Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thougnts on the Fire Book of Musashi's The Book of 5 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  3
In this the Fire Book of the Ni To Ichi school  of strategy I describe fight- ing as fire.
In the first place,  people think  narrowly about  the benefit  of strategy. By using  only their  fingertips, they  only know  the benefit  of three  of the five inches  of the wrist.  They let a contest  be decided, as with  the folding fan,  merely by  the  span  of their  forearms. They  specialise in the  small matter of  dexterity, learning such  trifles  as  hand and  leg  movements with the bamboo practice  sword.
In my strategy, the training for killing  enemies is by way of many  con- tests,  fighting for  survival, discovering the  meaning of life and  death, learning the  Way  of the  sword, judging the  strength of attacks  and  un- derstanding the Way of the "edge and ridge" of the sword.
You cannot  profit  from small techniques particularly when full armour is worn.  My Way of Strategy  is the sure method to win when fighting for your  life one  man  against five or ten.  There  is nothing wrong with  the principle "one man  can beat  ten,  so a thousand men  can beat  ten  thou- sand".  You must  research this.  Of course  you  cannot  assemble a thou- sand  or ten thousand men  for everyday training. But you  can become  a master of strategy by training alone with  a sword, so that you can under- stand the enemy's strategy, his strength and  resources, and  come  to ap- preciate how to apply strategy to beat ten thousand enemies.
Any  man  who  wants to  master the  essence  of my  strategy must  re- search  diligently, training morning and  evening. Thus  can he polish  his skill,  become  free  from  self,  and  realize  extraordinary ability.  He  will come to possess  miraculous power.
This is the practical result  of strategy.
Depending on the Place
Examine  your  environment.
Stand  in the sun; that  is, take up  an attitude with  the sun  behind you. If the situation does not allow  this, you must  try to keep  the sun on your right  side. In buildings, you must  stand with  the entrance behind you or to your  right.  Make sure  that  your  rear is unobstructed, and  that  there  is free space  on your  left, your  right  side being  occupied with  your  side at- titude. At night,  if the enemy  can be seen,  keep  the fire behind you  and the entrance to your  right,  and  otherwise take up your  attitude as above. You must  look down on the enemy,  and  take up your  attitude on slightly higher places. For example, the Kamiza  in a house  is thought of as a high place.
When  the  fight  comes,  always endeavour to chase  the  enemy  around to your  left side.  Chase  him  towards awkward places,  and  try  to keep him  with  his back to awkward places.  When  the enemy  gets into  an in- convenient position, do  not  let  him  look  around, but  conscientiously chase  him  around and  pin  him  down. In houses, chase  the  enemy  into the thresholds, lintels,  doors,  verandas, pillars,  and  so on, again  not  let- ting him see his situation.
Always chase  the enemy  into bad  footholds, obstacles  at the side, and so on, using  the  virtues of the  place  to establish predominant positions from which  to fight. You must  research and train  diligently in this.
The Three Methods to Forestall the Enemy
The first is to forestall  him  by attacking. This is called  Ken No Sen (to set him up).
Another method is to forestall  him as he attacks.  This is called  Tai No
Sen (to wait for the initiative).
The other  method is when you  and  the enemy  attack  together. This is called Tai Tai No Sen (to accompany him and forestall  him).
There  are  no  methods of taking  the  lead  other  than  these  three.  Be- cause  you  can win  quickly  by taking  the  lead,  it is one  of the  most  im- portant things  in strategy. There are several  things  involved in taking  the lead.  You must  make  the  best  of the  situation, see through the  enemy's spirit  so that  you  grasp his  strategy and  defeat  him.  It is impossible to write  about  this in detail.
The First - Ken No Sen
When you decide  to attack,  keep calm and  dash  in quickly,  forestalling the enemy.  Or you  can advance seemingly strongly but  with  a reserved spirit,  forestalling him with the reserve.

