Read The Book Of Five Rings, The Classic Text Of Samurai Sword Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi Online


Translated by V. Harris. Japan's answer to the Harvard MBA...Written over three centuries ago by a Samurai warrior, the book has been hailed as a limitless source of psychological insight for businessmen-or anyone who relies on strategy and tactics for outwitting the competition....

Title : The Book Of Five Rings, The Classic Text Of Samurai Sword Strategy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780760784570
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Book Of Five Rings, The Classic Text Of Samurai Sword Strategy Reviews

  • Adil
    2019-03-10 09:23

    I read a translation by Ashikaga Yoshiharu and Rosemary Brant. This book puzzled me in that at first glance I seem to have learned nothing else from it than how to hold a sword and attack and enemy, and obvious things like never let your enemy have a chance to recover. I'm definitely missing something, either due to the translation or my inability to read between the lines. I guess I'm supposed to reflect on it and come back to it until I "get it" if there's any wisdom in here. The book is full of lines such as "research this well," "study this thoroughly," "I cannot elaborate on this in writing" and I'm not sure how these are supposed to evoke any insight in me into anything. Furthermore, the topics are elaborated on very little in this book. I have a suspicion that all those people who rated this book highly have filled in the gap with their imagination. The edition I read presents the book as "the cornerstone of Japanese Culture" and I have absolutely no idea how this book played any significant role in Japanese culture; it baffles me. But I guess, as the book says, "these things are not explainable in detail." I can say one positive thing about my experience reading the book: It left me using sword battle as an analogy for human relations and that might be useful somehow.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-03-19 05:28

    This is one of those books I've been "meaning to read" for years. There's a lot that could be said here, more than can be included in a "review". How can one review a book that has stood the test of 5+ centuries? I think there is much of value here, I think there is much that can be learned and then misapplied by those not wise enough to understand application as well as process.The book assumes that the one reading will have already spent much time in learning and study and plans to move on with the learning. The book's 5 rings can in many ways be looked at as "headings" or "reminders". These are in many ways outlines of much larger subjects. (1000 days of practice equals 10,000 days or instruction.)There are subjects and views that on the surface seem to to be contradictory. Musashi speaks of "venerating" the gods and the Buddhas he then speaks of total self reliance especially not appealing to or depending on the "gods or Buddhas". The most commonly used phrase (in translation) is "this should be investigated thoroughly".An interesting book that does not claim to supply truth but to help in your finding what is the truth (Musashi would probably add) "for you".A book to think about and approach with consideration and hopefully wisdom.

  • Florencia
    2019-03-22 08:36

    I do not know how I got here. I did not even know I had this book. But I am glad I read it.This book was written by Miyamoto Musashi, a Japanese swordsman that had his first duel when he was 13 years old. It is divided into five “rings” (earth, water, fire, wind, void) that describe strategies and principles of martial arts, with a touch of philosophy that kept me interested. Among all the tactics that can be used, he shared his insightful thoughts on several matters. Martial arts are not just about technique. There are some principles to follow; there is a clarity of mind to be reached. You have to be able to find a balance between a world of war and a world of peace.The last "ring", the Book of Void... what a way to finish a book. Outstanding.Nov 17, 13* Also on my blog.

  • Jokoloyo
    2019-02-25 03:08

    I have different expectation when l looked at the cover book. There was a modern-day white collar person mimicking ancient Japanese samurai pose. So, I have expectation there was some modern interpretation in business management based on Miyamoto Musashi's teachings.Then I found the book's content was basically translations of ancient text, without much interpretations into modern management style. That's why I rated it only 3 star. The philosophy value itself beyond my own judgment.

  • John Scott
    2019-03-18 06:19

    The Original Bad Ass MoFo ... in a Zen kinda way.StrategyTacticsBad AssednessViolenceYES!

  • Greg
    2019-03-24 09:17

    I first read Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings many years ago, while I was a Ph.D. candidate in California. I was intrigued by how his nine principles seemd to apply to life in general and leaders in particular, in addition to his intended audience of swordsmen. While it is not as in depth as Sun Tzu's The Art of War, he certainly added to my understanding. His nine principles, from the translation I prefer, are as follows:1. Do not think dishonestly2. The Way is in training3. Become acquainted with every art4. Know the Ways of all professions 5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters6. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding of everything7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen8. Pay attention even to trifles9. Do nothing which is of no useAs a set of core principles, these are not a bad way to lead one's life.

