The book of five rings

Perhaps we have met! There weren’t many South Asian (Indian) people in Kendo in the mid 80s. Errol (Blake now) is still around.
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That’s me hanging on Victor’s every word and Wilf Swindells, my Kendo teacher. That must be ’86-‘87. We drank so much and I was a very young man, so I spewed a lot that night 🤢🤮
Bit of a time slip I think. I had moved to Japan in 1980,
 
Hmmmm. I'm listening...

I also understand that sometimes there is more to be found in great texts than may have originally been intended by their authors. I know that is paradoxical and may sound absurd to absolutists. Understanding something deeply doesn't mean that others will accept your perspective. Imagine how rabbinical scholars view how evangelical Christians read Torah! Or what 18th Century "Founding Fathers" who authored the US Constitution would think of the arguments we have today. Contexts change and old writings are seen through different times, with different perspectives.

Allow me to use a much simpler example drawn from Wing Chun, the Chinese art I have spent a fair amount of time in. There is a well known kuen kuit or martial saying: Kuen yau sum fat or The punch comes from the heart. Within the context of my lineage and branch this has very specific meanings. But when read by non-practitioners it takes on a much broader meaning which can be extended well beyond the scope of the fighting arts. Some might deride this kind of over-generalization of interpretation as uniformed and ignorant.

Personally, I kind of feel the other way around. I find looking at things from multiple perspectives interesting, and if not "enlightening" then maybe a little "less darkening". ;)
I first read it back in the 1970's At that time not practitioner. It's one of those books that if you go back to it over the years you find a deeper meaning in practice. To me Musashi's Dokkodo has more relevance. That's the one that leaders of the ryu study with a deeper Buddhist/Confucian meaning. Becoming the head of the ryu for many means more frequent visits to ones temple to study the deeping meaning of kanji that is used. The explanation of just one simple statement can take pages. One thing I have always like about Musashi was his dislike of arrogance and agenda monkeys. Those that were leaders in name only. He seems to have made the point of his duels to seek them out. Then of course his change from satsujin ken to katsujin ken

Hyoho6
 
I understand your point, but I understand his side of the argument as well. From the viewpoint of a scholar, you will notice when a group takes a false meaning from a text. This is usually due to the group not understanding the culture of the original author. My point is that from the viewpoint of a scholar, there can only be one truth. Everything other interpretation other than that of the original author is therefore not true. I’m not taking a position on this particular subject, since I am not well versed. I am just trying to offer the other side of the argument.
The underlined portion probably has a philosophical term that can be attached to it. That in itself probably means it's not important in the real world :D. From a practical standpoint, what is useful, is. We have discussed at length that kata is a template from which techniques can be adapted to some several different applications with little or no modification. While the old masters may have had a particular application in mind, they would not have said that another school using the technique for the same or different application is wrong. In fact, they encouraged such flexibility. (quotes available). Being flexible is one of the main teachings in combat at any level in most any age. This is why the Roman maniple was superior to the Greek phalanx and why some military aircraft are favored over others.

Strategy is based on several factors: Environment, capabilities, and normal human reaction. Sun Tsu said something like, "Feint to the east, attack from the west." Is this a valid idea only for large Chinese armies? If a small French battalion used such a strategy, would he say the French major's application is wrong and not the true way? Even Musashi studied and no doubt adopted some of Sun Tsu's ideas. Strategists share a common body of knowledge. A strategy is not owned by any one entity. It is equally valid in debate, sales, boxing, football, etc. The principles of gravity are equally true of apples, rocks and spaceships. MA principles are like this. They are all designed for use against another human (most of whom have similar natural reactions to stimuli) and employ the same general biomechanics.

Like you, I understand Chris' point and his absolutism in the true Way of his particular style. It can be useful in its preservation as it currently exists. With respect to Chris and his extensive knowledge in his area of expertise however, such absolutism and strict fundamentalism in anything denies the existence of other thinking, including by the one who wrote about the subject! and there is risk of interpreting it in a too narrow view. There is more to anyone's thinking on a subject than can be written in a short manuscript. There may be thoughts unwritten that could influence its interpretation or being seen in a broader scope.