Alternatively, advance with  as strong a spirit  as possible, and  when you  reach  the  enemy  move  with  your  feet a little  quicker  than  normal, unsettling him and overwhelming him sharply.
Or, with  your  spirit  calm, attack  with  a feeling  of constantly crushing the enemy,  from  first to last. The spirit  is to win  in the depths of the en- emy. These are all Ken No Sen.
The Second - Tai No Sen
When  the enemy  attacks,  remain undisturbed but  feign  weakness. As the enemy  reaches  you, suddenly move  away  indicating that  you intend to jump  aside,  then  dash  in attacking strongly as soon  as you see the en- emy relax. This is one way.
Or, as the  enemy  attacks,  attack  still more  strongly, taking  advantage of the resulting disorder in his timing to win.
This is the Tai No Sen principle.
The Third - Tai Tai No Sen
When  the enemy  makes  a quick  attack,  you  must  attack  strongly and calmly,  aim  for  his  weak  point  as  he  draws near,  and  strongly defeat him.
Or, if the enemy  attacks  calmly,  you must  observe his movements and, with  your  body  rather floating, join in with  his movements as he draws near. Move quickly  and cut him strongly.
This is Tai Tai No Sen.
These things  cannot  be clearly  explained in words. You must  research what  is written here.  In these  three  ways  of forestalling, you  must  judge the situation. This does  not mean  that  you  always attack  first; but  if the enemy  attacks  first  you  can lead  him  around. In strategy, you  have  ef- fectively  won when you forestall  the enemy,  so you must  train  well to at- tain this.
To Hold Down a Pillow
"To Hold  Down  a Pillow" means not allowing the enemy's head  to rise. In contests of strategy it is bad to be led about  by the enemy.  You must always be able to lead  the enemy  about.  Obviously the enemy  will also be thinking of doing  this, but he cannot  forestall  you if you do not allow him to come out. In strategy, you must  stop  the enemy  as he attempts to cut;  you  must  push down his  thrust, and  throw off his  hold  when he tries  to grapple. This is the  meaning of "to hold  down a pillow".  When you have grasped this principle, whatever the enemy  tries to bring  about in  the  fight  you  will  see  in  advance and  suppress it. The  spirit  is too
check his attack  at the syllable  "at… ", when he jumps  check his jump  at the syllable "ju… ", and check his cut at "cu… ".
The important thing  in strategy is to suppress the  enemy's useful  ac- tions  but  allow  his useless  actions.  However, doing  this alone  is defens- ive. First,  you  must  act according to the  Way,  suppressing the  enemy's techniques, foiling  his  plans  and  thence  command him  directly. When you can do this you will be a master of strategy. You must  train  well and research "holding down a pillow".
Crossing at a Ford
"Crossing at a ford" means, for example, crossing  the sea at a strait,  or crossing  over  a hundred miles  of broad sea at a crossing  place.  I believe this  "crossing  at a ford"  occurs  often  in man's  lifetime.  It means setting sail even though your  friends stay in harbour, knowing the route,  know- ing the soundness of your  ship  and  the favour of the day.  When  all the conditions are  meet,  and  there  is perhaps a favourable wind, or a tail- wind, then  set sail. If the wind  changes within a few miles  of your  des- tination, you must  row across the remaining distance without sail.
If you  attain  this  spirit,  it applies to everyday life. You must  always think  of crossing  at a ford.
In strategy also it is important to "cross at a ford". Discern  the enemy's capability and,  knowing your  own  strong points, "cross the  ford"  at the advantageous place, as a good  captain crosses a sea route.  If you succeed in crossing  at the best place,  you  may  take  your  ease. To cross at a ford means to attack  the  enemy's weak  point,  and  to put  yourself in an  ad- vantageous position. This is how to win large-scale strategy. The spirit  of crossing  at a ford is necessary in both large- and small-scale strategy.
You must  research this well.
