The Way of Strategy: The 9 Rules of Success from a Samurai Master
Recently, I was asked to write some words of wisdom to a young boy who was reaching his 13th birthday.
I was not quite sure what sage advice I could give that would have a lasting impression, so I though about words of wisdom I had run across over the years.
Being a martial artist (hence the “warrior” in Data Warrior), I have read many books on various topics related to the arts as well as books about famous warriors in history in order to learn from their wisdom.
Since this young man is also a martial artist (he is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do), I thought it appropriate to share something from one of those texts.
As I was writing the short letter to him that his mom requested, I realized that the wisdom in the passage would also be worth passing on to those of you that read my blog.
So here it is, with some additional thoughts.
The quotes are from one of the most famous books on strategy called A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was a Japanese Samurai who never lost a battle. All his fights were to the death. He used two wooden swords while his opponents used traditional Samurai swords with very sharp blades.
Someday you should read this book. I require all my black belts to read it, but the wisdom and lessons in this book apply to not only martial artist. They provide a useful perspective to anyone who needs to have the mindset of a warrior (which is most of us on any given day).
What Musashi wrote can be read many times. Each time you read it, you will learn or see something new in his words. What I have written below may or may not make sense to you today.
If not read it again in a year.
Then again a year after that (and so on).
Each time you read it, you will see more, and understand more.
So a short quote for you to contemplate:
“Strategy is the craft of the warrior”
What do you think that means? Why is it important? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.
The Nine Rules
Musashi also gave a list of rules for people who wanted to learn his strategy. He called it The Way (which is what “do” in Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Judo translates to).
His rules are:
1. Do not think dishonestly.
2. The Way is in training.
3. Become acquainted with every art.
4. Know the Ways of all professions.
5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
6. Develop intuitive judgement 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.
He went on to say:
” 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.”
The fact that this was written in the 1600’s by a retired Japanese warrior does not mean we can’t learn from what he wrote. Even though he wrote the book to teach others how to be as successful a warrior as he was, the end result was words we can all learn from.
So read those rule again (yes right now!), read between and behind the lines.
They speak truth.
Truth learned the hard way, in a harsh time, when a wrong decision was the difference between life or death.
Being wrong was not an option.
Surely there is some wisdom in those words that you can use.
Please share your insights with us.
Master Kent Graziano
The Oracle Data Warrior
P.S. For anyone heading out to Oracle OpenWorld, be sure to look me up. Watch for tweets about Morning #ChiGung in Union Square and elsewhere.
Very cool post. I too am training in the MA and enjoyed how the wisdom you shared applies so universally. Truth is truth. We can apply this wisdom to all areas of like not just MA.
Great stuff Kent. Question for a Master: do you think my playful use of “Samurai” in my Twitter handle is in any way disrespectful? Obviously not my intention, but I’m curious if it could be interpreted that way.
Thanks again for the Chi Gung lesson in San Fran !!
Not at all. The idea of a samurai as an agent of change is very appropriate.