Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts on the Wind Book of Musashi;s The Book of Five Rings

For some time I have been thinking about the relationship of Musashi’s book “The Book of Five Rings” interpreted for general karate (Not style specific). So I used Bing to find a version at I know there are many other translations ( and I believe I still have some somewhere ) but this is a good a starting place as anywhere. I have but added a few thoughts at this time.
The Book of Five Rings
Miyamoto, Musashi
Chapter  4
In strategy you  must  know  the Ways  of other  schools,  so I have  written about  various other  traditions of strategys in this the Wind Book.
Without knowledge of the Ways  of other  schools,  it is difficult  to un- derstand the essence  of my Ichi school. Looking  at other  schools  we find some  that  specialise in techniques of strength using  extra-long swords. Some  schools  study the  Way  of  the  short  sword, known as  kodachi. Some  schools   teach  dexterity in  large  numbers of  sword  techniques, teaching attitudes  of  the  sword as  the  "surface"  and  the  Way  as  the "interior".
That  none  of these  are  the  true  Way  I show  clearly  in the  interior of this  book  - all  the  vices  and  virtues and  rights  and  wrongs. My  Ichi school  is different. Other  schools  make  accomplishments their  means of livelihood, growing flowers  and  decoratively colouring articles  in order to sell them.  This is definitely not the Way of Strategy.
Some of the world's strategists are concerned only with  sword-fencing, and  limit their  training to flourishing the long sword and  carriage of the body.  But is dexterity alone  sufficient to win?  This is not  the  essence  of the Way.
I have  recorded the unsatisfactory point  of other  schools  one by one in this book. You must  study these  matters deeply to appreciate the benefit of my Ni To Ichi school.
Other Schools Using Extra-Long Swords
Some other  schools have a liking for extra-long swords. From the point of view  of my strategy these  must  been seen as weak  schools.  This is be- cause  they  do  not  appreciate the  principle of cutting the  enemy  by any means. Their  preference is for the  extra-long sword and,  relying on the virtue of its length, they think  to defeat  the enemy  from a distance.
In this world it is said, "One inch gives the hand advantage", but these are  the  idle  words of  one  who  does  not  know  strategy. It  shows   the
inferior  strategy of a weak  spirit  that  men  should be dependent on the length  of their  sword, fighting from  a distance without the  benefit  of strategy.
I expect  there  is  a  case  for  the  school  in  question liking  extra-long swords as part  of its doctrine, but if we compare this to real life it is un- reasonable. Surely  we need  not necessarily be defeated if we are using  a short  sword, and have no long sword?
It is difficult  for these  people to cut the enemy  when at close quarters because of the  length  of the  long  sword. The blade  path  is large  so the long sword is an encumbrance, and  they are at a disadvantage compared to the man armed with a short  companion sword.
From  olden  times  it has  been  said:  "Great  and  small  go together.". So do not unconditionally dislike  extra-long swords. What I dislike  is the in- clination towards the long sword. If we consider large-scale strategy, we can  think  of large  forces  in  terms  of long  swords, and  small  forces  as short  swords. Cannot few me give battle  against many?  There  are many instances of few men overcoming many.
Your strategy is of no account if when called  on to fight  in a confined space  your  heart  is inclined to the  long  sword, or if you  are  in a house armed only with your  companion sword.
Besides,  some  men  have  not  the  strength of others.  In my  doctrine, I
dislike  preconceived, narrow spirit.  You must  study this well.
The Strong Long Sword Spirit in Other Schools
You  should not  speak  of strong and  weak  long  swords. If you  just wield  the long sword in a strong spirit  your  cutting will be coarse, and  if you use the sword coarsely  you will have difficulty in winning.
If you  are concerned with  the strength of your  sword, you  will try to cut unreasonably strongly, and  will not be able to cut at all. It is also bad to  try  to  cut  strongly when testing   the  sword.  Whenever you  cross swords with  an enemy  you must  not think  of cutting him either  strongly or  weakly;  just  think  of cutting and  killing  him.  Be intent  solely  upon killing  the enemy.  Do not try to cut strongly and,  of course,  do not think of cutting weakly. You should only be concerned with killing the enemy.
If you rely on strength, when you hit the enemy's sword you will inev- itably  hit too hard. If you  do this, your  own  sword will be carried along as a result.  Thus the saying,  "The strongest hand wins", has no meaning.
In large-scale strategy, if you  have  a strong army  and  are  relying on strength to win, but the enemy  also has a strong army,  the battle  will be fierce. This is the same for both sides.

