Volume 1 is the first volume of Shigurui that includes chapters 1-6.
The story begins at a deadly tournament with real swords ordered by the sadistic daimyo Tokugawa Tadanaga in 1629, a secret account of which records only six survivors out of twenty-two contestants
"The Tournament in Sunpu Castle"Edit
The story begins at Sunpu Castle on December 6th 1633. Tokugawa Tadanaga, Lord of Sunpu Castle and the younger brother of Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, has been sentenced to commit seppuku for atrocities and immoral conduct. Years earlier, in January 1629 at Sunpu Castle, Torri Naritsugu, the Governor of Tosa, appears before officials in intense pain. He pleads with Tokugawa Tadanaga to cancel holding a tournament inside the Castle with 21 contestants armed with real swords. Torri argues that wooden swords would prove more than sufficient; and with the nation long enjoying peace time, desecrating the garden of Sunpu Castle with blood would surely be interpreted as an expression of rebellion against the Shogunate. In a final act of protest, Torri reveals he had committed Seppuku, and succumbs to his wounds and dies, but not before calling Tokugawa Tadanaga a fool. Earlier in April, in order to ensure that no swordsman who was participating in the tournament should present himself in an unsightly manner before the eyes of Lord Tadanaga, Suraga’s grand Master of Martial Arts, Hyuuga Masahisa, subjects each contestant to a physical examination. Sitting before Hyuuga Masahisa is Fujiki Gennosuke, a young man from the Kogan-ryuu school. Fujiki was recommended by the Karo , the top ranking Samurai official in service to feudal Japan during the Edo period . Accompanying him is Mie, the young daughter of Iwamoto Kogan, founder of the Kogan School. In disbelief, Hyuuga sees that Fujiki is missing his left arm. However, the back muscles of Fujiki suggests his one arm could easily perform the job of two.
Later at the tournament, Mie wishes Fujiki good fortune despite seeing a vision of him with a bloodied head. At the duelling ground, Fujiki enters from the east and from the west, enters Iraku Seigen. Though a young man, Iraku possessed long grey hair, was blind and crippled due to a cleft foot. As Iraku limps to the centre, dragging his foot along the way, he is supported by his female companion, Iku. The officials spectating from the stands are shocked to see a man with an amputated arm and a blind cripple about to engage in a duel. Mie and Iku safely watch events anxiously on either side. Iraku, using the large cleft in his crippled foot to hold the edge of his blade and toes to grip it in like a vice, leans abnormally to his side, producing a stance so bizarre no one from any school had seen before. Fujiki calls Iraku a monster while Mie observes, apparently in disgust.
"Rules for the contest between representatives of two different schools"Edit
Seven years previously, in 1622, at the dojo of sword master Iwamoto Kogan, lived three men referred to as the “tiger and two dragons”. Fujiki Gennosuke, Iraku Seigen, and their Lord, Kogan Iwamoto, one of the most widely acclaimed swordsman within the realm. During a sparring session, a visitor, Iraku Seigen, arrives at the school hoping to challenge Master Kogan Iwamoto to a duel. This beguilingly effeminate man, with red lips, long black hair and white skin bore a fragrance which filled the room. At this point Iraku was not yet blind or crippled. Gonzaemon Ushimata, the master of the dojo, tells the visitor that the rules of the dojo required a challenger to duel with the masters’ disciples first. Iraku accepts a duel against Fujiki. Meanwhile, Mie rushes to alert her father Kogan of the new visitor, but is left in disgust at the sight of what appears to be Kogan sexually abusing an unidentified woman. Fujiki, disturbed by Iraku’s red lips, is thrust upon by Iraku to the surprise of the dojo’s disciples.
"The Tiger and the Two Dragons"Edit
Overwhelmed by excruciating pain, Fujiki is quickly paralysed despite Iraku pressing on only two spots of Fujiki’s right palm. At this moment Fujiki came to the realisation that Iraku could be a swordsman known as one capable of Kosshi Jutsu, a combat technique which made use of the opponent’s nervous system. Fujiki falls to the ground while clutching his two broken fingers. Despite wishing to continue, Gonzaemon, smiling with confidence, requests Fujiki to step aside. Gonzaemon wields an abnormally large wooden sword which Iraku condescendingly noted as useless in a duel. As the duel takes flight, Iraku displays great skill evading the swing of Gonzaemon’s sword, and warns Gonzaemon to give up. Gonzaemon, in reality warming up, quickly gains the upper hand. Iraku surrenders and requests to be a pupil at the dojo. Gonzaemon ignores Iraku’s request and warns Iraku he will now "beautify" him as a warning to other clans and increase the fame of the Kogan-ryuu style. Fujiki meanwhile, orders that the doors of the dojo to be closed to prevent any escape. Frightened, Iraku attempts to escape anyway, but discovers Fujiki blocking both the entrance and access to his sword. Like a frightened child, Iraku skilfully evades the swing of Gonzaemon’s enormous sword, impressing all but Fujiki, who considers Iraku’s evasive manoeuvres a display of cowardice rather than skill. Impressed, Gonzaemon ceases to swing his sword at Iraku.
