The spirit of the Ni Ten Ichi school of strategy is based on water, and this Water Book explains methods of victory as the long-sword form of the Ichi school. Language does not extend to explaining the Way in detail, but it can be grasped intuitively. Study this book; read a word then ponder on it. If you interpret the meaning loosely you will mistake the Way.
The principles of strategy are written down here in terms of single combat, but you must think broadly so that you attain an understanding for ten-thousand-a-side battles.
Strategy is different from other things in that if you mistake the Way even a little you will become bewildered and fall into bad ways.
If you merely read this book you will not reach the Way of strategy.
Absorb the things written in this book. Do not just read, memorise or imitate,
but so that you realise the principle from within your own heart study
hard to absorb these things into your body.
Spiritual Bearing in Strategy
In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal.
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 influenced by your
spirit. Be neither insufficiently spirited nor over spirited. An elevated
spirit is weak and a low spirit is weak. Do not let the enemy see your
Small people must be completely familiar with the spirit of large people, and large people must be familiar with the spirit of small people. Whatever your size, do not be misled by the reactions of your own body. With your spirit open and unconstricted, look at things from a high point of view. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realised the wisdom of strategy.
The wisdom of strategy is different from other things. On othe battlefield,
even when you are hard-pressed, you should ceaselessly research the principles
of strategy so that you can develop a steady spirit.
Stance in Strategy
Adopt a stance with the head erect, neither hanging down, nor looking up, nor twisted. Your forehead and the space between your eyes should not be wrinkled. Do not roll your eyes nor allow them to blink, but slightly narrow them. With your features composed, keep the line of your nose straight with a feeling of slightly flaring your nostrils. Hold the line of the rear of the neck straight: instil vigour into your hairline, and in the same way from the shoulders down through your entire body. Lower both shoulders and, without the buttocks jutting out, put strength into your legs from the knees to the tops of your toes. Brace your abdomen so that you do not bend at the hips. Wedge your companion sword in your belt against your abdomen, so that your belt is not slack - this is called "wedging in".
In all forms of strategy, it is necessary to maintain the combat stance
in everyday life and to make your everyday stance your combat stance. You
must research this well.
The Gaze in Strategy
The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze "Perception and Sight". 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. It is important in strategy to know the enemy's sword and not to be distracted by insignificant movements of his sword. You must study this. The gaze is the same for single combat and for large-scale combat.
It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without
moving the eyeballs. You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what
is written here: use this gaze in everyday life and do not vary it whatever
Holding the Long Sword
Grip the long sword with a rather floating feeling in your thumb and forefinger, with the middle finger neither tight nor slack, and with the last two fingers tight. It is bad to have play in your hands.
When you take up a sword, you must feel intent on cutting the enemy. As you cut an enemy you must not change your grip, and your hands must not "cower". When you dash the enemy's sword aside, or ward it off, or force it down, you must slightly change the feeling in your thumb and forefinger. Above all, you must be intent on cutting the enemy in the way you grip the sword.
The grip for combat and for sword-testing is the same. There is no such thing as a "man-cutting grip".
Generally, I dislike fixedness in both long swords and hands. Fixedness
means a dead hand. Pliability is a living hand. You must bear this in mind.
With the tips of your toes somewhat floating, tread firmly with your heels. Whether you move fast or slow, with large or small steps, your feet must always move as in normal walking. I dislike the three walking methods known as "jumping-foot", "floating-foot" and "fixed-steps".
So-called "Yin-Yang foot" is important to the Way. Yin-Yang foot means
not moving only one foot. It means moving your feet left-right and right-left
when cutting, withdrawing, or warding off a cut. You should not move one
The Five Attitudes
The five attitudes are: Upper, Middle, Lower, Right Side, and Left Side. These are the five. Although attitude has these five dimensions, the one purpose of all of them is to cut the enemy. There are none but these five attitudes.
Whatever attitude you are in, do not be conscious of making the attitude; think only of cutting.
Your attitude should be large or small according to the situation. Upper, Lower and Middle attitudes are decisive. Left Side and Right Side attitudes are fluid. Left and Right attitudes should be used if there is an obstruction overhead or to one side. The decision to use Left or Right depends on the place.
The essence of the Way is this. To understand attitude you must thoroughly
understand the Middle attitude. The Middle attitude is the heart of the
attitudes. If we look at strategy on a broad scale, the Middle attitude
is the seat of the commander, with the other four attitudes following the
commander. You must appreciate this.
The Way of the Long Sword
Knowing the Way of the long sword means we can wield with two fingers the sword that we usually carry. If we know the path of the sword well, we can wield it easily.
