I find philosophy a fascinating topic. There are many famous philosophers that lived in ancient times, such as Aristotle, Socrates, or Confucius, and a great number of quotes from them exist. But today, I want to talk about a very different philosopher, one you might not know about yet. I invite you to come and join me to read some Miyamoto Musashi quotes.
Musashi was a Japanese philosopher, but also a renowned swordsman, strategist, and writer. His skill with the sword was so great that he was considered a Kensei, a sword-saint. He even created the Niten Ichi-Ryū, a unique style using two swords.
But this article is about philosophy, so I will focus on that. In his life, Miyamoto Musashi authored two texts. The Book of Five Rings, a text on swordsmanship and martial arts overall, and the Dokkōdō (The Path to Aloneness), a short work consisting of 21 precepts that made up his life’s philosophy. Both works were finished in 1645, the same year he died.
Many of the Miyamoto Musashi quotes you will find in this article are from the Book of Five Rings, and some from the Dokkōdō. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
34 Miyamoto Musashi Quotes That Combine Philosophy and Swordsmanship
Miyamoto Musashi Quotes About Swordsmanship and Martial Arts
#1. “The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them.”
#2. “The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
#3. “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.”
#4. “When in a fight to the death, one wants to employ all one’s weapons to the utmost. I must say that to die with one’s sword still sheathed is most regrettable.”
#5. “You should not have a favourite weapon. To become over-familiar with one weapon is as much a fault as not knowing it sufficiently well.”
#6. “The sword has to be more than a simple weapon; it has to be an answer to life’s questions.”
#7. “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.”
#8. “The principle of my school is quite different. In the other schools, techniques are displayed like merchandise adorned with colors and flowers, so they can be turned into a way of making a living, which is not the true way.”
#9. “There is a rhythm to everything, but particularly in the martial arts, if you do not train in its rhythm it is difficult to succeed.”
Miyamoto Musashi Quotes About Strategy
#10. “If you wish to control others you must first control yourself.”
#11. “Becoming the opponent means you should put yourself in an opponent’s place and think from the opponent’s point of view.”
#12. “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.”
#13. “The important thing in strategy is to suppress the enemy’s useful actions but allow his useless actions.”
#14. “When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent.”
#15. “Immature strategy is the cause of grief.”
#16. “You win battles by knowing the enemy’s timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect.”
Miyamoto Musashi Quotes Pertaining to Life Overall
#17. “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.”
#18. “There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”
#19. “You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.”
#20. “From one thing, know ten thousand things.”
#21. “It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet.”
#22. “All man are the same except for their belief in their own selves, regardless of what others may think of them.”
#23. “Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.”
#24. “I dreamt of worldly success once.”
#25. “Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the ways of different arts one by one.”
#26. “By knowing what 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 bewilderment.”
#27. “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.”
#28. “Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.”
#29. “Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.”
#30. “Do nothing which is of no use.”
#31. “Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is. And you must bend to its power or live a lie.”
#32. “What I call the void is where nothing exists. It is about things outside man’s knowledge. Of course the void does not exist. By knowing what exist, you can know that which does not exist. That is the void.”
#33. “The fact of the matter is that the world does not care about you or me, our hopes, our desires, or our dreams. And, the world of dreams, hopes, and desires that is constructed between our ears it is not necessarily a reflection of what is actually going on around us.”
#34. “If a man chooses a certain Way and seems to have no particular talent for this Way, he can still become a master if he so chooses. By keeping at a particular form of study a man can attain perfection either in this life or the next (if a next life is believed in).”
I hope these Miyamoto Musashi quotes have helped you understand what a fascinating person Musashi was. A highly skilled swordsman who invented his own style on one side, and an accomplished philosopher, artist, and writer on the other.
Of course, there is much more to his wisdom than what you can find in this list, so if you are curious to see more, then perhaps consider acquiring a copy of the Book of Five Rings. It will surely be an interesting read.