A Book of Five Rings: Thoughts by Dan Preston
A Book of Five Rings Miyamoto Musashi Thoughts by: Dan Preston,
Arthur Goju Ryu Karate Dojo CNGK Association 11/22/2018
Earth Scroll: “you should not have any special fondness for any particular weapon” M.M.
Musashi uses the comparison of carpentry to martial arts, in not just mastering your craft and tools but in also teaching. A master carpenter would teach his students the proper steps to assemble a house as a I would teach a student. Teaching them one thing at a time in an effective manner. “It is impossible to reverse the direction of a large group of people all at once, while the small scale is hard to know because in the case of an individual there is just one will involved and changes can be made quickly.” While Musashi was talking about a battlefield I feel this is applicable to teaching a class as well. I find it much easier teaching and correcting an individual than a group. A group of children are much harder to control than a single child. As a carpenter would keep various useful implements in their tool box. We keep the knowledge of different striking techniques in our mind. A carpenter would sort through the wood and decide what they would be used for when building a house. We would decide what technique is best for the moment in a fight. Each technique has a purpose in mind just like a carpenter has tools. You would not use a hammer to smooth out a piece of wood, one might not try to kick one's opponent in the face in an actual fight. There is just a better tool for the job.
Water Scroll: “In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm” M.M.
In the water scroll the first thing talked about is your state of mind. Whether it be walking down the street or sparing, your state of mind should be the same, it should be relaxed. You should be aiming to be able to react to situations without needing to think and perceive things without having to focus on it. This of course needs a trained and disciplined mind, “The mind is not
dragged by the body, the body is not dragged by the mind”. You need a strong body to accompany the strong mind.
Musashi states a certain way your face to look, If you have a Serene expression on your face through a fight it will very difficult for others see into your mind. It also sounds a lot like what you should be doing for katas as well. “Lower the shoulders, keep the spine straight, and do not let the buttocks stick out.” those three things are consistent through all the katas.
Fire Scroll: “”The true Way of sword fencing is the craft of defeating the enemy in a fight, and nothing other than this.” M.M.
Throughout the Fire Scroll, It discusses different ways to approach and know your enemy. All in an effort to attain victory. Musashi discusses the lay of the physical situation, how you want to keep the sun to your back, have the higher ground and get your opponents into obstacles. Like when you are sparing multiple opponents, you want to line them up so you are only having to focus on one opponent at a time.
I believe that a Kiai would cause both an upset and a threat, as Musashi calls them. Causing a burst of energy in the technique and frightening an untrained opponent, and make yourself seem larger than you are. As the opponent re-adjusts you would want to continue the assault to attain victory.
In my eye’s crushing is a very useful tool for myself, not necessarily because my opponent would be weaker than me skills wise. But because of my physical build, it’s a lot easier to rush and quickly overwhelm and defeat my opposition. But of course there will always be people bigger than myself, and like the mountain and sea changing. A change in tactics would be needed if I can’t do it the first time.
Wind Scroll: “there is no such thing as the ultimate guard. It is only a matter of understanding it’s effective qualities in your heart and mind” M.M.
The Wind Scroll starts by covering specific schools of swordsmanship and how they are flawed. Those flaws being that they prefer one thing over another. You want to be well trained in all aspects and do not want to be biased towards a style or technique over another. All techniques should be carefully examined and thoroughly practiced.
While discussing where your eyes should be, Musashi talks about two ways of perception Observing and seeing. The observing eye is more superior, being able to see the state of the fight. When facing multiple opponents you don’t necessarily have to see them to observe them
with your mind’s eye. Your eyes should focus on the hearts and minds of the people involved. Which to me, means it doesn’t matter where you set your eyes as long as your observing your opponents and the situation with them.
The Void: “Of course, emptiness does not exist. Knowing of non-existence while knowing of existence is emptiness.” M.M.
Emptiness is not a state of unknowing, but a state of no obscurity. Only when you have learned everything have you achieved true emptiness, because you will know everything. There is nothing left to learn. For example doing a kata you have practiced a thousand times shows this. You move without needing to think, but you move exactly the way you intended to. I believe that is a brief moment of emptiness. True emptiness is impossible to truly achieve, but yet is something to always strive for... not just in martial arts but in even day to day life.
Summary: In conclusion, to follow the true path of martial arts, one is to be unbiased, calm in mind and body, thoroughly trained, and have excessively examined his techniques, as well -- without a doubt in their victory.