If you try to wield the long sword quickly you will mistake the Way. To wield the long sword well you must wield it calmly. If you try to wield it quickly, like a folding fan or a short sword, you will err by using "short sword chopping". You cannot cut a man with a long sword using this method.
When you have cut downwards with the long sword, lift it straight upwards, when you cut sideways, return the sword along a sideways path. Return the sword in a reasonable way, always stretching the elbows broadly. Wield the sword strongly. This is the Way of the long sword.
If you learn to use the five approaches of my strategy, you will be
able to wield a sword well. You must train constantly.
The Five Approaches
The five approaches are this kind of thing. You must train repeatedly using a long sword in order to learn them. When you master my Way of the long sword, you will be able to control any attack the enemy makes. I assure you, there are no attitudes other than the five attitudes of the long sword of NiTo.
In this method there are various changes in timing and spirit. You will be able to understand this by training in the Ichi school. You will always win with the five long sword methods. You must train repeatedly.
You will encounter this method often, both as a beginner and in later strategy. You must train holding a long sword.
This is the Way of the long sword. Through this method you win by parrying the line of the enemy's attack. You must study this.
This method is essential for knowing the Way of the long sword well. If you can use this method, you can freely wield a heavy long sword.
The "Attitude No-Attitude" Teaching
"Attitude No-Attitude" means that there is no need for what are known as long sword attitudes.
Even so, attitudes exist as the five ways of holding the long sword. However you hold the sword it must be in such a way that it is easy to cut the enemy well, in accordance with the situation, the place, and your relation to the enemy. From the Upper attitude as your spirit lessens you can adopt the Middle attitude, and from the Middle attitude you can raise the sword a little in your technique and adopt the Upper attitude. From the Lower attitude you can raise the sword a little and adopt the Middle attitudes as the occasion demands. According to the situation, if you turn your sword from either the Left Side or Right Side attitude towards the centre, the Middle or the Lower attitude results.
The principle of this is called "Existing Attitude - Nonexisting Attitude".
The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him. You must thoroughly research this.
Attitude in strategy on a larger scale is called "Battle Array". Such
attitudes are all for winning battles. Fixed formation is bad. Study this
To Hit the Enemy "In One Timing"
"In One Timing" means, when you have closed with the enemy, to hit him as quickly and directly as possible, without moving your body or settling your spirit, while you see that he is still undecided. The timing of hitting before the enemy decides to withdraw, break or hit, is this "In One Timing".
You must train to achieve this timing, to be able to hit in the timing
of an instant.
The "Abdomen Timing of Two"
When you attack and the enemy quickly retreats, as you see him tense you must feint a cut. Then, as he relaxes, follow up and hit him. This is the "Abdomen Timing of Two".
It is very difficult to attain this merely by reading this book, but
you will soon understand with a little instruction.
No Design, No Conception
In this method, when the enemy attacks and you decide to attack, hit with your body, and hit with your spirit, and hit from the Void with your hands, accelerating strongly. This is the "No Design, No Conception" cut.
This is the most important method of hitting. It is often used. You
must train hard to understand it.
The Flowing Water Cut
The "Flowing Water Cut" is used when you are struggling blade to blade
with the enemy. When he breaks and quickly withdraws trying to spring with
his long sword, expand your body and spirit and cut him as slowly as possible
with your long sword, following your body like stagnant water.
You can cut with certainty if you learn this. You must discern the enemy's grade.
The Fire and Stones Cut
The Fires and Stones Cut means that when the enemy's long sword and
your long sword clash together you cut as strongly as possible without
raising the sword even a little. This means cutting quickly with the hands,
body and legs - all three cutting strongly. If you train well enough you
will be able to strike strongly.
The Red Leaves Cut
The Red Leaves Cut means knocking down the enemy's long sword. The spirit should be getting control of his sword. When the
enemy is in a long sword attitude in front of you and intent on cutting,
hitting and parrying, you strongly hit the enemy's sword with the Fire
and Stones Cut, perhaps in the design of the "No Design, No Conception"
Cut. If you then beat down the point of his sword with a sticky feeling,
he will necessarily drop the sword. If you practise this cut it becomes
easy to make the enemy drop his sword. You must train repetitively.
The Body in Place of the Long Sword
Also "the long sword in place of the body". Usually we move the body
and the sword at the same time to cut the enemy. However, according to
the enemy's cutting method, you can dash against him with your body first,
and afterwards cut with the sword. If his body is immoveable, you can cut
first with the long sword, but generally you hit first with the body and
then cut with the long sword. You must research this well and practise
Cut and Slash
To cut and slash are two different things. Cutting, whatever form of
cutting it is, is decisive, with a resolute spirit. Slashing is nothing
more than touching the enemy. Even if you slash strongly, and even if the
enemy dies instantly, it is slashing. When you cut, your spirit is resolved.
