Who is Miyamoto Musashi

Summary of The book of the five rings

The beginning of the Edo period

Between 1570 and 1600, an era of political division and civil war-like conditions came to an end in Japan. Descendants of the imperial dynasties fought for power with generals - shoguns - and local princes. Completed around 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu the lengthy work of the reunification of Japan, the Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi had started in previous years. Since Tokugawa settled the administrative seat of the new United Kingdom in a village called Edo (today's Tokyo), the epoch that then began is called the Edo period. It lasted into the second half of the 19th century and brought stability and peace to Japan for more than 250 years. This era was achieved through strict regulation of society and extensive isolation of Japan from its neighbors. In the early 17th century, Tokugawa ousted shoguns and princes and strengthened bureaucracy and class. From the Edo period, Japanese society rested on four levels: warriors or samurai, farmers, craftsmen and merchants. Belonging to these social classes was hereditary and regulated people's everyday life from clothing to behavior. By separating the warriors from the rest of society, the stability of society was to be ensured. Only the samurai were allowed to carry weapons - and only within the framework of strict rules. Therefore, specific martial arts styles and their strictly standardized, canonical figures, the "katas", developed in the Edo period. The samurai ceased to be actual warriors. They received high official and government posts and began to understand their war techniques more strongly as an art form and a school of life.


The book of the five rings - in the original Gorin no Sho - Although it is not the only surviving work by Musashi, it is by far his most powerful. He wrote it during the last two years of his life: between 1643 and 1645. During this time Musashi lived as a hermit in a remote cave on Kyushu in southern Japan. Here he mainly devoted himself to meditation and writing. in the Gorin no Sho Musashi takes stock of his life - a life completely dedicated to the art of sword fighting: full of battles and duels of life and death. But Musashi not only looked back on a long trail of blood, but also on a path of moral perfection and religious enlightenment. His sword fighting style, the Niten-ichiryū, was more than a mere craft of war for him - he also saw it as a path to virtue. With this view, Musashi shaped the samurai culture. Just a few weeks before his death, Musashi concluded that Gorin no Sho from. He gave the manuscript to his favorite students Terao Magonojo, Furuhashi Sozaemon and Terao Motomenosuke. They should read Musashi's work, use it in founding their own schools - and burn it as soon as they read it. In fact, Musashi's manuscript is lost today. The text was passed down primarily through a copy that Furuhashi made: that Ihon Gorin no Sho.

Impact history

Miyamoto Musashi taught numerous students whom he commissioned to establish their own schools at certain points in their training. In these schools they should perfect certain techniques and develop their own fighting styles. These schools, which were mainly located in southern Japan, were called Musashi ryu, Enmei ryu or Nito Masana ryu - "Masana" was Musashi's warrior name. Today there are still schools in Japan which call themselves Hyoho-Niten-ichiryū School and which are in the direct historical tradition of Musashi. The first teacher of the Niten ichiryū school was Motomenosuke. The book of the five rings is now considered to be the founding document of the Japanese sword and stick fighting kendō. Since it contains its own ethics and has significantly shaped the samurai culture, the Book of the five rings in addition, a strong influence on the cultural identity of Japan is attributed. On the one hand, it has found enormous circulation as a collection of wisdom and on the other, it has become popular as a strategy guide. Japanese company bosses geared their marketing and management strategies to Musashi's classics early on. And managers still use it today The book of the five rings as a source of inspiration to keep the upper hand in competitive markets. Books like The Book of Five Rings for Executives of Donald G. Krause introduced Musashi's work into international management literature. In western entertainment culture, Musashi was already known as the character of the invincible, superhuman samurai in the 1930s: through the largely fictional novel Musashi of Yoshikawa EijiThis was published in the 1950s as a trilogy by Hiroshi Inagaki filmed.