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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 November 2012
This is a dreadful edition of this classic text. What a waste of money. Absolutely no effort or thought has gone into this. It is questionable if the publishers have actually read the text. None of the section heads within the chapters are distinguished from the text and it is terribly formatted. One of the greatest samurai of all time deserves a better treatment than this.
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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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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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on 18 November 2001
The Book of Five Rings is an essential to serious martial artists and swordsmen everywhere, Master Miyamoto outlines his school of two skies, and breaks down other swordforms and why they failed against him, in his many years as a duelist and warrior, he never failed to down an opponent.
This book can be used for buisnessmen, however, you have to inference how yourself, there is a buisness version of this book,
written by Donald G. Krause, that directly relates Master Miyamoto's principles to buisness.
Whether you are martial artist, swordsmen, or buisnessman, this book is a usefull tool and represents a man who understood a great deal about the human psyche when the term was not even heard of.
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on 2 July 2002
The text provided by the 'Book of Five Rings' will not show you techniques that will defeat all attackers or show you how to develop killer kicks. What it will do is provide the doorway to the thinking behind the martial arts. Although the Book was originally intended for the swordsman, any martial artist will find this book enlightening. The views on tactics that should be employed is an aspect that is sorely missed from many other titles.
Speaking as a martial artist that trains in many different styles, the Book looks into how to turn a kick/punch/projection, into a force in its own right. Don't be misled however! As good as this book is, it is no substitute for actual training. Its use is better when the reader can sit an dthink how its lessons can be applied to both his/her training and fighting technique.
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on 23 February 2014
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 programme. I wonder if there was ever an illustrated version? Some of the sections lend themselves to that thought as the descriptions take some understanding. Nevertheless, the philosophy is as fascinating as the practical aspects, and the lessons are applicable in so many other walks of life.
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on 1 October 2011
Arrived very quickly and in good condition, a very good translation of this authers writings and I have seen others that are no where near as good and the price is very good. If your really looking for a well written book then you will not go wrong with this publication.
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on 15 September 2002
The Book of Five Rings has become something of a must have for martial artists,and indeed it is an indespensible guide for anyone interested in the pursuit and perfection of swordsmanship and tactics.As is Talhoffers'fifteenth century guide to European sword technique.It is often overlooked by practictioners of the martial arts that there are many forms closer to home.
The Book of Five Rings was written by an old exceptionally skilled and undefeated Japanese warrior who chose to go into seclusion,perhaps in order to pass on some of his ideas.
Many older martial men after a lifetime of bloodshed and conflict begin to ponder the meaning of life and this is apparant in the book ,even though he clearly states he did not use the teachings of Bhudda,or confucious.He doubtless was aware of them.
He gives us ideas of 'spirit' in a somewhat easoteric way,and even refers to the 'way' of heaven -and as he says "to read the book is simply not enough.".
While I have several tattered translations of this book and I would recommend it to any modern day martial artists,I would also recommend some of those largely unread classics of spirituality,Toaist or Doaist,whichever pronunciation you prefer,those classics such as; The Book of Chang Tzu or The Toa Te Ching by Loa Tzu.These Chinese works merged in various ways to produce Chan Bhuddism and migrated to Japan where they became known as Zen Bhuddism.It is often the way that we see things in isolation.
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on 5 September 2001
This was one of my first reads in martial arts and eastern philosophy. It blew me away then and continues to drive me forward. Occasionally the text seems overly simple. Yet it reverberates. I suspect it may be truer to the origional than more recent, and more prosaic, translations...
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on 12 November 2008
Based on my readings, Musashi's motive in writing his Book of Five Rings had been to correct misrepresentations of his views on swordsmanship by his contemporaries. Having become a legend in his own time, Musashi's reputation was being exploited by ambitious rivals claiming to have adopted the master's martial techniques and philosophies. Thus Book of Five Rings was intended by its author to establish his point of view for correcting misconceptions.

Those in America who've been advocating since 1974 to study Book of Five Rings to gain some business advantage over Japanese businessmen are barking up the wrong tree. Musashi's writings are poetic and thought provoking. Indeed, one can even learn something new and ancient about strategy from the master. It is, however, doubtful that Musashi's words can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. So then those in the 1970s who had originally marketed the book as "the alternative to the Harvard MBA" were barking up the wrong tree.

In addition to the charming and useful writings, the original (1974 English translation) Book of Five Rings includes photos of the master swordsman's quite beautiful art work, now residing in Japan in a museum dedicated to Musashi works.
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