Without the correct  principle the fight cannot  be won.  The spirit  of my school  is to win  through the wisdom of strategy, paying no attention to trifles. Study  this well.
Use of the Shorter Long Sword in Other Schools
Using a shorter long sword is not the true Way to win.
In ancient  times,  tachi  and  katana meant long  and  short  swords. Men of superior strength in the world can wield  even a long sword lightly,  so there  is no case for their  liking  the  short  sword. They  also  make  use  of the  length  of spears  and  halberds. Some  men  use  a shorter long  sword with  the  intention of  jumping in  and  stabbing the  enemy   at  the  un- guarded moment when he flourishes his sword. This inclination is bad.
To aim  for the  enemy's unguarded moment is completely defensive, and  undesirable at close quarters with  the enemy.  Furthermore, you can- not  use the method of jumping inside  his defence  with  a short  sword if there  are  many  enemies. Some  men  think  that  if they  go against many enemies with  a shorter long  sword they  can unrestrictedly frisk  around cutting in sweeps, but they have  to parry cuts continuously, and  eventu- ally become  entangled with  the enemy.  This is inconsistent with  the true Way of Strategy.
The sure  Way to win  thus  is to chase  the enemy  around in confusing manner, causing him  to jump  aside,  with  your  body  held  strongly and straight. The same  principle applies to large-scale strategy. The essence of strategy is to fall upon the  enemy  in large  numbers and  bring  about his speedy downfall. By their  study of strategy, people of the world get used  to countering, evading and  retreating as the normal thing.  They be- come  set  in this  habit,  so can  easily  be paraded around by the  enemy. The  Way  of Strategy   is straight and  true.  You  must  chase  the  enemy around and make him obey your  spirit.
Other Schools with many Methods of using the Long Sword
Placing  a great  deal of importance on the attitudes of the long sword is a mistaken way of thinking. What is known in the world as "attitude" ap- plies  when there  is no enemy.  The reason is that  this has been  a preced- ent since ancient  times,  and  there  should be no such  thing  as "This is the modern way  to do it" in dueling. You must  force the enemy  into  incon- venient situations.
Attitudes are for situations in which  you are not to be moved. That is, for garrisoning castles,  battle  array,  and  so on, showing the spirit  of not being  moved even  by a strong assault. In the Way of dueling, however,
you  must  always be intent  upon taking  the lead  and  attacking. Attitude is the spirit  of awaiting an attack.  You must  appreciate this.
In  duels  of strategy you  must  move  the  opponent's attitude. Attack where his spirit  is lax, throw him into confusion, irritate and  terrify  him. Take advantage of the enemy's rhythm when he is unsettled and  you can win.
I dislike  the defensive spirit  know  as "attitude". Therefore, in my Way, there  is something called "Attitude-No Attitude".
In large-scale strategy we deploy our troops for battle  bearing in mind our  strength, observing the  enemy's numbers, and  noting the  details  of the battle field. This is at the start of the battle.
The spirit  of attacking first is completely different from the spirit  of be- ing attacked. Bearing an attack  well, with  a strong attitude, and  parrying the  enemy's attack  well,  is like  making a wall  of spears  and  halberds. When  you attack  the enemy,  your  spirit  must  go to the extent  of pulling the stakes out of a wall and using  them  as spears  and halberds. You must examine this well.
Fixing the Eyes in Other Schools
Some  schools  maintain that  the  eyes  should be fixed  on  the  enemy's long sword. Some schools  fix the eyes on the hands. Some fix the eyes on the face, and  some  fix the eyes on the feet, and  so on. If you  fix the eyes on  these   places   your   spirit   can  become   confused and   your   strategy thwarted.
I will explain  this in detail.  Footballers do not fix their  eyes on the ball, but  by good  play  on the field they  can perform well. When  you  become accustomed to something, you  are  not  limited to the  use  of your  eyes. People  such  as master musicians have  the  music  score  in front  of their nose,  or flourish swords in several  ways  when they  have  mastered the Way, but this does  not mean  that  they  fix their  eyes on these  things  spe- cifically, or that  they  make  pointless movements of the sword. It means that they can see naturally.
In the  Way  of Strategy, when you  have  fought many  times  you  will easily  be able to appraise the  speed  and  position of the  enemy's sword, and  having mastery of the  Way you  will see the  weight of his spirit.  In strategy, fixing the eyes means gazing  at the man's  heart.
In  large-scale strategy  the  area   to  watch   is  the  enemy's strength. "Perception" and  "sight" are the two  methods of seeing.  Perception con- sists   of  concentrating  strongly  on  the   enemy's  spirit,   observing the
condition of the battlefield, fixing the gaze  strongly, seeing  the progress of the fight and the changes of advantages. This is the sure way to win.
In single  combat  you must  not fix the eyes on the details.  As I said be- fore, if you  fix your  eyes  on details  and  neglect  important things,  your spirit  will become  bewildered, and  victory  will escape  you. Research  this principle well and train  diligently.
Use of the Feet in Other Schools
There  are  various methods of using  the  feet:  floating foot,  jumping foot, springing foot, treading foot, crow's  foot, and  such  nimble  walking methods.  From   the   point    of   view   of   my   strategy,  these   are   all unsatisfactory.
I dislike  floating foot because the feet always tend  to float during the fight. The Way must  be trod  firmly.
Neither do  I  like  jumping foot,  because it  encourages the  habit  of jumping, and  a jumpy spirit.  However much  you  jump,  there  is no real justification for it; so jumping is bad.
Springing foot causes  a springing spirit  which  is indecisive.
Treading foot is a "waiting" method, and I especially dislike  it.
Apart from  these,  there  are  various fast  walking methods, such  as crow's  foot, and so on.
Sometimes, however, you  may  encounter the  enemy  on  marshland, swampy ground, river  valleys,  stony  ground, or narrow roads,  in which situations you cannot  jump or move the feet quickly.
In my strategy, the footwork does  not change. I always walk  as I usu- ally do in the street.  You must  never  lose control  of your  feet. According to the enemy's rhythm, move  fast or slowly,  adjusting you  body  not too much  and not too little.
Carrying the  feet is important also  in large-scale strategy. This is be- cause,   if  you  attack   quickly   and   thoughtlessly without  knowing the enemy's spirit,  your  rhythm will become  deranged and  you  will not  be able to win.  Or, if you  advance too slowly,  you  will not  be able to take advantage of the  enemy's disorder, the  opportunity to win  will  escape, and  you  will  not  be able  to  finish  the  fight  quickly.  You must  win  by seizing  upon the enemy's disorder and  derangement, and  by not accord- ing him even a little hope  of recovery. Practice  this well.
Speed in Other Schools

