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The Book of Five Rings: A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword (incl. "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War") [Mass Market Paperback]

Miyamoto Musashi
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback, 11 Jan 2005 --  

Book Description

11 Jan 2005
The Book of Five Rings is one of the most insightful texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory to emerge from Asian culture. Written not only for martial artists but for anyone who wants to apply the timeless principles of this text to their life, the book analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction.

The Book of Five Rings was composed in 1643 by the famed duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Thomas Cleary's translation is immediately accessible, with an introduction that presents the spiritual background of the warrior tradition. Along with Musashi's text, Cleary translates here another important Japanese classic on leadership and strategy, The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori, which highlights the ethical and spiritual insights of Taoism and Zen as they apply to the way of the warrior.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; New edition edition (11 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302484
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

To learn a Japanese martial art is to learn Zen, and although you can't do so simply by reading a book, it sure does help--especially if that book is the Book of Five Rings. One of Japan's great samurai sword masters put down in decisive, unfaltering terms the certain path to victory, and like Sun Tzu's Art of War, it is applicable not only on the battlefield but in all forms of competition. Always observant, creating confusion, striking at vulnerabilities--these are some of the basic principles. Going deeper, we find suki, the interval of vulnerability, of indecisiveness, of rest, the briefest but most vital moment to strike. In succinct detail, Miyamoto records ideal postures, blows and psychological tactics to put the enemy off guard and open the way for attack. Most important of all is Miyamoto's concept of rhythm, how all things are in harmony, and by working with the rhythm of a situation, we can turn it to our advantage with little effort. But like Zen, this requires one thing above all else, putting the book down and going out to practice. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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
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
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Tantalising 24 July 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of Martial Strategy 24 Jan 2004
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting reading a good buy.
Published 2 months ago by Jim Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book enjoyed reading it well worth buying.
Published 2 months ago by D.Enamu
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant book, totally enjoyed it, perfectly happy.
I give this full marks because firstly, I am a business man and constantly research new ways to make my business and its endeavors more sharper and successful. Read more
Published 6 months ago by shadowspirit
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplicity often goes a long way and this book is no exception...
This book is simply amazing. Its philosophy can be applied in every day life and it has helped me through a recent crisis. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Clouds :D
5.0 out of 5 stars More concise than Hagakure
As others have noted, by comparison with Hagakure, this is much more concise and structured. Hagakure is a sequence of anecdotes, whereas the Book of Five Rings is more an ordered... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Scott Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, direct, ruthless
The book of Five Rings is important for any martial artist to read as the writing is direct, clear, simple but is deep and the concepts need much thought to be fully understood. Read more
Published 6 months ago by David Ostrowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read for those interested in Martial Arts
This book is an interesting read for all those who like to read where forms of martial arts stems from this book is to do with samurai fighter
Published 8 months ago by R. Long
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good translation
A very good translation that gives context and makes the book enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend this to anyone thinking of buying it.
Published 9 months ago by Fawad
5.0 out of 5 stars Swordsmanship resource
I chose to rate this book
as a brilliant resource for
people interested in the way of
the sword, mainly due to the fact that
it's text can be translated... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Toddlah
2.0 out of 5 stars 'Pocket' huh?
My original having been pinched by a so-called mate, I thought I'd cut my losses and buy a new copy of this brilliant classic. Read more
Published 12 months ago by M. Miller
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