random notes--the book of five rings: war and writing (#SFWApro)

I've really enjoyed my research for Cygnet Moon, because it has led me back to the writings of Miyamoto Musashi.

For those who have never heard of Musashi, he was a masterless samurai who was undefeated as a duelist, and in 1643, he wrote a treatise on the art of war. The Book of Five Rings is considered one of the primary texts on combat that emerged from samurai culture and is still in publication today.

Musashi took a very pragmatic approach toward killing and warfare. He eschewed showmanship and focused on the scientific art of lethal force. In The Book of Five Rings, he compares the discipline necessary to hone a warrior's skill to other crafts--he likens the science of martial arts to carpentry--and by doing so, renders certain parts of his treatise applicable to any craft, even the craft of writing.

I thought I would share with you Musashi's rules for learning military science, or any science, for that matter:

  1. Think of what is right and true.
  2. Practice and cultivate the science.
  3. Become acquainted with the arts.
  4. Know the principles of the crafts.
  5. Understand the harm and benefit in everything.
  6. Learn to see everything accurately.
  7. Become aware of what is not obvious.
  8. Be careful even in small matters.
  9. Do not do anything useless.

It's a nice list to keep in mind as I write.


Translation taken from Classics of Strategy and Counsel: The Collected Translations of Thomas Cleary, Boston : Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2000.