"The Sticky Bean"Edit
Fujiki attempts to continue mundane tasks despite his broken fingers, even politely declining Mie's offer to assist. Meanwhile, although Iraku is now locked in a cell, he is impressed by the number staff and size of the dojo. As the position a Samurai obtained was hereditary, Iraku knew that the man who married Kogan’s daughter, Mie, would succeed Kogan as the head of the Iwamoto family inheritance. Iraku smiles and ponders how he could gain a better social status, enabling him to attend the Castle on horseback, accompanied by his own spear, sandal and baggage carriers.
At night, Gonzaemon and other disciples visit Iraku to inform him he has been summoned by Kogan. With his hands tied behind his back, Iraku is presented before Kogan, who appears as if possessed by a demon. Nobody could tell with certainty when Kogan lost his mental balance. Periods of lucidity would at best last at best half a day, and it was during those times that the grandmaster would delegate school activities. In the Kogan school of fencing there existed a secret technique called Shooting Star. Kogan had 6 fingers, and this was noted as the key to his exceptional skill. Iraku passes an initiation ceremony which involved not flinching as Kogan sliced a single tiny bean stuck to Iraku’s forehead. The school disciples welcome Iraku to the school to Fujiki’s chagrin.
"A Visit in the Night"Edit
A year has passed and although Iraku attracts the desires of local women due to his handsome looks; Iraku’s interest lay only for women in the peasantry class. In the late hours of the night, Kogan, in one of his demonic episodes, enters Mie’s bedchambers seemingly to molest her, but examines whether Mie had passed the age of puberty. In the presence of Gonzaemon, Kogan asks who, in his opinion, should be his chosen successor. A marriage bloodline was a solemn ritual solely intended to continue the bloodline, there was no place in it for the concept of love. Gonzaemon recommends Fujiki. When querying this choice, Gonzaemon infers that Fujiki respects Mie. Angered and cursing the absence of a son, Kogan forces the spine of his blade into Gonzaemon mouth, bludgeoning his teeth and slicing open his jaws. Rephrasing bluntly, Kogan demands who out of Fujiki and Iraku possessed the strongest semen. Despite the ferocious pain, Gonzaemon states they were equally strong. Kogan orders Gonzaemon to instruct the two warriors assassinate the twin sons of Funaki Ichidensai; a master swordsman who years earlier had his lower jaw ripped off by Kogan during an official tournament. Contrary to common practice, Kogan was sharply reprimanded for his action by the Lord of Kakegawa Castle, Ando Naotsugu, who considered his act discourteous. Kabuto Wari was a technique which involved cutting an armoured helmet in half. The Funaki dojo on the other hand practiced Kabuto Nage, which involved cutting a helmet from the side after being thrown at the swordsman. Funaki Hyoma and Funaki Kazuma, twin brothers and incestuous lovers, were masters of this technique and the masters of the Funaki School, along with their younger sister, Funaki Chika. Kogan, still harbouring a grudge with Funaki Ichidensai for being humiliated in front of his Lord, wishes for the destruction of the entire Funaki legacy and dojo. While Mie eavesdrops and cries over the manner in which her successor would be chosen, Gonzaemon contemplates whether Kogan was in his correct state of mind, since the authorities would never sanction a duel with real swords in peacetime, particularly for one disguised as vengeance.
After indulging themselves in drinking and debauchery, the Funaki twins visit the Hinoska shrine near Nissaka. They are ambushed by Fujiki and Iraku in disguise. The twins are insulted that a duel had been initiated without prior formal invitation. Upon noticing Fujiki raising his sword above his head, the twins quickly infer the pair belong to the Kogan-ryuu school, and recall their father’s warning to be wary of this specific movement as it was typical of the Kogan-ryuu style. Despite believing Fujiki as beyond striking distance, Fujiki struck the first blow, displaying a special technique called Nagare, a closely guarded technique forbidden to be practiced even in the Kogan dojo. The technique enabled a swordsman to strike at an opponent despite appearing beyond striking distance. Iraku takes advantage of this moment and strikes the other twin down.