To Know the Times
"To know  the times" means  to know  the enemy's disposition in battle. Is it flourishing or waning? By observing the  spirit  of the  enemy's men and  getting the best position, you  can work  out  the enemy's disposition and  move  your  men  accordingly. You can win  through this  principle of strategy, fighting from a position of advantage.
When  in a duel,  you  must  forestall  the  enemy  and  attack  when you have  first recognised his school of strategy, perceived his quality and  his strong and  weak  points. Attack  in an unsuspecting manner, knowing his metre  and modulation and the appropriate timing.

Knowing the  times  means, if your  ability  is  high,  seeing  right  into things.  If you  are  thoroughly conversant with  strategy, you  will  recog- nise  the  enemy's intentions and  thus  have  many  opportunities to  win. You must  sufficiently study this.
To Tread Down the Sword
"To tread  down the sword" is a principle often  used  in strategy. First, in large  scale strategy, when the  enemy  first discharges bows  and  guns and  then  attacks  it is difficult  for  us  to  attack  if we  are  busy  loading powder into  our  guns  or  notching our  arrows. The  spirit  is  to  attack quickly  while  the enemy  is still shooting with  bows  or guns.  The spirit  is to win by "treading down"  as we receive the enemy's attack.
In single  combat,  we  cannot  get  a decisive  victory  by cutting, with  a "tee-dum tee-dum" feeling,  in  the  wake  of the  enemy's attacking long sword. We must  defeat  him at the start of his attack,  in the spirit  of tread- ing him down with the feet, so that he cannot  rise again  to the attack.
"Treading" does  not  simply  mean  treading with  the  feet.  Tread  with the  body,  tread  with  the  spirit,  and,  of course,  tread  and  cut  with  the long sword. You must  achieve  the spirit  of not allowing the enemy  to at- tack a second time.  This is the spirit  of forestalling in every  sense.  Once at the enemy,  you  should not aspire  just to strike  him,  but  to cling after the attack.  You must  study this deeply.
To Know "Collapse"
Everything can  collapse.  Houses, bodies,  and  enemies collapse  when their rhythm becomes  deranged.
In large-scale strategy, when the  enemy  starts  to  collapse,  you  must pursue him without letting  the chance  go. If you fail to take advantage of your  enemies' collapse,  they may recover.
In single  combat,  the  enemy  sometimes loses  timing and  collapses. If you  let this  opportunity pass,  he  may  recover  and  not  be so negligent thereafter. Fix your  eye on the  enemy's collapse,  and  chase  him,  attack- ing so that  you do not let him recover.  You must  do this. The chasing at- tack is with  a strong spirit.  You must  utterly cut the enemy  down so that he does not recover  his position. You must  understand how to utterly cut down the enemy.
To Become the Enemy
"To become  the  enemy"  means to think  yourself in the  enemy's posi- tion. In the world people tend  to think  of a robber  trapped in a house  as
a fortified enemy.  However, if we  think  of "becoming the  enemy",  we feel that  the  whole  world is against us  and  that  there  is no  escape.  He who  is shut  inside  is a pheasant. He who  enters  to arrest  is a hawk.  You must  appreciate this.
In  large-scale strategy, people are  always under the  impression that the  enemy  is strong, and  so tend  to  become  cautious. But if you  have good  soldiers, and  if you  understand the  principles of strategy, and  if you know  how to beat the enemy,  there  is nothing to worry about.
In single combat  also you must  put  yourself in the enemy's position. If you  think,  "Here  is a a master of the Way, who  knows the principles of strategy", then you will surely  lose. You must  consider this deeply.
To Release Four Hands
"To release  four hands" is used  when you and  the enemy  are contend- ing with  the same  spirit,  and  the issue  cannot  be decided. Abandon this spirit  and win through an alternative resource.
In large-scale strategy, when there  is a "four hands" spirit,  do not give up  - it is man's  existence.  Immediately throw away  this  spirit  and  win with a technique the enemy  does not expect.
