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A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  37,530 ratings  ·  1,715 reviews
Written over three centuries ago by a Samurai warrior, the book has been hailed as a limitless source of psychological insight for businessmen-or anyone who relies on strategy and tactics for outwitting the competition.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 28th 1988 by Gramercy (first published 1645)
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Will This book was written by a man who never was defeated in his life as a warrior. The translation by Harris is from the perspective of a kendo master an…moreThis book was written by a man who never was defeated in his life as a warrior. The translation by Harris is from the perspective of a kendo master and shows a deep understanding of the principles of the fight. I have dabbled in armed combat for 50+ years and each time I read this book I find a line here or there which suddenly achieves a clarity the other translations miss out. Businessmen often use this book to help them figure out correct strategy, and it can be applied to the Book, but the Master was a warrior and it's essence is armed combat. It takes a person familiar with sword play to understand the meaning of the metaphors offered by Musashi. "Stance, no stance" can be applied to business, sure, but when you are facing somebody with a sword it suddenly gives you a firm understanding of just how you can defeat anyone, anytime... it's a very real and timeless attitude.(less)

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Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
五輪書 = Choyaku Gorin no Dho = A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy, Miyamoto Musashi

The Book of Five Rings is a text on Kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi around 1645.

The five "books" refer to the idea that there are different elements of battle, just as there are different physical elements in life, as described by Buddhism, Shinto, and other Eastern religions. The five books below are Musashi's descriptions of the exact m
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
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
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I never read this before now, but damn, HAVING read it now, I also appreciate it more.

Huh? Am I learning the way of the blade, wanting to defeat my foes from first principles and needing someone from many hundreds of years ago to tell me to EXPLORE THE PRACTICE DEEPLY? Yes? Practice it a LOT?

No. I'm not picking up a blade, and I'm not reading this from the PoV of some modern businessman wanting to get one-up on my competition, but I sure as hell got a LOT out of this.

You can say
John Scott
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Original Bad Ass MoFo ... in a Zen kinda way.

Bad Assedness
I have different expectation when l looked at the cover book. There was a modern-day white collar person mimicking ancient Japanese samurai pose. So, I have expectation there was some modern interpretation in business management based on Miyamoto Musashi's teachings.

Then I found the book's content was basically translations of ancient text, without much interpretations into modern management style. That's why I rated it only 3 star. The philosophy value itself beyond my own judgment.
Nov 01, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Ali Reda
Jan 24, 2015 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
Aug 23, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is an edition littered with relevant subtext on the times Miyamoto Musashi has been living, and on his legacy. This makes for an entertaining and highly rewarding read. This is leisure at its best.

Complementary reading : 36 Stratagems: Secret Art of War

Matching Soundtrack :
Water Buddha - Zen Bamboo Relaxation Music


Une édition truffée de commentaires précieux sur le contexte du contemporain de Miyamoto Musashi et sur sa postérité. Une lecture tout à la fois renseignée et ex
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-cultures
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.

Sep 02, 2007 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
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I take online instructions in Wing Chun Kung Fu ( and participate in a group on Facebook. I had posted a quote I found from Miyamoto Musashi from a different Wing Chun site. Someone recommended this, The Book of Five Rings, by the author. I responded, “I’ve read The LORD of the Rings; does that count,” to which I found no response, most likely because a humorous response contrasts with the spirit of the work (I guess).

The book, written in 1643, by the undefeated samurai
A classic, which is about individual and tactical combat as well as spirit. It should be read in conjunction with The Art Of War.

This book describes bushido, which is reflected in much manga/anime.
Aditi Jaiswal
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” - Bruce Lee.

Mastery is far better than curiosity.

But what and how to practice? For that you need a mentor, and reading this book will definitely not help you in any way! Unless you know how to read between the lines and you can find the right place to research more on the basic strategic insights! But either way you won't need this book!

I couldn't appreciate it because I have
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

I expected this novel to be similar to The Art of War by Sun Tzu (which I absolutely loved and I need to reread it again soon), but instead I found other truths.

I quite liked how the Way was portrayed in five elements; somehow being the same and yet still differing in each of them.

“It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others.”

I know that only as examples these attitudes and stances were des
Helena Hubert
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ok so "It was amazing" is not exactly the correct reaction but it was entrancing. I read this because I was told Sister Sable is either based or borrows heavily from it. It is clear after reading that the author of Sister Sable has read A Book of Five Rings more than once and probably five stars thinks it's a-amen-mazing. But a lot of this you have to intuit because Miyamooto Mushashi was no poet and seemed to have more intuition for the sword than lucid understanding of it. But well worth readi ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, The Five Rings (c.1645) is more than just a manual on sword-fighting techniques: its Zen philosophy offers tactics and strategies as relevant to personal success today as they were to 17th-century samurai. The Five Rings speaks to every age about the essential roles of harmony and self-mastery in our lives.

Miyamoto Musashi is known in Japan as a kensi, or a "sword saint". One who has perfected the art of the sword so completely that they also
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, history
Oh man this book is so cool dude I could totally be a samurai now I could totalltly chop your head off with a katana I definitely coul d bro don't push me hiiiiiiiya! ...more
Jun 02, 2008 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
Patrick McCoy
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, japan

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
Edward Rathke
Not as interesting as I hoped, which maybe isn't surprising since violence and combat don't interest me a lot.

So it goes. I suppose I was looking for something with a deeper worldview.
Yanique Gillana
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yarc2019, 2019-april
I am now a badass and I’m dropping everything to follow the way of the sword starting tomorrow!
B. P. Rinehart
"In Emptiness exists Good but no Evil.

Wisdom is Existence.

Principle is Existence.

The Way is Existence.

The Mind is Emptiness.

If Sun Tzu's The Art of War is the "what," The Book of Five Rings is the "how." Miyamoto was possibly Japan's greatest swordsman, in one of its most turbulent eras. He finished this book in the last year of his life when Peace and reunification had been achieved, but despite his credentials as one of the great teachers of the sword, he was never a retainer. By the time he
Gordan Karlic
Amazing book - if you are 16 the century samurai, otherwise limited use for its applications into a modern world.
Thought this was japanese The Art of war, kinda it is but not as good.
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I feel so deadly after reading this book. Miyamoto Musashi teaches us the way of the samurai and the strategy of a warrior through the five books of elements: fire, earth, water, void and wind.
Cristian  Morales
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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
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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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