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
From Library Journal
Written by legendary Japanese swordsman Musashi, this 17th-century exposition of sword-fighting strategy and Zen philosophy has been embraced by many contemporary readers, especially business school students, as a manual on how to succeed in life. There are many English translations, but every one, including this one, suffers from inadequate cultural, literary, and philosophical commentary. Musashi's work should be studied, not simply read, and Cleary's translation lacks commentary; it also makes the prose seems flat and the philosophy simplistic. Yet what makes this new translation worthwhile is the second text, buried deep in the back like an appendix: Yagyu Munenori's The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War. This text, also an exposition on sword fighting and Zen philosophy, is difficult to find in an English translation, and its availability is welcome. Recommended for academic libraries generally.- Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.