The Way of Strategy [Hyoho no michi]

In China and Japan, practitioners of the Way have been known as "masters of strategy". Warriors should all learn this Way.

Recently people making a living as strategists are usually just teachers of sword techniques. The attendants of the Kashima and Katori shrines of the Hitachi province claim they received instruction from the Gods, and established schools based on this teaching, traveling from province to province to pass on their instruction. But this is only a recent meaning of the term strategy. [The Kashima shrine is dedicated to the warrior deity Takemikazuchi no Mikoto, the Katori shrine to his colleague Futsunushi no Kami. The Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto ryu is documented to have existed in Musashi's time.]

Since ancient times Strategy [Hyoho] has been included among the juno [ten skills] and hachigei [eight arts] as rikata [profitable measures - divine favour in Buddhist Law, in other words the way benefiting oneself and others]. Truly, rikata is one of the arts, although it is not just limited to standard sword techniques. The true value of swordsmanship cannot be seen solely by means of sword techniques. Needless to say swordsmanship limited to techniques alone can never rival the principles of Strategy.

Today we see the arts for sale. Men sell their own selves as commodities. As with the nut and the flower, the nut has become less important than the flower. In this kind of strategy, both those teaching and those learning the way are concerned with flamboyant style and showing off their technique, trying to hasten the bloom of the flower with commercial popularization. They speak of "this Dojo" and "that Dojo". They are looking only for quick benefits. Someone once said "Amateuristic strategy is the cause of serious grief". That was a true saying.

Generally speaking, there are four Ways in which men pass through life: as warriors, farmers, artisans and merchants.

The Way of the farmer is in 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 Sake brewer obtains his ingredients and puts them to use, making his living from the profit he gains according to the quality of the product. Whatever the business, the merchant exists only by taking profit. This is the Way of the merchant.

Third is the gentleman warrior, carrying the weaponry of his Way. The warrior has to master the various properties and virtues of his different weapons. If a gentleman dislikes martial arts he will not appreciate the specific advantages of each weapon. For a member of a warrior house this shows a lack of culture.

Fourth is the Way of the artisan. The Way of the carpenter [architect and builder, all buildings were of wood] is to become proficient in the construction and use of his tools, to lay his plans correctly using the square and ruler, and then perform his work diligently according to the plan. Thus he passes through life.

These are the four Ways of life, of the warrior, the farmer, the artisan and the merchant.

I will now illustrate the way of strategy by likening it to the way of the craftsman.

The comparison with carpentry is a metaphor in reference to the notion of houses. We speak of houses of the nobility, houses of warriors, the Four houses [there are also four different schools of tea], ruin of houses, thriving of houses, the style of the house, the tradition of the house, and the name of the house. Since we refer to houses all the time, I have chosen the carpenter as a metaphor.

The word for carpenter is written as "great skill" or "master plan", and the Way of strategy is similar in that it requires great skill and masterful planning.

If you want to learn the art of strategy, ponder over this book. Let the teacher be as a needle, the student as a thread. You must practice constantly.
Comments