The Complete Book of Five Rings

Narrated by: Brian Nishii
Length: 5 hrs and 3 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (1,777 ratings)

Audible Plus

$7.95 a month

Try our newest plan – unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
$7.95 a month after 30 day trial. Upgrade or cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,104
  • 4 Stars
    419
  • 3 Stars
    168
  • 2 Stars
    60
  • 1 Stars
    26
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,107
  • 4 Stars
    289
  • 3 Stars
    95
  • 2 Stars
    29
  • 1 Stars
    16
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    935
  • 4 Stars
    322
  • 3 Stars
    184
  • 2 Stars
    59
  • 1 Stars
    25

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

53 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Translation

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

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for ShaneG
  • 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

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jake Suter
  • 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 time

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Daniel
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • 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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-08-19

helpful philosophy

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-08-18

tips for life

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David Hellsing
  • 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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for DaveDude1975
  • DaveDude1975
  • 10-14-16

Awesome

if your into martial arts this is a must read, although samurai and sword based no matter what your discipline you will learn something from this.

2 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Thomas
  • Thomas
  • 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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bradley
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lachlan
  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for A
  • 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-28-18

Classic

Still a timeless classic...a great book! A lot of the teachings are still relevant today

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-16

great

in depth with great explanation of musashi's life and point of view. includes other vital writings by him and translates the japanese words carefully and clearly.