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The Book of Five Rings Kindle Edition
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Musashi was a legendary swordsman and over the centuries the myths that have built up around him have clouded what is real and known about the man, indeed even in his own lifetime the myths started to come thick and fast. That he was a fantastic swordsman is indisputable and if you are taking up any type of fencing, whether European or something like Kendo this is a must read.
We are taught such things like fluidity and knowing your opponent, as well as staying glued to them, or one step ahead. Also you are reminded of such things as morale and being aware of what is around you, as well as being in the moment, which if you know about Zen you will already know, but for others it is like when a sportsman says he is in the Zone. Musashi taught the writings in this book to his students and one of the things that this book tells us is that it is all well and good reading but you have to go out and practice the concepts to be able to apply them in your everyday life.
This is in all a short book, a classic from the 17th Century, and one that is just as relevant today as when it was first written. Always worth reading this is something that will take many years, even a lifetime to master, but even knowing what is written here will help at certain moments in your life. There are a couple of typos in this edition, but nothing too drastic and it shouldn’t really distract you from what is written here.
Musashi's work focuses on practicing the `martial arts' - particularly swordsmanship - not from the perspective of learning technique but from internal spiritual development; the ascendancy of `mind' to which all technique must ultimately become subservient.
The `five rings' are in fact five chapters themed:
1. Earth (the South)
2. Water (the East)
3. Fire (the West)
4. Wind (the North)
5. Emptiness (the Center: all action and response is most effective when preceded by emptiness - i.e. no internal noise, no preconceptions; "this must be learned")
Each themed chapter incorporates short paragraphs explaining a specific aspect of how to win a contest or fight. For example, in the `Fire' ring, on `Imposing Fear:'
"...the heart of fear is in the unexpected...you do not frighten your opponents with what is right before their eyes. People may be frightened by voices...or by making the small seem large...something coming suddenly from the side also induces fear. You can frighten an opponent with your body, with your sword or with your voice. It is essential to do this suddenly, when your opponent is not expecting it. Take advantage of his fear and gain the victory immediately."
Musashi was allegedly self-taught, and learned everything through his own experience, introspection and native intelligence. The `Book of Five Rings' is not meant to be some kind of bible, but continuously exhorts the reader to "investigate this thoroughly" and do his own work, taking Musashi's guidelines as a starting point to guard against fatal errors.
The power of Musashi's work is in its conciseness and its completeness. He is reported to have written this text in his final two years, around age 60, to summarise and condense the essence of a lifetime of success in the martial arts. It was considered vital in that age for a respected Samurai to be not just an accomplished fighter but a poet, artist, ceramicist and philosopher; learned and accomplished in many things. The book contains some of Musashi's best-known sketches and artworks, including one of his self-portraits and the very famous, powerfully minimalist 'Shrike on a withered branch'.
Overall, if you want a good translation of this timeless classic, this edition can be unconditionally recommended as a fine choice.
can apply the knowledge of one of the Greatest Samurai Miyamoto Musashi
to his business world !
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