Greetings Fellows!

It has been quite the month, our group in the U.S. has just completed our final summer program (out of 8) and they have been outstanding! We are also helping a large religious organization purchase and deliver janitorial services and supplies to hundreds of buildings all over the U.S. It has been great keeping up with many of you and I am amazed at your accomplishments and what you have been doing in your countries!

This month I am writing on a book I read called Book of Five Rings. The author is Miyamoto Musashi, he lived in the 1500s and was a Samurai who killed over 60 people in duels. The translator and interpreter of the book is Stephen Kaufman one of the founding fathers of American Karate. The book outlines what this Samurai felt was the best life of a sword fighter. He splits up his philosophy into 5 rings:

1. Earth – Foundation (Concepts life is built upon)

2. Water – Strategy (How life should be lived)

3. Fire – Attack (The way to move forward in life)

4. Wind – Other Ideas (Environment of Life)

5. No-Thing – The “Way” (The Secret of Life)


This blog I have outlined the major ideas and concepts that I found helpful in each of the 5 rings:


Earth – Foundation

Life of a great swordsman is built upon the following ideas:

1. You must always change – “The development of warrior consciousness is an ongoing thing. Each new experience continually leads to new challenges.” (P.4) “There can be no let up to your study, regardless of the path you choose, even though you may have mastered a particular level. You must search constantly for still more understanding of your chosen art.” (P.7)

2. You must be dedicated to it, it must be your life – “The “Way” cannot be learned through frivolous contests in which the outcome is for the name of a school or a large trophy. It can only be realized where physical death is a reality” (P.4) “When studying the art of strategy, it is necessary to practice day and night. I cannot stress this enough.” (P.13) “Way of the warrior is a Way of life and can never be construed as a hobby unless you are seeking only to impress others with your technique.” (P.20) “Endeavor to know all things.” (P.12)

3. Utilization of Expertise. You must see value in everything – “A man cannot understand the perfection and imperfections of his chosen art if he cannot see the value in other arts.” (P.5)

4. One must understand and accept natural law, reality, or truth. You cannot try to fight against it. – “Whatever your determination or will-power, it is foolish to try to change the nature of things. Things work the way they do because that is the Way of things.” (P.16)

5. You cannot live in a silo. You must be aware of things outside of your realm of expertise – “To understand the Universe, one must be in accord with the truths of other matters in order to understand more deeply the conviction needed to pursue the Way of the warrior.” (P.17)

6. It begins with you. Know yourself – “The warrior leader must understand himself before he can understand the realities of commanding others to do his bidding, especially when teaching is involved.” (P.8) “If you wish to control others you must first control yourself.” (P.22)

7. Focus on the basics, this will lead you to perfection – “When you have mastered the basics of sword fighting you will be able to beat one man or many men. The result would be the same if you were fighting a countless horde so long as your strength remained with you.” (P.12) “To know ten thousand things, know one well.” (P.13)


Water – Strategy

Expert swordsman look at trying to do the following in life:

1. Always take enough time to pre-plan – “Tighten your abdominal muscles and root yourself into the ground. …Slowly work your way toward the enemy until you are ready to strike.” (P.28)

2. Have a mentor – “You must have a “trainer” assisting you in your practice….” (P.40)

3. Don’t think – “Have no preconceived ideas about how a situation should come out.” (P.42) “Do not prejudge a view according to what you think things should appear to be, but instead look at all things equally and in this way, you will be able to discern what can hurt you and what cannot.” (P.29)

4. Be observant – “The importance of following the enemy’s motions and his manner of preparing to attack is crucial to understanding the difference between beating him and being beaten.” (P.49)

5. Be flexible – “What you may think is effective may in fact be ineffective because of the way in which the enemy is “feeling” at that particular moment. Your attitude must be such that you can shift into any other mode of combat without having to make a conscious decision. You must be flexible and you must have no particular liking for any particular set of techniques.” (P.39)

