“If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you.”
Miyamoto Musashi (also known simply as Musashi) may be the most well-known Kensei (sword saint) in Japanese history, and his skills with the double-bladed sword were only surpassed by the talents shown in his writings. In particular, his book The Book of Five Rings (五輪書, Go Rin no Sho), guides the reader through Musashi’s philosophic approach to the ‘craft of war’.
He mastered combat and conquered the art of writing, and his quotes are still used in popular culture to this day to denote honour, skill, and dedication. As in real life, within the world of Conqueror’s Blade: Sengoku Musashi would be considered one of the Ronin; a wandering martial arts master.
A Duelling Doyen
Born in 1584 in the Harima Province of Japan, Musashi’s first duel took place at the tender age of thirteen. Musashi writes of this first battle in The Book of Five Rings, describing the duel against a samurai named Arima Kihei, and further musings from author William Scott Wilson in The Lone Samurai shape it as an underdog tale. Wilson writes “Musashi struck Arima between the eyes and then beat him to death. Arima was said to have been arrogant, overly eager to battle, and not a terribly talented swordsman.” This maiden duel set the standard for Musashi’s further battles and cemented his sentiments about control, strategy, and patience.
His title of Kensei is an honorary moniker bestowed upon warriors with legendary swordsmanship skills. Musashi proved the worthiness of this label as throughout his life, he would go on to duel in 61 bouts, remaining undefeated.
‘Ehon Musashi no Abumi’ by Katsushika Hokusai (1836)
The Written Art of War
The Book of Five Rings contains many of Musashi’s iconic quotes regarding war, martial arts, and general life teachings. Strategy in all walks of life was the main focus of the book, and Musashi poses that all art forms need a plan to succeed, just as warriors do in war. Musashi discusses foremen, for example, citing that for them to successfully build a house, they too must employ a strategy for delegating tasks to their workers based on ability and skill. This interesting theory was also literally compared with this quote:
"The carpenter uses a master plan of the building, and the way of strategy is similar in that there is a plan of campaign.”
Within the book, Musashi also writes of Niten Ichi-ryū; "the school of the strategy of two heavens as one", teaching the method of classical Japanese swordsmanship conceived by the man himself. The Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu is the Kenjutsu school where the unique namesake style is taught, focusing on the one-handed use of the sword. Musashi claims that “If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand.” Musashi argues that “when you become used to wielding the long sword, you will gain the power of the Way and wield the sword well."
The Book of Five Rings includes numerous quotes regarding Musashi’s philosophy towards life, war, and personal development, which you may want to keep in mind throughout your adventures in Conqueror’s Blade: Sengoku:
“You can only fight the way you practice.”
“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”
“In battle, if you make your opponent flinch, you have already won.”
“The only reason a warrior is alive is to fight, and the only reason a warrior fights is to win.”