The Book of Earth

Strategy is the craft of the warrior. Above all someone in a commander's position must practice it, and even troopers should know this Way. Yet today there is no warrior in the world who really understands the Way of strategy. [The term hyoho, here rendered as strategy, has a variety of meanings in Japanese, from large-scale military strategy, to martial arts or sword-fencing, and even - through play of words - the arts of peace and proper government. 'Strategy' is used as the translation largely for convenience, this should not be taken to imply that the other meanings are less appropriate - Musashi may even be referring to all of them at once.]

First let us illustrate the idea of a Way. There are various Ways. There is the Way of salvation by the law of Buddha, the Way of Kon Fu Tzu governing learning, the Way of healing as a physician, as a poet teaching the Way of Waka, [a type of poem]. Others follow the way of tea, archery, and many arts and skills. Each man practices as he feels inclined. Few are those that prefer the Way of martial strategy.

First, as is often said, a samurai must have both literary and martial skills: to be versed in the two is his duty. Even if he has no natural ability, a samurai must train assiduously in both skills to a degree appropriate to his status. On the whole, if you are to assess the samurai's mind, you may think it is simply attentiveness to the manner of dying. When it comes to the manner of dying, of course, there is no difference between the samurai, priests, women, and even peasants; everyone must know his obligations, think of what would be disgraceful, and be prepared for death when the moment comes. The samurai pursues martial strategy, however, in order to excel in everything, be it winning a duel or winning a combat with several men, be it for the benefit of your master or to establish your own reputation and distinguish yourself. The samurai does these things through the virtue of strategy. Some people may think that even if you learn martial arts, they will be useless in actual battles. That may be so, but the true spirit of martial strategy requires that you train to be useful at any moment and teach men so that they may become useful in everything.