To learn a Japanese martial art is to learn Zen, and although you can''t do so simply by reading a book, it sure does help--especially if that book is The Book of Five Rings. One of Japan''s great samurai sword masters penned in decisive, unfaltering terms this certain path to victory, and like Sun Tzu''s The Art of War it is applicable not only on the battlefield but also in all forms of competition. Always observant, creating confusion, striking at vulnerabilities--these are some of the basic principles. Going deeper, we find suki, the interval of vulnerability, of indecisiveness, of rest, the briefest but most vital moment to strike. In succinct detail, Miyamoto records ideal postures, blows, and psychological tactics to put the enemy off guard and open the way for attack. Most important of all is Miyamoto''s concept of rhythm, how all things are in harmony, and that by working with the rhythm of a situation we can turn it to our advantage with little effort. But like Zen, this requires one task above all else, putting the book down and going out to practice. --Brian Bruya
Here is one of the most insightful texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory to emerge from Asian culture. Written not only for martial artists but for leaders in all professions, the book analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction. The Book of Five Rings —which has become a well-known classic among American business people, studied for its insights into the Japanese approach to business strategy—was composed in 1643 by the famed duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Unlike previous editions of The Book of Five Rings, Thomas Cleary''s is an accessible translation, free of jargon, with an introduction that presents the spiritual background of the warrior tradition. Along with Musashi''s text, Cleary translates another important Japanese classic on leadership and strategy: The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori, which highlights the ethical and spiritual insights of Taoism and Zen as they apply to the way of the warrior.
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