In  single  combat  also,  when we  think  we  have  fallen  into  the  "four hands" situation, we must  defeat  the enemy  by changing our  mind and applying a suitable technique according to his  condition. You must  be able to judge this.
To Move the Shade
"To move the shade"  is used  when you cannot  see the enemy's spirit.
In large-scale strategy, when you  cannot  see the enemy's position, in- dicate  that  you  are about  to attack  strongly, to discover his resources. It is  easy  then  to  defeat  him  with  a  different method once  you  see  his resources.
In single  combat,  if the  enemy  takes  up  a rear  or side  attitude of the long sword so that  you cannot  see his intention, make  a feint attack,  and the enemy  will show  his long  sword, thinking he sees your  spirit.  Bene- fiting  from  what  you  are shown, you  can win  with  certainty. If you  are negligent you will miss the timing. Research  this well.
To Hold Down a Shadow
"Holding down a shadow" is use when you can see the enemy's attack- ing spirit.

In large-scale strategy, when the  enemy  embarks on an attack,  if you make  a show  of strongly suppressing his technique, he will  change  his mind.  Then,  altering your  spirit,  defeat  him  by forestalling him  with  a Void spirit.
Or, in single  combat,  hold  down the  enemy's strong intention with  a suitable timing, and  defeat  him by forestalling him with  this timing. You must  study this well.
To Pass On
Many things  are said to be passed on. Sleepiness can be passed on, and yawning can be passed on. Time can be passed on also.
In large-scale strategy, when the  enemy  is agitated and  shows  an in- clination to  rush,  do  not  mind in  the  least.  Make  a show  of complete calmness, and  the enemy  will be taken  by this and  will become  relaxed. When  you  see that  this  spirit  has  been  passed on, you  can bring  about the enemy's defeat  by attacking strongly with a Void spirit.
In single  combat,  you  can  win  by relaxing your  body  and  spirit  and then,  catching on to the moment the enemy  relaxes,  attack  strongly and quickly,  forestalling him.  What  is know  as "getting  someone drunk" is similar  to this.  You can also  infect  the  enemy  with  a bored, careless,  or weak  spirit.  You must  study this well.
To Cause Loss of Balance
Many  things  can cause  a loss of balance.  One cause  is danger, another is hardship, and another is surprise. You must  research this.
In large-scale strategy it is important to cause  loss of balance.  Attack without warning where the enemy  is not expecting it, and  while  his spir- it is undecided follow  up  your  advantage and,  having the  lead,  defeat him.
Or, in single  combat,  start  by making a show  of being  slow, then  sud- denly  attack  strongly. Without allowing him  space  for breath to recover form  the  fluctuation of spirit,  you  must  grasp the  opportunity to  win. Get the feel of this.
To Frighten
Fright often occurs, caused by the unexpected.
In  large-scale strategy you  can  frighten the  enemy  not  just  by  what you  present to their  eyes,  but  by  shouting, making a small  force  seem large,  or  by  threatening them  from  the  flank  without  warning. These
things   all  frighten. You  can  win  by  making best  use  of  the  enemy's frightened rhythm.
In single  combat,  also,  you  must  use  the  advantage of taking  the  en- emy unawares by frightening him with  your  body,  long sword, or voice, to defeat  him. You should research this well.
To Soak In
When  you  have  come  to grips  and  are  striving together with  the  en- emy, and  you realize  that you cannot  advance, you "soak in" and  become one with  the enemy.  You can win by applying a suitable technique while you are mutually entangled.
In battles  involving large numbers as well as in fights with  small num- bers,  you  can often  win  decisively with  the  advantage of knowing how to "soak" into  the  enemy,  whereas, were  you  to draw apart, you  would lose the chance to win. Research  this well.
To Injure the Corners
It is difficult  to move  strong things  by pushing directly, so you should
"injure the corners".
