of five rings


  • Miyamoto Musashi, born a samurai in 1584, was a rönin, a masterless samurai.
  • Takuan wrote a letter to his student, Yagyü concerning Zen and the art of swordmanship. This is called Fudochi Shimyö Roku.
  • To know the enemy, know yourself.


  • Teacher and student share the burdens.
  • Zazen - cross-legged position.
    Sitting in Zazen, relax everything. Breathe in a controlled, rhythmic breathing. Breathe through the abdomen, the tanden. Concentrate on breathing. Feel it, becomes aware of it. Let go. Nothing outside of you causes you trouble or anguish or fear or guilt or doubt.
  • The "stopping mind" is when your mind stops to question, decide or judge. When you do this, you lose track of what is going on.
  • köan, a riddle used to point out that at times there are no intellectual answers.
  • "If you want to see, see right at once. When you begin to think, you miss the point." - Dögö
  • Do not intellectualise experience. Satisfying sex and a good joke are examples. To know and to act are one. Be natural. Just do it.
  • In anything, it is not only your training, your tools that make you good. It is your attitude, your approach, sense of confidence and purpose. First comes the technique, practised so many times it is forgotten. Then you begin to use it.
  • If you become more observant, more aware, more sure, more confident. The more confident you are, the less likely you are to boast or brag, reduce the ego. If you have confidence in yourself, not only your skills, you will be satisfied, humble, quiet and peaceful.
  • Passive Zen is Zazen; seated, contemplative concentration, relation.
    Active Zen is what the Book of Five Rings is about.
  • Sumi-e ("brush painting"), Ikebana ("flower arranging") and Haiku ("poetry") are all classical expressions of Zen.
  • Martial arts based on Zen practise are Kendö, Iaidö, Jüdö and Shörinji Kempö.
  • Ken-Zen Ichi Nyö - Body and Mind, Together
  • When you walk or eat or sleep - your body knows how to do that. Make your body learn.
  • Munen musö - where there is no intention, there is no thought of doing.
  • A monk carries a beautiful women across a stream. Just does it. Morality is judged by intention. That which has no intentions cannot be immoral.
  • Musashi practised Zen without a teacher.


  • bu ("military"), shi ("man"), dö ("way") - The way of the warrior. The samurai code of chivalry.
  • bushi - Military class that rules Japan in Musashi's time. Musashi was a bushi.
  • In single combat the samurai swordsmen stood face-to-face within striking distance of each other and waited for the opponent to make the first move. The weaker man, no longer able to bear the strain of waiting for a blow from the sharpest blade known to man, would eventually strike the first blow. But, the instant he made his move, the other man would move, not to defend himself but to attack.
  • This is still used in business negotiations. Never make the first move. It shows your hand. Your opponent learns your position without revealing any of their own.


  • 'The path to enlightenment' not enlightenment itself.







5 rings