The Book of Five Rings

book of five rings musashi wilson kodansha international 2002The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, translated by William Scott Wilson, 5/5

It is absolutely stunning how relevant this book remains to today’s students of combat sports, though it was written almost 400 years ago for Japanese swordsmen.  I recognize so many of the techniques and concepts that Musashi describes from my own kickboxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA sparring experiences.  In fact, I believe such review and recognition is likely where this work’s main interest and value lies–I certainly don’t feel able to learn subtle martial arts concepts from a book (certainly not from a picture-less book!), but it is fascinating to see what I have learned from my coaches and through experience reflected on the page.  Perhaps this is why the ever-practical Musashi ends each lesson with a comment like “You should make efforts in this,” or “You should practice this well.”

Why I read it: I came across Musashi’s “21 Rules of Life” online, read a bit about him and remembered that though I had given my brother a beautifully illustrated copy of The Book of Five Rings many years ago, I had never actually gotten around to reading it myself.

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