A few months ago I picked up The Book Of Five Rings audiobook.
I’ve become a huge fan of podcasts and listening to books in my car. I was able to download The Art of War on a podcast with my iPhone.
Unfortunately, I was unable to download The Book Of Five Rings but I still wanted to be able to listen to it in my car. I was happy to find it on Youtube and also how easy it was to buy The Book Of Five Rings audiobook.
Recently I wrote an article on The Art of War. I felt I should follow it up with a review on the The Book Of Five Rings.
The Book Of Five Rings I believe might be less known but provides no less value to personal growth.
In reality, I actually enjoy The Book Of Five Rings more. I tend to go back to this book often and read a page or two and then self reflect.
Musashi tells us not to read or memorize his writings, but to absorb them.
Written over 300 years ago, it provides a limitless source of psychological strategy and self improvement. Martial Artists and business-people alike can all benefit from the tactic and strategy presented in the book. Purchasing The Book Of Five Rings as an audiobook allows you freedom to listen to it anywhere.
THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO
The book is broken down into five parts.
The Book of Earth
This first part is in essence the foundation upon which the rest of the book can be followed and understood. Understanding the way, Martial Arts, timing, and training are discussed.
Perpetual studying is emphasized and understanding tools, their uses, and limitations. Musashi explains how a tool that may be prefect in one arena may be a disadvantage in another. Understanding when to use what tool and why is important.
“From one thing, know ten thousand things.”
The Book of Water
Water represents flexibility, it holds no shape. Flowing to fit it’s boundary, reshaping and eroding when necessary. Water finds the most efficient way for it to flow.
This part of the book speaks of understanding balance in life. If your spirit is calm, your body can not relax. When your body is relaxed, your spirit must be vigilant.
My personal favorite quote comes from this section of the book.
“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory
over lesser men.”
The Book of Fire
Accessing situations and specific situational instructions are detailed in this part. Musashi states how many people think narrowly of strategy. By using only there fingertips they know nothing for the benefits of the wrist.
We dive into the strategy of emotion, when and how to attack. Lead your enemy and dictate his movements. Do not follow him or allow him to follow you. Chase him into bad footings, put him in adverse positions.
“Because you can win quickly by taking the lead, it is one of the most important things in strategy.”
The Book of Wind
To fully understand yourself you need to understand your opponents as precisely as possible. Musashi speaks of how we can’t truly know ourselves if we don’t study others.
A point is made of another way of thinking in regards to specializing in the long sword. “One inch gives the hand advantage“, relying on a specific tool for victory other than strategy or skill. There is no “water” in this thinking because it holds shape. It is not free flowing and has no ability to change or adapt. If your opponent is hurried or irrational you can not allow them to influence your spirit.
This is a great chapter for the Martial Artist and competitor. Musashi breaks down his concept on speed, eye contact, and footwork.
“According to the enemy’s rhythm, move fast or slowly, adjusting you body not too
much and not too little.”
The Book of Void
In the final part Musashi delves into the spirit where there is nothing.
“That which cannot be seen”
Items not included in a man’s knowledge, the void is nothingness. It highlights that by knowing what exists you can know what does not exist. Musashi expresses to know the way of strategy you must fully study other martial arts and must not deviate even a little from the way.
“People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is
I’ve noticed over the years how the book has changed with me.
What I read 15 years ago when I discovered this book has a different impact on me now then it did then. Items that were more profound when I was younger don’t affect me as much now. Other parts of the book that I might have glossed over when I was younger seem more important to me now.
The Art of War is a guide that provides direction for a unit or a team. The Book of Five Rings is a doctrine for the individual soldier or for you yourself. Yes, by making yourself better you can of course add more to the team. However, the major difference between the books is that The Book of Five Rings will help improve you, not the team.