  • Robert
    2019-02-25 05:14

    This book, written by a famous Japanese duelist, tells one of his relatives how to win with the sword. It is divided into five "Rings" based on five "Elements". He concentrates on Strategy and does not talk about the best guard to take or other technicalities. Many people find this book to be immoral as it espouses winning at all costs in a deadly pursuit. I regard it more as a-moral. Musashi simply never considers the question. He is simply putting down his concept of Strategy. Perhaps the moral onus is on the reader of the book?Students of Zen would do well to read the book, particularly the final Ring - entitled The Void. Afterward the perceptive student would take up an individual sport - not necessarily fencing, tennis would do just as well - and give up trying to solve koans. After all, even the Masters say that the more you study Zen the further from enlightenment you get and there can be little doubt that Musashi was a master.This translation from the original Japanese also contains an insightful introduction.

  • Vik
    2019-03-15 07:09

    This book actually has two translations by Thomas Cleary of two books from Japanese martial artists. My thoughts on both and a short comparison are below.The Book of Five Rings is a pretty good insight into a disciplined mind and professional samurai from 17th century Japan. A lot of it is practical advice and there is some spiritual Zen leaning in there too but I would not go as far to say it is required leadership reading material in the same way as The Art of War by Sun Tzu but no martial artist should be without this book.The second translation in the book is The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yahyu Munenori is far more flowery and makes more sense if you have an understanding of buddhism otherwise the section on existance and non-existance may (or may not be ;-)) be tricky to grasp.In comparision the first book is plainly superior to the second in the manner in which it is written and executed. It's plain talkng and easy to grasp with none of the flowery language prevalent in the second.

  • Ali Reda
    2019-03-01 10:12

    Swordsman Miyamoto Mausashi had written The Book of the Five Rings with a practical approach to swordsmanship, on how to use the sword, where to stand and use the sun or shadows. For him, the point of battle was not showmanship it was winning, That's why he never lost a duel.THE GROUND BOOKIt is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of the pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. The Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.In short, the Way of my school is the spirit of winning, whatever the weapon and whatever its size. This is the practical result of strategy. This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy:1.Do not think dishonestly.2.The Way is in training.3.Become acquainted with every art.4.Know the Ways of professions.5.Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.6.Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.7.Perceive those things which cannot be seen.8.Pay attention even to trifles.9.Do nothing which is of no use. THE WATER BOOKWith water as the basis, the spirit becomes like water. Water adopts the shape of its receptacle, it is sometimes a trickle and sometimes a wild sea. Water has a clear blue color. Be neither insufficiently spirited nor over spirited. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should not copy others, but use weapons which you can handily properly.Look at things from a high point of view. The commander must know natural rules, and the rules of the country, and the rules of houses. He should take into account the abilities and limitations of his men, circulating among them and asking nothing unreasonable. He should know their morale and spirit, and encourage them when necessary. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one, so that you can understand the enemy's stratagems, his strength and resources, and come to appreciate how to apply strategy to beat ten thousand enemies. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized the wisdom of strategy. It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others.THE FIRE BOOKIf you are thoroughly conversant with strategy, you will recognize the enemy's intentions and thus have many opportunities to win. See through the enemy's spirit so that you grasp his strategy and perceive his quality and his strong and weak points to defeat him. This is because, if you attack quickly and thoughtlessly without knowing the enemy's spirit, your rhythm will become deranged and you will not be able to win. If you advance too slowly, you will not be able to take advantage of the enemy's disorder, the opportunity to win will escape, and you will not be able to finish the fight quickly.The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy's useful actions but allow his useless actions. It is bad to be led about by the enemy. You must always be able to lead the enemy about and make him obey your spirit. Attack in an unsuspecting manner, knowing his meter and modulation and the appropriate timing. Knowing the times means seeing right into things. You must force the enemy into inconvenient situations. Attack where his spirit is lax, throw him into confusion, irritate and terrify him.THE WIND BOOKPerception and sight are the two methods of seeing. Perception consists of concentrating strongly on the enemy's spirit, observing the condition of the battlefield, fixing the gaze strongly, seeing the progress of the fight and the changes of advantages. This is the sure way to win.THE EMPTINESS BOOKBy Emptiness I mean that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature. When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Emptiness. There is no timing in the Emptiness.There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. You win battles with the timing in the Emptiness born of the timing of cunning by knowing the enemies' timing, and thus using a timing which the enemy does not expect. We shout during the fight to get into rhythm.When the enemy attacks and you also decide to attack, hit with your body, and hit with your spirit, and hit from the Emptiness with your hands, accelerating strongly. This is the No Design, No Conception cut. This is the most important method of hitting.In the Way of strategy as a warrior you must study fully other martial arts and not deviate even a little from the Way of the warrior. With your spirit settled, accumulate practice day by day, hour by hour. Polish the twofold spirit heart and mind, and sharpen the twofold gaze perception and sight. When your spirit is not in the least clouded and your self is free, when the clouds of bewilderment clear away, there is the true Emptiness.

