Miyamoto Musashi; Samurai with a sword and a pen
Miyamoto Musashi, also known by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer, and rōnin (masterless Samurai). Commonly known as Musashi was a master of various arts but one that stood above all was his swordsman skill.
Often remembered as the sword-saint of Japan, Musashi had been undefeated in his record 61 duels. In 1612, he fought against his arch-rival Sasaki Kojirō, a swordsman whose skills were reported to be equal to his own with a wooden sword and finished the duel in one single bow.
In the course of history, there have been many accomplished Samurais but Miyamoto Musashi was in his own league. Once when he was fighting against dozens of his enemy, to escape and fight off his opponents he drew his second sword and defended himself with a sword in each hand which initially was the beginning of his Niten’ichi sword style.
Musashi was not only a great fighter but was also the founder of the Niten Ichi-ryū School. Towards his final years, he wrote “The Book of Five Rings” and Dokkōdō (The Path of Aloneness). His books even after centuries are seen as the great’s to be authored. While “The Book of Five Rings” is a text on Kenjutsu and the martial arts in general; Dokkōdō on the other hand, deals with the ideas that lie behind it, as well as his life’s philosophy.
Miyamoto Musashi was a gifted swordsman with a fighting spirit of a bull and untouched calmness of a cheetah. He used to get inside the psyche of his opponent and beat him inside his head even before the first sword was drawn.
It is said during his travels with monks he also mastered the art of meditation which helped him during his battle and life altogether. From the first kill, the chaos of battles, years of intense training in the wilderness, the psychology of the Yoshioka duels, and hunting down and challenging masters of any weapon Musashi witnessed everything.
One thing that was waiting for him was peace of mind. And he found it in a cave at a Buddhist retreat, halfway up a mountain where he would write The Book of Five Rings – a creation that would seal his place in history. While his other book “Dokkodo” was largely composed on the occasion of Musashi giving away his possessions in preparation for death, and was dedicated to his favorite disciple, Terao Magonojō.
And to honor this legendary Samurai we have listed a few precepts and lines from his books:
- Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
- Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
- Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
- You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.
- Never be jealous.
- The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them.
- Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
- Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
- You can only fight the way you practice.
- Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.
- Get beyond love and grief: exist for the good of Man.
- To know ten thousand things, know one well.
- To become the enemy, see yourself as the enemy of the enemy.
- Do not fear death.
- You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor.
- Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
- No man is invincible, and therefore no man can fully understand that which would make him invincible.
- Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.
- It is said the warrior’s is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways.
- There is even rhythm in being empty.
Some of Musashi’s advice has eternal value. As Musashi wrote: “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.”