The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

The Lone Samurai The Life of Miyamoto Musashi The Lone Samurai is a landmark biography of Miyamoto Musashi the legendary Japanese figure known throughout the world as a master swordsman spiritual seeker and author of The Book of Five Rings Wit

  • Title: The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi
  • Author: William Scott Wilson
  • ISBN: 9784770029423
  • Page: 187
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Lone Samurai is a landmark biography of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Japanese figure known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of The Book of Five Rings With a compassionate yet critical eye, William Scott Wilson delves into the workings of Musashi s mind as the iconoclastic samurai wrestled with philosophical and spiritual ideaThe Lone Samurai is a landmark biography of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Japanese figure known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of The Book of Five Rings With a compassionate yet critical eye, William Scott Wilson delves into the workings of Musashi s mind as the iconoclastic samurai wrestled with philosophical and spiritual ideas that are as relevant today as they were in his times Musashi found peace and spiritual reward in seeking to perfect his chosen Way, and came to realize that perfecting a single Way, no matter the path, could lead to fulfillment The Lone Samurai is far than a vivid account of a fascinating slice of feudal Japan It is the story of one man s quest for answers, perfection, and access to the Way.By age thirteen, Miyamoto Musashi had killed his opponent in what would become the first of many celebrated swordfights By thirty, he had fought than sixty matches, losing none He would live another thirty years but kill no one else He continued to engage in swordfights but now began to show his skill simply by thwarting his opponents every attack until they acknowledged Musashi s all encompassing ability At the same time, the master swordsman began to expand his horizons, exploring Zen Buddhism and its related arts, particularly ink painting, in a search for a truer Way.Musashi was a legend in his own time As a swordsman, he preferred the wooden sword and in later years almost never fought with a real weapon He outfoxed his opponents or turned their own strength against them At the height of his powers, he began to evolve artistically and spiritually, becoming one of the country s most highly regarded ink painters and calligraphers, while deepening his practice of Zen Buddhism He funneled his hard earned insights about the warrior arts into his spiritual goals Ever the solitary wanderer, Musashi shunned power, riches, and the comforts of a home or fixed position with a feudal lord in favor of a constant search for truth, perfection, and a better Way Eventually, he came to the realization that perfection in one art, whether peaceful or robust, could offer entry to a deeper, spiritual understanding His philosophy, along with his warrior strategies, is distilled in his renowned work, The Book of Five Rings, written near the end of his life.Musashi remains a source of fascination for the Japanese, as well as for those of us in the West who have recently discovered the ideals of the samurai and Zen Buddhism The Lone Samurai is the first biography ever to appear in English of this richly layered, complex seventeenth century swordsman and seeker, whose legacy has lived far beyond his own time and place INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON ABOUT BUSHIDOQ What is Bushido A Bushido might be explained in part by the etymology of the Chinese characters used for the word Bu comes from two radicals meanings stop and spear So even though the word now means martial or military affair, it has the sense of stopping aggression Shi can mean samurai, but also means gentleman or scholar Looking at the character, you can see a man with broad shoulders but with his feet squarely on the ground Do, with the radicals of head and motion, originally depicted a thoughtful way of action It now means a path, street or way With this in mind, we can understand Bushido as a Way of life, both ethical and martial, with self discipline as a fundamental tenet Self discipline requires the warrior at once to consider his place in society and the ethics involved, and to forge himself in the martial arts Both should eventually lead him to understand that his fundamental opponents are his own ignorance and passions.Q How did the code develop and how did it influence Japanese society A The warrior class began to develop as a recognizable entity around the 11th and 12th centuries The leaders of this class were often descended from the nobility, and so were men of education and breeding I would say that the code developed when the leaders of the warrior class began to reflect on their position in society and what it meant to be a warrior They first began to write these thoughts down as yuigon, last words to their descendents, or as kabegaki, literally wall writings, maxims posted to all their samurai Samurai itself is an interesting word, coming from the classical saburau, to serve So when we understand that a samurai is one who serves, we see that the implications go much farther than simply being a soldier or fighter.Also, it is important to understand that Confucian scholars had always reflected on what it meant to be true gentleman, and they concluded that such a man would be capable of both the martial and literary The Japanese inherited this system of thought early on, so certain ideals were already implicitly accepted.The warrior class ruled the country for about 650 years, and their influence political, philosophical and even artistic had a long time to percolate throughout Japanese society.Q The Samurai were very much renaissance men they were interested in the arts, tea ceremony, religion, as well as the martial arts What role did these interests play in the development of Bushido How did the martial arts fit in A This question goes back to the Confucian ideal of balance that Japanese inherited, probably from the 7th century or so The word used by both to express this concept, for the gentleman by the Chinese and the warrior by Japanese, is hin , pronounced uruwashii in Japanese, meaning both balanced and beautiful The character itself is a combination of literature bun and martial bu The study of arts like Tea ceremony, calligraphy, the study of poetry or literature, and of course the martial arts of swordsmanship or archery, broadened a man s perspective and understanding of the world and, as mentioned above, provided him with a vehicle for self discipline The martial arts naturally were included in the duties of a samurai, but this did not make them any less instructive in becoming a full human being.Q What was sword fighting like Was the swordplay different for different samurai A There were literally hundreds of schools of samurai swordsmanship by the 1800 s and, as previously mentioned, each school emphasized differing styles and approaches Some would have the student to jump and leap, others to keep his feel solidly on the ground some would emphasize different ways of holding the sword, others one method only One school stated that technical swordsmanship took second place to sitting meditation Historically speaking, there were periods when much of the swordfighting was done on horseback, and others when it was done mostly on foot Also, as the shape and length of the sword varied through different epochs, so did styles of fighting Then I suppose that a fight between men who were resolved to die would be quite different from a fight between men who were not interested in getting hurt.Q How is the code reflected in Japanese society today A When I first came to live in Japan in the 60 s, I was impressed how totally dedicated and loyal people were to the companies where they were employed When I eventually understood the words samurai and saburau, it started to make sense While these men women would usually not stay long with a company, giving up work for marriage did not carry swords of course, they seemed to embody that old samurai sense of service, duty, loyalty and even pride This may sound strange in our own me first culture, but it impressed me that the company had sort of taken the place of a feudal lord, and that the stipend of the samurai had become the salary of the white collar workerhat is on the societal level On an individual level, I have often felt that Japanese have a strong resolution, perhaps from this cultural background of Bushido, to go through problems rather than around them Persistence and patience developed from self discipline

