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Miyamoto Musashi: His Life and Writings Paperback – June 20, 2006
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Although a translation from the Japanese and intended to be a thorough, well-researched, scholarly work on Musashi, I thought it was pretty readable, well-written, interesting, and not nearly as dry and forbidding as it could have been for an academic study. If you have some previous knowledge of Japanese history or martial arts you shouldn't have any trouble with it. But be forewarned that it does require a little more patience than the more popular accounts of his life and times.
There are chapters on Musashi's childhood and training, his duels and battles, his mature years, three chapters on his writings, and seven chapters covering Musashi's martial arts concepts and style of swordfighting, which includes chapters on training, budo, Musashi's school of swordsmanship today, and finally two chapters entitled "The Relationship Between Adversaries," and "One Life, One Art."
There are many aspects of Musashi's life and ideas that get discussed in the book, but I thought I'd write a bit about what I learned about his personal philosophy. Many of you are probably knowledgeable about the specifics of his fencing concepts from having read his Book of Five Rings, so I thought I'd mention something about that instead, since it was something I didn't know as much about myself until I read this book, being more familiar with his ideas about the True Way of the Sword from having read his The Book of Five Rings previously.Read more ›
The book itself covers various aspects of Musashi, including a section on his life, a translation of "Gorin No Sho", Musashi's major written work, and other writings that have come down to us from Musashi's pen.
This might sound strange, but reading Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era would be a good starting point before hitting this book. The novel is really an image of Musashi in popular imagination in Japan, and Tokitsu makes some reference to it in the biographical section. In other aspects of Musashi, Tokitsu takes a very balanced view of the sources, (many of which conflict in major ways), and comes away with a very real Musashi with faults and issues. This stands in contrast to the almost frothing praise that other books have heaped on Musashi. Tokitsu quotes at length from a variety of primary sources, and also presents differing opinions to his own.
The translations of Musashi's writings are well executed, and easily read. There are some terms that are quite difficult to get the correct meaning in English, and Tokitsu has included very large appendices on that and other issues that come up. These appendices go a long way to clearing up some of the issues that the book raises.
Probably another strange suggestion, but you might want to read this book with two bookmarks: one for the book and one for the endnotes.Read more ›
Note this book includes a translation of the book of five rings that reads very well indeed, a remarkable feat considering the nature of the Japanese original.
I would advise any martial artist or anyone who loves Japanese history to read this work.
And do NOT skip the footnotes. There are many treasures there.
Here is section so powerful I had to write it down today:
Musashi uses the expression cho tan seki ren several times in his work, which literally means "morning" (cho), "to build" (tan), "evening" (seki), "to train" (ren). This expression is often translated "I trained morning and night," but I have translated it "I have continued to train and to seek from morning till evening.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A most tedioous read, but greatly informative. Puts the characters in "Shogun" into a more perfect perspective.Published 11 months ago by C. Doughty
Excellent book, If you want a deeper understanding of the life and times of the samuria history this is a must read.Published 17 months ago by Earl H. Culp
I read a book on Mushashi at the age of 12. I have been interested in his life ever since. I have shared his story, and teachings with my children. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Redoubt Ranger
Historical, a worthy Warrior shares his focus and discipline of mind, body, and spirit. Excellent read! Excellent gift! Read morePublished 22 months ago by lady76012
Complete, thorough and detailed. Its a marvelous work on an amazing man.
Detailed, well structured, excellent translation. Read more
This is a great book. It is written by a knowledgeable author who is both a skilled martial artist and author. The book offers great information on the legendary miyamoto mushashi.Published on December 30, 2013 by kris Patterson