  • Vaishali
    2019-03-07 03:16

    Called the Go Rin No Sho, this treatise is eye-opening, though at times gruesome. One of the great joys of experiencing older texts is the sheer regality of the narration, so it's overall enjoyable. There are sections which are decidedly male and archaic ... like Musashi's insistence on overwhelming an enemy rather than befriending him. (Quite different from Funakoshi's precept of nonviolence in shotokan karate.)I've included here some striking quotes, and some lists of Musashi's principles.Quotes:--------------------------------------“The way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.”“Studying the way of strategy is based on overcoming men.”“Immature strategy is the cause of grief.”“The teacher is as needle, the disciple is as thread.”“It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.”“You must study hard.”“You should not have a favorite weapon. To be overfamiliar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.”“You should not copy others, but use weapons which you can handle properly. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes. These are things you must learn thoroughly.”"There is timing in everything. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this.""Develop a steady spirit.""The gaze should be large and broad. This is the two-fold gaze, perception and sight. Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.""Generally, I dislike fixedness in both long swords and hands. Fixedness means a dead hand. Pliability is a living hand. You must bear this in mind.""Alternatively, advance with as strong a spirit as possible, and when you reach the enemy move with your feet a little quicker than normal, unsettling him and overwhelming him sharply."“Before you embark upon something - before you start - fix your intention on the 4 Oaths, and put selfishness behind you, and you cannot fail.”The 4 Oaths:1. Never be late with respect to the way of the warrior.2. Be useful to the lord.3. Be respectful to your parents.4. Get beyond love and grief; exist for the good of man.There are 4 ways in which men pass through life: 1. Gentlemen, who master various strategies2. Farmers, who produce items from the change of the seasons3. Artisans, who become proficient in tool use4. Merchants, who live by taking profitGodai - 5 elements of universe1. water2. fire3. wind4. ground5. voidGodin - 5 wings of human body1. head2. left elbow3. right elbow4. left knee5. right knee“The 9 Principles of The Way”("It is important to start by setting these broad principles in your heart, and train in the Way of Strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will be difficult for you to master strategy.")1. Do not think dishonestly.2. The Way is in training.3. Become acquainted with every art.4. Know the Ways of professions.5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters. 6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything. 7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.8. Pay attention even to trifles.9. Do nothing which is of no use."In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken. Do not let your spirit be influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit. Be neither insufficiently spirited nor over spirited. An elevated spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.""Small people must be completely familiar with the spirit of large people, and large people must be familiar with the spirit of small people. Whatever your size, do not be misled by the reactions of your own body. With your spirit open and unconstricted, look at things from a high point of view. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized the wisdom of strategy."

  • George K.
    2019-03-14 07:38

    Ο Μιγιαμότο Μουσάσι ήταν ένας από τους καλύτερους Ιάπωνες ξιφομάχους της γενιάς του και ίσως ο θρυλικότερος σαμουράι στην ιστορία, πάντα νικητής στις τουλάχιστον εξήντα μονομαχίες που συμμετείχε, και δημιουργός μιας ιδιαίτερης σχολής ξιφομαχίας και πολεμικών τεχνών. Στο τέλος της ζωής του έκατσε και έγραψε το παρόν βιβλίο, έναν οδηγό για τις ξιφομαχίες και την τέχνη του σαμουράι, στο οποίο μπορεί να διαβάσει κανείς την στρατηγική σκέψη που πρέπει να έχει ένας ξιφομάχος ή σαμουράι ώστε να βγαίνει πάντα νικητής στις διάφορες μονομαχίες ή μάχες. Υπάρχουν διαφόρων ειδών συμβουλές, που έχουν να κάνουν τόσο με το τεχνικό κομμάτι της υπόθεσης, όσο φυσικά και με το πνευματικό. Η τέχνη του σαμουράι απαιτεί μυαλό, οξυδέρκεια, υπομονή, επιμονή, προσήλωση, αυτοσυγκέντρωση, κουράγιο και καθημερινή άσκηση. Δεν είναι για όλους. Θα μου πείτε, τώρα, τι νόημα έχει ένα τέτοιο βιβλίο στην εποχή μας. Πρώτα-πρώτα, τα κομμάτια που έχουν να κάνουν με το πνεύμα και το μυαλό, ταιριάζουν με όλων των ειδών τις πολεμικές τέχνες. Δεύτερον, κάποιες στρατηγικές και συμβουλές, με τις απαραίτητες αλλαγές, μπορούν να χρησιμεύσουν και σε άλλα πεδία. Επίσης, με αυτό το βιβλίο παίρνει κάποιος μια ιδέα για τον τρόπο ζωής και σκέψης ενός σαμουράι. Πάντως δεν μπορώ να πω ότι πρόκειται για φιλοσοφικό κείμενο ή ότι διαβάζοντάς το θα κατανοήσει κανείς τους λόγους για τους οποίους πολλοί Ιάπωνες έγιναν σαμουράι. Σίγουρα είναι ένα σημαντικό βιβλίο γι'αυτούς που γουστάρουν τους σαμουράι και την Ιαπωνική κουλτούρα. Κάποιες από τις συμβουλές/διδαχές θα τις ξαναδιαβάσω.Υ.Γ. Όσον αφορά τον Μιγιαμότο Μουσάσι, υπάρχει ταινία για την ζωή και το έργο του, σε σκηνοθεσία Hiroshi Inagaki και με πρωταγωνιστή τον αξεπέραστο Toshirô Mifune, ενώ έχει γραφτεί και ένα ολόκληρο μυθιστόρημα 900+ σελίδων για πάρτη του, από τον Eiji Yoshikawa (δυστυχώς δεν υπάρχει στα ελληνικά)