6. Be one way all the time – “There is no such thing as a grip for striking and a grip for practice.” (P.31)

7. Do not attract attention – “Men who are quiet and strong and seem to be doing nothing. They do not appear to be tense and do not appear to be in disarray. They simply appear.” (P.26)

8. Be courageous – “You must continue on, you must not hesitate, and you must be relentless in your conviction. This takes great effort in training and meditation, but it must be done.” (P.40)


Fire – Attack

Expert swordsman focus on the following when they act:

1. They take it slow – “When you do not discern the reality of the truth, then you become foolish. Do not rush yourself in learning and do not expect to know what the master understands.” (P.68) “What is more, if you are constantly moving fast you will have no time to maintain your poise and timing. Your rhythm will start to get out of control because you will tire and start to move slower, perhaps without even realizing it.” (P.97) “Perfection can only be based on true calmness within the soul and any attempt to radically change for no good reason will throw the entire attitude of calmness out of harmony. Move naturally and gracefully. Execute correctly. Think about this.” (P.97)

2. They are consistent – “You should practice wearing your full suit of armor in order to learn the true feeling of combat. You can become master of strategy through thorough and constant practice.” (P.56)

3. Serve others – “What is meant by suffocating a shadow is to understand the enemy’s strengths and easily see through his intentions. If you can see what the enemy is planning, then how can you fail to defeat him instantly.” (P.67) “The skill you need to win a battle lies in knowing the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.” (P.63)

4. Observe do not think – “If you are always aware of your surroundings, then you will always be able to cross at the correct time.” (P.62) “Do not forget that actual combat is extremely fast and demands that you act and react without thinking.” (P.73)

5. Follow the path of least resistance – “If you find that it is difficult for you to penetrate strong armor, then go to the areas where armor is weak and you will eventually break through.” (P.70-71) “You attack with a technique and it does not work. You try it again and it still does not work. Switch! You must never rely on only one particular attitude to get a job done.” (P.74)

6. Must see the big picture – “Never permit yourself to become entangled in the small points of combat. Expand your spirit and see both the large and the small.” (P.76)

7. Understanding is the most important thing – “It does not matter how you do it as long as you understand why you are doing it.” (P.59)


Wind – Others

Expert swordsman must not be ignorant of their surroundings. They look at others as follows:

1. They are no respecter of persons – “I do not like inner and outer attitudes. They are detrimental to understanding the true nature of the universe which is oneness.” (P.98-99)

2. They know the difference between people – “Strategy demands that you know the difference between yourself and others.” (P.83)

3. They realize understanding is the key – “To win in fights you must control the enemy and not necessarily rely on your weapons so much as on your intelligence.” (P.89)

4. They realize understanding others determine the next move – “When you advance, you advance quickly and get immediately to the point. Your speed is dependent upon the speed of the enemy.” (P.97)


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No-Thing – The “Way”

True warriors understand the secret to life:

1. “When you have truly understood the universe in relation to your art and your art in relation to the universe, you will come to understand no-thing-ness.” (P.103-104)

2. “Things will never appear to be what they truly are. But if you look at things with no attachment to them you will come to understand your place.” (P.104)

3. “…Truth as no-thing” (P.104)

4. “In the Way of the warrior there is no such thing as thought.” (P.105)

5. “The Zen point of view suggests that you stop all conceptual thinking. Stop thinking about what you “feel” is right or wrong. There is no reason to pursue any attempt at perfection. Perfection is all there is and when you come to realize this, you will have understood my Way of strategy and the Way of the warrior, at which time you can forget about it and just be “it.” Best to have it put this way. Simply be!” (P.105).

Wow, to realize that Musashi, 400 years ago, figure out the same ideas and secrets to life, is amazing. The information has always been there for people who want to open their eyes.


Keep up the great work everyone!

Dr. Jacob S. Kashiwagi

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