Fred Little wrote:
Ah, myth and reality....although I don't have the book at hand, the most recent edition of Budo Perspectives has a solidly researched article on Musashi and the GoRin no Sho which makes a strong case that, far from being an untrained swordsman whose genius sprung, fully blown, Musashi actually received extensive training from an early age under the supervision of his adoptive or step-father, himself a licensed swordsman and instructor of some note.
The article further contends that many of Musashi's "innovations" are more recastings of that material than new creations from whole cloth.
There are always exceptional individuals, and it is always observed that exceptions prove the rule.
Given the reference to Chen Man-Ching suddenly getting it and the result being a flowering of his art.....I'm not conversant enough with CMA to do much more than observe that there is considerable difference of opinion about the extent to which he "got it" and all the rest, although I have been favorably impressed with what his student William C.C. Chen has managed to get and transmit.
Two cents for what it's worth.
Mushashi was thirteen when he beat a swordsman to death with a stick, if what I've been reading is correct. That doesn't seem like the act of a polished swordsman. However in a duel you don't need to be the best swordsman, just the best prepared. That maybe why he kept under the radar for so long.