Book Of Five Rings, By Musashi Miyamoto | 17 | 2022 Centobibliennial Reading

There are many publications of this book, so I decided to read this specific edition.


This is the book written by the samurai Musashi Miyamoto. While the philosophical ponderances are at the beginning and end of the book, he spends the middle part talking about the sword moves that helped him become a famous samurai.

Musashi Miyamoto

He described himself as a famed samurai of well renown. After defeating sword masters, he would teach swordsmanship at his own dojo. It would be at those educating years that he would compile this book.


Minamoto compares his Way to that of an carpenter, who builds a house. In order to lead men into battle, it would be the same as leading a group of workers to begin construction. It all has its roots in strategy, since it is from a coordination and reconnaissance that a clear path is made. He writes about how a 100-foot Buddha statue can only be made from a foot-tall model, meaning that there are inferences and strategies that can be made from one object or idea alone. This is encapsulated by his quote:

From one thing, know ten thousand things.

Pg. 10

Minamoto emphasizes the importance of practice, in spite of likes and dislikes. He makes it clear that the like/dislike dichotomy should not matter, since what matters more is integrating the practice within one’s own nerves. Just because you do not understand the art, does not mean that it is the void, rather it is bewilderment. A way to avoid this state of mind is to make sure that the practice, as he put it, is ingrained within the body–perhaps what he meant was the nervous system, where the reflexes can tell the difference between practice and idleness.

He also dissuades any deviation from the truth to aesthetics. He explains how schools in his time emphasize the use of the long sword since it has a wide range. However, Minamoto’s point is not to have a wide range, rather to learn multiple techniques through a regular sword in close combat. He mentioned that while bows and guns are useful in long range combat, it is within short range combat that bodily technique would need to be used.

Minamoto also recommends seeing one’s self as the enemy breaking into his house. Instead of being the pheasant, he can be the hawk. This type of thinking is also applied to seeing oneself as the enemy commander leading men into battle. It should not necessarily be a bad thing to see oneself as the enemy, since empathy is key to figuring out how an enemy would think and out-maneuvering him.

Historical Context

Being born in 1645, he was born during a time of great conflict in Japan. He would make use of his swordsmanship during the battles waged during this time. He would find himself present at the Osaka Campaign between the Tokugawa and the Toyotomi. After that, he became a ronin.

Throughout his life, he would also be in acknowledgement of the Way of Confucius and Buddha. He noted that his own Way is a flexible one, which takes into account strategic adaptation.


This is similar to Paul B. Sears’ book about ecology, in terms of writing style. Many sentences in this book are quotable, especially in the beginning and ending.

As for the empathy needed to overcome an enemy, this can easily be related to the case of billionaire George Soros who employed empathy when taking his money out of a stock. Conspiracy theories aside, what can be proven is that, in George Soros’ case, empathy is needed to understand what the other person is feeling. This is different from sympathy, since it means that you empathize and AGREE with the other person. In Soros’ case, as Christian Mabsbjerg, author of Sensemaking, argued, he was able to tell when a stock was going to plummet by feeling the hairs stand up from the back of his neck. Although Soros was influenced by philosopher Karl Popper, I can definitely see how Miyamoto would provide anyone with that type of inspiration.

Connecting To The Previous Book

This can be connected to a book centuries after this was written in terms of implementing strategy into the art of blogging. Indeed, the idea of king-as-carpenter would definitely apply to blogging, since everything in the blog needs to be planned, whether it is the SEO or the email list.

Writing Style

Miyamoto makes frequent use of the word way in order to convey his particular means of living and defense. This is important, since it denotes location value, as in traveling to an unknown location; or philosophical value in this case. He definitely needed to be prepared for any unknown circumstances, as he would tell in his book.

He also provides importance to the concept of strategy, since it enables the practitioner to foresee any dangers that may befall them. It is not just for leaders, but also swordsmen as well, since they would need to predict where the next strike would occur.

Real-World Application

Although there aren’t swordsmen as there were in Japan’s time, the idea of strategy is definitely important to those who wish to discover a clear path. He did not compare a king to a carpenter for no other reason than to demonstrate how even the most menial occupation requires foreseeing a path. Since Miyamoto’s Way is considered flexible by himself, then it can be applied beyond the swordsman and to other occupations.

Inspiration To Myself

I can see how strategy would help find any way to adapt to any circumstance. If it could apply to a turbulent time in Japan’s history, then any other time would benefit from Miyamoto’s words. I will hold the beginning and end in the highest regard, since they deal with important ways of adaptation and success.


Rediscovery Recommendation

This is definitely an important book, since the ethos behind this book gives it tremendous value.

Recommend This To…

  • Anyone who considers their own path to be flexible–but not subjective. They might be interested by what Musashi Miyamoto has to say about it.


  • Madsbjerg, Christian. “Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of Algorithm.” Hachette. 2017.
  • Miller, Sally. “The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers: Secrets of 17 Successful Bloggers You Can Use to Build a Six-Figure Online Business.” Sally Miller. 2018.
  • Miyamoto, Musashi. “Book of the Five Rings.” 1643. Yellowed Paper Books. 2020.
  • Sears, Paul B. “The Living Landscape.” Revised Edition. Basic Books, Inc. 1966.
  • Ynkawen, Michalangove. “The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers, By Sally Miller | 16 | 2022 Centobibliennial Reading.” Ynkawen. 2022.

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