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The Book of Five Rings: A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword Mass Market Paperback – January 11, 2005
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The Book of Five Rings is one of the most insightful texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory to emerge from Asian culture. Written not only for martial artists but for anyone who wants to apply the timeless principles of this text to their life, the book analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction.
The Book of Five Rings was composed in 1643 by the famed duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Thomas Cleary's translation is immediately accessible, with an introduction that presents the spiritual background of the warrior tradition. Along with Musashi's text, Cleary translates here another important Japanese classic on leadership and strategy, The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori, which highlights the ethical and spiritual insights of Taoism and Zen as they apply to the way of the warrior.
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Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" places emphasis on large scale military operations; which lends itself to modern business (in the mind of the reader, and in many modern expositions on a domain-by-domain basis) - supply chains, market saturation, globalization, operational budgeting, etc., Musashi-san's "Way" is likewise applicable. Musashi-san focuses on large scale and small scale (individual) battle, offering useful comparisons and contrasts. For me, the individual focus was extremely insightful and personal. It may suit individuals who have situations of high responsibility or discretion (e.g., negotiations, debate, martial arts, software development), or cases where an individual does not have an abundance of resources or allies - and opportunity is gained through competition.
The book is highly quotable, and I found myself reading this short <100 page book over a month's time because every few pages gave me something to think about, research, mull over, and discuss. Almost paradoxically, his vagueness and insistence that the reader practice, research, and train builds toward a thesis - "By learning one thing, one should know 10000 (myriads)."
As a retired IT person and CIS college instructor - my lesson on any topic was not to memorize procedures or things easily looked up in technical references; but principles, how information flows, how to identify processes (and problems in them), to detect the presence of patterns, or put simply "How is this problem or system similar or different from others you've encountered. I wish I had known about this book sooner, as he does an excellent job demonstrating this approach to learning.
Great translation of an excellent book in a small but well constructed hardback. The addition of various calligraphy and Musashi's The Way of Walking Alone are a welcomed treat that adds further depth to an already remarkable book.
The Go Rin No Sho (a.k.a. The Book of Five Rings) is the definitive book on Samurai Philosophy by the archetype of The Wandering Samurai himself, Miyamoto Musashi. Throughout his remarkable life, Musashi developed a philosophy and a style all his own. As stated early in the text, his philosophy is not Budhism, nor Taoism nor any other existing philosophy. It is rather a hard won and practical philosophy, almost a code of conduct and a way of viewing the world that is not bound by esoteric nor abstract thinking. Instead, his writing is about a gradual awakening and clarity of thought that his many and varied experiences led him to. Despite being written by a rampant, unwashed and bewilderingly intelligent swordsman with an odd smattering of formal education, his ability to elucidate the intricacies of strategy and apply it to all aspects of life are staggering and surprisingly relevant even now. You do not have to be a fan of Japan, Samurai, the Edo period, eastern philosophy or any other genre you may want to file this book under in order to appreciate it. It is relatively short, easy to read, to the point and like the man himself, deadly accurate. Enjoy the genius that is The Book of Five Rings.