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The Book of Five Rings
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The Book of Five Rings

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  15,247 ratings  ·  544 reviews
Setting down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning, and on spirituality, legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi intended this modest work as a guide for his immediate disciples and future generations of samurai. He had little idea he was penning a masterpiece that would be eagerly devoured by people in all walks of life centuries after his death.
ebook, 41 pages
Published February 18th 2013 by Start Publishing LLC (first published 1642)
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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...more
Robert
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
John Scott
The Original Bad Ass MoFo ... in a Zen kinda way.

Strategy
Tactics
Bad Assedness
Violence
YES!
Vik
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...more
Adil
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
Patrick McCoy

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...more
Michael
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...more
Jeph
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...more
Greg
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...more
Bryan
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
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...more
S.N. Arly
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...more
Donovan
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...more
Matt
Jul 10, 2008 Matt rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Nyri
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...more
Kristi
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
Charlotte Sanders
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...more
Mikekite
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.
Marianna
Loved the illustrations. Just because something's an ebook, doesn't mean no thought should go into the design.
*Giulia*
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joshua
In a word, excellent.

As a precursor to the Book of Five Rings one should be aware of the Japanese mind. The Buddhist principle of emptiness is also helpful, albeit not necessary. In the Book of Five Rings Musashi gives the pupil the understanding of how to win in battle.

Musashi lived in the hieght of the Japanese Reniassance. There were wars thus the need for warriors. But, there was vast amounts of culture, arts, drama, even tea ceremonies. There are allusions to all these aspects of culture,...more
Helmut
Siegen um jeden Preis

Philosophische Einsichten sind hier nicht zu finden; Großteils ist es ein Handbuch von Basistechniken für einen Schwertkämpfer. Ich finde darin nichts, was man außerhalb eines Kampfes im "echten Leben" wirklich einsetzen könnte - außer man ist einer dieser New-Age-Manager, die sich auf Sunzi und Musashi berufen, wenn sie rücksichtlos gegen Geschäftspartner vorgehen. Das ist aber vom Autor Musashi auch so beabsichtigt - nirgends behauptet er, dass es außer einem Handbuch sein...more
Xonrad
Mar 28, 2009 Xonrad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a hardcore interest in exploring the warrior aesthetic
Unlike Sun Tzu, this is a very cryptic and almost a purist's philosophical text. Very introspective in nature.

It is infinitely easier to comprehend and process (or at least begin to) with at least a basic understanding of the Kendo martial art before going into it... the psychological disciplines involved moreso than the actual swordsman techniques, though knowledge of both seems like an obvious requirement as some of the examples assume the reader knows how the mind & body flows through cer...more
Reido
It's hard to believe that a translation of 17th century scroll of self reflection, could hold such depth. Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Munehnori hold such an uncanny sense of knowledge. So much so that it makes me think the individuals that these men surrounded themselves with must have been prolific swordsman or great wisemen. The ideas and ideology of these two men, have such relevance with this time period, it's scary to think they created this without the use of the internet.

What is really int...more
John Wiswell
Oct 13, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophy readers, readers interested in Japanese culture, samurai fiction readers
This is a wonderfully short book, and the translation is pretty easy to read. I went through it three times in a week, to make certain I understand what Musashi was saying. The legend surrounding the man is intriguing, and anybody who has won over fifty swordfights - if they're going to put it this briefly, it's worth a shot. The most interesting parts are where Musashi's advice bleeds into his views on life, particularly in his advice on how to foster and rely on intuition. The final part, deal...more
Peter rock
excellent book to order if you are planning on playing a chess game against me and by chess i mean.....war do not ever wage war against me unless you have taken years to study, restudy, and apply this to your daily life. take the lessons miyamoto mushashi to the daily job of living and years from now you will pay me the going rate for my services for my teaching or you will meet my former students.....my allies and my teachers! before you you declare war on peter rock campbell consider the ramif...more
Jacob
Jan 06, 2010 Jacob added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys samurais or strategy
Recommended to Jacob by: My brother
I enjoyed The Book of Five Rings greatly and have found that the various translations of the book seem relatively consistent in terms of the core meaning and philosophy. I enjoyed Musashi's take on harmony and combat as he suggests the use of a "waksashi", this being the pivotal aspect of his life as a Ronin. I agree that in most cases the introductions throughout the various translations can be a bit annoying but to be completely honest it is best just to skip them and move on to actual work of...more
Belarius
Jan 27, 2008 Belarius rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People In Conflict
I first read Musashi when studying martial arts, and found his complete pragmatism highly appealing. In a culture addicted to form over function, Musashi was a complete rebel, living like a mountain man and chastising the samurai for their irrational means. This translation (by Thomas Cleary) is quite good.

This isn't to say that Musashi is easy to read. He writes in a spurts, and refuses to explore subjects he feels cannot be properly conveyed with words (rather than physical practice). Also, mu...more
Jose Vera
Este es un tratado que, para ser provechoso, ha de ser leido una y otra vez.

Miyamoto Musashi es considerado como el más grande de los samurai. Nunca fue vencido y las experiencias de sus años como Ronin las plasmo en estos 5 anillos.

El primer punto importante a tener en cuenta es que en todo momento la actitud es combativa, agresiva y buscando la victoria; adaptandose al terreno, el clima, al propio enemigo.

Musashi no escribe un "manual para la Victoria"; lo que el presenta son las observaciones...more
Robyn Blaber
I've you have ever seen a cool martial arts film, then you have probably heard an excerpt from this book. It is super-cool from beginning to end. The message is fairly simple. If you are a martial artist, then you fight. When you fight, you will fight with a single objective; to cut down your opponent. If you wish to be victorious, you must practice and train. When you practice and train, you must train in the right way and always in mind of cutting down your opponent.

This fall, I plan to take u...more
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Miyamoto Musashi, also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke, or by his Buddhist name Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman famed for his duels and distinctive style. Musashi, as he is often simply known, became legendary through his outstanding swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He is the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and...more
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The Book of Five Rings from SmarterComics The Samurai Series: The Book of Five Rings, Hagakure -The Way of the Samurai & Bushido - The Soul of Japan LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGY Four Classics (Four Classics, The Art of War, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, The Book of Five Rings, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) The Way of the Samurai: The Book of Five Rings, The Hagakure, Bushido: The Soul of Japan De strategie van de Samoerai

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