Speed  is not part  of the true Way of Strategy. Speed  implies  that things seem  fast  or  slow,  according to  whether or  not  they  are  in  rhythm. Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.
Some people can walk  as fast as a hundred or a hundred and  twenty miles  in a day,  but  this  does  not  mean  that  they  run  continuously from morning till night.  Unpracticed runners may  seem  to have  been running all day, but their performance is poor.
In the Way of dance,  accomplished performers can sing while  dancing, but  when beginners try  this  they  slow  down and  their  spirit  becomes busy.  The "old pine  tree"  melody beaten  on a leather drum is tranquil, but  when beginners try  this  they  slow  down and  their  spirit  becomes busy.  Very skilful  people can manage a fast rhythm, but it is bad  to beat hurriedly. If you  try  to  beat  too  quickly   you  will  get  out  of time.  Of course,  slowness is bad.  Really skilful  people never  get out  of time,  and are  always deliberate, and  never  appear busy.  From  this  example, the principle can be seen.
What  is known as speed  is especially bad  in the Way of Strategy. The reason for this  is that  depending on the  place,  marsh or swamp and  so on, it may  not  be possible to move  the  body  and  legs together quickly. Still less will you  be able to cut quickly  if you  have  a long  sword in this situation. If you  try to cut quickly,  as if using  a fan or short  sword, you will not actually cut even a little. You must  appreciate this.
In large-scale strategy also, a fast busy  spirit  is undesirable. The spirit must  be that  of holding down a pillow,  then  you will not be even  a little late.
When  your  opponent is hurrying recklessly, you  must  act contrarily and  keep  calm. You must  not be influenced by the opponent. Train  dili- gently  to attain  this spirit.
"Interior" and "Surface" in Other Schools
There is no "interior"  nor "surface" in strategy.
The artistic  accomplishments usually claim  inner  meaning and  secret tradition, and  "interior"  and  "gate", but  in combat  there  is no such  thing as fighting on the surface,  or cutting with  the interior. When  I teach  my Way, I first teach  by training in techniques which  are easy  for the pupil to understand, a doctrine which  is easy  to understand. I gradually en- deavour to explain  the deep  principle, points which  it is hardly possible to comprehend, according to the pupil's progress. In any  event,  because the  way   to  understanding is  through  experience, I  do  not  speak   of "interior"  and "gate".


