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The Book of Five Rings Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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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.
Exactly what i was hoping for!
Top international reviews
Musashi's work focuses on practicing the `martial arts' - particularly swordsmanship - not from the perspective of learning technique but from internal spiritual development; the ascendancy of `mind' to which all technique must ultimately become subservient.
The `five rings' are in fact five chapters themed:
1. Earth (the South)
2. Water (the East)
3. Fire (the West)
4. Wind (the North)
5. Emptiness (the Center: all action and response is most effective when preceded by emptiness - i.e. no internal noise, no preconceptions; "this must be learned")
Each themed chapter incorporates short paragraphs explaining a specific aspect of how to win a contest or fight. For example, in the `Fire' ring, on `Imposing Fear:'
"...the heart of fear is in the unexpected...you do not frighten your opponents with what is right before their eyes. People may be frightened by voices...or by making the small seem large...something coming suddenly from the side also induces fear. You can frighten an opponent with your body, with your sword or with your voice. It is essential to do this suddenly, when your opponent is not expecting it. Take advantage of his fear and gain the victory immediately."
Musashi was allegedly self-taught, and learned everything through his own experience, introspection and native intelligence. The `Book of Five Rings' is not meant to be some kind of bible, but continuously exhorts the reader to "investigate this thoroughly" and do his own work, taking Musashi's guidelines as a starting point to guard against fatal errors.
The power of Musashi's work is in its conciseness and its completeness. He is reported to have written this text in his final two years, around age 60, to summarise and condense the essence of a lifetime of success in the martial arts. It was considered vital in that age for a respected Samurai to be not just an accomplished fighter but a poet, artist, ceramicist and philosopher; learned and accomplished in many things. The book contains some of Musashi's best-known sketches and artworks, including one of his self-portraits and the very famous, powerfully minimalist 'Shrike on a withered branch'.
Overall, if you want a good translation of this timeless classic, this edition can be unconditionally recommended as a fine choice.
My only complaint would be that sometimes the structure of writing can sometimes come across as repetitive and the use of listing is used very often so it takes loads of patience to read this book , but definitely worth it!
Must read for anyone.
content was well translated and authors notes at the beginning were honest regarding differences in opinion with translations.
over all it was well worth reading.
Worth picking if You're trying to make sense of the world