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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
Unlike the dozens of other translations of The Book of Five Rings, this one also contains The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of Shogun by Yagyu Munenori (A contemporary of Musashi). How's that for value for money?!

The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is a GREAT book! If you take time to properly absorb and understand ALL of its teachings. It's not a very long book and so would be easy to read a few times over so that you get a proper flavour of the important message being presented. Thomas Cleary is a prolific writer and well qualified to produce such a translation.

A better and easier to digest version (IMHO) of this small book is Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets from Musashi's Book of Five Rings by Boye De Lafayette Mente, who very cleverly summarises this book into 42 easy to digest and understand and apply chapters.

The ideas in this book are NOT dangerous to anyone in the least, IF you balance and apply ALL of the lessons within it - that's the idea that the great undefeated warrior Musashi was trying to put across. The life saving principles he expounds here are designed to help us all have a better, easier and more fulfilled life, Martial Artist or not. His strategies can be applied and used by anyone.

"A knife is dangerous for anyone - you just have to learn how to use is safely & intelligently"

We are all so lucky & truly blessed that, nearly 400 years ago, someone called Lord Hosokawa had the foresight to ask the ageing Musashi to write down his secrets of success. Musashi himself was not only extremely talented but must have been a very intelligent man for his time to write such a treatise.

The comment (else ware) about this book not being for beginners is misleading I think, it isn't that hard to understand and extrapolate the true meaning and intentions that Musashi was trying to put across.

Don't be put off by ANY of the negative criticisms (in other reviews), it's only because they've missed the point or just quickly scanned & glossed over the book.

Although we are not entirely certain of Musashi's religious bent, Musashi bases his book [loosely] on the Zen Buddhist philosophies of the Five Elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Emptiness. One of his close associates was Takuan Soho, author of The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2001
This is by far the best english translation of Musashi and has more of a feel for the man through the book than any other translation. If you are used to having thought of this book through previous translations your eyes will be opened. Size is important! it fits into a shirt or coat pocket for those quiet moments when insight is elusive.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2001
Though I don't practice Japanese martial arts (rather Thai martial arts) I did enjoy the Book of Five Rings. An excellent insight into Musashi's views. It may take more than one reading to fully take in but as we all know: excellence takes time. Buy this book, learn from it.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 1998
Well, this is one of the greatest books ever written on strategy. But a great deal of it is highly technical and not easily understood by people without extensive background in the Japanese martial arts - I lived in Japan for 3 years, have studied over 10 year and make no claims to understand it. I used to ask my Sensei about it and he would just laugh - it was deliberately written to be obscure. I think you ought read it, enjoy it, know that most business managers (Japan or America) do not understand it and all the hype about it as a business text is BS.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This tantalisingly brief book gives half of the teaching of an almost legendary Samurai duellist. Where is the other half? Lost. As the author reminds us again and again, the five scrolls are there to support the oral, technical teaching which he gave his students.
This is at once admirable and frustrating. As a fencing coach, I know that only a part of my work is to explain attitudes, tactics and techniques. The greater part is to teach, train and coach the individual student, building on what they find comes naturally and developing what they find difficult. At the same time, the original School of Two Swords, as he styles it, is long in the past and although we can capture the modern tradition, we cannot learn from the master.
The Book of Five Rings is about much more than swordplay, though. We are led again and again from a principle derived in individual combat to large scale military strategy. Likewise, each of the five spheres is aimed at developing the correct attitude, with technique merely being secondary.
The underlying theme of this book is 'winning by all means possible'. This, and the other principles of the Way of Two Swords, have many applications to other ways of engaging an opponent in today's environment.
Nonetheless, I finished this book with one regret - 'if only I could have met him'.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2004
Having won over sixty duels, many with only a wooden practice sword, Musashi's credibilty and authority on the subject of mortal combat cannot be questioned. The Book of Five Rings outlines his lifelong attitude to competition of any kind, and I for one gobbled it up. As an aspiring martial artist with a particular affilation for the sword, Musashi has long been a hero of mine, and although from a Western perspective we could bring into question the morality of his life, we can undoubtedly benefit from the wisdom he gleaned from his experiences and learn from him. I also think it is important not to get carried away by the current trend to try and see classic eastern works as definitive articles on modern business strategy. This excellent edition also includes a treatise by the head of the Yagyu family (famous for their swordsmanship) which is well worth a read. Top marks all round.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2007
This book actually has two translations by Thomas Cleary of two books from Japanese martial artists. My thoughts on both and a short comparison are below.

The Book of Five Rings is a pretty good insight into a disciplined mind and professional samurai from 17th century Japan. A lot of it is practical advice and there is some spiritual Zen leaning in there too but I would not go as far to say it is required leadership reading material in the same way as The Art of War by Sun Tzu but no martial artist should be without this book.