This is why I take a less rigorous view of Musashi's book, just as I do the Bible, and have no reservations of extracting lessons from them, even though I am not a swordsman of that school nor a Christian.
 
The underlined portion probably has a philosophical term that can be attached to it. That in itself probably means it's not important in the real world :D. From a practical standpoint, what is useful, is. We have discussed at length that kata is a template from which techniques can be adapted to some several different applications with little or no modification. While the old masters may have had a particular application in mind, they would not have said that another school using the technique for the same or different application is wrong. In fact, they encouraged such flexibility. (quotes available). Being flexible is one of the main teachings in combat at any level in most any age. This is why the Roman maniple was superior to the Greek phalanx and why some military aircraft are favored over others.

Strategy is based on several factors: Environment, capabilities, and normal human reaction. Sun Tsu said something like, "Feint to the east, attack from the west." Is this a valid idea only for large Chinese armies? If a small French battalion used such a strategy, would he say the French major's application is wrong and not the true way? Even Musashi studied and no doubt adopted some of Sun Tsu's ideas. Strategists share a common body of knowledge. A strategy is not owned by any one entity. It is equally valid in debate, sales, boxing, football, etc. The principles of gravity are equally true of apples, rocks and spaceships. MA principles are like this. They are all designed for use against another human (most of whom have similar natural reactions to stimuli) and employ the same general biomechanics.

Like you, I understand Chris' point and his absolutism in the true Way of his particular style. It can be useful in its preservation as it currently exists. With respect to Chris and his extensive knowledge in his area of expertise however, such absolutism and strict fundamentalism in anything denies the existence of other thinking, including by the one who wrote about the subject! and there is risk of interpreting it in a too narrow view. There is more to anyone's thinking on a subject than can be written in a short manuscript. There may be thoughts unwritten that could influence its interpretation or being seen in a broader scope.

This is why I take a less rigorous view of Musashi's book, just as I do the Bible, and have no reservations of extracting lessons from them, even though I am not a swordsman of that school nor a Christian.
I agree with your view as it pertains to martial arts or combat in general. You have to forgive me, as I taught a college course in ancient texts, which is why I introduced this particular point of view. While some manuscripts are meant to be philosophical in nature, others are most definitely not. I have no position on this particular text, as I have not had the occasion to examine it. I am honestly just offering the point of view of different critical methods used to examine older texts.
 
I first read it back in the 1970's At that time not practitioner. It's one of those books that if you go back to it over the years you find a deeper meaning in practice. To me Musashi's Dokkodo has more relevance. That's the one that leaders of the ryu study with a deeper Buddhist/Confucian meaning. Becoming the head of the ryu for many means more frequent visits to ones temple to study the deeping meaning of kanji that is used. The explanation of just one simple statement can take pages. One thing I have always like about Musashi was his dislike of arrogance and agenda monkeys. Those that were leaders in name only. He seems to have made the point of his duels to seek them out. Then of course his change from satsujin ken to katsujin ken

Hyoho6
Can you please elaborate on what you say about Musashi's change of editorial voice?
 
Can you please elaborate on what you say about Musashi's change of editorial voice?
He himself writes, "During my warring years I learned little. It was not until stopped killing that I had any kind of realization".
 
Can you please elaborate on what you say about Musashi's change of editorial voice?
What he wrote about, his opinions and ideas changed with his ever-expanding experiences and of course advancing age. The person he was, when writing in Reigando toward the end of his life is not the same person he was when he was a 14 year old boy who brutally killed Arima Kihei.
 
I liked the following which I share from the Tozando newslett…

32B2FA54-0FF8-4195-9A69-0D0E06878AEA.jpeg

In the Hotei painting, Musashi depicts a struggle for survival - two roosters squaring off in a ’duel’ no less. This could easily be Musashi himself and any one of the multiple individuals he had challenged or been challenged by throughout his life facing each other in combat. However, this is not the point. It is Hotei. Hotei, often mistaken by those unfamiliar as Buddha, is the name of a Chinese monk who is often depicted carrying a large sack and either laughing or smiling and is known for being humorous and jolly.