In this  world, if you  go into  the  mountains, and  decide  to go deeper and  yet deeper, instead you  will emerge at the gate.  Whatever the Way, it has an interior, and  it is sometimes a good  thing  to point  out the gate. In strategy, we cannot  say what  is concealed and what  is revealed.


Accordingly I dislike  passing on my Way through written pledges and regulations. Perceiving the  ability  of my  pupils, I teach  the  direct  Way, remove the bad influence of other  schools, and  gradually introduce them to the true Way of the warrior.


The method of teaching my strategy is with a trustworthy spirit.


You  must   train   diligently. I have  tried   to  record an  outline of  the strategy of other  schools  in the above nine sections.  I could  now continue by giving  a specific account of these  schools  one by one, from  the "gate" to the "interior",  but  I have  intentionally not  named the schools  or their main  points. The reason for this is that  different branches of schools  give different interpretations of the  doctrines. In as much  as men's  opinions differ,  so there  must  be differing ideas  on the same  matter. Thus  no one man's  conception is valid for any school.


I have  shown the general tendencies of other  schools  on nine points. If we  look  at them  from  an  honest viewpoint, we  see that  people always tend  to like long  swords or short  swords, and  become  concerned with strength in both  large  and  small  matters. You can see why  I do not deal with the "gates" of other  schools.


In my Ichi school  of the  long  sword there  is neither gate  nor  interior. There  is no  inner  meaning in  sword attitudes. You  must  simply  keep your  spirit  true to realize  the virtue of strategy.
There is a lot to think about here, it is one of the reasons my students study some Shorin Ryu kata, some Goju Ryu kata, some Shotokan kata, Some Bando form, some Pai Lum form, and other studies, having some knowledge of what others may use might provide useful insight. Something each instructor might consider.

In the void is virtue, and no evil.
Wisdom has existance, principle has existance,
the Way has existance, spirit is nothingness.
The Book of Five Rings

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