Notes & Quotes - The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

The following are my favorite quotes from Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings.  Numbered for convenience.
  1. After that I studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realise the Way of strategy when I was fifty.
  2. The Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.
  3. The warrior is different in that studying the Way of strategy is based on overcoming men.
  4. Someone once said "Immature strategy is the cause of grief."
  5. There are four Ways in which men pass through life: as gentlemen, farmers, artisans, and merchants.
  6. The teacher is as a needle, the disciple is as thread.  You must practice constantly.
  7. If the foreman knows and deploys his men well the finished work will be good.
  8. If you want to learn this Way, deeply consider the things written in this book one at a time.  You must do sufficient research.
  9. The Way is shown as five books concerning different aspects.  The are Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void.
  10. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things.
  11. The principle of strategy is having one thing, to know ten thousand things.
  12. It is difficult for large numbers of men to change position, so their movements can be easily predicted.  An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are difficult to predict.  You must appreciate this.
  13. The essence of this book is that you must train day and night in order to make quick decisions.  In strategy it is necessary to treat training as part of normal life with your spirit unchanging.
  14. It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others.
  15. If you study a Way daily, and your spirit diverges, you may think you are obeying a good Way but objectively it is not the true way.
  16. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature.
  17. Let if suffice to say that in our land, whatever the reason, a warrior carries two swords at his belt.  It is the Way of the warrior.
  18. This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry.  It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.
  19. The long sword should be wielded broadly and the companion sword closely.  This is the first thing to realize.
  20. The Way of the Ichi school is the spirit of winning, whatever the weapon and whatever its size.
  21. When you attain the Way of strategy there will not be one thing you cannot see.
  22. If he attains the virtue of the long sword, one man can beat ten men.  Just as one man can beat ten, so a hundred men can beat a thousand, and thousand can beat ten thousand.  In my strategy, one man is the same as ten thousand, so the strategy is the complete warrior's craft.
  23. Men must polish their particular Way.
  24. There is a time and place for the use of weapons.
  25. Once swords are crossed the gun becomes useless.
  26. One of the virtues of the bow is that you can see the arrows in flight and correct your aim accordingly, whereas gunshot cannot be seen.  You must appreciate the importance of this.
  27. You should not have a favorite weapon.  To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.
  28. It is bad for commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes.
  29. All things entail rising and falling timing.  You must be able to discern this.
  30. This is the way for men who want to learn my strategy: a) Do not think dishonestly. b) The Way is in training. c) Become acquainted with every art. d) Know the Ways of all professions. e) Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters. f) Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything. g) Perceive those things which cannot be seen. h) Pay attention even to trifles. i) Do nothing which is of no use.
  31. More than anything to start with you must set your heart on strategy and earnestly stick to the Way.
  32. Study this book; read a word then ponder on it.  If you interpret the meaning loosely you will mistake the Way.
  33. Strategy is different from other things in that if you mistake the Way even a little you will become bewildered and fall into bad ways.  If you merely read this book you will not reach the Way of strategy.  Absorb the things written in this book.  Do not just read, memorize or imitate, but so that you must realize the principle from within your own heart study hard to absorb these things into your body.
  34. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm.  Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased.  Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken.  Do not let your spirit be influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit.
  35. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.
  36. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one.  When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized the wisdom of strategy.
  37. The wisdom of strategy is different from other things.  On the battlefield, even when you are hard-pressed, you should ceaselessly research the principles of strategy so that you can develop a steady spirit.
  38. In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance.
  39. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.
  40. It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without moving the eyeballs.
  41. I dislike fixedness in both long swords and hands.  Fixedness means a dead hand.  Pliability is a living hand.
  42. With the tips of your toes somewhat floating, tread firmly with your heels.
  43. "Yin-Yang foot" is important in the Way.  Yin-Yang foot means not moving only one foot.  It means moving your feet left-right and right-left when cutting, withdrawing, or warding off a cut.  You should not move on one foot preferentially.
  44. If we look at strategy on a broad scale, the Middle attitude is the seat of the commander, with the other four attitudes following the commander.
  45. However you hold the sword it must be in such a way that it is easy to cut the enemy well, in accordance with the situation, the place, and your relation to the enemy.
  46. The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means.
  47. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement.  It is essential to attain this.
  48. Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.
  49. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.
  50. Any man who wants to master the essence of my strategy must research diligently, training morning and evening.  Thus can he polish his skill, become free from self, and realize extraordinary ability.  He will come to possess miraculous power.
  51. The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy's useful actions but allow his useless actions.
  52. In large-scale strategy, people are always under the impression that the enemy is strong, and so tend to become cautious.  But if you have good soldiers, and if you understand the principles of strategy, and if you know how to beat the enemy, there is nothing to worry about.
  53. Victory is certain when the enemy is caught up in a rhythm which confuses his spirit.
  54. It is bad to repeat the same thing several times when fighting the enemy.  There may be no help but to do something twice, but do not try it a third time.
  55. If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains.
  56. Using the wisdom of strategy, think of the enemy as your own troops.  When you think in this way you can move him at will and be able to chase him around.  You become the general and the enemy becomes your troops.
  57. The true Way of sword fencing is the craft of defeating the enemy in a fight, and nothing other than this.
  58. Whenever you cross swords with an enemy you must not think of cutting him either strongly or weakly; just think of cutting and killing him.  Be intent solely upon killing the enemy.
  59. The Way of strategy is straight and true.  You must chase the enemy around and make him obey your spirit.
  60. In my strategy, the footwork does not change.  I always walk as I usually do in the street.  You must never lose control of your feet.
  61. Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.
  62. You must not be influenced by the opponent.
  63. Enact strategy broadly, correctly, and openly.  Then you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.
I really enjoyed this book and found that much of the wisdom can be applied to any endeavor in life.  If you liked the quotes, share your favorites in the comments and consider picking up a copy for yourself.