You must appreciate this. If you first slash the enemy's hands or legs,
you must then cut strongly. Slashing is in spirit the same as touching.
When you realise this, they become indistinguishable. Learn this well.
Chinese Monkey's Body
The Chinese Monkey's Body is the spirit of not stretching out your arms. The spirit is to get in quickly, without in the least extending your arms, before the enemy cuts. If you are intent upon not stretching
out your arms you are effectively far away, the spirit is to go in with
your whole body. When you come to within arm's reach it becomes easy to
move your body in. You must research this well.
Glue and Lacquer Emulsion Body
The spirit of "Glue and Lacquer Emulsion Body" is to stick to the enemy and not separate from him. When you approach the
enemy, stick firmly with your head, body and legs. People tend to advance
their head and legs quickly, but their body lags behind. You should stick
firmly so that there is not the slightest gap between the enemy's body
and your body. You must consider this carefully.
To Strive for Height
By "to strive for height" is meant, when you close with the enemy, to
strive with him for superior height without cringing. Stretch your legs,
stretch your hips, and stretch your neck face to face with him. When you
think you have won, and you are the higher, thrust in strongly. You must
To Apply Stickiness
When the enemy attacks and you also attack with the long sword, you
should go in with a sticky feeling and fix your long sword against the
enemy's as you receive his cut. The spirit of stickiness is not hitting
very strongly, but hitting so that the long swords do not separate easily.
It is best to approach as calmly as possible when hitting the enemy's long
sword with stickiness. The difference between "Stickiness" and "Entanglement"
is that stickiness is firm and entanglement is weak. You must appreciate
The Body Strike
The Body Strike means to approach the enemy through a gap in his guard.
The spirit is to strike him with your body. Turn your face a little aside
and strike the enemy's breast with your left shoulder thrust out. Approach
with a spirit of bouncing the enemy away, striking as strongly as possible
in time with your breathing. If you achieve this method of closing with
the enemy, you will be able to knock him ten or twenty feet away. It is
possible to strike the enemy until he is dead. Train well.
Three Ways to Parry His Attack
There are three methods to parry a cut:
First, by dashing the enemy's long sword to your right, as if thrusting at his eyes, when he makes an attack.
Or, to parry by thrusting the enemy's long sword towards his right eye with the feeling of snipping his neck.
Or, when you have a short "long sword", without worrying about parrying the enemy's long sword, to close with him quickly, thrusting at his face with your left hand.
These are the three ways of parrying. You must bear in mind that you
can always clench your left hand and thrust at the enemy's face with your
fist. For this it is necessary to train well.
To Stab at the Face
To stab at the face means, when you are in controntation with the enemy,
that your spirit is intent on stabbing at his face, following the line
of the blades with the point of your long sword. If you are intent on stabbling
at his face, his face and body will become ridable. When the enemy becomes
rideable, there are various opportunities for winning. You must concentrate
on this. When fighting and the enemy's body becomes as if rideable, you
can win quickly, so you ought not to forget to stab at the face. You must
persue the value of this technique through training.
To Stab at the Heart
To stab at the heart means, when fighting and there are obstructions
above or to the sides, and whenever it is difficult to cut, to thrust at
the enemy. You must stab the enemy's breast without letting the point of
your long sword waver, showing the enemy the ridge of the blade square-on,
and with the spirit of deflecting his long sword. The spirit of this principle
is often useful when we become tired or for some reason our long sword
will not cut. You must understand the application of this method.
To Scold "Tut-TUT!"
"Scold" means that, when the enemy tries to counter-cut as you attack,
you counter-cut again from below as if thrusting at him, trying to hold
him down. With very quick timing you cut, scolding the enemy. Thrust up,
"Tut!", and cut "TUT!" This timing is encountered time and time again in
exchanges of blows. The way to scold Tut-TUT is to time the cut simultaneously
with raising your long sword as if to thrust the enemy. You must learn
this through repetitive practice.
The Smacking Parry
By "smacking parry" is meant that when you clash swords with the enemy,
you meet his attacking cut on your long sword with a tee-dum, tee-dum rhythm,
smacking his sword and cutting him. The spirit of the smacking parry is
not parrying, or smacking strongly, but smacking the enemy's long sword
in accordance with his attacking cut, primarily intent on quickly cutting
him. If you understand the timing of smacking, however hard your long swords
clash together, your swordpoint will not be knocked back even a little.
You must research sufficiently to realise this.
