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The Five Rings

The Broad Principles of Musashi's Strategy

Excerpt from "The Ground Book" ...

Stategy is the craft of the warrior ... If you practise day and night ... your spirit will naturally broaden. Thus is large scale strategy and the strategy of hand to hand combat propagated in the world. This is recorded for the first time in the five books of Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void (Emptiness). This is the Way to learn my strategy:

  1. Do not think dishonestly.

  2. The Way is in training.

  3. Become aquainted with every art.

  4. Know the Ways of all professions.

  5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.

  6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.

  7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.

  8. Pay attention even to trifles.

  9. Do nothing which is of no use.

It is important to start by setting these broad principles in your heart, and train in the Way of strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will be difficult for you to master strategy. If you learn and attain this strategy you will never lose even to twenty or thirty enemies.


Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi was born in 1584 in Miyamoto village in the Japanese province Mimasaka. In 1632, he began writing "The Book of Five Rings," which seeks to teach the spiritual and technical aspects of the martial arts. The book's five scrolls; Earth, Water, Fire, Wind (tradition) and Void (emptiness), exemplify different aspects of Musashi's beliefs and his art of fighting.

In his own words...

"When I had passed the age of thirty and reflected on my experiences, I realized that I had not been victorious because I had an inherent skill for the science and had not deviated from natural principles... I subsequently practiced day to night in order to attain an even deeper principle, and spontaneously came upon the science of martial arts...Trusting in the advantage of military science, as I turn it into the science of all arts and skills. I have no teacher in anything."
                          —Miyamoto Musashi


Miyamoto Musashi


Copyright © 1995-2016 Robin Chew
Article written by Robin Chew - October 2004