A Book of Five Rings
Shinmen Musashi


I have been many years training in the Way of strategy, called Ni Ten Ichi
Ryu, and now I think I will explain it in writing for the first time. It is now
during the first ten days of the tenth month in the twentieth year of Kanei
(1645). I have climbed mountain Iwato of Higo in Kyushu to pay homage to
heaven, pray to Kwannon, and kneel before Buddha. I am a warrior of
Harima province, Shinmen Musashi No Kami Fujiwara No Genshin, age
sixty years.
From youth my heart has been inclined toward the Way of strategy. My
first duel was when I was thirteen, I struck down a strategist of the Shinto
school, one Arima Kihei. When I was sixteen I struck down an able strategist,
Tadashima Akiyama. When I was twenty-one I went up to the capital and
met all manner of strategists, never once failing to win in many contests.
After that I went from province to province dueling with strategists of
various schools, and not once failed to win even though I had as many as
sixty encounters. This was between the ages of thirteen and twenty-eight or
When I reached thirty I looked back on my past. The previous victories
were not due to my having mastered strategy. Perhaps it was natural ability,
or the order of heaven, or that other schools' strategy was inferior. After that I
studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realize
the Way of strategy when I was fifty.
Since then I have lived without following any particular Way. Thus
with the virtue of strategy I practice many arts and abilities-all things with no
teacher. To write this book I did not use the law of Buddha or the teachings of
Confucius, neither old war chronicles nor books on martial tactics. I take up
my brush to explain the true spirits of this Ichi school as it is mirrored in the
Way of heaven and Kwannon. The time is the night of the tenth day of the
tenth month, at the hour of the tiger.


Strategy is the craft of the warrior. Commanders must enact the craft, and
troopers should know this Way. There is no warrior in the world today who
really understands the Way of strategy.
There are various Ways. There is the Way of salvation by the law of
Buddha, the Way of Confucius governing the Way of learning, the Way of
healing as a doctor, as a poet teaching the Way of Waka, tea, archery, and
many arts and skills. Each man practices as he feels inclined.
It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he
should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can
be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way. Generally
speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. Although
not only warriors but priests, women, peasants and lowlier folk have been
known to die readily in the cause of duty or out of shame, this is a different
thing. The warrior is different in that studying the Way of strategy is based on
overcoming men. By victory gained in crossing swords with individuals, or
enjoining battle with large numbers, we can attain power and fame for
ourselves or our lord. This is the virtue of strategy.

The Way of Strategy

In China and Japan practitioners of the Way have been known as "masters of
strategy". Warriors must learn this Way.
Recently there have been people getting on in the world as strategists,
but they are usually just sword-fencers. The attendants of the Kashima
Kantori's shrines of the province Hitachi received instruction from the gods,
and made schools based on this teaching, traveling from country to country
instructing men. This is the recent meaning of strategy.
In olden times strategy was listed among the Ten Abilities and Seven
Arts as a beneficial practice. It was certainly an art but as a beneficial practice it
was not limited to sword-fencing. The true value of sword-fencing cannot be
seen within the confines of sword-fencing technique.
If we look at the world we see arts for sale. Men use equipment to sell
their own selves. As if with the nut and the flower, the nut has become less
than the flower. In this kind of Way of strategy, both those teaching and those
learning the way are concerned with colouring and showing off their
technique, trying to hasten the bloom of the flower. They speak of "This
Dojo" and "That Dojo". They are looking for profit. Someone once said "
Immature strategy is the cause of grief". That was a true saying.

There are four Ways in which men pass through life: as gentlemen, farmers,
artisans and merchants.
The Way of the farmer. Using agricultural instruments, he sees springs
through to autumns with an eye on the changes of season.
Second is the Way of the merchant. The wine maker obtains his
ingredients and puts them to use to make his living. The Way of the
merchant is always to live by taking profit. This is the Way of the merchant.
Thirdly the gentleman warrior, carrying the weaponry of his Way. The
Way of the warrior is to master the virtue of his weapons. If a gentleman
dislikes strategy he will not appreciate the benefit of weaponry, so must he
not have a little taste for this?
Fourthly the Way of the artisan. The Way of the carpenters is to
become proficient in the use of his tools, first to lay his plans with a true
measure and then perform his work according to plan. Thus he passes
through life. These are the four Ways of the gentleman, the farmer, the
artisan and the merchant.

Comparing the Way of the carpenter to strategy

The comparison with carpentry is through the connection with houses.
Houses of the nobility, houses of warriors, the Four houses, ruin of houses,
thriving of houses, the style of the house, the tradition of the house, and the
name of the house. The carpenter uses a master plan of the building, and the
Way of strategy is similar in that there is a plan of campaign. If you want to
learn the craft of war, ponder over this book. The teacher is as a needle, the
disciple is as thread. You must practice constantly.

Like the foreman carpenter, the commander must know natural rules,
and the rules of the country, and the rules of houses. This is the Way of the
The foreman carpenter must know the architectural theory of towers
and temples, and the plans of palaces, and must employ men to raise up
houses. The Way of the foreman carpenter is the same as the Way of the
commander of a warrior house.
In the construction of houses, choice of woods is made. Straight un-
knotted timber of good appearance is used for the revealed pillars, straight
Timber with small defects is used for the inner pillars. Timber of the finest
appearance, even if a little weak, is used for the thresholds, lintels, doors, and
sliding doors, and so on. Good strong timber, though it be gnarled and
knotted, can always be used discreetly in construction. Timber which is weak
or knotted throughout should be used as scaffolding, and later for firewood.
The foreman carpenter allots his men work according to their ability.
Floor layers, makers of sliding doors, thresholds and lintels, ceilings and so
on. Those of poor ability lay the floor joists, and those of lesser ability carve
wedges and do such miscellaneous work. If the foreman knows and deploys
his men well the finished work will be good.
The foreman should take into account the abilities and limitations of
his men, circulating among them and asking nothing unreasonable. He
should know their morale and spirit, and encourage them when necessary.
This is the same as the principle of strategy.

The Way of Strategy

Like a trooper, the carpenter sharpens his own tools. He carries his equipment
in his tool box, and works under the direction of his foreman. He makes
columns and girders with an axe, shapes floorboards and shelves with a
plane, cuts fine openwork and carvings accurately, giving as excellent a finish
as his skill will allow. This is the craft of the carpenters. When the carpenter
becomes skilled and understands measures he can become a foreman.
The carpenter's attainment is, having tools which will cut well, to make
small shrines, writing shelves, tables, paper lanterns, chopping boards and
pot-lids. These are the specialties of the carpenter. Things are similar for the
trooper. You ought to think deeply about this.
The attainment of the carpenter is that his work is not warped, that the
joints are not misaligned, and that the work is truly planed so that it meets
well and is not merely finished in sections. This is essential.
If you want to learn this Way, deeply consider the things written in this
book one at a time. You must do sufficient research.

Outline of the Five Books of this Book of Strategy

The Way is shown as five books concerning different aspects. These are
Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void.
The body of the Way of strategy from the viewpoint of my Ichi school
is explained in the Ground book. It is difficult to realize the true Way just
through sword-fencing. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the
shallowest things and the deepest things. As if it were a straight road mapped
out on the ground, the first book is called the Ground book.
Second is the Water book. With water as the basis, the spirit becomes
like water. Water adopts the shape of its receptacle, it is sometimes a trickle
and sometimes a wild sea. Water has a clear blue colour. By the clarity, things
of Ichi school are shown in this book.
If you master the principles of sword-fencing, when you freely beat one
man, you beat any man in the world. The spirit of defeating a man is the
same for ten million men. The strategist makes small things into big things,
like building a great Buddha from a one foot model. I cannot write in detail
how this is done. The principle of strategy is having one thing, to know ten
thousand things. Things of Ichi school are written in this the Water book.
Third is the Fire book. This book is about fighting. The spirit of fire is
fierce, whether the fire be small or big; and so it is with battles. The Way of
battles is the same for man to man fights and for ten thousand a side battles.
You must appreciate that spirit can become big or small. What is big is easy to
perceive: what is small is difficult to perceive. In short, it is difficult for large
numbers of men to change position, so their movements can be easily
predicted. An individual can easily change his mind, so his movements are
difficult to predict. You must appreciate this. The essence of this book is that
you must train day and night in order to make quick decisions. In strategy it is
necessary to treat training as a part of normal life with your spirit
unchanging. Thus combat in battle is described in the Fire book.
Fourthly the Wind book. This book is not concerned with my Ichi
school but with other schools of strategy. By Wind I mean old traditions,
present day traditions, and family traditions of strategy. Thus I clearly explain
the strategies of the world. This is tradition. 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. You must realize
this. Other strategies have come to be thought of as mere swordfencing, and it
is not unreasonable that this should be so. The benefit of my strategy,
although it includes sword-fencing, lies in a separate principle. I have
explained what is commonly meant by strategy in other schools in the
Tradition (Wind) book.
Fifthly, the book of the Void. By Void I mean 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. I
intend to show how to follow the true Way according to nature in the book of
the Void.

