Miyamoto Musashi was an undisputed medieval Japan’s swordsman and a wandering philosopher. His masterpiece The Book of Five Rings is a source of inspiration not only for martial arts practitioners, but also for anyone with a thirst for knowledge, a quest for the unknown, and an interest in self-growth. It certainly was for me when I first read it, and remains so today.
I present some of my favourite quotes from this marvellous book. I divide them in two parts: the first directly on budo, the second on applying budo’s principles in life. This separation notwithstanding, each of these pearls of wisdom provides a guidance for our daily activiites.
The words of the Master are as relevant today as they were in 1645 when the book was first published. Indeed, they transcend time and space.
QUOTES ON MARITAL ARTS
“You can only fight the way you practice.”
“The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them.”
“You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.”
“When you decide to attack, keep calm and dash in quickly, forestalling the enemy … attack with a feeling of constantly crushing the enemy, from first to last.”
“Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast … Of course, slowness is bad. Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.”
“The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.”
“To know ten thousand things, know one well.”
“It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet.”
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”