A Book of Five Rings

A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While it’s true that this book seems to be more of a guide on how to conduct yourself in a real, physical swordfight, there are lessons that we can abstract from the text and implement as general ideas. In this sense the book, much like the Art of War, is very useful.

I have no doubt that though Musashi took the time to write this book detailing the wisdom he learnt over time, there was much that he didn’t include. Not because he was necessarily holding anything back, but because past a certain point you can only get the full benefit from real action. This, I understand, is why he constantly mentions that we should study his thoughts ourselves thoroughly.

Despite being a short book, we are still able to benefit from this in much the same way as Sun Tzu’s Art of War. The Reader will be able to extract the most benefit from this if he abstracts as many of the concepts as he is able, with the idea of implementing much of the advice in the fields of his present life instead of with the idea of them only being useful on the battlefield.

If the book was much longer, it would be a difficult recommendation, but here the length works in its favour. I finish off with a quote from the book itself:

“To learn about the principles of battle, meditate on this book; for the teacher is the needle, the student the thread.”

M. Musashi

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