The Name Ichi Ryu Ni To (One school-two swords)

Warriors, both commanders and troopers, carry two swords at their belt. In
olden times these were called the long sword and the sword; nowadays they
are known as the sword and the companion sword. Let it suffice to say that in
our land, whatever the reason, a warrior carries two swords at his belt. It is
the Way of the warrior.
"Nito Ichi Ryu" shows the advantage of using both swords.
The spear and the halberd are weapons which are carried out of doors.
Students of the Ichi school Way of strategy should train from the start
with the sword and long sword in either hand. This is a truth: when you
sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not
to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.
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. This does not
apply to large weapons such as the spear or halberd, but swords and
companion swords can be carried in one hand. It is encumbering to hold a
sword in both hands when you are on horseback, when running on uneven
roads, on swampy ground, muddy rice fields, stony ground, or in a crowd of
people. To hold the long sword in both hands is not the true Way, for if you
carry a bow or spear or other arms in your left hand you have only one hand
free for the long sword. However, when it is difficult to cut an enemy down
with one hand, you must use both hands. It is not difficult to wield a sword in
one hand; the Way to learn this is to train with two long swords, one in each
hand. It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first. Bows are
difficult to draw, halberds are difficult to wield; as you become accustomed to
the bow so your pull will become stronger. When you become used to
wielding the long sword, you will gain the power of the Way and wield the
sword well.
As I will explain in the second book, the Water Book, there is no fast
way of wielding the long sword. The long sword should be wielded broadly,
and the companion sword closely. This is the first thing to realize.
According to this Ichi school, you can win with a long weapon, and yet
you can also win with a short weapon. In short, the Way of the Ichi school is
the spirit of winning, whatever the weapon and whatever its size.
It is better to use two swords rather than one when you are fighting a
crowd, and especially if you want to take a prisoner.
These things cannot be explained in detail. From one thing, know ten
thousand things. When you attain the Way of strategy there will not be one
thing you cannot see. You must study hard.

The Benefit of the Two Characters reading "Strategy"

Masters of the long sword are called strategists. As for the other military arts,
those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are
called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, those who
master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the
Way of the long sword "longswordsmen", nor do we speak of
"companionswordsmen". Because bows, guns, spears and halberds are all
warriors' equipment they are certainly part of strategy. To master the virtue of
the long sword is to govern the world and oneself, thus the long sword is the
basis of strategy. The principle is "strategy by means of the long sword". If he
attains the virtue of the long sword, one man can beat ten men. Just as one
man can beat ten, so a hundred men can beat a thousand, and a thousand can
beat ten thousand. In my strategy, one man is the same as ten thousand, so
this strategy is the complete warrior's craft.
The Way of the warrior does not include other Ways, such as
Confucianism, Buddhism, certain traditions, artistic accomplishments and
dancing. But even though these are not part of the Way, if you know the Way
broadly you will see it in everything. Men must polish their particular Way.

The Benefit of Weapons in Strategy

There is a time and a place for use of weapons.
The best use of the companion sword is in a confined space, or when
you are engaged closely with an opponent. The long sword can be used
effectively in all situations.
The halberd is inferior to the spear on the battlefield. With the spear
you can take the initiative; the halberd is defensive. In the hands of one of
two men of equal ability, the spear gives a little extra strength. Spear and
halberd both have their uses, but neither is very beneficial in confined spaces.
They cannot be used for taking a prisoner. They are essentially weapons for
the field.
Anyway, if you learn ''indoor'' techniques, you will think narrowly
and forget the true Way. Thus you will have difficulty in actual encounters.
The bow is tactically strong at the commencement of battle, especially
battles on a moor, as it is possible to shoot quickly from among the spearmen.
However, it is unsatisfactory in sieges, or when the enemy is more than forty
yards away. For this reason there are nowadays few traditional schools of
archery. There is little use nowadays for this kind of skill.
From inside fortifications, the gun has no equal among weapons. It is
the supreme weapon on the field before the ranks clash, but once swords are
crossed the gun becomes useless.
One of the virtues of the bow is that you can see the arrows in flight
and correct your aim accordingly, whereas gunshot cannot be seen. You must
appreciate the importance of this.
Just as a horse must have endurance and no defects, so it is with
weapons. Horses should walk strongly, and swords and companion swords
should cut strongly. Spears and halberds must stand up to heavy use: bows
and guns must be sturdy. Weapons should be hardy rather than decorative.
You should not have a favorite weapon. To become over-familiar with
one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well. You should
not copy others, but use weapons which you can handle properly. It is bad for
commanders and troopers to have likes and dislikes. These are things you
must learn thoroughly.

Timing in 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. Timing and rhythm are also involved in
the military arts, shooting bows and guns, and riding horses. In all skills and
abilities there is timing.
There is also timing in the Void.
There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and
declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way
of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and
falling timing. You must be able to discern this. In strategy there are various
timing considerations. From the outset you must know the applicable timing
and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and
the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance
timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy. It is
especially important to know the background timing, otherwise your strategy
will become uncertain.
You win in battles with the timing in the Void born of the timing of
cunning by knowing the enemies' timing, and thus using a timing which the
enemy does not expect.
All the five books are chiefly concerned with timing. You must train
sufficiently to appreciate all this.
If you practice day and night in the above Ichi school strategy, your
spirit will naturally broaden. Thus is large scale strategy and the strategy of
hand to hand combat propagated in the world. This is recorded for the first
time in the five books of Ground, Water, Fire, Tradition (Wind), and Void.
This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy:

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

It is important to start by setting these broad principles in your heart, and
train in the Way of strategy. If you do not look at things on a large scale it will
be difficult for you to master strategy. If you learn and attain this strategy you
will never lose even to twenty or thirty enemies. More than anything to start
with you must set your heart on strategy and earnestly stick to the Way. You
will come to be able to actually beat men in fights, and to be able to win with
your eye. Also by training you will be able to freely control your own body,
conquer men with your body, and with sufficient training you will be able to
beat ten men with your spirit. When you have reached this point, will it not
mean that you are invincible?
Moreover, in large scale strategy the superior man will manage many
subordinates dexterously, bear himself correctly, govern the country and
foster the people, thus preserving the ruler's discipline. If there is away
involving the spirit of not being defeated, to help oneself and gain honor, it is
the Way of strategy.

The second year of Shoho (1645), the fifth month, the twelfth day.



The spirit of the Ni Ten Ichi school of strategy is based on water, and this
Water Book explains methods of victory as the longsword form of the Ichi
school. Language does not extend to explaining the Way in detail, but it can be
grasped intuitively. Study this book; read a word then ponder on it. If you
interpret the meaning loosely you will mistake the Way.
The principles of strategy are written down here in terms of single
combat, but you must think broadly so that you attain an understanding for
tenthousand-a-side battles.
Strategy is different from other things in that if you mistake the Way
even a little you will become bewildered and fall into bad ways.
If you merely read this book you will not reach the Way of strategy.
Absorb the things written in this book. Do not just read, memorize or imitate,
but so that you realize the principle from within your own heart study hard
to absorb these things into your body.

Spiritual Bearing in Strategy

In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both
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. Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when
your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken. Do not let your spirit be
influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit. Be neither
insufficiently spirited nor over spirited. An elevated spirit is weak and a low
spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your spirit.
Small people must be completely familiar with the spirit of large
people, and large people must be familiar with the spirit of small people.
Whatever your size, do not be misled by the reactions of your own body.
With your spirit open and unconstricted, look at things from a high point of
view. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn
public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different
arts one by one. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized
the wisdom of strategy.
The wisdom of strategy is different from other things. On the
battlefield, even when you are hard-pressed, you should ceaselessly research
the principles of strategy so that you can develop a steady spirit.