The second translation in the book is The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yahyu Munenori is far more flowery and makes more sense if you have an understanding of buddhism otherwise the section on existance and non-existance may (or may not be ;-)) be tricky to grasp.

In comparision the first book is plainly superior to the second in the manner in which it is written and executed. It's plain talkng and easy to grasp with none of the flowery language prevalent in the second.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is a GREAT book, if you take time to properly absorb and understand ALL of its teachings. It's not a very long book and so would be easy to read a few times over so that you get a proper flavour of the important message being presented.

A better and easier to digest version (IMHO) of this small book is "Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets" by by Boye De Lafayette Mente, who very cleverly summarises this book into 42 easy to digest and understand and apply chapters.

The ideas in this book are NOT dangerous to anyone in the least, IF you balance and apply ALL of the lessons within it - that's the idea that the great undefeated warrior Musashi was trying to put across. The life saving principles he expounds here are designed to help us all have a better, easier and more fulfilled life, Martial Artist or not. His strategies can be applied and used by anyone.

"A knife is dangerous for anyone - you just have to learn how to use is safely & intelligently"

We are all so lucky & truly blessed that, nearly 400 years ago, someone called Lord Hosokawa had the foresight to ask the ageing Musashi to write down his secrets of success. Musashi himself was not only extremely talented but must have been a very intelligent man for his time to write such a treatise.

The comment (else ware) about this book not being for beginners is misleading I think, it isn't that hard to understand and extrapolate the true meaning and intentions that Musashi was trying to put across.

Don't be put off by ANY of the negative criticisms (in other reviews), it's only because they've missed the point or just quickly scanned & glossed over the book.

Although we are not entirely certain of Musashi's religious bent, Musashi bases his book [loosely] on the Zen Buddhist philosophies of the Five Elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Emptiness. One of his close associates was Takuan Soho, author of "The Unfettered Mind".
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is a GREAT book, if you take time to properly absorb and understand ALL of its teachings. It's not a very long book and so would be easy to read a few times over so that you get a proper flavour of the important message being presented.

A better and easier to digest version (IMHO) of this small book is "Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets" by by Boye De Lafayette Mente, who very cleverly summarises this book into 42 easy to digest and understand and apply chapters.

The ideas in this book are NOT dangerous to anyone in the least, IF you balance and apply ALL of the lessons within it - that's the idea that the great undefeated warrior Musashi was trying to put across. The life saving principles he expounds here are designed to help us all have a better, easier and more fulfilled life, Martial Artist or not. His strategies can be applied and used by anyone.

"A knife is dangerous for anyone - you just have to learn how to use is safely & intelligently"

We are all so lucky & truly blessed that, nearly 400 years ago, someone called Lord Hosokawa had the foresight to ask the ageing Musashi to write down his secrets of success. Musashi himself was not only extremely talented but must have been a very intelligent man for his time to write such a treatise.

The comment (else ware) about this book not being for beginners is misleading I think, it isn't that hard to understand and extrapolate the true meaning and intentions that Musashi was trying to put across.

Don't be put off by ANY of the negative criticisms (in other reviews), it's only because they've missed the point or just quickly scanned & glossed over the book.

Although we are not entirely certain of Musashi's religious bent, Musashi bases his book [loosely] on the Zen Buddhist philosophies of the Five Elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Emptiness. One of his close associates was Takuan Soho, author of "The Unfettered Mind".
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2007
The Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho) is a GREAT book, if you take time to properly absorb and understand ALL of its teachings. It's not a very long book and so would be easy to read a few times over so that you get a proper flavour of the important message being presented. Thomas Cleary is a prolific writer and well qualified to produce such a translation.

A better and easier to digest version (IMHO) of this small book is "Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets" by by Boye De Lafayette Mente, who very cleverly summarises this book into 42 easy to digest and understand and apply chapters.

The ideas in this book are NOT dangerous to anyone in the least, IF you balance and apply ALL of the lessons within it - that's the idea that the great undefeated warrior Musashi was trying to put across. The life saving principles he expounds here are designed to help us all have a better, easier and more fulfilled life, Martial Artist or not. His strategies can be applied and used by anyone.

"A knife is dangerous for anyone - you just have to learn how to use is safely & intelligently"

We are all so lucky & truly blessed that, nearly 400 years ago, someone called Lord Hosokawa had the foresight to ask the ageing Musashi to write down his secrets of success. Musashi himself was not only extremely talented but must have been a very intelligent man for his time to write such a treatise.

The comment (else ware) about this book not being for beginners is misleading I think, it isn't that hard to understand and extrapolate the true meaning and intentions that Musashi was trying to put across.

Don't be put off by ANY of the negative criticisms (in other reviews), it's only because they've missed the point or just quickly scanned & glossed over the book.

Although we are not entirely certain of Musashi's religious bent, Musashi bases his book [loosely] on the Zen Buddhist philosophies of the Five Elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Emptiness. One of his close associates was Takuan Soho, author of "The Unfettered Mind"
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