Miyamoto Musashi: The Book of Five Rings – Summary

Miyamoto Musashi: The Book of Five Rings – Summary
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Miyamoto Musashi was born in 1584 in Miyamoto to a Samurai family. He grew up surrounded in martial arts. He is often known as the greatest swordsman of all time.

His father of critical of Musashis’s attitude and taught he was arrogant and treated him badly. Musashi left home at age 8.

He lived with his uncle and trained in martial arts. Musashi made his first skill at age 13 it was against Arima Kihei in 1596 in Musashi’s village.

His duel against Arima Kihei would change his life. It was brutal and psychotic. It would take years for Musashi to develop his technique.

Back in those days, a duel was a fight to the death. There were no do-overs or rematches. It was a contest to the death and not a sport.

As human beings, we don’t get better at something by not doing it. Musashi stresses practicing everyday years on end.

Musashi spent his entire life on his fighting skills and in his later years found enlightenment.


The Book of five rings by Miyamoto Musashi was his greatest piece that etched his name in the history books as the greatest swordsman of all time.

It encapsulates his teachings on strategy, philosophy, and the art of war. He also talks about his famous 2 sword technique that’s never been mastered.

It’s a hard book to read and decipher, but would serve martial artists particularly well as it talks about the psychology of battle.

His other greatest piece of work is the Dokkodo, the 21 principles of self-discipline for those who walk alone.

He is so famous in Japan and also has a railway station named after him.

He is a swordsman, Strategist, Philosopher, and writer. He was a ronin and lived alone.

In the book of Five Rings, Musashi reflects on his life in the Ni Ten Ichi Ryu school of learning. His book ” The Book of Five Rings ” is considered to be one of the most influential texts on martial arts in history. It has been studied by people from all walks of life including martial artists, businessmen, courtiers, and even modern-day entrepreneurs.

His 5 chapters lay out the samurai tasks in life.

  1. Earth – Ground yourself in finding the true way.
  2. Water – Hone your individual skills to perfection.
  3. Fire – Take the battle to your enemieswithout fear.
  4. Wind – Study the ways of your competitors.
  5. The void – The last chapter and most difficult to achieve (Enlightenment) By that which has no beginning and no end.

This is the way for men who want to learn my strategy:

  1. Do not think dishonestly.
  2. The Way is in training.
  3. Become acquainted with every art.
  4. Know the Ways of all professions.
  5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
  6. Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
  7. Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
  8. Pay attention even to trifles.
  9. Do nothing which is of no use.

He says being a samurai means being a killing machine. Wield your sword with an intention to kill. Musashi was undefeated in over 60 duels.

He considered his sword as a means of personal development. The sword is the spirit of the samurai. It is the physical extension of who you are.

“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.”

Miyamoto Musashi

You cannot learn my teachings by reading you must lay your life on the line to comprehend my learnings. Miyamoto Musashi had a strong following and his legacy lives on. The legacy includes the book, The Book of Five Rings. The book is considered by many as a masterpiece and is still widely read today.

Miyamoto Musashi Documentary


1 thought on “Miyamoto Musashi: The Book of Five Rings – Summary”

  1. Two thoughts:

    “Back in those days, a duel was a fight to the death. There were no do-overs or rematches. It was a contest to the death and not a sport.”

    If you read a real source on Musashi, like Bennett, you’ll see many of Musashi’s duels were not to the death.

    Ref https://martialhistoryteam.blogspot.com/2020/12/miyamoto-musashi-book-survey.html

    Second, the quote you highlight is bogus. Musashi did not write ‘There is nothing outside of yourself…’

    Ref https://martialhistoryteam.blogspot.com/2020/05/did-miyamoto-musashi-say-something-like.html

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