Stance in Strategy

Adopt a stance with the head erect, neither hanging down, nor looking up
nor twisted. Your forehead and the space between your eyes should not be
wrinkled. Do not roll your eyes nor allow them to blink, but slightly narrow
them. With your features composed, keep the line of your nose straight with
a feeling of slightly flaring your nostrils. Hold the line of the rear of the neck
straight: instill vigor into your hairline, and in the same way from the
shoulders down through your entire body. Lower both shoulders and,
without the buttocks jutting out, put strength into your legs from the knees to
the tips of your toes. Brace your abdomen so that you do not bend at the hips.
Wedge your companion sword in your belt against your abdomen, so that
your belt is not slack-this is called "wedging in".
In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance in
everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You must
research this well.

The Gaze in Strategy

The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze "Perception and
Sight". Perception is strong and sight weak.
In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and
to take a distanced view of close things. It is important in strategy to know the
enemy's sword and not to be distracted by insignificant movements of his
sword. You must study this. The gaze is the same for single combat and for
large-scale strategy.
It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without
moving the eyeballs. You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what is
written here; use this gaze in everyday life and do not vary it whatever

Holding the Long Sword

Grip the long sword with a rather floating feeling in your thumb and
forefinger, with the middle finger neither tight nor slack, and with the last
two fingers tight. It is bad to have play in your hands.
When you take up a sword, you must feel intent on cutting the enemy.
As you cut an enemy you must not change your grip, and your hands must
not "cower". When you dash the enemy's sword aside, or ward it off, or force
it down, you must slightly change the feeling in your thumb and forefinger.
Above all, you must be intent on cutting the enemy in the way you grip the
The grip for combat and for sword-testing is the same. There is no such
thing as a "man-cutting grip".
Generally, I dislike fixedness in both long swords and hands. Fixedness
means a dead hand. Pliability is a living hand. You must bear this in mind.


With the tips of your toes somewhat floating, tread firmly with your heels.
Whether you move fast or slow, with large or small steps, your feet must
always move as in normal walking. I dislike the three walking methods
known as "jumping-foot", "floatingfoot" and "fixed-steps".
So-called "Yin-Yang foot" is important in the Way. Yin-Yang foot
means not moving only one foot. It means moving your feet left-right and
right-left when cutting, withdrawing, or warding off a cut. You should not
move one foot preferentially.

The Five Attitudes

The five attitudes are: Upper, Middle, Lower, Right Side, and Left Side. These
are the five. Although attitude has these five divisions, the one purpose of all
of them is to cut the enemy. There are none but these five attitudes.
Whatever attitude you are in, do not be conscious of making the
attitude; think only of cutting.
Your attitude should be large or small according to the situation.
Upper, Lower and Middle attitudes are decisive. Left Side and Right Side
attitudes are fluid. Left and Right attitudes should be used if there is an
obstruction overhead or to one side. The decision to use Left or Right depends
on the place.
The essence of the Way is this. To understand attitude you must
thoroughly understand the Middle attitude. The Middle attitude is the heart
of attitudes. If we look at strategy on a broad scale, the Middle attitude is the
seat of the commander, with the other four attitudes following the
commander. You must appreciate this.

The Way of the Long Sword

Knowing the Way of the long sword means we can wield with two fingers the
sword we usually carry. If we know the path of the sword well, we can wield it
If you try to wield the long sword quickly you will mistake the Way. To
wield the long sword well you must wield it calmly. If you try to wield it
quickly, like a folding fan or a short sword, you will err by using "short sword
chopping". You cannot cut a man with a long sword using this method.
When you have cut downwards with the long sword, lift it straight
upwards; when you cut sideways, return the sword along a sideways path.
Return the sword in a reasonable way, always stretching the elbows broadly.
Wield the sword strongly. This is the Way of the long sword.
If you learn to use the five approaches of my strategy, you will be able
to wield a sword well. You must train constantly.

The Five Approaches

1. The first approach is the Middle attitude. Confront the enemy with the
point of your sword against his face. When he attacks, dash his sword to the
right and "ride" it. Or, when the enemy attacks, deflect the point of his sword
by hitting downwards, keep your long sword where it is, and as the enemy
renews the attack cut his arms from below. This is the first method.
The five approaches are this kind of thing. You must train repeatedly
using a long sword in order to learn them. When you master my Way of the
long sword, you will be able to control any attack the enemy makes. I assure
you, there are no attitudes other than the five attitudes of the long sword of
2. In the second approach with the long sword, from the Upper attitude cut
the enemy just as he attacks. If the enemy evades the cut, keep your sword
where it is and, scooping up from below, cut him as he renews the attack. It is
possible to repeat the cut from here.
In this method there are various changes in timing and spirit. You will
be able to understand this by training in the Ichi school. You will always win
with the five long sword methods. You must train repetitively.
3. In the third approach, adopt the Lower attitude, anticipating scooping up.
When the enemy attacks, hit his hands from below. As you do so, he may try
to hit your sword down. If this is the case, cut his upper arms(s) horizontally
with a feeling of "crossing". This means that from the Lower attitudes you hit
the enemy at the instant that he attacks.
You will encounter this method often, both as a beginner and in later
strategy. You must train holding a low sword.
4. In this fourth approach, adopt the Left Side attitude. As the enemy attacks,
hit his hands from below. If as you hit his hands he attempts to dash down
your sword, with the feeling of hitting his hands, parry the path of his long
sword and cut across from above your shoulder.
This is the Way of the long sword. Through this method you win by
parrying the line of the enemy's attack. You must research this.
5. In the fifth approach, the sword is in the Right Side attitude. In accordance
with the enemy's attack, cross your long sword from below at the side to the
Upper attitude. Then cut straight from above.
This method is essential for knowing the Way of the long sword well.
If you can use this method, you can freely wield a heavy long sword.
I Cannot describe in detail how to use these five approaches. You must
become well acquainted with my "in harmony with the long sword" Way,
learn large-scale timing, understand the enemy's long sword, and become
used to the five approaches from the outset. You will always win by using
these five methods, with various timing considerations discerning the
enemy's spirit. You must consider all this carefully.

The "Attitude No-Attitude" Teaching

"Attitude No-Attitude" means that there is no need for what are known as
long sword attitudes.
Even so, attitudes exist as the five ways of holding the long sword. However
you hold the sword it must be in such a way that it is easy to cut the enemy
well, in accordance with the situation, the place, and your relation to the
enemy. From the Upper attitude as your spirit lessens you can adopt the
Middle attitude, and from the Middle attitude you can raise the sword a little
in your technique and adopt the Upper attitude. From the Lower attitude you
can raise the sword a little and adopt the Middle attitudes as the occasion
demands. According to the situation, if you turn your sword from either the
Left Side or Right Side attitude towards the center, the Middle or the Lower
attitude results.
The principle of this is called "Existing Attitude-Nonexisting Attitude".
The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your
intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit,
spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in
the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting,
springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut
him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement
through to cutting him. You must thoroughly research this.
Attitude in strategy on a larger scale is called "Battle Array". Such
attitudes are all for winning battles. Fixed formation is bad. Study this well.

To Hit the Enemy "In One Timing"

"In One Timing" means, when you have closed with the enemy, to hit him
as quickly and directly as possible, without moving your body or settling your
spirit, while you see that he is still undecided. The timing of hitting before the
enemy decides to withdraw, break or hit, is this "In One Timing".
You must train to achieve this timing, to be able to hit in the timing of an

The "Abdomen Timing of Two"

When you attack and the enemy quickly retreats, as you see him tense you
must feint a cut. Then, as he relaxes, follow up and hit him. This is the
"Abdomen Timing of Two".
It is very difficult to attain this by merely reading this book, but you
will soon understand with a little instruction.

No Design, No Conception

In this method, when the enemy attacks and you also decide to attack, hit
with your body, and hit with your spirit, and hit from the Void with your
hands, accelerating strongly. This is the "No Design, No Conception" cut.
This is the most important method of hitting. It is often used. You
must train hard to understand it.

The Flowing Water Cut

The "Flowing Water Cut" is used when you are struggling blade to blade with
the enemy. When he breaks and quickly withdraws trying to spring with his
long sword, expand your body and spirit and cut him as slowly as possible
with your long sword, following your body like stagnant water. You can cut
with certainty if you learn this. You must discern the enemy's grade.

Continuous Cut

When you attack and the enemy also attacks, and your swords spring
together, in one action cut his head, hands and legs. When you cut several
places with one sweep of the long sword, it is the "Continuous Cut". You
must practice this cut; it is often used. With detailed practice you should be
able to understand it.

