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Ichi Ryu Ni To (One school - Two swords)

Warriors, both commanders and troopers, carry two swords at their belt. In olden times these were called the long sword and the sword; nowadays they are known as the sword and the companion sword. Let it suffice to say that in our land, whatever the reason, a warrior carries two swords at his belt. It is the Way of the warrior. The warrior must be skilled in both swords to be effective in combat. The Way of the warrior must be in spirit and skill. Both to mental and physical being must be part of any discipline.


Ni Ten Ichi Ryu (Way of strategy)

I have been many years training in the Way of strategy, called Ni Ten Ichi Ryu, and now I think I will explain it in writing for the first time. It is now during the first ten days of the tenth month in the twentieth year of Kanei (1645). I have climbed mountain lwato of Higo in Kyushu to pay homage to heaven, pray to Kwannon, and kneel before Buddha. I am a warrior of Harima province, Shinmen Musashi No Kaimi Fujiwara No Geshin, age sixty years. (With these words the Book of Five Rings began.)


Excerpts from The Book of Five Rings

The Way is shown in five books concerning different aspects. These are Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and Void.

Chi or tsuchi (Earth) - The first book is called the Ground book. The body of the Way of strategy from the viewpoint of my Ichi school is explained in the Ground book. It is difficult to realize the true Way just through sword-fencing. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things. As if it were a straight road mapped out on the ground.

Sui or mizu (Water) - Second is the Water book. With water as the basis, the spirit becomes like water. Water adopts the shape of its receptacle; it is sometimes a trickle and sometimes a wild sea. Water has a clear blue color. By the clarity, things of Ichi school are shown in this book.If you master the principles of sword-fencing, when you freely beat one man, you beat any man in the world. The spirit of defeating a man is the same for ten million men. The strategist makes small things into big things, like building a great Buddha from one foot model. I cannot write in detail how this is done. The principle of strategy is having one thing, to know ten thousand things. Things of Ichi school are written in this the Water book.

Ka or hi (Fire) - Third is the Fire book. This book is about fighting. The spirit of fire is fierce, whether the fire be small or big; and so it is with battles. The Way of battles is the same for man to man fights and for ten thousand a side battles. You must appreciate that spirit can become big or small. What is big is easy to perceive: what is small is difficult to perceive. In short, it is difficult for large numbers of men to change position, so their movements can be easily predicted. An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are difficult to predict. You must appreciate this. The essence of this book is that you must train day and night in order to make quick decisions. In strategy it is necessary to treat training as a part of normal life with your spirit unchanging. Thus combat in battle is described in the Fire book.

Fu or kaze (Wind) - Fourthly the Wind book. This book is not concerned with my Ichi school but with other schools of strategy. By Wind I mean old traditions, present-day traditions, and family traditions of strategy. Thus I clearly explain the strategies of the world. This is tradition. It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others. To all Ways there are side-tracks. If you study a Way daily, and your spirit diverges, you may think you are obeying a good way, but objectively it is not the true Way. If you are following the true Way and diverge a little, this will later become a large divergence. You must realize this. Other strategies have come to be thought of as mere sword-fencing, and it is not unreasonable that this should be so. The benefit of my strategy, although it includes sword-fencing, lies in a separate principle. I have explained what is commonly meant by strategy in other schools in the Tradition (Wind) book.

Ku or sora (Void) Fifthly, the book of the Void. By Void I mean that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature. When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void. I intend to show how to follow the true Way according to nature in the book of the Void.

All the five books are chiefly concerned with timing. You must train sufficiently to appreciate all this.

If you practice day and night in the above Ichi school strategy, your spirit will naturally broaden. Thus is large scale strategy and the strategy of hand to hand combat propagated in the world. This is recorded for the first time in the five books of Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void. This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy:

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

It is important to start by setting these broad principles in your heart, and train in the Way of strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will be difficult for you to master strategy. If you learn and attain this strategy, you will never lose even to twenty or thirty enemies. More than anything to start with you must set your heart on strategy and earnestly stick to the Way. You will come to be able to actually beat men in fights, and to be able to win with your eye. Also by training you will be able to freely control your own body, conquer men with your body, and with sufficient training you will be able to beat ten men with your spirit. When you have reached this point, will it not mean that you are invincible?

Moreover, in large scale strategy the superior man will manage many subordinates dexterously, bear himself correctly, govern the country and foster the people, thus preserving the ruler's discipline. If there is a Way involving the spirit of not being defeated, to help oneself and gain honor, it is the Way of strategy.

The second year of Shoho (1645), the fifth month, the twelfth day.

Teruo Magonojo for SHINMEN MUSASHI

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