  • Michael
    2019-03-15 05:12

    I've always meant to go back and read another translation of Musashi's book. This one is, as you can tell by the title, geared towards martial artists, and this ties into the whole presentation. Perhaps I should give a little background: Musashi was a Japanese swordsman in the seventeenth century who fought in some ridiculous number of duels and won them all. He wrote a book of strategy called "The Book of the Five Rings" that is considered by many martial artists to be of a comparable worth with "The Art of War." So, Musashi was a martial fighter, but fought in a very different context than the modern martial arts: he fought in duels to the death, and fought with a sword. I've heard from multiple sources that the chance of surviving a single samurai duel was roughly 1 out of three. This is because a high number of duels resulted in both samurai killing each other. So, surviving a bunjillion duels and then dying from a disease in his 60's is quite a feat. What I liked about this was the practicality of the fighting philosophy. However, much of this knowledge is now intuitive to those who know anything about military tactics or martial arts: find high ground, be prepared for different types of terrains, etc. But, it gives one piece of advice that has helped me win (or sometimes just survive) in lots of sparring matches: always be on the offensive. It might sound counter-intuitive to someone who hasn't tried applying the philosophy; what if someone with a greater level of expertise is coming at you fast? But, this is actually the situation where this technique has served me the best. For a while, we sparred every friday night at a youth center in a little dojo ran by a second degree blackbelt, and most of the time he would join in the sparring rotation. He was a battering ram. He didn't know how to NOT move forward while fighting. I could never beat him, but I was the only person who could score points on him because he wasn't used to people moving forward to meet him. But, in martial arts philosophies like Aikido, the idea is to use your opponent's energy against them: redirect their force and use it to toss them away, or slam them down on the ground. Actual attacks are usually part of this kind of redirection. I think that the idea of being on the offense has more to do with space though, and doesn't necessarily mean you aren't parrying attacks. Even Aikido fighters can catch opponents by surprise more effectively when quickly moving toward them. And, in a case like my example above (where you really aren't as good as your opponent), surprising your opponent might be your only chance to win. Could also get you killed, though. But this advice has served me well. Most of the other strategies are good, but few are surprising. And, because it is modified to apply specifically to the martial arts, it can't be adapted all that well into non-combat aspects of life. For those interested in the martial arts, it is a very good read. For the rest of you, I'd give it a pass.

  • Kristi
    2019-02-22 07:30

    Despite Musashi's many admonitions to "investigate this thoroughly," I fear that I have not done so enough to truly understand or appreciate the profundity of The Book of Five Rings; however, it was interesting to read this work about swordsmanship and strategy and to think about the ways that it has been applied to business and perhaps other aspects of Japanese life. I'm not going to deny the fact that it was hard to see beyond the direct references to sword fighting and martial arts at times--fundamentally, that's what this book is about, although defeating one's opponent is a profoundly psychological and spiritual task as well for Musashi. But particularly in The Fire Chapter where he begins to delve into the art of defeating many foes, the application to the market was much easier to divine. The emphasis on initiative and rhythm and true observation are all very pertinent to many aspects of competition and negotiation. Still, I have a feeling I would need to read this book carefully a few more times in order to really grasp it. In that sense, it's different from Bushido The Soul of Japan, which is much easier to see as a guide to one's way of life. (Bushido The Soul of Japan was also written in English, which may aid its portability.) It was harder for me to jump from the literal battle strategy elements of The Book of Five Rings to larger themes.I'd recommend this to people interested in martial arts, the Japanese "way," Japanese history, "traditional" ideas of Japanese culture, and maybe business strategy. But those interested in the latter are going to have to wade through a lot of tall about stances and swords before you get your kernels of wisdom.This book was read for a session of the Nitobe Kokusai Juku.