There are Many Enemies
"There are many enemies" applies when you are fighting one against many. Draw both sword and companion sword and assume a wide-stretched left and right attitude. The spirit is to chase the enemies around from
side to side, even though they come from all four directions. Observe their
attacking order, and go to meet first those who attack first. Sweep your
eyes around broadly, carefully examining the attacking order, and cut left
and right alternately with your swords. Waiting is bad. Always quickly
re-assume your attitudes to both sides, cut the enemies down as they advance,
crushing them in the direction from which they attack. Whatever you do,
you must drive the enemy together, as if tying a line of fishes, and when
they are seen to be piled up, cut them down strongly without giving them
room to move.
The Advantage when coming to Blows
You can know how to win through strategy with the long sword, but it cannot be clearly explained in writing. You must practise diligently in order to understand how to win.
Oral tradition:"The true Way of strategy is revealed in the long sword."
You can with with certainty with the spirit of "one cut". It is difficult to attain this if you do not learn strategy well. If you train well in this Way, strategy will come from your heart and you will be able to win at will. You must train diligently.
The spirit of "Direct Communication" is how the true Way of the NiTo
Ichi school is received and handed down.
Oral tradition: "Teach your body strategy."
Recorded in the above book is an outline of Ichi school sword fighting.
To learn how to win with the long sword in strategy, first learn the five approaches and the five attitudes, and absorb the Way of the long sword naturally in your body. You must understand spirit and timing, handle the long sword naturally, and move body and legs in harmony with your spirit. Whether beating one man or two, you will then know values in strategy.
Study the contents of this book, taking one item at a time, and through fighting with enemies you will gradually come to know the principle of the Way.
Deliberately, with a patient spirit, absorb the virtue of all this, from time to time raising your hand in combat. Maintain this spirit whenever you cross swords with an enemy.
Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.
Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men. Next, in order to beat more skilful men, train according to this book, not allowing your heart to be swayed along a side-track. Even if you kill an enemy, if it is not based on what you have learned it is not the true Way.
If you attain this Way of victory, then you will be able to beat several
tens of men. What remains is sword-fighting ability, which you can attain
in battles and duels.
The Second Year of Shoho, the twelfth day of the fifth month (1645)
Teruo Magonojo for SHINMEN MUSASHI
Next section: The Fire Book
33. Sword testing- Swords were tested by highly specialised professional testers. The sword would be fitted into a special mounting and test cuts made on bodies, bundles of straw, armour, sheets of metal, etc. Sometimes, appraisal marks of a sword testing inscribed on the tangs of old blades are found.
34. Footwork- Different methods of moving are used in different schools. Yin-Yang, or "In-Yo" in Japanese, is female-male, dark-light, right-left. Musashi advocates this "level mind" kind of walking, although he is emphatic about the significance of these parameters - issues of right and left foot arise in the Wind book of Go Rin No Sho. Old Jujitsu schools advocate making the first attack with the left side forward.
35. The Way of the Long Sword- The Way as a way of life, and as the natural path of a sword blade. There is a natural movement of the sword associated with a natural behavior according to Kendo ethics.
36. Folding fan- An item carried by men and women in the hot summer months. Armoured officers sometimes carried an iron war fan.
37. The Five Approaches- Who can understand Musashi's methods? It is necessary to study traditional schools and basic cutting practice. Bear in mind that fighting technique may start from a greater distance than it seems to at first glance. It is said that the man who has faced death at the point of a sword has an elevated understanding.
38. No Design, No Conception- "Munen Muso" - this means the ability to act calmly and naturally even in the face of danger. It is the highest accord with existance, when a man's word and his actions are spontaneously the same.
39. Red Leaves Cut- Presumably Musashi is alluding here to falling, dying leaves.
40. Chinese Monkey's Body- A Chinese monkey here means a short-armed monkey.
41. Glue and Lacquer emulsion- The lacquer work which takes its name from Japan, used to coat furniture and home utensils, architecture, weapons and armour.
42. There are many enemies- Musashi is held to be the inventor of the Two Sword style. His school is sometimes called "Nito Ryu" (two sword school) and sometimes "Niten Ryu" (two heavens school). He writes that the use of two swords is for when there are many enemies, but people practise a style of fencing with a sword in each hand to give practical advantage in fencing. Musashi used the words "two swords" when meaning to use all one's resources in combat. He never used two swords when up against a skilled swordsman.
43. Oral tradition- Other Kendo schools also have oral traditions as opposed to teachings passed on in formal technique.
44. One cut- Whatever this means, it is worthwhile to note the "Hitotsu Gachi" (One Victory), the Kiri Otoshi technique of the Itto Ryu school, where one cut provides attack and defence, cutting down the enemy's sword and spirit, and the related "Itchi no Tachi" (Long Sword of One) of the Shinto style.