By User Alkivar on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via  Wikimedia Commons

By User Alkivar on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Five Rings


(Translated by Thomas Cleary)

This book was first written around 1643, by an undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi. His first victory came when he was only thirteen by killing a well known samurai. Through his twenties he continued to be undefeated. On one occasion he single-handedly killed over thirty men in a challenge. Eventually, Musashi decided to never use a real blade again and would only use a wooden sword to defeat his opponents thereafter.

The later half of his life was dedicated to finding the way of strategy. By the time he was in his fifties, he had finally discovered his way. In his sixties he isolated himself in a cave near Mt. Iwato. It was here, in his final days that he committed his way of strategy to writing in ‘The Book of Five Rings’. His philosophical perspective is compatible with Taoism. His ‘way of strategy’ is not only applied to sword fighting, the sword is a metaphor for life in Japan and other cultures. Musashi’s way of strategy is also a way of life.