  • Alex
    2019-03-02 07:22

    A classic, which is about individual and tactical combat as well as spirit. It should be read in conjunction with The Art Of War.This book describes bushido, which is reflected in much manga/anime.

  • Emelia
    2019-03-11 05:30

    Written by the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, The Five Rings (c.1645) is more than just a manual on sword-fighting techniques: its Zen philosophy offers tactics and strategies as relevant to personal success today as they were to 17th-century samurai. The Five Rings speaks to every age about the essential roles of harmony and self-mastery in our lives. Miyamoto Musashi is known in Japan as a kensi, or a "sword saint". One who has perfected the art of the sword so completely that they also achieve spiritual enlightenment through it. Spiritual peace. A peace that comes with the way of Samurai - "one who serves". Miyamoto's teachings tell us of how we must not only serve the sword, but others, as well as the world around us. How we must serve Nature and become at peace with it, how we must fight for the preservation of Nature and not against it. The Five Rings is also filled with breathtaking illustrations which, by themselves, offer the reader not only a spiritual peace but a visual one as well. A visual journey that I found extraordinary. In addition to The Five Rings, this beautiful volume includes two additional short texts by Miyamoto: Thirty-Five Articles on Strategy and The Path Walked Alone and is a must read for anyone who is not only interested in martial arts, strategy, and swordsmanship, but those who seek inner peace and enlightenment.

  • Gordan Karlić
    2019-03-05 03:14

    Amazing book - if you are 16 the century samurai, otherwise limited use for its applications into a modern world. Thought this was japanese The Art of war, kinda it is but not as good.

  • CristianMorales
    2019-03-01 04:31

    El libro en sí es puro taoísmo, pero estas nociones fueron las que me gustaron un montón!"By Void I mean that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature. When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void. "It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first. Bows are difficult to draw, halberds are difficult to wield; as you become accustomed to the bow so your pull will become stronger. When you become used to wielding the long sword, you will gain the power of the Way and wield the sword well.Y esta es mi favorita, o sea, es un libro de filosofía para el arte marcial, pero son conceptos super aplicables a la vida de cualquiera:1. Do not think dishonestly.2. The Way is in training.3. Become acquainted with every art.4. Know the Ways of all professions.5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.8. Pay attention even to trifles.9. Do nothing which is of no use.

  • S.N. Arly
    2019-02-23 05:36

    This is a work in translation. The original was written sometime in the 1600's, yet it could have easily been written this year. There are many translations of Musashi's work, some reinterpreted for other arenas such as business. This version keeps the focus on strategy for the student of the Way of the warrior. It is applicable to martial artists who utilize weapons as well as those who do not. I will recommend it to advanced students, because on the whole it is a bit much for beginners. As a fifth degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate, I found the Book of Water and the Book of Fire most useful. One should note that Musashi lived in a era and culture in which it was acceptable for him to kill his enemies, and thus the book focuses on embracing the mentality and willingness to kill your opponent. In our modern world, we do have to keep in mind that there are times and places where deadly force is acceptable and times when it will get you locked up. It may be useful to substitute "defeat" for "kill," in many instances because one can defeat others in a fight as surely as killing them, and the essential strategy is the same.

  • Donovan
    2019-03-16 05:22

    OK, this is not a novel. It is a training manual for the budding swordsman written my the greatest Japanese swordsman in their history - Miyamoto Musashi. There are so many levels to this man's teachings that it is difficult to summarise. His life in itself is amazing and the subject of many written works. For me, there are two key elements to this work:1. How to be a swords man. The practical aspects required for you to be able to handle a sword and to attain a level where you can spar with someone with a bokken (wooden sword) or a steel sword such as a katana. 2. Philosophy and psychology. There is a very pragmatic approach to life that is as valid today as it was in the era in which the book was written. As a manager working in the Government, I found many of the lessons in the 5 rings to hold true - even down to facial expressions when having to face an aggressive client.*All my sword skills I have learnt has come from this book*For a summary, check the wikipedia entry:

  • Patrick McCoy
    2019-03-23 09:29

    I have been won over by the convenience of ebooks, however, I expect that there will always be reasons to buy a book as an artifact. Case in point, is the beautiful Watkins Publishing version of Miyamoto Musashi's The Five Rings (2012) translated by David K. Groff. This wonderfully designed book is made from high quality materials and is adorned throughout by paintings, photographs, maps, scrolls, elaborate print designs including kanji, and includes intricate border designs on the pages throughout. Groff's informative introduction give important background knowledge in which to consider Musashi's philosophical task at hand and understand it in context of the times he lived through. I have not had a particular interest in martial arts or ancient Japanese history before. However, I must admit that I come to find interest in it through viewings of samurai films from the likes of Kurosawa, Kobayashi, Shinoda, and others. This volume will serve as a gateway into further study of samurai and Japanese history.

