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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 – 11 Jan 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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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: 10.7 x 1.3 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Miyamoto Musashi, who lived in Japan in the 1600s, was an undefeated dueler, a masterless samurai, and an independent teacher. He spent the last decades of his life refining and teaching his military science. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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By Martin Turner HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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Format: Hardcover
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 about this book not being for 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.

I do believe William Scott Wilson's translation has to be one of the best of the various ones available. Although there are cheaper copies of this particular translation available, so look around for Willam's name.
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