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Publisher's Summary

The Complete Book of Five Rings is an authoritative version of Musashi's classic The Book of Five Rings, translated and annotated by a modern martial arts master, Kenji Tokitsu. Tokitsu has spent most of his life researching the legendary samurai swordsman and his works, and in this book he illuminates this seminal text, along with several other works by Musashi. These include "The Mirror of the Way of Strategy", which Musashi wrote when he was in his 20s; "Thirty-five Instructions on Strategy", and "Forty-two Instructions on Strategy", which were precursors to The Book of Five Rings; and "The Way to Be Followed Alone", which Musashi wrote just days before his death.

Heard together, these five texts give listeners an unusually detailed, nuanced view of Musashi's ideas on swordsmanship, strategy, and self-cultivation. Tokitsu puts all these writings into historical and philosophical context and makes them accessible and relevant to today's listeners and martial arts students. Tokitsu understands Musashi's writings - and Musashi as a martial artist - unusually well and is able to provide a rare insight into the man and his historical contribution.

©2000 Kenji Tokitsu, English Translation 2004, 2010 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about The Complete Book of Five Rings

Average Customer Ratings
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  • DW
  • 05-27-16

Best translation I have encountered.

I read Go Rin no Sho for the first time when I was just a lad of fifteen, and have read and reread it many times since then. It has informed and enriched my martial arts practice considerably. The translation I had was Thomas Cleary's, published by Shambala, but until listening to this translation I never knew what I had been missing all these years. The translator, of course being Japanese, imbues the text with a layer of nuance that, sorry to say, had been absent from other translations. His prose is at the same time elegant and concise, and I could really feel Musashi speaking through him, with very little if anything lost in the translation. What a pleasure as well to hear it narrated by a Japanese man with proper pronunciation of the language, something that bugged me incessantly when listening to the audiobook of James Clavell's Shogun: the fact that Clavell's grasp of Japanese was shaky at best was exacerbated by the Narrator's hideous pronunciation and diction. I will definitely seek out other titles by this translator and narrator.

57 people found this helpful

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You must study this book, well!

If you could sum up The Complete Book of Five Rings in three words, what would they be?
Tremendous.

Would you listen to The Complete Book of Five Rings again? Why?
Yes, you must listen, well.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?
The structure of the 5 elements; Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Heaven; and how they correlate to master any craft.

What could the authors have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Not a thing.

What about Brian Nishii's performance did you like?
Perfect. Just perfect.

Any additional comments?
Serious work must have been done, to create such a solid storyline.

11 people found this helpful

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A Manual for a Martial Artist, Not a Strategist.

This book was an interesting listen. It gave me some insight and a better understanding of some of Japan’s history and culture. However, this was a manual to train swordsman in a particular school of swordsmanship. Most of the book is how to hold the sword, your body, attack and guard. There are some deeper meanings and philosophical ideas within the text, but they are few and far between. Not a good listen for the average reader. A martial artist or swordsman might love this book. For a strategist I recommend instead Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

58 people found this helpful

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instruction manual

it doesn't matter what you are up against..this is how you defeat all negativity. While listening, I have placed my personal stresses that I wish to defeat in place of the attacker Musashi mentions from his and his instructions. He found the formula that runs universally. it doesn't matter what planet you may find yourself on or even the city. this is the art of living to live, not living to die.

18 people found this helpful

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Prepare to Pause and Ponder

This is not a book to listen to passively while driving to work or taking the train. This is a book that demands you to actively think, pause, and make connections to real life events, whether they happened to you, someone close to you, or some public figures.

One listen will never be enough, as you will have to come back again and again to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.

35 people found this helpful

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Musashi: The man, the myth, etc

This book seems like a must-"read" for fans of the famous samurai, but for those looking for a concise listen on swordsmanship and martial arts philosophy might want to pass. The book does tell you everything you could think to ask about Miyamoto Musashi; his praises, his detractors, a rough idea of when he lived and his background. The actual meat of the book, consists of Musashi explaining his approach to swordsmanship and "The Way" and what many might know as the 28 precepts. The Way, as Musashi calls it, is how a warrior trains and prepares for battle. Bruce Lee is able to explain his personal beliefs with more panache but it's hard to discount what Musashi says in this book. The narrator is even thoughtful enough to offer a few interpretations of the text as ancient Japanese is difficult to fully translate.

The 28 precepts, are a list of rules Miyamoto Mushashi created to help others follow The Way. Are they absolute? Only if you're a free-thinking samurai in the 17th century Japan. Some of it sounds extreme, and it is; like Bruce Lee, Musashi trained diligently to excel past others in his time to become legendary. Overall, the list is an intriguing code to apply as you see fit, and worth considering if you're a philosophy-leaning martial artist.

Not a bad book, a little long and takes awhile to get to the good stuff.