  • Jeph
    2019-03-14 03:30

    Pay no attention to my rating, as this is not a judgement on Musashi's book, but rather the audio version of the book. For me, Musashi's Book of Five Rings is a book that, after listening to it, I learned that I could only truly understand his writings by reading it and then, rereading it.The Book of Five Rings is similar to Sun Tsu's Art of War, in that it was a book written in a different time for a different situation, but even so, it is timeless in it's applications to life, business, martial arts and other areas.Five Rings seperates itself into Five Books : Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Void. Each of these books deals with a seperate aspect of the whole Way that Musashi teaches.This book, especially the audio version, is not meant to be understood, let alone applied or mastered upon first venture. This is a study material to return to and reflect upon time and time again. Because of this, for Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings I cannot truly give a rating.

  • Mikekite
    2019-03-02 06:14

    If you don't know how to use a sword, don't bother. This book is often tauted by business leaders as a strategy book, in much the same way that Sun Tzu's book 'The Art of War' is tauted. The comparison is impractical. Sun-Tzu was far more a philosopher than Musashi. I took Iaido for 3 years before I could read this book. It IS good for strategy, but you don't get the metaphors without learning the sword first.

  • Edward Rathke
    2019-03-23 03:27

    Not as interesting as I hoped, which maybe isn't surprising since violence and combat don't interest me a lot. So it goes. I suppose I was looking for something with a deeper worldview.

  • Tam G
    2019-03-08 10:22

    My rating does not reflect the quality of this book. It reflects my enjoyment and understanding. This book speaks more to martial arts (including weapons use) than anything I'm into. It was interesting to port some of the advice over to chess play or other competitions. It was also interesting to think about how people break down specified physical knowledge into general theory. "You should investigate this thoroughly."

  • Nyri
    2019-03-06 03:11

    First and foremost, I have to give credit where credit is due. This book is the first Japanese book I read in translation, decades ago. It not only got me interested in the martial arts, but also stimulated my imagination on Japanese history. Of all the translations of this book that I have seen, this seems to be the one that sold the best-- my copy is from the thirtieth reprinting (2000).That being said, decades later as a scholar trained in history and Asian studies (BA and MA, currently pursuing Ph.D. studies), I find the translation to be mediocre, and the introduction that precedes it to be extremely problematic. The blurb on the dustjacket describes Mr. Harris as a "technical interpreter in Japanese," and while I am sure he was good at that, technical interpreting is not the same as translating an historical document and writing an historical essay. At these tasks, my opinion of Mr. Harris' skill is that it is undeveloped.Mr. Harris claims, for instance, that Tokugawa Ieyasu faced the "Ashikaga army" at the Battle of Sekigahara (p. 10), and that Musashi was part of that army. Ieyasu in fact faced the so-called "western" (西軍) forces under Ishida Mitsunari, and the Ashikaga shogunate was long gone as of 1600 (the last shogun was deposed in 1573). Was Musashi at Sekigahara? To quote Musashi translator Kamiko Tadashi (writing in 1972), "it can be conjectured that he fought as a soldier in the western forces, but there is no clear record to this effect." (Kamiko, ed. Gorin no Sho, p. 10). Three other errors include a claim (p. 1) that Japan was in constant warfare from the 12th century on (this is flatly incorrect; despite occasional conflicts, there was by no means endemic warfare since the end of the Heian era), that "Osho" 和尚 meant "spear teacher" but now means "priest" (p. 16; it doesn't-- the characters have nothing to do with spears), and he even makes a repeat of his earlier Ashikaga comment on pp. 17-18 in discussing the sieges of Osaka in 1614 and 1615. The besieged forces were Toyotomi supporters under Toyotomi Hideyori, not Ashikaga supporters.Harris' reading of personal and place names is also awkward. Some of these misreadings make sense, especially if his training was in modern Japanese: e.g. reading the characters for Buzen province as "Bunzen." But there are other things that even someone with modern Japanese shouldn't have mistaken, such as Musashi's pupil Terao Magonojo, whose name Harris reads as "Teruro" or "Teruo." Harris also reads Shimabara (the location in Kyushu) as "Shimawara;" I realize there was no Google in his day but there were plenty of ways he could've ascertained such readings.Regarding the substance of the book-- Harris' translation of Musashi's writing itself-- I have fewer complaints. Having read Musashi's original work itself, the translation is okay, but it feels unfinished, encumbered both by awkward phrasing and awkward, sometimes extraneous footnotes. Two examples of the former include the puzzling "You will not be moved. Oral tradition" ("Ugokazaru tokoro. Kuden." in the original, perhaps better rendered as "You shall be immovable. I will explain the rest to you orally.") on p. 82, and "an able strategist, Tadashima Akiyama" on p. 34, which is an incredibly bizarre misreading of "a strong martial artist named Akiyama, from Tajima Province" ("Tajima no kuni, Akiyama to iu kyouryoku no heihousha" in the original). Two examples of the latter point regarding footnotes are (1) pp. 38-39 where Harris footnotes the words "resolute acceptance of death" ("shinuru to iu michi wo tashinamu koto to oboyuruhodo no gi" in the original) with a two page long quote from Yamamoto Tsunetomo's book Hagakure, and (2) the footnote on p. 43 which claims that "small shrines to Shinto gods are found in every Japanese home." Devout Japanese Christians and Buddhists would take exception to this.In sum, this book isn't awful, or it wouldn't have sold so well. However, I would've loved to see a revised edition, where Mr. Harris, perhaps collaborating with trained professionals in the fields of Japanese history and historical literature, might have addressed some of these shortcomings.

