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The Book of Five Rings from SmarterComics

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  20,902 Ratings  ·  771 Reviews
What can you learn from a 17th century samurai? Plenty, if that samurai happens to be Miyamoto Musashi, the master strategist who started fighting at age 13 and never lost a fight in his sixty match career. His insights on how to defeat any opponent are still relevant 400 years later in a world where winning isnt just a resume builder, but an absolute necessity.

Musashis e
Paperback, 80 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by SmarterComics (first published 1642)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike (the Paladin)
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 wit
Aug 19, 2011 Adil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John Scott
Feb 23, 2013 John Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Original Bad Ass MoFo ... in a Zen kinda way.

Bad Assedness
Aug 23, 2008 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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 mora ...more
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 dishonestly
2. The Way is in training
3. Become acq
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 a
Sep 27, 2007 Vik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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 art
Ali Reda
Oct 27, 2015 Ali Reda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
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.


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 my school is the spirit o
Jan 30, 2012 Kay rated it it was ok
Recommended to Kay by: GR giveaways

Full Disclosure: I won this as a GoodReads giveaway.


The purpose of this SmarterComics series is to take the written works of old masters, in this case Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings, and spin it anew with illustrations to make the works more accessible to the public.

However, while I appreciated the concept behind this comic, I'm afraid the execution made me give it 1.5 stars.

The art was simple and generally clear, but the color scheme was a bit dull, espe
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-- ...more
Vaishali Joglekar
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.

S.N. Arly
May 04, 2011 S.N. Arly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 f
Patrick McCoy
Jun 30, 2013 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, non-fiction

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 through
Mar 20, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wit
Aug 21, 2009 Jeph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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, martia
Dec 09, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
This graphic novel shows the strategy lessons of Musashi, a master undefeated Samurai of the 17th century, both as they were initially envisioned and as they have been adapted to modern life situations by the illustrator Mark Dos Santos. I particularly liked the illustrations on pages 45 & 46 of two methods to forestall the enemy from the Fire Book. The first was a series of shots in a ping pong game, and the second a mother bird drawing a cat away from the egg in her nest. My favorite quote ...more
Dec 24, 2011 Marian rated it really liked it
I won this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.
Duc Thinh
Dec 15, 2015 Duc Thinh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arts, re-read, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 mi ...more
Cristián Morales Marroquín
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2012 Donovan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: martial-arts
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 som
Jul 10, 2008 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Samurai wannabes; Lanky, manga reading white dudes dating Japanese girls.
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. ...more
May 25, 2013 Nyri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
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 pursu
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 hi
A Japanese counterpart to Sun Tzu's The Art of War. A fair amount of this one isn't relevant to most modern life, as it has to do with specific techniques of dueling with a sword, but some of that can be generalized to conflict in general. Also, although it mentions in several places that the same principles apply to leading one group in conflict with another, Sun Tzu's book is more concrete in that regard. Still, a lot of this is widely applicable to human conflict in general.
This edition comes
Oct 16, 2008 Mikekite rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 30, 2011 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, philosophy
SmarterComic's adaption of the Book of Five Rings is a quite good introduction to this important Japanese work. The art flits between samurai and other, mostly modern, imagery to show the universal nature of the advice but it it also somewhat distracting. Still, a very good effort and an excellent way to introduce younger readers to Miyamoto Musashi's philosophy.
Yvonne Stegall
Nov 28, 2011 Yvonne Stegall rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway and it was a great win. The art is colorful and well drawn. The story is timeless, and retold wonderfully in this graphic novel/comic. Fans of ancient arts, classic literature and comic books will all enjoy this read. (received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads)
Nov 26, 2011 Trish rated it it was amazing
Shelves: won
This is a great comic book. There are real world lessons set in a comic book atmosphere. Very entertaining and fun. My son will love it for Christmas. Thank you very much for letting me read it.
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Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style o ...more
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“there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” 333 likes
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world” 255 likes
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