5 people found this helpful

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Martial Arts Masterpiece

Simple and profound.

Would you like to learn about the way and strategy this is a essential work. Written by a man who faced more than 60 life or death combats you can obtain some of his thoughts and understandings about how he achieved such feat.

In our present days of relative peace and stability it's hard to understand or even learn by real experience the art of combat, so what remains it's some of grandmasters works to reflect well on those matters.

11 people found this helpful

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Translation

Amazing translation. The five scrolls and the 21 principles were very easy to visualize and understand.

9 people found this helpful

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Great and simplistic on strategy

If you could sum up The Complete Book of Five Rings in three words, what would they be?

To the point!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Miyamoto Musashi. The author Samurai.

Which scene was your favorite?

The 5 elements are explained throughly and in clear detail. I am an advocate in the Chinese Martial Arts and found much comfort and similarities of thought. To be a successful student of the Martial Arts, you must appreciate the subtle differences in the styles. Musashi was a true master in his explanation of the "Way" And it's many nuances. An excellent book!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I read the paper back version of this book over 30 years ago, and I must say that I got something out of it in my early days of practice and enjoyed the book then. However, my understanding and enlightment of listening to it today is like night and day to what I herd. It made a lot of sense. Glad I took the time to purchase this audio.

Any additional comments?

The narrator was really good!

14 people found this helpful

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A little boring

Brian Nishi is the voice I want to read me anything Japan related. He's really great.

The story is strategy related if you want to learn sword fighting. It also has other applications to your daily life. I just feel like some other books that are strategy related have been a little easier to apply.

7 people found this helpful

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  • ShaneG
  • 11-20-16

Get the shorter version

The extra content in this version is all repetitive useless fluff that is not a part of the actual book of five rings, don't waste the time just get the shorter version

16 people found this helpful

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  • Jake Suter
  • 10-18-18

Not sure what I was expecting

Was interesting and narrated well. But know it was written for warriors of the, much of it is straight forward advice for would-be samurai.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 08-17-18

Very well narrated!

The narrator made this version of the book a very enjoyable listening experience. Thank you!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stephen Coates
  • 09-26-21

Book of Conflict.

It is a interesting book, written by a Master for his pupils. True life Knowledge.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-04-21

great book

the recording is super glitchy.. no matter which device i play it on, half of the word in the beginning of the sentances are missing throughout th reading...bitterly dissapointed and really annoying, as its a great book full of knowledge.

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  • John Williamson
  • 11-04-20

Great book, the lessons are still relevant.

Relevant and engaging the lessons are as applicable today as they were 600 years ago.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-27-20

Solid and thorough understanding of strategy

a brilliant audio book to own, I am grateful for having this in my collection

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-08-19

helpful philosophy

I loved the life and history of musashi, his philosophy really helped me connect things

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  • Charlie
  • 11-08-18

tips for life

flew through it in a single listen, great book and I will research it further for sure

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  • David Hellsing
  • 03-08-17

Truely enteraining and Instructive.

I have long since wanted to learn of Miyamoto Musashi, coming across plenty of sauces with a sense of unjust bias again the man. now that his very own tests are published in full. I can honestly say that this book. by far well worth my time.

I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking understand the mindset behind the man and Japanese culture.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-19

Sword techniques and insight that grows on you

I initially started listening with the intention of inspiring a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. As the book progressed, I increasingly noticed profound and broadly applicable insight behind the concepts. At one point, I watched my cat leap high in the air to catch a bird sitting in a tree, and my vicarious experience of her strategy mirrored what I was listening to at that moment.

Although myself and many raised to chase the spark of pleasure and success may struggle to truly understand Musashi, particularly regarding his thoughts on emptiness, an attempt to intuit feels braver than passive resignation. At the very least, be wary of misinterpreting emptiness as nihilism.

There were many explanations of techniques and strategy that could add flavour to a story or game. The narrator had exceptional pacing, clarity and tone. This listening experience was a good one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Lachlan
  • 08-02-17

Great book and narration

An exellent interoperation of musashi's scrolls with a martialist take on it. Beautifully narrated and I like the comparative analysis between the different scrolls.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bradley
  • 03-31-19

Core strategy

Excellent strategy book, good translation and well read. Real applicable strategies for life and business in the modern world

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • A
  • 08-03-16

Brilliantly narrated

I think this book would probably be better to have as a physical copy. The ability to go back and really look at Miyamoto's points and highlight certain bits I think is necessary to really get the most out of it

1 person found this helpful

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  • Darren Zhou
  • 09-27-21

Not so relevant to most

A lot of content within is repeated over several chapters. This book is probably not going to be relevant for many people (since most probably aren’t really going through a pursuit to become a great swordsman).

If you take the lessons within about swordplay to be metaphors as in combat through life though, you may be able to draw out some useful techniques and tips.

But for most people I’d suggest listening to something else instead.

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