Friday, March 16, 2012

Miyamoto Musashi’s Five Rings of Strategy

“Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.”            Miyamoto Musashi

As Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Mushshi was well known as a great warrior and strategist lived four hundred years ago, his books of  five rings also make significant impact on shaping modern business strategy and the art of wisdom: 

1. Five Rings:

  • Ground: Knowing the smallest and biggest thing, the shallowest thing and deepest thing, as if it’s straight road mapped to the ground

  • Water: With water as basis, the spirit becomes like water, water adopt the shape of its receptacle, it is sometimes  a trickle, sometimes a wild sea; Water has clear blue color.

  • Fire: The spirit of fire is fierce, weather the fire is small or big, you must appreciate the spirit can come big and small, what is big is easy to perceive, what is small is difficult to perceive; the essential is: practice, practice and practice to make good strategy

  • Wind:  means old traditions, present-day traditions of strategy. It is difficult to know yourself if you do not know others. To all Ways there are side-tracks. If you study a Way daily, and your spirit diverges, you may think you are obeying a good way, but objectively it is not the true Way. If you are following the true Way and diverge a little, this will later become a large divergence.

  • Void. means that which has no beginning and no end. Attaining this principle means not attaining the principle. The Way of strategy is the Way of nature. When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void.
2.     Five Takeaway:

·        Time is Strategy: There is timing in everything. Timing in strategy cannot be mastered without a great deal of practice. Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good.

·        The Gaze in Strategy: Perception and Sight: In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.

·        Rat's Head, Ox's Neck: the Way of strategy as being both a rat's head and an ox's neck. Whenever we have become preoccupied with small details, we must suddenly change into a large spirit, interchanging large with small.

·        Keep the Spirit: In fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. Do not let the enemy see your spirit

·        The Way of Nature: People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is bewilderment...
.3. Principles of Five Rings:

Do not think dishonestly.
The Way is in training.
Become acquainted with every art.
Know the Ways of all professions.
Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
Pay attention even to trifles.
Do nothing which is of no use.


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