In  large-scale strategy, it is beneficial  to  strike  at  the  corners  of the enemy's force. If the corners  are overthrown, the spirit  of the whole  body will be overthrown. To defeat  the enemy  you  must  follow  up  the attack when the corners  have fallen.
In single  combat,  it is easy to win once the enemy  collapses. This hap- pens  when you injure  the "corners"  of his body,  and  thus  weaken him. It is important to know  how to do this, so you must  research deeply.
To Throw into Confusion
This means making the enemy  lose resolve.
In large-scale strategy we can use our  troops to confuse  the enemy  on the  field.  Observing the  enemy's spirit,  we can make  him  think,  "Here? There? Like that?  Like this? Slow? Fast?". Victory  is certain  when the en- emy is caught up in a rhythm which  confuses his spirit.
In single  combat,  we can confuse  the enemy  by attacking with  varied techniques when the chance  arises.  Feint a thrust or cut, or make  the en- emy think  ou are going  to close with  him,  and  when he is confused you can easily  win.  This is the  essence  of fighting, and  you  must  research it deeply.
The Three Shouts

The three  shouts are divided thus:  before,  during and  after.  Shout  ac- cording to  the  situation. The  voice  is a thing  of life. We shout against fires and so on, against the wind  and the waves. The voice shows  energy.
In large-scale strategy, at the start  of battle  we shout as loudly as pos- sible. During the  fight,  the  voice  is low-pitched, shouting out  as we  at- tack. After the contest,  we shout in the wake  of our victory.  These are the three  shouts.
In single combat,  we make  as if to cut and  shout "Ei!" at the same  time to disturb the enemy,  then  in the wake  of our shout we cut with  the long sword. We shout after we have cut down the enemy  - this is to announce victory.  This is called "sen go no koe" (before  and  after voice). We do not shout simultaneously with  flourishing the long  sword. We shout during the fight to get into rhythm. Research  this deeply.
To Mingle
In  battles,  when the  armies  are  in  confrontation, attack  the  enemy's strong points and,  when you  see that  they  are beaten  back, quickly  sep- arate  and  attack  yet another strong point  on the  periphery of his force. The spirit  of this is like a winding mountain path.
This is an important fighting method for one man  against many.  Strike down the enemies in one quarter, or drive  them  back, then grasp the tim- ing and  attack  further strong points to right  and  left, as if on a winding mountain path,  weighing up  the  enemies' disposition. When  you  know the enemies' level attack  strongly with no trace of retreating spirit.
What  is meant by "mingling" is the spirit  of advancing and  becoming engaged with  the enemy,  and  not withdrawing even one step. You must understand this.
To Crush
This means to crush  the enemy  regarding him as being weak.
In large-scale strategy, when we see that  the enemy  has few men,  or if he has many  men but his spirit  is weak  and  disordered, we knock the hat over  his eyes, crushing him  utterly. If we crush  lightly,  he may  recover. You must  learn the spirit  of crushing as if with a hand-grip.
In single combat,  if the enemy  is less skilful  than  ourself,  if his rhythm is disorganised, or if he has fallen into evasive  or retreating attitudes, we must   crush   him  straightaway, with   no  concern   for  his  presence and without allowing him  space  for breath. It is essential to crush  him  all at once. The primary thing  is not to let him recover  his position even a little. You must  research this deeply.

The Mountain-Sea Change
The "mountain-sea" spirit  means that  it is bad to repeat the same  thing several  times  when fighting the enemy.  There  may  be no help  but  to do something twice,  but  do not  try it a third time.  If you  once make  an at- tack  and  fail,  there  is little  chance  of success  if you  use  the  same  ap- proach again.  If you  attempt a  technique which  you  have  previously tried  unsuccessfully and  fail yet  again,  then  you  must  change  your  at- tacking  method.
If the  enemy  thinks  of the  mountains, attack  like  the  sea;  and  if he thinks   of  the  sea,  attack   like  the  mountains. You  must   research this deeply.