The Fire and Stones Cut

The Fires and Stones Cut means that when the enemy's long sword and your
long sword clash together you cut as strongly as possible without raising the
sword even a little. This means cutting quickly with the hands, body and legs-
all three cutting strongly. If you train well enough you will be able to strike

The Red Leaves Cut

The Red Leaves Cut means knocking down the enemy's long sword. The
spirit should be getting control of his sword. When the enemy is in a long
sword attitude in front of you and intent on cutting, hitting and parrying, you
strongly hit the enemy's long sword with the Fire and Stones Cut, perhaps in
the spirit of the "No Design, No Conception" Cut. If you then beat down the
point of his sword with a sticky feeling, he will necessarily drop the sword. If
you practice this cut it becomes easy to make the enemy drop his sword. You
must train repetitively.

The Body in Place of the Long Sword

Also "the long sword in place of the body". Usually we move the body and
the sword at the same time to cut the enemy. However, according to the
enemy's cutting method, you can dash against him with your body first, and
afterwards cut with the sword. If his body is immovable, you can cut first with
the long sword, but generally you hit first with the body and then cut with the
long sword. You must research this well and practice hitting

Cut and Slash

To cut and to slash are two different things. Cutting, whatever form of cutting
it is, is decisive, with a resolute spirit. Slashing is nothing more than
touching the enemy. Even if you slash strongly, and even if the enemy dies
instantly, it is slashing. When you cut, your spirit is resolved. You must
appreciate this. If you first slash the enemy's hands or legs, you must then cut
strongly. Slashing is in spirit the same as touching. When you realize this,
they become indistinguishable. Learn this well.

Chinese Monkey's Body

The Chinese Monkey's Body is the spirit of not stretching out your arms. The
spirit is to get in quickly, without in the least extending your arms, before the
enemy cuts. If you are intent upon not stretching out your arms you are
effectively far away, the spirit is to go in with your whole body. When you
come to within arm's reach it becomes easy to move your body in. You must
research this well.

Glue and Lacquer Emulsion Body

The spirit of "Glue and Lacquer Emulsion Body" is to stick to the enemy and
not separate from him. When you approach the enemy, stick firmly with
your head, body and legs. People tend to advance their head and legs quickly,
but their body lags behind. You should stick firmly so that there is not the
slightest gap between the enemy's body and your body. You must consider
this carefully.

To Strive for Height

By "to strive for height" is meant, when you close with the enemy, to strive
with him for superior height without cringing. Stretch your legs, stretch your
hips, and stretch your neck face to face with him. When you think you have
won, and you are the higher, thrust in strongly. You must learn this.

To Apply Stickiness

When the enemy attacks and you also attack with the long sword, you should
go in with a sticky feeling and fix your long sword against the enemy's as you
receive his cut. The spirit of stickiness is not hitting very strongly, but hitting
so that the long swords do not separate easily. It is best to approach as calmly
as possible when hitting the enemy's long sword with stickiness. The
difference between "Stickiness" and "Entanglement" is that stickiness is firm
and entanglement is weak. You must appreciate this.

The Body Strike

The Body Strike means to approach the enemy through a gap in his guard
The spirit is to strike him with your body. Turn your face a little aside and
strike the enemy's breast with your left shoulder thrust out. Approach with
the spirit of bouncing the enemy away, striking as strongly as possible in time
with your breathing. If you achieve this method of closing with the enemy,
you will be able to knock him ten or twenty feet away. It is possible to strike
the enemy until he is dead. Train well.

Three Ways to Parry His Attack

There are three methods to parry a cut:
First, by dashing the enemy 's long sword to your right, as if thrusting
at his eyes, when he makes an attack.
Or, to parry by thrusting the enemy's long sword towards his right eye
with the feeling of snipping his neck.
Or, when you have a short "long sword", without worrying about
parrying the enemy's long sword, to close with him quickly, thrusting at his
face with your left hand.
These are the three methods of parrying. You must bear in mind that
you can always clench your left hand and thrust at the enemy's face with your
fist. For this it is necessary to train well.

To Stab at the Face

To stab at the face means, when you are in confrontation with the enemy,
that your spirit is intent on stabbing at his face, following the line of the
blades with the point of your long sword. If you are intent on stabbing at his
face, his face and body will become rideable. When the enemy becomes as if
rideable, there are various opportunities for winning. You must concentrate
on this. When fighting and the enemy's body becomes as if rideable, you can
win quickly, so you ought not to forget to stab at the face. You must pursue
the value of this technique through training.

To Stab at the Heart

To stab at the heart means, when fighting and there are obstructions above or
to the sides, and whenever it is difficult to cut, to thrust at the enemy. You
must stab the enemy's breast without letting the point of your long sword
waver, showing the enemy the ridge of the blade square-on, and with the
spirit of deflecting his long sword. The spirit of this principle is often useful
when we become tired or for some reason our long sword will not cut. You
must understand the application of this method.

To Scold "Tut-TUT!"

"Scold" means that, when the enemy tries to counter-cut as you attack, you
counter-cut again from below as if thrusting at him, trying to hold him down.
With very quick timing you cut, scolding the enemy. Thrust up, "Tut!", and
cut "TUT! " This timing is encountered time and time again in exchanges of
blows. The way to scold Tut-TUT is to time the cut simultaneously with
raising your long sword as if to thrust the enemy. You must learn this
through repetitive practice.

The Smacking Parry

By "smacking parry" is meant that when you clash swords with the enemy,
you meet his attacking cut on your long sword with a tee-dum, tee-dum
rhythm, smacking his sword and cutting him. The spirit of the smacking
parry is not parrying, or smacking strongly, but smacking the enemy's long
sword in accordance with his attacking cut, primarily intent on quickly
cutting him. If you understand the timing of smacking, however hard your
long swords clash together, your swordpoint will not be knocked back even a
little. You must research sufficiently to realize this.

There are Many Enemies

"There are many enemies" applies when you are fighting one against many.
Draw both sword and companion sword and assume a wide-stretched left and
right attitude. The spirit is to chase the enemies around from side to side,
even though they come from all four directions. Observe their attacking
order, and go to meet first those who attack first. Sweep your eyes around
broadly, carefully examining the attacking order, and cut left and right
alternately with your swords. Waiting is bad. Always quickly re-assume your
attitudes to both sides, cut the enemies down as they advance, crushing them
in the direction from which they attack. Whatever you do, you must drive
the enemy together, as if tying a line of fishes, and when they are seen to be
piled up, cut them down strongly without giving them room to move.

The Advantage when coming to Blows

You can know how to win through strategy with the long sword, but it cannot
be clearly explained in writing. You must practice diligently in order to
understand how to win.
Oral tradition : "The true Way of strategy is revealed in the long sword. "

One Cut

You can win with certainty with the spirit of "one cut". It is difficult to attain
this if you do not learn strategy well. If you train well in this Way, strategy
will come from your heart and you will be able to win at will. You must train

Direct Communication

The spirit of "Direct Communication" is how the true Way of the NiTo Ichi
school is received and handed down.
Oral tradition: "Teach your body strategy."

Recorded in the above book is an outline of Ichi school swordfighting.
To learn how to win with the long sword in strategy, first learn the five
approaches and the five attitudes, and absorb the Way of the long sword
naturally in your body. You must understand spirit and timing, handle the
long sword naturally, and move body and legs in harmony with your spirit.
Whether beating one man or two, you will then know values in strategy.
Study the contents of this book, taking one item at a time, and through
fighting with enemies you will gradually come to know the principle of the
Deliberately, with a patient spirit, absorb the virtue of all this, from
time to time raising your hand in combat. Maintain this spirit whenever you
cross swords with an enemy.
Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.
Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior.
Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over
lesser men. Next, in order to beat more skillful men, train according to this
book, not allowing your heart to be swayed along a side-track. Even if you kill
an enemy, if it is not based on what you have learned it is not the true Way.
If you attain this Way of victory, then you will be able to beat several
tens of men. What remains is sword-fighting ability, which you can attain in
battles and duels.

The Second Year of Shoho, the twelfth day of the fifth month ( 1645)



In this the Fire Book of the NiTo Ichi school of strategy I describe fighting as
In the first place, people think narrowly about the benefit of strategy. By
using only their fingertips, they only know the benefit of three of the five
inches of the wrist. They let a contest be decided, as with the folding fan,
merely by the span of their forearms. They specialist in the small matter of
dexterity, learning such trifles as hand and leg movements with the bamboo
practice sword.
In my strategy, the training for killing enemies is by way of many
contests, fighting for survival, discovering the meaning of life and death,
learning the Way of the sword, judging the strength of attacks and
understanding the Way of the "edge and ridge" of the sword.
You cannot profit from small techniques particularly when full armor
is worn. My Way of strategy is the sure method to win when fighting for your
life one man against five or ten. There is nothing wrong with the principle
"one man can beat ten, so a thousand men can beat ten thousand". You must
research this. Of course you cannot assemble a thousand or ten thousand men
for everyday training. But you can become a master of strategy by training
alone with a sword, so that you can understand the enemy's stratagems, his
strength and resources, and come to appreciate how to apply strategy to beat
ten thousand enemies.
Any man who wants to master the essence of my strategy must
research diligently, training morning and evening. Thus can he polish his
skill, become free from self, and realize extraordinary ability. He will come to
possess miraculous power.
This is the practical result of strategy.

Depending on the Place

Examine your environment.
Stand in the sun; that is, take up an attitude with the sun behind you. If
the situation does not allow this, you must try to keep the sun on your right
side. In buildings, you must stand with the entrance behind you or to your
right. Make sure that your rear is unobstructed, and that there is free space on
your left, your right side being occupied with your sword attitude. At night, if
the enemy can be seen, keep the fire behind you and the entrance to your
right, and otherwise take up your attitude as above. You must look down on
the enemy, and take up your attitude on slightly higher places. For example,
the Kamiza in a house is thought of as a high place.
When the fight comes, always endeavor to chase the enemy around to
your left side. Chase him towards awkward places, and try to keep him with
his back to awkward places. When the enemy gets into an inconvenient
position, do not let him look around, but conscientiously chase him around
and pin him down. In houses, chase the enemy into the thresholds, lintels,
doors, verandas, pillars, and so on, again not letting him see his situation.
Always chase the enemy into bad footholds, obstacles at the side, and so
on, using the virtues of the place to establish predominant positions from
which to fight. You must research and train diligently in this.

The Three Methods to Forestall the Enemy

The first is to forestall him by attacking. This is called Ken No Sen (to set him
Another method is to forestall him as he attacks. This is called Tai No
Sen (to wait for the initiative).
The other method is when you and the enemy attack together. This is
called Tai Tai No Sen (to accompany him and forestall him).
There are no methods of taking the lead other than these three.
Because you can win quickly by taking the lead, it is one of the most
important things in strategy. There are several things involved in taking the
lead. You must make the best of the situation, see through the enemy's spirit
so that you grasp his strategy and defeat him. It is impossible to write about
this in detail.

The First-Ken No Sen

When you decide to attack, keep calm and dash in quickly, forestalling the
enemy. Or you can advance seemingly strongly but with a reserved spirit,
forestalling him with the reserve.
Alternatively, advance with as strong a spirit as possible, and when you
reach the enemy move with your feet a little quicker than normal, unsettling
him and overwhelming him sharply.
Or, with your spirit calm, attack with a feeling of constantly crushing
the enemy, from first to last. The spirit is to win in the depths of the enemy.
These are all Ken No Sen.

The Second-Tai No Sen

When the enemy attacks, remain undisturbed but feign weakness. As the
enemy reaches you, suddenly move away indicating that you intend to jump
aside, then dash in attacking strongly as soon as you see the enemy relax. This
is one way.
Or, as the enemy attacks, attack still more strongly, taking advantage of
the resulting disorder in his timing to win.
This is the Tai No Sen principle.

The Third-Tai Tai No Sen

When the enemy makes a quick attack, you must attack strongly and calmly,
aim for his weak point as he draws near, and strongly defeat him.
Or, if the enemy attacks calmly, you must observe his movement and,
with your body rather floating, join in with his movement as he draws near.
Move quickly and cut him strongly.
This is Tai Tai No Sen.

These things cannot be clearly explained in words. You must research what is
written here. In these three ways of forestalling, you must judge the situation.
This does not mean that you always attack first; but if the enemy attacks first
you can lead him around. In strategy, you have effectively won when you
forestall the enemy, so you must train well to attain this.

To Hold Down a Pillow

"To Hold Down a Pillow" means not allowing the enemy's head to rise.
In contests of strategy it is bad to be led about by the enemy. You must
always be able to lead the enemy about. Obviously the enemy will also be
thinking of doing this, but he cannot forestall you if you do not allow him to
come out. In strategy, you must stop the enemy as he attempts to cut; you
must push down his thrust, and throw off his hold when he tries to grapple.
This is the meaning of "to hold down a pillow". When you have grasped this
principle, whatever the enemy tries to bring about in the fight you will see in
advance and suppress it. The spirit is to check his attack at the syllable "at . . .",
when he jumps check his jump at the syllable "ju . . .", and check his cut at
"cu . . . ".

The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy's useful
actions but allow his useless actions. However, doing this alone is defensive.
First, you must act according to the Way, suppress the enemy's techniques,
foiling his plans, and thence command him directly. When you can do this
you will be a master of strategy. You must train well and research "holding
down a pillow".

Crossing at a Ford

"Crossing at a ford" means, for example, crossing the sea at a strait, or crossing
over a hundred miles of broad sea at a crossing place. I believe this "crossing
at a ford" occurs often in a man's lifetime. It means setting sail even though
your friends stay in harbor, knowing the route, knowing the soundness of
your ship and the favor of the day. When all the conditions are meet, and
there is perhaps a favorable wind, or a tailwind, then set sail. If the wind
changes within a few miles of your destination, you must row across the
remaining distance without sail.
If you attain this spirit, it applies to everyday life. You must always
think of crossing at a ford.
In strategy also it is important to "cross at a ford". Discern the enemy's
capability and, knowing your own strong points, "cross the ford" at the
advantageous place, as a good captain crosses a sea route. If you succeed in
crossing at the best place, you may take your ease. To cross at a ford means to
attack the enemy's weak point, and to put yourself in an advantageous
position. This is how to win in large-scale strategy. The spirit of crossing at a
ford is necessary in both large- and small-scale strategy.
You must research this well.

To Know the Times

"To know the times" means to know the enemy's disposition in battle. Is it
flourishing or waning? By observing the spirit of the enemy's men and
getting the best position, you can work out the enemy's disposition and move
your men accordingly. You can win through this principle of strategy, fighting
from a position of advantage.
When in a duel, you must forestall the enemy and attack when you
have first recognized his school of strategy, perceived his quality and his
strong and weak points. Attack in an unsuspected manner, knowing his
metre and modulation and the appropriate timing.
Knowing the times means, if your ability is high, seeing right into
things. If you are thoroughly conversant with strategy, you will recognize the
enemy's intentions and thus have many opportunities to win. You must
sufficiently study this.

To Tread Down the Sword

"To tread down the sword" is a principle often used in strategy. First, in large
scale strategy, when the enemy first discharges bows and guns and then
attacks, it is difficult for us to attack if we are busy loading powder into our
guns or notching our arrows. The spirit is to attack quickly while the enemy is
still shooting with bows or guns. The spirit is to win by "treading down" as
we receive the enemy's attack.
In single combat, we cannot get a decisive victory by cutting, with a
"teedum tee-dum" feeling, in the wake of the enemy's attacking long sword.
We must defeat him at the start of his attack, in the spirit of treading him
down with the feet, so that he cannot rise again to the attack.
"Treading" does not simply mean treading with the feet. Tread with
the body, tread with the spirit, and, of course, tread and cut with the long
sword. You must achieve the spirit of not allowing the enemy to attack a
second time. This is the spirit of forestalling in every sense. Once at the
enemy, you should not aspire just to strike him, but to cling after the attack.
You must study this deeply.

To Know "Collapse"

Everything can collapse. Houses, bodies, and enemies collapse when their
rhythm becomes deranged.
In large-scale strategy, when the enemy starts to collapse you must
pursue him without letting the chance go. If you fail to take advantage of
your enemies' collapse, they may recover.
In single combat, the enemy sometimes loses timing and collapses. If
you let this opportunity pass, he may recover and not be so negligent
thereafter. Fix your eye on the enemy's collapse, and chase him, attacking so
that you do not let him recover. You must do this. The chasing attack is with
a strong spirit. You must utterly cut the enemy down so that he does not
recover his position. You must understand how to utterly cut down the

To Become the Enemy

"To become the enemy" means to think yourself into the enemy's position.
In the world people tend to think of a robber trapped in a house as a fortified
enemy. However, if we think of "becoming the enemy", we feel that the
whole world is against us and that there is no escape. He who is shut inside is
a pheasant. He who enters to arrest is a hawk. You must appreciate this.
In large-scale strategy, people are always under the impression that the
enemy is strong, and so tend to become cautious. But if you have good
soldiers, and if you understand the principles of strategy, and if you know
how to beat the enemy, there is nothing to worry about.
In single combat also you must put yourself in the enemy's position. If
you think, "Here is a master of the Way, who knows the principles of
strategy", then you will surely lose. You must consider this deeply.

To Release Four Hands

"To release four hands" is used when you and the enemy are contending
with the same spirit, and the issue cannot be decided. Abandon this spirit and
win through an alternative resource.
In large-scale strategy, when there is a "four hands" spirit, do not give
up- it is man's existence. Immediately throw away this spirit and win with a
technique the enemy does not expect.
In single combat also, when we think we have fallen into the "four
hands" situation, we must defeat the enemy by changing our mind and
applying a suitable technique according to his condition. You must be able to
judge this.

To Move the Shade

"To move the shade" is used when you cannot see the enemy's spirit.
In large-scale strategy, when you cannot see the enemy's position,
indicate that you are about to attack strongly, to discover his resources. It is
easy then to defeat him with a different method once you see his resources.
In single combat, if the enemy takes up a rear or side attitude of the
long sword so that you cannot see his intention, make a feint attack, and the
enemy will show his long sword, thinking he sees your spirit. Benefiting
from what you are shown, you can win with certainty. If you are negligent
you will miss the timing. Research this well.

To Hold Down a Shadow

"Holding down a shadow" is used when you can see the enemy's attacking
In large-scale strategy, when the enemy embarks on an attack, if you
make a show of strongly suppressing his technique, he will change his mind.
then, altering your spirit, defeat him by forestalling him with a Void spirit.
Or, in single combat, hold down the enemy's strong intention with a
suitable timing, and defeat him by forestalling him with this timing. You
must study this well.

To Pass On

Many things are said to be passed on. Sleepiness can be passed on, and
yawning can be passed on. Time can be passed on also.
In large-scale strategy, when the enemy is agitated and shows an
inclination to rush, do not mind in the least. Make a show of complete
calmness, and the enemy will be taken by this and will become relaxed. When
you see that this spirit has been passed on, you can bring about the enemy's
defeat by attacking strongly with a Void spirit.
In single combat, you can win by relaxing your body and spirit and
then, catching on to the moment the enemy relaxes, attack strongly and
quickly, forestalling him.
What is known as "getting someone drunk" is similar to this. You can
also infect the enemy with a bored, careless, or weak spirit. You must study
this well.

To Cause Loss of Balance

Many things can cause a loss of balance. One cause is danger, another is
hardship, and another is surprise. You must research this.
In large-scale strategy it is important to cause loss of balance. Attack
without warning where the enemy is not expecting it, and while his spirit is
undecided follow up your advantage and, having the lead, defeat him.
Or, in single combat, start by making a show of being slow, then
suddenly attack strongly. Without allowing him space for breath to recover
from the fluctuation of spirit, you must grasp the opportunity to win. Get the
feel of this.

To Frighten

Fright often occurs, caused by the unexpected.
In large-scale strategy you can frighten the enemy not just by what you
present to their eyes, but by shouting, making a small force seem large, or by
threatening them from the flank without warning. These things all frighten.
You can win by making best use of the enemy's frightened rhythm.
In single combat, also, you must use the advantage of taking the enemy
unawares by frightening him with your body, long sword, or voice, to defeat
him. You should research this well.

To Soak In

When you have come to grips and are striving together with the enemy, and
you realize that you cannot advance, you "soak in" and become one with the
enemy. You can win by applying a suitable technique while you are mutually
In battles involving large numbers as well as in fights with small
numbers, you can often win decisively with the advantage of knowing how
to "soak" into the enemy, whereas, were you to draw apart, you would lose
the chance to win. Research this well.

To Injure the Corners

It is difficult to move strong things by pushing directly, so you should "injure
the corners".
In large-scale strategy, it is beneficial to strike at the corners of the
enemy's force. If the corners are overthrown, the spirit of the whole body will
be overthrown. To defeat the enemy you must follow up the attack when the
corners have fallen.
In single combat, it is easy to win once the enemy collapses. This
happens when you injure the "corners" of his body, and thus weaken him. It
is important to know how to do this, so you must research deeply.

To Throw into Confusion

This means making the enemy lose resolve.
In large-scale strategy we can use our troops to confuse the enemy on
the field. Observing the enemy 's spirit, we can make him think, "Here?
There? Like that? Like this? Slow? Fast? " Victory is certain when the enemy
is caught up in a rhythm which confuses his spirit.
In single combat, we can confuse the enemy by attacking with varied
techniques when the chance arises. Feint a thrust or cut, or make the enemy
think you are going to close with him, and when he is confused you can
easily win.
This is the essence of fighting, and you must research it deeply.

The Three Shouts

The three shouts are divided thus: before, during, and after. Shout according
to the situation. The voice is a thing of life. We shout against fires and so on,
against the wind and the waves. The voice shows energy.
In large-scale strategy, at the start of battle we shout as loudly as
possible. During the fight, the voice is low-pitched, shouting out as we attack.
After the contest, we shout in the wake of our victory. These are the three
In single combat, we make as if to cut and shout "Ei!" at the same time
to disturb the enemy, then in the wake of our shout we cut with the long
sword. We shout after we have cut down the enemy-this is to announce
victory. This is called "sen go no koe" (before and after voice). We do not
shout simultaneously with flourishing the long sword. We shout during the
fight to get into rhythm. Research this deeply.

To Mingle

In battles, when the armies are in confrontation, attack the enemy's strong
points and, when you see that they are beaten back, quickly separate and attack
yet another strong point on the periphery of his force. The spirit of this is like
a winding mountain path.
This is an important fighting method for one man against many. Strike
down the enemies in one quarter, or drive them back, then grasp the timing
and attack further strong points to right and left, as if on a winding mountain
path, weighing up the enemies' disposition. When you know the enemies'
level, attack strongly with no trace of retreating spirit.
In single combat, too, use this spirit to deal with the enemy's strong
What is meant by "mingling" is the spirit of advancing and becoming
engaged with the enemy, and not withdrawing even one step. You must
understand this.

To Crush

This means to crush the enemy regarding him as being weak.
In large-scale strategy, when we see that the enemy has few men, or if
he has many men but his spirit is weak and disordered, we knock the hat
over his eyes, crushing him utterly. If we crush lightly, he may recover. You
must learn the spirit of crushing as if with a hand-grip.
In single combat, if the enemy is less skillful than ourself, if his rhythm
is disorganized, or if he has fallen into evasive or retreating attitudes, we
must crush him straightaway, with no concern for his presence and without
allowing him space for breath. It is essential to crush him all at once. The
primary thing is not to let him recover his position even a little. You must
research this deeply.

The Mountain-Sea Change

The "mountain-sea" spirit means that it is bad to repeat the same thing
several times when fighting the enemy. There may be no help but to do
something twice, but do not try it a third time. If you once make an attack and
fail, there is little chance of success if you use the same approach again. If you
attempt a technique which you have previously tried unsuccessfully and fail
yet again, then you must change your attacking method.
If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he
thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains. You must research this deeply.

To Penetrate the Depths

When we are fighting with the enemy, even when it can be seen that we can
win on the surface with the benefit of the Way, if his spirit is not
extinguished, he may be beaten superficially yet undefeated in spirit deep
inside. With this principle of "penetrating the depths" we can destroy the
enemy's spirit in its depths, demoralizing him by quickly changing our spirit.
This often occurs.
Penetrating the depths means penetrating with the long sword,
penetrating with the body, and penetrating with the spirit. This cannot be
understood in a generalization .
Once we have crushed the enemy in the depths, there is no need to
remain spirited. But otherwise we must remain spirited. If the enemy
remains spirited it is difficult to crush him. You must train in penetrating the
depths for largescale strategy and also single combat.

To Renew

"To renew" applies when we are fighting with the enemy, and an entangled
spirit arises where there is no possible resolution. We must abandon our
efforts, think of the situation in a fresh spirit then win in the new rhythm. To
renew, when we are deadlocked with the enemy, means that without
changing our circumstance we change our spirit and win through a different
It is necessary to consider how "to renew" also applies in large-scale
strategy. Research this diligently.

Rat's Head, Ox's Neck

"Rat's head and ox's neck" means that, when we are fighting with the enemy
and both he and we have become occupied with small points in an entangled
spirit, we must always think of 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.
This is one of the essences of strategy. It is necessary that the warrior
think in this spirit in everyday life. You must not depart from this spirit in
largescale strategy nor in single combat.

The Commander Knows the Troops

"The commander knows the troops" applies everywhere in fights in my Way
of strategy.
Using the wisdom of strategy, think of the enemy as your own troops.
When you think in this way you can move him at will and be able to chase
him around. You become the general and the enemy becomes your troops.
You must master this.

To Let Go the Hilt

There are various kinds of spirit involved in letting go the hilt.
There is the spirit of winning without a sword. There is also the spirit
of holding the long sword but not winning. The various methods cannot be
expressed in writing. You must train well.

The Body of a Rocks

When you have mastered the Way of strategy you can suddenly make your
body like a rock, and ten thousand things cannot touch you. This is the body
of a rock.
You will not be moved. Oral tradition.

What is recorded above is what has been constantly on my mind about Ichi
school sword fencing, written down as it came to me. This is the first time I
have written about my technique, and the order of things is a bit confused. It
is difficult to express it clearly.
This book is a spiritual guide for the man who wishes to learn the Way.
My heart has been inclined to the Way of strategy from my youth onwards. I
have devoted myself to training my hand, tempering my body, and attaining
the many spiritual attitudes of sword fencing. If we watch men of other
schools discussing theory, and concentrating on techniques with the hands,
even though they seem skillful to watch, they have not the slightest true
Of course, men who study in this way think they are training the body
and spirit, but it is an obstacle to the true Way, and its bad influence remains
for ever. Thus the true Way of strategy is becoming decadent and dying out.
The true Way of sword fencing is the craft of defeating the enemy in a
fight, and nothing other than this. If you attain and adhere to the wisdom of
my strategy, you need never doubt that you will win.

The second year of Shoho, the fifth month, the twelfth day ( 1645)



In strategy you must know the Ways of other schools, so I have written about
various other traditions of strategy in this the Wind Book.
Without knowledge of the Ways of other schools, it is difficult to
understand the essence of my Ichi school. Looking at other schools we find
some that specialist in techniques of strength using extra-long swords. Some
schools study the Way of the short sword, known as kodachi. Some schools
teach dexterity in large numbers of sword techniques, teaching attitudes of the
sword as the "surface" and the Way as the "interior".
That none of these are the true Way I show clearly in the interior of
this book-all the vices and virtues and rights and wrongs. My Ichi school is
different. Other schools make accomplishments their means of livelihood,
growing flowers and decoratively colouring articles in order to sell them. This
is definitely not the Way of strategy.
Some of the world's strategists are concerned only with sword-fencing,
and limit their training to flourishing the long sword and carriage of the
body. But is dexterity alone sufficient to win? This is not the essence of the
I have recorded the unsatisfactory points of other schools one by one in
this book. You must study these matters deeply to appreciate the benefit of my
Ni To Ichi school.

Other Schools Using Extra-Long Swords

Some other schools have a liking for extra-long swords. From the point of
view of my strategy these must be seen as weak schools. This is because they
do not appreciate the principle of cutting the enemy by any means. Their
preference is for the extra-long sword and, relying on the virtue of its length,
they think to defeat the enemy from a distance.
In this world it is said, "One inch gives the hand advantage", but these
are the idle words of one who does not know strategy. It shows the inferior
strategy of a weak spirit that men should be dependent on the length of their
sword, fighting from a distance without the benefit of strategy.
I expect there is a case for the school in question liking extra-long
swords as part of its doctrine, but if we compare this with real life it is
unreasonable. Surely we need not necessarily be defeated if we are using a
short sword, and have no long sword?
It is difficult for these people to cut the enemy when at close quarters
because of the length of the long sword. The blade path is large so the long
sword is an encumbrance, and they are at a disadvantage compared to the
man armed with a short companion sword.
From olden times it has been said: "Great and small go together." So do
not unconditionally dislike extra-long swords. What I dislike is the
inclination towards the long sword. If we consider large-scale strategy, we can
think of large forces in terms of long swords, and small forces as short swords.
Cannot few men give battle against many? There are many instances of few
men overcoming many.
Your strategy is of no account if when called on to fight in a confined
space your heart is inclined to the long sword, or if you are in a house armed
only with your companion sword. Besides, some men have not the strength
of others.
In my doctrine, I dislike preconceived, narrow spirit. You must study
this well.

The Strong Long Sword Spirit in Other Schools

You should not speak of strong and weak long swords. If you just wield the
long sword in a strong spirit your cutting will be coarse, and if you use the
sword coarsely you will have difficulty in winning.
If you are concerned with the strength of your sword, you will try to cut
unreasonably strongly, and will not be able to cut at all. It is also bad to try to
cut strongly when testing the sword. Whenever you cross swords with an
enemy you must not think of cutting him either strongly or weakly; just
think of cutting and killing him. Be intent solely upon killing the enemy. Do
not try to cut strongly and, of course, do not think of cutting weakly. You
should only be concerned with killing the enemy.
If you rely on strength, when you hit the enemy's sword you will
inevitably hit too hard. If you do this, your own sword will be carried along as
a result. Thus the saying, "The strongest hand wins", has no meaning.
In large-scale strategy, if you have a strong army and are relying on
strength to win, but the enemy also has a strong army, the battle will be fierce.
This is the same for both sides.
Without the correct principle the fight cannot be won.
The spirit of my school is to win through the wisdom of strategy,
paying no attention to trifles. Study this well.

Use of the Shorter Long Sword in Other Schools

Using a shorter long sword is not the true Way to win.
In ancient times, tacos and katana meant long and short swords. Men
of superior strength in the world can wield even a long sword lightly, so there
is no case for their liking the short sword. They also make use of the length of
spears and halberds. Some men use a shorter long sword with the intention
of jumping in and stabbing the enemy at the unguarded moment when he
flourishes his sword. This inclination is bad.
To aim for the enemy's unguarded moment is completely defensive,
and undesirable at close quarters with the enemy. Furthermore, you cannot
use the method of jumping inside his defense with a short sword if there are
many enemies. Some men think that if they go against many enemies with a
shorter long sword they can unrestrictedly frisk around cutting in sweeps, but
they have to parry cuts continuously, and eventually become entangled with
the enemy. This is inconsistent with the true Way of strategy.
The sure Way to win thus is to chase the enemy around in a confusing
manner, causing him to jump aside, with your body held strongly and
straight. The same principle applies to large-scale strategy. The essence of
strategy is to fall upon the enemy in large numbers and bring about his speedy
downfall. By their study of strategy, people of the world get used to
countering, evading and retreating as the normal thing. They become set in
this habit, so can easily be paraded around by the enemy. The Way of strategy
is straight and true. You must chase the enemy around and make him obey
your spirit.

Other Schools with many Methods of using the Long Sword

I think it is held in other schools that there are many methods of using the
long sword in order to gain the admiration of beginners. This is selling the
Way. It is a vile spirit in strategy.
The reason for this is that to deliberate over many ways of cutting
down a man is an error. To start with, killing is not the Way of mankind.
Killing is the same for people who know about fighting and for those who do
not. It is the same for women or children, and there are not many different
methods. We can speak of different tactics such as stabbing and mowing
down, but none other than these.
Anyway, cutting down the enemy is the Way of strategy, and there is
no need for many refinements of it.
Even so, according to the place, your long sword may be obstructed
above or to the sides, so you will need to hold your sword in such manner
that it can be used. There are five methods in five directions.
Methods apart from these five-hand twisting, body bending, jumping
out, and so on, to cut the enemy-are not in the true Way of strategy. In order
to cut the enemy you must not make twisting or bending cuts. This is
completely useless. In my strategy, I bear my spirit and body straight, and
cause the enemy to twist and bend. The necessary spirit is to win by attacking
the enemy when his spirit is warped. You must study this well.

Use of Attitudes of the Long Sword in Other Schools

Placing a great deal of importance on the attitudes of the long sword is a
mistaken way of thinking. What is known in the world as "attitude" applies
when there is no enemy. The reason is that this has been a precedent since
ancient times, and there should be no such thing as "This is the modern way
to do it" in dueling. You must force the enemy into inconvenient situations.
Attitudes are for situations in which you are not to be moved. That is,
for garrisoning castles, battle array, and so on, showing The spirit of not being
moved even by a strong assault. In the Way of dueling, however, you must
always be intent upon taking the lead and attacking. Attitude is the spirit of
awaiting an attack. You must appreciate this.
In duels of strategy you must move The opponent's attitude. Attack
where his spirit is lax, throw him into confusion, irritate and terrify him.
Take advantage of the enemy's rhythm when he is unsettled and you can
I dislike the defensive spirit known as "attitude". Therefore, in my
Way, there is something called "Attitude-No Attitude".
In large-scale strategy we deploy our troops for battle bearing in mind
our strength, observing the enemy's numbers, and noting The details of the
battlefield. This is at the start of the battle.
The spirit of attacking first is completely different from the spirit of
being attacked. Bearing an attack well, with a strong attitude, and parrying the
enemy's attack well, is like making a wall of spears and halberds. When you
attack the enemy, your spirit must go to the extent of pulling The stakes out
of a wall and using Them as spears and halberds. You must examine this

Fixing the Eyes in Other Schools

Some schools maintain that the eyes should be fixed on The enemy's long
sword. Some schools fix the eyes on The hands. Some fix the eyes on the face,
and some fix the eyes on the feet, and so on. If you fix the eyes on these places
your spirit can become confused and your strategy thwarted.
I will explain this in detail. Footballers do not fix their eyes on the ball,
but by good play on the field they can perform well. When you become
accustomed to something, you are not limited to the use of your eyes. People
such as master musicians have the music score in front of their nose, or
flourish swords in several ways when they have mastered the Way, but this
does not mean that they fix their eyes on these things specifically, or that they
make pointless movements of the sword. It means that they can see naturally.
In The Way of strategy, when you have fought many times you will
easily be able to appraise the speed and position of the enemy's sword, and
having mastery of The Way you will see the weight of his spirit. In strategy,
fixing the eyes means gazing at the man's heart.
In large-scale strategy the area to watch is the enemy's strength.
"Perception" and "sight" are The two methods of seeing. Perception consists
of concentrating strongly on the enemy's spirit, observing The condition of
the battlefield, fixing the gaze strongly, seeing the progress of the fight and the
changes of advantage. This is the sure way to win.
In single combat you must not fix the eyes on details. As I said before, if
you fix your eyes on details and neglect important things, your spirit will
become bewildered, and victory will escape you. Research this principle well
and train diligently.

Use of the Feet in Other Schools

There are various methods of using the feet: floating foot, jumping foot,
springing foot, treading foot, crow's foot, and such nimble walking methods.
From the point of view of my strategy, these are all unsatisfactory.
I dislike floating foot because the feet always tend to float during the
fight. The Way must be trod firmly.
Neither do I like jumping foot, because it encourages The habit of
jumping, and a jumpy spirit. However much you jump, there is no real
justification for it; so jumping is bad.
Springing foot causes a springing spirit which is indecisive.
Treading foot is a "waiting" method, and I especially dislike it.
Apart from these, there are various fast walking methods, such as
crow's foot, and so on.
Sometimes, however, you may encounter the enemy on marshland,
swampy ground, river valleys, stony ground, or narrow roads, in which
situations you cannot jump or move the feet quickly.
In my strategy, the footwork does not change. I always walk as I usually
do in the street. You must never lose control of your feet. According to the
enemy's rhythm, move fast or slowly, adjusting your body not too much and
not too little.
Carrying the feet is important also in large-scale strategy. This is
because, if you attack quickly and thoughtlessly without knowing the enemy's
spirit, your rhythm will become deranged and you will not be able to win. Or,
if you advance too slowly, you will not be able to take advantage of the
enemy's disorder, the opportunity to win will escape, and you will not be able
to finish the fight quickly. You must win by seizing upon the enemy's
disorder and derangement, and by not according him even a little hope of
recovery. Practice this well.

Speed in Other Schools

Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy. Speed implies that things seem
fast or slow, according to whether or not they are in rhythm. Whatever the
Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.
Some people can walk as fast as a hundred or a hundred and twenty
miles in a day, but this does not mean that they run continuously from
morning till night. Unpracticed runners may seem to have been running all
day, but their performance is poor.
In the Way of dance, accomplished performers can sing while dancing,
but when beginners try this they slow down and their spirit becomes busy.
The "old pine tree" melody beaten on a leather drum is tranquil, but when
beginners try this they slow down and their spirit becomes busy. Very skillful
people can manage a fast rhythm, but it is bad to beat hurriedly. If you try to
beat too quickly you will get out of time. Of course, slowness is bad. Really
skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never
appear busy. From this example, the principle can be seen.
What is known as speed is especially bad in the Way of strategy. The
reason for this is that depending on the place, marsh or swamp and so on, it
may not be possible to move the body and legs together quickly. Still less will
you be able to cut quickly if you have a long sword in this situation. If you try
to cut quickly, as if using a fan or short sword, you will not actually cut even a
little. You must appreciate this.
In large-scale strategy also, a fast busy spirit is undesirable. The spirit
must be that of holding down a pillow, then you will not be even a little late.
When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily
and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent. Train diligently
to attain this spirit.

"Interior" and "Surface" in Other Schools

There is no "interior" nor "surface" in strategy.
The artistic accomplishments usually claim inner meaning and secret
tradition, and "interior" and "gate", but in combat there is no such thing as
fighting on the surface, or cutting with the interior. When I teach my Way, I
first teach by training in techniques which are easy for the pupil to
understand, a doctrine which is easy to understand. I gradually endeavor to
explain the deep principle, points which it is hardly possible to comprehend,
according to the pupil's progress. In any event, because the way to
understanding is through experience, I do not speak of "interior" and "gate".
In this world, if you go into the mountains, and decide to go deeper
and yet deeper, instead you will emerge at the gate. Whatever the Way, it has
an interior, and it is sometimes a good thing to point out the gate. In strategy,
we cannot say what is concealed and what is revealed.
Accordingly I dislike passing on my Way through written pledges and
regulations. Perceiving the ability of my pupils, I teach the direct Way,
remove the bad influence of other schools, and gradually introduce them to
the true Way of the warrior.
The method of teaching my strategy is with a trustworthy spirit. You
must train diligently.

I have tried to record an outline of the strategy of other schools in the above
nine sections. I could now continue by giving a specific account of these
schools one by one, from the "gate" to the "interior", but I have intentionally
not named the schools or their main points. The reason for this is that
different branches of schools give different interpretations of the doctrines. In
as much as men's opinions differ, so there must be differing ideas on the
same matter. Thus no one man's conception is valid for any school.
I have shown the general tendencies of other schools on nine points. If
we look at them from an honest viewpoint, we see that people always tend to
like long swords or short swords, and become concerned with strength in
both large and small matters. You can see why I do not deal with the "gates"
of other schools.
In my Ichi school of the long sword there is neither gate nor interior.
There is no inner meaning in sword attitudes. You must simply keep your
spirit true to realize the virtue of strategy.

Twelfth day of the fifth month, the second year of Shoho (1645)



The Ni To Ichi Way of strategy is recorded in this the Book of the Void.
What is called the spirit of the void is where there is nothing. It is not
included in man's knowledge. Of course the void is nothingness. By knowing
things that exist, you can know that which does not exist. That is the void.
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
In the Way of strategy, also, those who study as warriors think that
whatever they cannot understand in their craft is the void. This is not the
true void.
To attain the Way of strategy as a warrior you must study fully other
martial arts and not deviate even a little from the Way of the warrior. With
your spirit settled, accumulate practice day by day, and hour by hour. Polish
the twofold spirit heart and mind, and sharpen the twofold gaze perception
and sight. When your spirit is not in the least clouded, when the clouds of
bewilderment clear away, there is the true void.
Until you realize the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in common
sense, you may think that things are correct and in order. However, if we look
at things objectively, from the viewpoint of laws of the world, we see various
doctrines departing from the true Way. Know well this spirit, and with
forthrightness as the foundation and the true spirit as the Way. Enact strategy
broadly, correctly and openly.
Then you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the
void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.
In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom has existence, principle has
existence, the Way has existence, spirit is nothingness.

Twelfth day of the fifth month, second year of Shoho (1645)