japanese stuff    
Musashi Miyamoto

Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645) is one of the more well known samurai, and lived at the end of the warring states period in Japan. His achievements are legendary, but based on a historical person. From a young age Musashi trained his sword fighting techniques and engaged in over 60 duels, without losing. He became so good that he would often only use a wooden sword against opponents with real swords. His most famous fight was on Ganryu island with Sasaki Kojiro. The way the story goes, Kojiro was a famous swordsman in his own right and was especially proficient with an extra long sword. To battle Kojiro, Musashi carves a sword out of an oar of a boat to match the length of Kojiro's sword. He wins the battle in one strike.

His writings, The Book of Five Rings, was heavily marketed in the US as the secret to the Japanese way of business. While somewhat misleading in nature, it has been effective in making Musashi and his book widely known. With various translations available, much of it describes sword techniques, but contains a good amount of philosophy flowing throughout the book.

For more information, here is a good site about Musashi Miyamoto.