first preventing fashion in Tokugawa-era Japan. This fashion emphasised calmness and retaining distance from the enemy for a lot of the battle, with many sub-styles which are nonetheless utilized in trendy kendo.[8]

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2 El Cid


Opposite to widespread (and controversial) perception, the early Muslim kingdoms did invade a big a part of Europe. The Iberian Peninsula had been below assault from the Moors—a European phrase for the invading Moroccan armies—for fairly a while by the eleventh century. It was a profitable marketing campaign, too, as they’d conquered a lot of the Iberian Peninsula by that point and dominated it till the tip of the fifteenth century.

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, also called El Cid, was born in Castile amid that chaos. As a consequence of his prowess with the sword and information of battle technique, he’s nonetheless celebrated as one in all Spain’s most heroic nationwide figures. He’s credited with preventing to free the Iberian Peninsula from the grasp of the Moors.[9] In actuality, although, he was a mercenary and fought for any military that will pay him.

His preventing fashion was primarily based on the idea of destreza, which interprets to “dexterity” in English, and he was considered among the finest swordsmen in Europe on the time. His sword, La Tizona, remains to be preserved in a museum in Spain.

1 Sasaki Kojiro

One other legendary samurai born within the Sengoku interval, Sasaki Kojiro is considered one of the expert swordsmen to have ever lived. As a consequence of lacking data, it’s unclear precisely how he began, although we all know that he was skilled in lots of types of preventing. Whereas he’s usually considered a grasp of the Chujo-ryu college, he was equally good with the nodachi, an extended model of the normal katana. It’s mentioned that regardless of its heavier body, Kohiro was in a position to wield the nodachi with unimaginable velocity and swiftness.

He was recognized for his distinct method in comparison with different samurai of his period, which he perfected someday within the 12 months 1605. It consisted of a swift downward strike, adopted by a fast upward movement for optimum impact. His talent is usually downplayed, as he’s additionally remembered for his legendary defeat towards one other grasp of the sword, Miyamoto Musashi. Along with the sword, Sasaki was fairly good with different weapons as nicely, as is obvious from his victory towards three enemies on the identical time with only a conflict fan.[10]

You possibly can try Himanshu’s stuff at Cracked and Screen Rant, or get in contact with him for writing gigs.


Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for websites like Cracked, Display Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He might be discovered shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or attempting his hand at beginner artwork on Instagram.

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