A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

Nook of Five Rings"When you have attained the way of strategy there will be not one thing that you cannot understand"
Miyamoto Musashi

"The supreme book on strategy"
Time Out

"On Wall Street, when Musashi talks, people listen"
Time

This classic text ranks alongside Sun Tzu's Art of War as the foremost book on martial strategy. Musashi was a 'ronin' or masterless samurai who wandered Japan in pursuit of enlightenment through the art of swordfighting:

"soaked by the cold winds of winter, not dressing his hair, never taking a wife" he did not even enter a bathtub in case he was caught without a weapon by an enemy 2his appearance was uncouth and wretched".


Musashi was undefeated in over 60 duels and after a lifetime perfecting his art, he retired to a cave to write his masterpiece shortly before his death.

His "Book of Five Rings" comprises five elements: Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and the Void. In the Ground book he lays the foundations for the warrior's approach, stating firmly that it must be nothing less than 'resolute acceptance of death'. In the book of Water he advises 'balance' in all things, being able to flow and adapt to all situations. In the book of Fire he offers various methods to strike with ferocity and conviction in battle.

In the book of Wind he sets aside his own strategy to examine and criticise the strategy of other sword-fighting schools, showing the importance of 'knowing your enemy'.  In the final book of The Void, he writes of casting aside preconceptions, leaving the mind, body and spirit free to act completely at one with nature.

A Book of Five Rings is not an easy read. The writing is enigmatic and open to many interpretations, but it is filled with wisdom and beautifully written in Musashi's terse, understated style. You can almost hear him, dishing out his grim instructions to his would-be disciple. A Book of Five Rings is a true classic and as such, deserves re-reading every few years to reveal new depths as your own understanding improves.


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