To Penetrate the Depths
When  we are fighting with  the  enemy,  even  when it can be seen  that we can win on the surface  with  the benefit  of the Way, if his spirit  is not extinguished, he  may  be  beaten   superficially yet  undefeated in  spirit deep  inside.  With  this  principle of "penetrating the depths" we can des- troy  the enemy's spirit  in its depths, demoralising him  by quickly  chan- ging our spirit.  This often occurs.
Penetrating the depths means penetrating with  the long sword, penet- rating with  the body,  and  penetrating with  the spirit.  This cannot  be un- derstood in a generalisation.
Once we have  crushed the enemy  in the depths, there  is no need  to re- main  spirited. But otherwise we  must  remain spirited. If the  enemy  re- mains  spirited it is difficult  to crush  him.  You must  train  in penetrating the depths for large-scale strategy and also single combat.
To Renew
"To renew"  applies when we are fighting with  the enemy,  and  an en- tangled spirit  arises where there  is no possible resolution. We must  aban- don our efforts, think  of the situation in a fresh spirit  then win in the new rhythm. To renew, when we are deadlocked with  the enemy,  means that without  changing  our   circumstance  we   change   our   spirit   and   win through a different technique.
It is necessary to consider how  "to renew"  also  applies in large-scale strategy. Research  this diligently.
Rat's Head, Ox's Neck

"Rat's head  and  ox's neck" means that,  when we are fighting with  the enemy  and  both  he and  we have  become  occupied with  small  points in an entangled spirit,  we must  always think  of the Way of Strategy  as be- ing both a rat's head  and  an ox's neck. Whenever we have become  preoc- cupied with  small detail,  we must  suddenly change  into a large spirit,  in- terchanging large with small.
This is one of the essences  of strategy. It is necessary that  the warrior think  in this spirit  in everyday life. You must  not depart from  this spirit in large-scale strategy nor in single combat.
The Commander Knows the Troops
"The commander knows the  troops"  applies everywhere in  fights  in my Way of strategy. Using the wisdom of strategy, think  of the enemy  as your  own  troops. When  you think  in this way  you can move  him at will and  be able to chase him around. You become  the general and  the enemy becomes  your  troops. You must  master this.
To Let Go the Hilt
There are various kinds  of spirit  involved in letting  go the hilt. There is the spirit  of winning without a sword. There  is also the spirit  of holding the  long  sword but  not  winning. The  various methods cannot   be  ex- pressed in writing. You must  train  well.
The Body of a Rock
When  you have  mastered the Way of Strategy  you can suddenly make your  body  like a rock, and  ten thousand things  cannot  touch  you. This is the body  of a rock.
You will not be moved. Oral tradition.
What is recorded above is what  has been constantly on my mind about Ichi school sword fencing,  written down as it came to me. This is the first time  I have  written about  my technique, and  the order  of things  is a bit confused. It is difficult  to express  it clearly.
This  book  is a spiritual guide for  the  man  who  wishes  to  learn  the
My heart  has been inclined to the Way of Strategy  from my youth on- wards. I have  devoted myself  to training my hand, tempering my body, and  attaining the many  spiritual attitudes of sword fencing.  If we watch men of other  schools  discussing theory, and  concentrating on techniques with  the  hands, even  though they  seem  skilful  to watch,  they  have  not the slightest true spirit.


Of course,  men who study in this way think  they are training the body and  spirit,  but it is an obstacle  to the true  Way, and  its bad  influence re- mains  for ever. Thus  the true  Way of Strategy  is becoming decadent and dying  out.


The true  Way of sword fencing  is the craft of defeating the enemy  in a fight,  and  nothing other  than  this.  If you  attain  and  adhere to the  wis- dom of my strategy, you need never  doubt that you will win.

There is a lot to consider here, strategy can be chosen or discarded as you wish, but by not looking you have less options to consider.


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