  • Duc Thinh
    2019-03-07 09:29

    Ngũ Luân Thư có năm phần, nội dung tóm tắt như sau:• Địa quyển: bàn về đạo trong binh pháp, những điều cơ bản và cốt lõi. Đây là phần quan trọng nhất. Chỉ khi nào hiểu được tinh thần và đạo của kiếm phái, khi đó mới bàn tới kiếm pháp. Địa quyển đề cập đến những vấn đề từ nhỏ nhất đến lớn nhất. Tinh thần của Musashi là những việc lớn thì dễ thấy nhưng những việc nhỏ lại khó thấy. Tuy nhiên những điều nhỏ nhặt mới là những điểm cơ bản để bắt đầu, sau đó mới đạt được những điều lớn lao. Những vấn đề trong binh pháp được liên kết với những vấn đề đơn giản trong cuộc sống để người đọc hiểu rõ hơn tinh thần của Nhị Thiên Nhất Lưu.• Thủy quyển: bàn về cách xây dựng tinh thần cho người tập Niten Ichiryu, cũng như những vấn đề cơ bản để rèn luyện thân pháp, kiếm chiêu. Thủy ở đây là nước, tinh thần, thân thủ, đường kiếm uyển chuyển như nước thì đấu với một người cũng giống như đấu với vạn người.• Hỏa quyển: bàn về chiến thuật và kiếm thế trong thực chiến. Những kỹ thuật này đều được Musashi cho là đơn giản nhưng muốn tinh thông phải thấu hiểu được mục đích cốt lõi và tập luyện thường xuyên. Rất nhiều kinh nghiệm thực tiễn trong giáp chiến được nêu ra và giải thích ở đây. Đấu sỹ cũng giống như thợ rèn, phải có khổ luyện mới mong tốc chiến tốc thắng. “Ngươi chỉ có thể chiến đấu với cách mà người tập luyện”.• Phong quyển: bàn về kiếm đạo của những môn phái khác. Những ưu khuyết điểm được đưa ra và phân tích. Kiếm sỹ không thể nào thắng đối phương nếu không hiểu rõ họ.• Không quyển: bàn về bản chất của binh pháp. Kiếm sỹ phải dựa vào thiên nhiên. Hiểu rõ quy luật của thiên nhiên sẽ hiểu rõ quy luật của từng trận đánh. Phần này không bàn luận cặn kẽ về kỹ thuật mà nói nhiều hơn vì tư tưởng và triết lý trong kiếm đạo.Với Ngũ Luân Thư, sách chỉ chú trọng đến một vấn đề duy nhất – đánh là phải thắng. “Kiếm sỹ chỉ có một mục tiêu duy nhất là chiến đấu, và mục tiêu duy nhất để chiến đấu là chiến thắng”. Tuy phần lớn sách đề cập đến chiến trận và kiếm pháp, nhưng lồng vào đó là những triết lý và tư tưởng rất tân kỳ của Musashi.Mình không thể nói nhiều hơn về giá trị của Ngũ Luân Thư được, mình chỉ có thể nói, quyển sách không chỉ hữu ích cho những người luyện võ, các doanh nhân, mà còn hữu ích cho tất cả mọi người. Bởi theo mình nghĩ, mỗi con người là một kiếm sỹ, mà trận chiến lớn nhất là cuộc đời của họ.Bài viết đăng lại từ Book Review Blog -