We see Hotei in this image looking on as the two roosters fight it out. Perhaps puzzled of intrigued, Hotei is most certainly indifferent to the outcome. As his nature is often described, he is simply taking in the sight. This could be inferred to show the meaninglessness of the conflicts of mankind against the backdrop of eternity. It could very well be a representation of how Musashi had come to terms with the multiple wars and battles that he had taken part in, and a realization that in the grand scale of things, they were of less significance in this, the grand scheme of things.
 
I liked the following which I share from the Tozando newslett…

View attachment 31100
In the Hotei painting, Musashi depicts a struggle for survival - two roosters squaring off in a ’duel’ no less. This could easily be Musashi himself and any one of the multiple individuals he had challenged or been challenged by throughout his life facing each other in combat. However, this is not the point. It is Hotei. Hotei, often mistaken by those unfamiliar as Buddha, is the name of a Chinese monk who is often depicted carrying a large sack and either laughing or smiling and is known for being humorous and jolly.

We see Hotei in this image looking on as the two roosters fight it out. Perhaps puzzled of intrigued, Hotei is most certainly indifferent to the outcome. As his nature is often described, he is simply taking in the sight. This could be inferred to show the meaninglessness of the conflicts of mankind against the backdrop of eternity. It could very well be a representation of how Musashi had come to terms with the multiple wars and battles that he had taken part in, and a realization that in the grand scale of things, they were of less significance in this, the grand scheme of things.
Interesting, thanks for sharing.
 
I liked the following which I share from the Tozando newslett…

View attachment 31100
In the Hotei painting, Musashi depicts a struggle for survival - two roosters squaring off in a ’duel’ no less. This could easily be Musashi himself and any one of the multiple individuals he had challenged or been challenged by throughout his life facing each other in combat. However, this is not the point. It is Hotei. Hotei, often mistaken by those unfamiliar as Buddha, is the name of a Chinese monk who is often depicted carrying a large sack and either laughing or smiling and is known for being humorous and jolly.

We see Hotei in this image looking on as the two roosters fight it out. Perhaps puzzled of intrigued, Hotei is most certainly indifferent to the outcome. As his nature is often described, he is simply taking in the sight. This could be inferred to show the meaninglessness of the conflicts of mankind against the backdrop of eternity. It could very well be a representation of how Musashi had come to terms with the multiple wars and battles that he had taken part in, and a realization that in the grand scale of things, they were of less significance in this, the grand scheme of things.
Is this one of the ambidextrous paintings he did? I can't remember which ones.
 
Is this one of the ambidextrous paintings he did? I can't remember which ones.
I've been thinking about Musashi-sensei's ambidexterity for a few weeks now.

To the extent that I've researched, there's not much to say he was genuinely ambidextrous (at least in historical texts) to my knowledge.

I've seen copies of the Shrike ink piece at Ueno in Tokyo, and by the way the ink looked like it sank into the paper, as well as the consistency of the strokes of the brush, has convinced me that there's no hidden technique - just a master of another art.
 
I've been thinking about Musashi-sensei's ambidexterity for a few weeks now.

To the extent that I've researched, there's not much to say he was genuinely ambidextrous (at least in historical texts) to my knowledge.

I've seen copies of the Shrike ink piece at Ueno in Tokyo, and by the way the ink looked like it sank into the paper, as well as the consistency of the strokes of the brush, has convinced me that there's no hidden technique - just a master of another art.
Well all this has been examined by Japanese art experts. I myself am not qualified enough to express an opinion on this. As to dual sword work as being ambidextrous. His waza has us using two blades in absolute unison and as one and not as separate entities. Bearing that in mind it's easy to notice fake attempts at "looking like Musashi".
 

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