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  • 968 Comments

  • It is difficult to imagine another character from either history or literature who has captured the imagination of a people. Miyamoto Musashi did not change the politics or shape events in Japanese history. Nor did he write a work that would affect a genre of literature or poems that would become classics. Yet there is something at the heart of his story that has commanded the attention of the Japanese people and others who have heard it. The story as told in any one iteration – any play, movi [...]


  • “It is difficult to imagine another character from either history or literature who has captured the imagination of a people. Miyamoto Musashi did not change the politics or shape events in Japanese history. Nor did he write a work that would affect a genre of literature or poems that would become classics. Yet there is something at the heart of his story that has commanded the attention of the Japanese people and others who have heard it. The story as told in any one iteration – any play, m [...]


  • The book the Lone Samurai is about the life of Miyamoto Musashi. The author William Scott Wilson wrote this because he wanted to get a better understanding of the man behind the legend. Which in my opinion the author gives get information of Musashi’s that most do not know. Musashi is a legend in Japanese history because he is considered the greatest samurai of his time period from about the late sixteenth century to the early seventeenth century. Unlike most samurai of legend Mushashi is a [...]


  • Miyamoto Mushashi, Japanese kensai (sword-saint), definitely one of the greatest swordsmen of all time. During his first 30 or so years, he fought in over 60 duels, loosing none. He also took part in 4 major battles. In his later years he took up painting, sculpting, even writing (his classic The Book Of Five Rings is still in wide use today). He eventually died in his 60s of old age.But perhaps the most impressive fact is that he did this all as a masterless, wandering swordsman (shugyosha). In [...]


  • The subject matter is fascinating, the research is sound. Unfortunately the style of writing actually appalls me. Wilson seems to have no control over the length of his sentences and, at the risk of being slaughtered over my own doubtful grammar, I confess I expected better from an academic. There are certain basic stylistic mistakes which would be tedious to go through so I'll mention two: Wilson makes frequent use of the Gerund: For example, 'involving' rather than involve and often throws in [...]


  • This book paints a picture of an extraordinary man from a culture markedly different from current day American culture. I admit that I don't know much about the Edo period in Japan and thus most of the names of the people that Mushashi encountered during his life meant little to me. I suppose to truly appreciate the man you need to understand the times and the culture in which he lived. I came away with a sense of who Mushashi was, but much of the Zen Buddhist philosophy was lost on me. I felt t [...]


  • A very interesting character, a skilled, undefeated warrior and a gifted artist at the same time. The book takes you to a different time - 17th century Japan - and follows the life of Miyamoto Musashi from the time he left home until his death. The author also talks about Musashi's book - "The Book of Five Rings".


  • If you like Japanese history, philosophy in action, and reading a true life story of a legend, then this is a good book. This man was amazing and whose impact is still felt today in Japan and the modern world.


  • The lone Samurai is based on the life of Miyamoto Musashi. It is a pieced together of scrolls and written accounts of his life as a swordsman, artist, zen master, budist priest, and hermit. Great book! I plan on passing it off to a few friends to read and recommend it for everyone.


  • Musashi is one of the great martial artist, philosopher, performed-artist, painter etc. His Zen's influences on his arts is amazing and very meaningful for application in life. Nice book for collections.


  • This is the biography of Miamoto Musashi; the greatest Samurai that ever lived. He was an artist, warrior, and poet. Even if this is not in your related interests, everyone will be astonished by the life this man lead.



