The Book Of Five Rings

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 4/13/2015

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.

THE GROUND BOOK


It 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 the Ichi 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 BOOK


With 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 BOOK


If 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.

Examine your environment. You must make the best of the situation.

When you and the enemy are contending with the same spirit, and the issue cannot be decided. Abandon this spirit by changing our mind and applying a suitable technique according to his condition.

In single combat, if the enemy takes up a rear or side attitude of the long sword so that you cannot see his intention, make a feint attack, and the enemy will show his long sword, thinking he sees your spirit.

In single combat, you can win by relaxing your body and spirit and then, catching on to the moment the enemy relaxes, attack strongly and quickly, forestalling him. What is know as getting someone drunk is similar to this. You can also infect the enemy with a bored, careless, or weak spirit. When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent.

In large-scale strategy it is important to cause loss of balance. Observing the enemy's spirit, we can make him think, "Here? There? Like that? Like this? Slow? Fast?". Victory is certain when the enemy is caught up in a rhythm which confuses his spirit. In single combat, we can confuse the enemy by attacking with varied techniques when the chance arises. Feint a thrust or cut, or make the enemy think you are going to close with him, and when he is confused you can easily win.

Fright often occurs, caused by the unexpected. In large-scale strategy you can frighten the enemy not just by what you present to their eyes, but by shouting, making a small force seem large, or by threatening them from the flank without warning. These things all frighten. You can win by making best use of the enemy's frightened rhythm. In single combat, also, you must use the advantage of taking the enemy unawares by frightening him with your body, long sword, or voice, to defeat him.

It is difficult to move strong things by pushing directly, so you should injure the corners". In single combat, it is easy to win once the enemy collapses. This happens when you injure the corners of his body, and thus weaken him.

If you once make an attack and fail, there is little chance of success if you use the same approach again. If you attempt a technique which you have previously tried unsuccessfully and fail yet again, then you must change your attacking method. If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains.

THE WIND BOOK


Perception 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 BOOK


By 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.

The Way of Walking Alone


Musashi, a week before he died in 1645, wrote this short summary of his way. It was largely composed on the occasion of Musashi giving away his possessions in preparation for death, and was dedicated to his favorite disciple, Terao Magonojo, who took them to heart.

1. Accept everything just the way it is
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long
6. Do not regret what you have done
7. Never be jealous
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love
11. In all things have no preferences
12. Be indifferent to where you live
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need
15. Do not act following customary beliefs
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful
17. Do not fear death
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour
21. Never stray from the Way

Comments (1)

  1. good stuff

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