More Wisdom from The Fire Scroll

This week I will return to Miyamoto Musashi’s Fire Scroll from his work The Book of Five Rings.

Image via

Here are some more pointers from the Fire Scroll, which discusses specific techniques which work as well for fighting one or more adversaries, an army, or applied more generally to everyday life (the copy I have is categorized as Business/ Martial Arts):

Image via


“Upset happens in all sorts of things. One way it happens is through a feeling of acute pressure. Another is through a feeling of unreasonable strain. A third is through a feeling of surprise at the unexpected. In large-scale military science, it is essential to cause upset. It is critical to attack resolutely where enemies are not expecting it; then, while their minds are unsettled, use this to your advantage to take the initiative and win. In individual martial arts also, you appear relaxed at first, then suddenly charge powerfully; as the opponent’s mind changes pitch, it is essential that you follow what he does, not letting him relax for a moment, perceiving the advantage of the moment and discerning right then and there how to win. This must be investigated diligently.”


“There is fright in everything. This means being frightened by the unexpected. Even in large-scale military science, threatening an adversary is not something right before the eyes. You may threaten by sound, you may threaten by making the small seem large, and you may threaten by making an unexpected move from the side. These are situations in which fright occurs. If you can seize the moment of fright, you can take advantage of it to gain victory. In individual martial arts also, you can threaten by means of your body, you can threaten by means of the sword, and you can threaten by means of your voice. What is essential is to suddenly make a move totally unexpected by the opponent, pick up on the advantage of fright, and seize victory right then and there. This must be worked out thoroughly.”

“Three Shouts”

“The three shouts are called the initial, middle and final shout. The essential point is to call out in accord with the situation. Because a shout is forceful, we shout in emergencies like fires and squalls; the voice shows force and power. In large- scale military science, at the beginning of battle the shouting should be as loud as possible, in the course of battle the shouting should be low- pitched and booming from the depths, while after victory the shouting should be loud and strong. These are the three shouts. In individual martial arts, you feint and shout in order to stir the opponent, then lash out after your cry. You also shout after having struck an opponent down, with a cry signaling victory. These are called the before and after shouts. You never shout at the same time as you swing your sword. When you shout in the midst of battle, you use the sound to mount a rhythm, crying out in a low pitch.”

“Sticking Tight”

“Sticking tight means when you are fighting at close range, you and your adversary each exerting great force against the other, and you see that it is not going well, you then stick tight to your opponent; the essential point is to take advantage of opportunities to win even as you wrestle together. Whether in large- or small- scale military science, when you and opponents have taken sides and are facing off and it is not clear who will prevail, right then and there you stick tight to the opponents, so that you cannot be separated, and in that process find the advantage, determine how to win, and seize victory powerfully; this is quintessential. This must be studied diligently.”

This week I will be preparing and heading to the annual Winter Retreat (as is mentioned in many recent posts, but it’s finally here!) I look forward to the learning I will experience, that I don’t know of yet, I am sure it will be profound- more about that soon!

It will be different without the mounds of snow, I was looking forward to the mountain climb- I wonder what else we’ll end up doing.

This looks kind of like our mountain. Image via

What do you think?

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