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The Book of Five Rings (Shambhala Classics) Paperback – December 12, 2000
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From Library Journal
- Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Here is a passage from the Thomas Cleary translation "Upset happens in all sorts of things. One way it happens is through a feeling of being under acute pressure. Another is through a feeling of unreasonable strain. A third is through a feeling of surprise at the unexpected."
Here is the same passage translated by Wilson "There are many kinds of agitation. One is a feeling of danger, a second is a feeling that something is beyond your capability and a third is a feeling of the unexpected. This should be investigated thoroughly."
They say the same thing, but Wilson is clearer.
As for the book itself, it is a classic masterpiece that describes not only a style of swordsmanship, but a way of living.
This has become a legendary book. Written by the famous swordsman, sometimes referred to in the west as "The Lone Ranger of Japan," Musashi claimed to have been in over 60 sword battles, triumphing each time, so it's no wonder Musashi's name has become legendary in both Japan and the west.
The book sets out Musashi's philosophy and correct Way of the Sword. But the principles Musashi espouses are bound to sound perplexing to many people. Musashi says that the best stance is no stance, that too much strength is bad (your sword may shatter when clashing swords), and that even too much speed is bad (it may upset your balance), and that none of these are the true Way of the Sword. The best technique is, in fact, no technique.
This sort of philosophy is bound to be more than a little confusing, so I'll see if I can clarify it a little. I'm not sure I understand Musashi either, although I've studied martial arts for many years and have read my share of eastern philosophy, but I'll give you my ideas on how I relate to them just in case you find them useful.
Basically what Musashi is saying is that once you've learned a technique and committed it to memory and especially "muscle memory," it becomes fixed and is no longer adaptive. Your body becomes channalized into this form or technique, which then becomes limiting, preventing you from achieving true mastery, which is the ability to adapt and flow with any of the infinite number of situations you may encounter. Fixity is therefore dysfunctional and is not the true Way of the Sword.Read more ›
This is NOT a book to read in one sitting, though you easily could.
Read just a bit, then put it down and walk away. Allow what you have read to be mulled over in your mind.
The book is really complex. It contains secrets to living every day, for dealing with everyone you encounter no matter what their state of mind is. It contains secrets about how to do business.
The title is a translation. Like English, words can have multiple meanings. What is translated into the word "ring" can also be translated into "spheres" which I think is a more appropriate translation. The sphere is the most perfect thing in the universe. Beginning at a point and drawing the ring/sphere/circle you will get to a point where the line begins again upon itself. This is a key to understanding the book.
Cleverly written, it holds the knowledge to live at peace with the universe.
An excellent read and mental workout.
Whay does this book discuss? Musashi's masterpiece eschews practice, and decries vanity, ego, and "secrets". Musashi was a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, and the influence of Zen philosophy can be seen everywhere in his writing. This is however, definately a book on the strategy of swordsmanship, and not a treatis on religion. Musashi Miyamoto fought in a number of duels--back in the era of true challenge matches--when usually the victor was the man left living! The realities of his times, the fact that life was so cheap and had to be guarded fiercly, and that Musashi succeeded in doing this is what makes his writing even more precious. This was the book Musashi passed on to the students of his school, the unusual two-bladed Ni-to Ryu (two-sword school). For more on the historical Musashi Miyamoto, read Makoto Sugawara's excellent (non-fiction) "Lives of Master Swordsmen".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Book of Five Rings is Thomas Cleary's translation of Miyamoto Musashi classic that is regarded by some as Japan's version of the Art of War. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Michael G Kurilla
A must have for any practitioner of the sword. Also just good lessons for life in general.Published 12 days ago by The Kilted Rogue
I am a student of Aikido, so this book was extremely insightful. The art I study was built upon Samurai fighting arts, and philosopy, and I have always been curious to know more... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Sonia
Stupid, with no real application. All about sword fighting techniques, with no details. Nothing like Art of War.Published 14 days ago by Korbyski
A wonderful work. Great Instruction, a must read for anyone truly interested in Marshall Arts. I will read this book again.Published 1 month ago by Cielo Guisella Pulido