Doing a bunch of research on samurai and bushido for a gig. I read The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, and The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War, by Yagyu Munenori, as well as visited the arms and armor section at the Met.
I really liked Musashi’s treatise. Simply put, it’s a gathering of his thoughts on killing people in ritualistic combat (he fought over 60 duels, some against multiple opponents, and never lost), but there’s a lot of analogies to any kind of endeavor, which he acknowledges in the book.
There’s a nice little list in the “Earth Scroll” (translation by Thomas Cleary):
- Think of what is right and true.
- Practice and cultivate the science.
- Become acquainted with the arts.
- Know the principles of the craft.
- Understand the harm and benefit in everything.
- Learn to see everything accurately.
- Become aware of what is not obvious.
- Be careful even in small matters.
- Do not do anything useless.
Essentially, he never lost because his singular focus was winning. He lived and breathed combat; when everyone else was sleeping, he was training.