A book written by Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's most legendary Samurai. It is a book about martial artist strategy, with studies of the warrior way of life and philosophy.

Musashi's influences include: Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, and Taoism.

The book is divided into five sections:

The book of: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Nothing.

I read this in translation some years ago, and it stays with me still...I remember the image of Musashi, the tousle-haired itinerant sword saint who's beaten everyone in Japan, so no longer even bothers using a sword to duel.

Challenged to fight a famous fencing master in a dawn duel on a river island, Mushashi rows out alone and more than a little late to find his opponent and second awaiting him in their samurai finery. Our dishevelled hero has come unarmed. He leaps from the boat, breaks an oar in two, charges and kills his opponent with one blow of the oar handle.

He wrote the book in his latter days in the form of letters to his student sent from his hermit cave where he had retreated to await his coming end. Not just fencing, he (indirectly) expounds the incomparable dharma of the void.

A better translation of Go Rin No Sho is "Book of Five Spheres" since in Buddhist literature the Five Spheres were the four appendages of the human body, and the head. Historically, it's generally agreed that he was a damn good artist and sculptor as well. It's also commonly believed that he was the greatest sword fencer in Japan ever, and it's true that every book on Kendo has his book in its bibliography, but Masaaki Hatsumi has gone on record as saying that there were many swordsmen who were as good or better, it's just that Musashi wrote it down.

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