--SAMURAI - THE WAY of STRATEGY - SAMURAI--
The Way of Martial Arts and Strategy
In Japanese, the word for way, pronounced "doe", can used to refer to a type of art form, complete with a formal set of techniques and lessons to learn in the progression towards mastery. Some examples include shodo (art of writing), kendo (art / sport of the sword), sado (art of tea ceremony), judo (the soft way).
In The Book of Five Rings, Musashi gives his account of the Way of strategy, which can also be interpreted to mean martial arts. Both of these are would apply to the Way of the warrior, which Musashi is addressing. In the book he details the teachings of his school, Ni Ten Ichi Ryu, which means one way, two swords. While describing a variety of techniques and principles, Musashi points out on several occasions that the Way of strategy is not something that can easily be put into words, but must be reached through diligent training and reflection.
Musashi's conception of his school as the true Way is recorded in the final part, in the scroll of the Void. A short, but difficult part to understand, the Void section relates to the Zen buddhist conception of emptiness. While a complex topic to explain, it involves reaching the point where thought and action are one.
Book of Five Rings
Musashi Miyamoto - Master of the Sword
Musashi Miyamoto is perhaps the most widely reknown samurai warrior from Japan. Known as the "Sword Saint," his skills at sword fighting were unmatched during his time and are legendary even today. It is said that he fought over 60 duels and was undefeated. He was also involved in one of the most famous battles in Japanese history at Sekigahara, where over 70,000 people died. Musashi fought on the losing side and survived.
From an early age, Musashi was inclined towards sword fighting and won his first duel when he was only 13. When he got older, Musashi set off on a pilgrimage to refine his martial art and sword capabilities. Along the way, he faced death on many occasions and won all his duels. His most famous duel was against a samurai named Sasaki Kojiro, who was a very skilled with an extra long sword. Legend has it that Musashi fashioned a wooden sword out of an oar from a boat to defeat Kojiro, striking him directly in the head with the wooden weapon.
Having mastered the Japanese samurai sword, Musashi was able to extend his insight into strategy beyond martial arts. He became a master of writing, painting and a range of activities. One of his most noted accomplishments is his book, The Book of Five Rings, which is a record of his teachings on the Way of Strategy.