Top critical review
Dubious Translation, But Has Some Good Points
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2006
This is a book with some good advice. Unfortunately, the accuracy of this as a translation seems to be a bit questionable.
First, the good:
It has several pieces of advice that are good for any martial artists such as the following (My paraphrases):
1. Change with the times. Weapons and methods change. You must continue to study, train, and adapt.
2. Your hands must be pliable. Hold the sword firmly. When performing martial techniques, it is good to be flexible while maintaining firmness in one's fists.
3. Practice hard. The way you do it in practice is the way you will do it in real life.
4. The ultimate goal of the martial arts is to avoid using them.
5. Regardless of the situation, remain calm.
6. Practice 'no mind'. Think only of destroying the opponent and the technique will follow.
Now, the bad. I am no expert in Japanese so I can't comment on the accuracy of this translation. Some have indicated that it is not a translation at all, but rather an interpretation of other translations.
That may or may not be correct. One quick point that may give credence to that. On page 10, Mr. Kaufman says: "A lancer should understand the sword, a kempoist should understand jiu-jitsu technique ... ." I am also not an authority on the history of the martial arts, however, I believe that Musashi live from 1584-1645. My understanding is that the art of Kempo kicking and striking - was brought to Japan about 1659. If that is accurate, that would mean that Musashi would not have included a comment such as the quote above.
I am not familiar with the other translations of the 'Book of Five Rings' but I will plan to check them out.