Aaron's Reviews > The Book of Five Rings

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
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's review
Dec 16, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: martial-arts, philosophy-religion
Read in February, 2006

I was very interested in checking out Musashi's compilation of his teachings after reading Eiji Yoshikawa's fictional narrative Musashi. This book did not disappoint. I can't comment on how this translation holds up; there is a plethora of translations out there, and Cleary has made a name for himself so I went with this one. Also included is a copy of The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori, which is a nice bonus.

The text is a manual on the science and art of sword fighting specifically; philosophical points can be extracted from this, but it is primarily a fighting manual. I like Musashi's writing style; the first chapter (the Earth Scroll) reminds me of Aristotle's first chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics in the clear methodology for deriving a science of fighting.

Not for the casual reader. This might be beneficial to anyone studying swordsmanship, I wouldn't know. The principals could in general be applied to hand to hand fighting, but I think there are better books to read if that's your interest (such as Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do). A good read for anyone interested in Musashi himself, or Japanese literature from the early Tokagawa era.

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Quotes Aaron Liked

Miyamoto Musashi
“Do nothing that is of no use”
Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi
“Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast….Of course, slowness is bad. Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.”
Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

Miyamoto Musashi
“You can only fight the way you practice”
Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

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