  • *Giulia*
    2019-02-28 04:29

    Semplicemente bellissimo.p.45Purtroppo la conoscenza superficiale di una materia è spesso più nociva dell'ignoranza assoluta!p.52Una piccola deviazione iniziale diventa col tempo una divergenza incolmabile.p.59Tutta la vita di un samurai è soggetta alle leggi dell'armonia con i suoi tempi e le sue cadenze, quando agisce bene e vince o quando sbaglia e perde. Nel commercio c'è il ritmo di quando si guadagna e il ritmo di quando si fallisce. Bisogna saper cogliere con esattezza il ritmo del successo e quello dell'insuccesso.[...] Solo quando sarete pienamente padroni di questo elemento di valutazione progredirete nell'arte della strategia. p.61Primo: Non coltivare cattivi pensieri.Secondo: Esercitati con dedizione.Terzo: Studia tutte le arti.Quarto: Conosci anche gli altri mestieri.Quinto: Distingui l'utile dall'inutile.Sesto: Riconosci il vero dal falso.Settimo: Percepisci anche quello che non vedi con gli occhi.Ottavo: Non essere trascurato neppure nelle minuzie.Nono: Non abbandonarti in attività futili.p.64Affidatevi allo spirito e ignorate la materia. Non fatevi distrarre da avvenimenti futili e non preoccupatevi per questioni esteriori di scarso rilievo. Irrobustite invece la vostra interiorità e non fatela mai trasparire agli estranei.p.64Siate edotti delle giustizie e delle ingiustizie di questo mondo, sappiate riconoscere i lati positivi e negativi di ogni cosa. Percorrete la via delle varie arti e dei mestieri. Così nessuno vi potrà ingannare. p.80Una cosa è la fermezza, altra cosa è l'impeto. La fermezza significa forza, l'impeto può essere debolezza.p.89La strada di mille miglia inizia con il primo passo.p.90Esercitarsi mille giorni è disciplina ed esercitarsi diecimila giorni è perfezionamento.

  • Bryan
    2019-02-24 09:27

    GREAT 17th CENTURAY SAMURAI SWORDSMAN'S ADVICE ON STRATEGY: Based on my readings, Musashi's motive in writing his Book of Five Rings had been to correct misrepresentations of his views on swordsmanship by his contemporaries. Having become a legend in his own time, Musashi's reputation was being exploited by ambitious rivals claiming to have adopted the master's martial techniques and philosophies. Thus Book of Five Rings was intended by its author to establish his point of view for correcting misconceptions. Those in America who've been advocating since 1974 to study Book of Five Rings to gain some business advantage over Japanese businessmen are barking up the wrong tree. Musashi's writings are poetic and thought provoking. Indeed, one can even learn something new and ancient about strategy from the master. It is, however, doubtful that Musashi's words can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. So then those in the 1970s who had originally marketed the book as "the alternative to the Harvard MBA" were barking up the wrong tree. In addition to the charming and useful writings, the original (1974 English translation) Book of Five Rings includes photos of the master swordsman's quite beautiful art work, now residing in Japan in a museum dedicated to Musashi works.

  • Matt
    2019-03-08 07:15

    I remember liking a different translation when I first read this book about 5 years ago. So whether it's the translation or a different perspective on life, this was a bit of a disappointing read. Unless you are veeeeeeeerry into kendo, which I'm not, I don't know what there is to take away from this book other than it is an interesting look into the mind of a real historical figure who was a legend in his own time. Sort of like reading Yoda's light-saber instruction manual... if Yoda was real. A large portion of the book pertains to specific techniques, and as I have no clue as to what the hell those techniques are despite the long footnotes, I found the passages rather tedious. Furthermore, as the uninitiated I found constantly repeated phrases such as, "You must do sufficient research," "You must train well," "Research this well" rather irritating. But I suppose this is like trying to take instruction from any master. I was always awed when I had guitar lessons from someone like Cyril Pahinui or Led Kaapana who would say, "Or you could do it like this," and then go on a 10 minute jazz style improvisation running up and down the fretboard. So as a historical tidbit great, as life philosophy somewhat disappointing.

  • Charlotte
    2019-03-14 08:24

    I'm interested to read this book. However, as regards this particular edition, although the commentary is useful, the introduction is annoying. I made it through the sections on bushido and heiho, and the historical discussion of Miyamoto Musashi and his times, but the section on Zen was intolerably vapid and cliched. I couldn't stand to finish it, which is saying a lot, since I usually have a high tolerance for dull and irritating introductory material.Postscript: I recommend this book: it's historically interesting and written in an appealing style. But the editors' commentary on the edition is completely useless. This is unfortunate, since the commentary extends to nearly as many pages as the text itself. It insults the reader's intelligence, while at the same time pushing a bill of goods upon him...the bill in question being a mixture of Zen Buddhism, Miyamoto Musashi's teachings, and ambient testosterone. Combine with tripe and sautee in lard with several tablespoons of saccharine. Garnish liberally with pomp and self-importance.Read the book, but make sure you get a different edition.