The Book of Five Rings Mini-Review

The Book of Five Rings
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Published: April 13th 1993
Here is one of the most insightful texts on the subtle arts of confrontation and victory to emerge from Asian culture. Written not only for martial artists but for leaders in all professions, the book analyzes the process of struggle and mastery over conflict that underlies every level of human interaction. The Book of Five Rings —which has become a well-known classic among American business people, studied for its insights into the Japanese approach to…
3.8Overall Score

The Book of Five Rings

For being composed in 1643, The Book of Five Rings gave me a surprising amount of principles that were, to some degree, relevant in the 21st century. It is definitely a book that requires you to ...

  • Readability
    3.5
  • Depth
    3.7
  • Provocativeness
    4.3

For being composed in 1643, The Book of Five Rings gave me a surprising amount of principles that were, to some degree, relevant in the 21st century. It is definitely a book that requires you to think about the base behind the principle, but the entirety of the book does not force you to read between the lines. The way I believe to describe it is by altering a common phrase; “Miyamoto Musashi does not open the door for you, he guides you a series of doors all gradually leading to the same place”.

Miyamoto Musashi, whilst being focused on martial arts, manages to target anyone within a profession who is looking to master their craft through analogies and metaphors scattered across the book. For example, he draws a comparison of martial arts to carpentry and this allows for the reader to open up to the link of martial arts to core principles. Whilst this makes the book open for non-martial artists, the “vague” expressions can feel lacklustre at moments and possibly not as in-depth as I may prefer.

The book is split into five rings or “scrolls”:

  • Earth Scroll
  • Water Scroll
  • Fire Scroll
  • Wind Scroll
  • The Scroll of Emptiness (also known as the Void Scroll)

Whilst the shortest in length (by a long shot), my favourite scroll was the void scroll. This is because, within this epilogue, the thoughts behind a “correct mindset” he expresses was personally extremely thought-provoking.