Catholics on "The Book of Five Rings"

I’ve been studying about Miyomoto Musashi and he wrote a book on martial arts called The Book of Five Rings and heard that some Zen was included, but nothing too much where it can make you Buddhist, I’m wondering if someone has read it so I can know if I could read it or not because me myself is a martial artist and would love to get wisdom from any great martial art teachers, but God always comes first.

The Book of Five Rings won’t make you a Buddhist. It also has little to say on technique, but is more of a treatise on being a Samurai and such - Bushido and philosophy.

Also, to be clear, murder and violence is prohibited by Zen Buddhism* and there was no small wrangling to make violence “acceptable” for the Samurai caste once they assumed dominance.

  • Generally speaking. As in the case of all religions anywhere, those in power had a vested interest in spinning religion to their favor.

EDIT - Forgot to mention, I can’t remember when Japan shifted focus from Zen to Pure Land, which did precipitate discussion on whether or not a samurai could escape the endless cycle of life by merely reciting “I take refuge in the Buddha of the West [Amitabha].” I forget the Japanese, it’s been some time. But more applicable to your question, there is very little in the way of religious theology in the Five Rings.

I have read it multiple times. It is a book of stratagem not of Buddhism. And if any Buddhism leaked into the book it is not delivered in a way that is against Christianity. I believe every martial artist should read it.r. It has been valuable in my journey as a martial artist and a human being. I have been studying Jiu Jitsu for 24 years.

May I also suggest The Art of War by Sun Tsu. Both will help in the martial arts and daily life.

I found the Togakure a much better book. Go Rin No Sho is more or less popular because of the guy who wrote it more than its contents. Theres nothing wrong with it per se its just nothing ground breaking even back in those days. Then again reading about Sidhartha I wasnt overwhelmed either. Wonder why all these Asians follow him to some degree…

If you really want to learn about ‘martial arts’, go to a boxing gym in a bad part of town. MLK BLVD in East Cleveland for myself. The Zelma Watson Rec center. Sean Porter was up there one night sparing endowed in Grant equipment. Youll learn all you need all you need to know about ‘marital arts’ there. More than any of those books can teach you.

I dont know why you put martial arts in quotes as there is nothing sarcastic about it. But the martial arts is a way of life it is more then learning technique and how to fight. Being a good martial artist is more then being a good fighter.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit