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Book of Five Rings]
The Book of Five Rings
by Miyamoto Musashi
From youth my heart has been inclined toward the Way of strategy. My first duel was when I was thirteen, I struck down a strategist of the Shinto school, one Arima Kihei. When I was sixteen I struck down an able strategist, Tadashima Akiyama. When I was twenty-one I went up to the capital and met all manner of strategists, never once failing to win in many contests.
After that I went from province to province duelling with strategists of various schools, and not once failed to win even though I had as many as sixty encounters. This was between the ages of thirteen and twenty-eight or twenty-nine.
When I reached thirty I looked back on my past. The previous victories were not due to my having mastered strategy. Perhaps it was natural ability, or the order of heaven, or that other schools' strategy was inferior. After that I studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realise the Way of strategy when I was fifty.
Since then I have lived
without following any particular Way. Thus with the virtue of strategy
I practise many arts and abilities - all things with no teacher. To write
this book I did not use the law of Buddha or the teachings of Confucius,
neither old war chronicles nor books on martial tactics. I take up my brush
to explain the true spirit of this Ichi school as it is mirrored in the
Way of heaven and Kwannon. The time is the night of the tenth day of the
tenth month, at the hour of the tiger (3-5 a.m.)