  • Salah satu biografi terakhir yg gue baca - dan akan sangat gue sarankan; the Lone Samurai - Miyamoto Musashi, karya Wilson. Bahasanya sgt bagus (terjemahannya jg), strukturnya menarik, ulasannya detil, tp nggak kehilangan kejelasan nya maupun juga tdk terjebak mjd bertele2. Buku tsb juga tidak terjebak ke salah satu sisi; tdk memuji2, tetapi juga tidak mencaci-maki. Akan sgt disarankan bila elo terlebih dahulu sudah baca novel nya Eiji Yoshikawa yg segede bantal itu (tapi udah gue baca ulang 20x [...]


  • This read like a long book report on Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings (of which I now have no desire to read, ever). I'm not a samurai aficionado but I'm less than impressed by Musashi. Maybe I just don't get it. It seemed like his teaching was really just "figure it out yourself." Also, sounds like he harped on other teachers who taught specific moves and stances, saying it slows you down learning all this stuff. Being a samurai and fighting is all about survival. In my mind, that's ju [...]


  • Musashi is one fascinating character. His life was completely dedicated to the art of the samurai, shunning anything that would compete or take him off course. So many life lessons to apply from his example - though certainly he was extreme in his commitment. This is worth reading, but read the novel (called "Musashi") first.


  • Wilson sets to answer the question "Who was Miyamoto Musashi", and delivers his view through Musashi's actions (from contemporary sources), his writings (The Book of Five Rings) and his art. He paints a believable picture of Musashi as a swordsman, artist, strategist and a life-long learner. Wilson's writing is overly scholarly at times, but generally I found it very readable, enjoyable and informative. And most importantly, I think he actually answers the question he set for himself.


  • This is a concise biography of one of Japan's most famous swordsmen. However, Miyamoto Musashi wasn't just a swordsman, he was a writer, a painter, a sculptor, a Zen Buddhist, a poet, a philosopher, and a strategist. In short, he was a renaissance man. While The Lone Samurai focuses heavily on Musashi's many duels as a traveling warrior, it also describes his artwork as it paints the portrait of a complex and beguiling character. Musashi holds a curious allure among figures in Japanese history. [...]


  • The first third of the book chronicles Musashi's fights, and it was awesome. He had many duels that are the stuff of legend, and it's hard to believe that those types of fights happen not just in fantasy books but in real life (although many of the legends have probably been embellished). The second third of the book is about Musashi's later life and artwork. It turns out that he was an extremely talented artist, and it's likely that you've seen a couple of his works before. The author throws in [...]


  • William Scott Wilson's biography, while high on accuracy, is light on content. This isn't necessarily Wilson's fault, as there is little remaining documentation of Miyamoto Mushashi's life. Whereas many others have tackled the same subject, resulting in lengthy books (or even multi-book volumes spanning 5000+ pages), those have resorted to anything from filling in the blanks to outright fabrication to tell their stories.While I do appreciate Wilson's dedication to minimizing speculation (he does [...]


  • Miyamoto Musashi rose from relatively humble origins to become the most accomplished and fearless swordsman in Japanese history. While not born into a Samurai family, Musashi showed early promise in the art of combat and embarked, at the age of 13, on a perilous life as a ‘wandering swordsman’ fighting duels to the death throughout Japan. Over the course of his life he won 60 such encounters against the greatest martial artists of his time including his most famous opponent, the ‘Demon of [...]


  • I've been readingVagabond, the manga version of Yoshikawa's historical fiction account of Miyamoto Musashi, and decided that I wanted to read a more 'scholarly' version of Mushashi's life. The library system had this book, and the ratings were high enough to make it attractive. The first part of the book bored me at times. Lots of dates and historical facts, but very little in regards to what the culture/society was like at the time. I've studied some about the culture of that time period, yet i [...]


  • Biographies are difficult. You are dealing with a life. You are dealing with facts, or as close as one may come to the facts without bending or just flat out lying. Biographies of people that are dead not a century but rather, centuries, pose even larger problem. Sifting through the sources, the origins, the fables, the question because more what is real, rather than what is not? We ask, what do we make of it and what do we learn about this person? Here, not much. Wilson does an adequate job. Th [...]


  • This is a great brief biography of Japan's greatest samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, the author of the Book of Five Rings and probably the greatest swordsman of all time if even half the stories about him are true. Wilson has stripped away the accumulated mythology to give the reader the basic facts. There aren't that many -- the man lived a long time ago in a place without YouTube and modern notions of biography -- but what there are, are poignant, fascinating, and compelling. Read this first, and th [...]


  • Jadi, ternyata ada dua Musashi: yang historis dan yang fiksi. Musashi fiksi yang banyak dikenal adalah versi Eiji Yoshikawa, yang membangun kembali figur Musashi dengan pemahaman akan aneka latar kehidupan dan filosofi jawara pedang ini, sekaligus mengaitkannya dengan nilai-nilai budaya Jepang. Luar biasa.Dalam buku ini juga ditampilkan beberapa lukisan tinta dan kaligrafi Musashi yang sangat impresif, juga patung kayu ukirannya. Ini makin menegaskan filosofi Musashi: jalan pedang adalah jalan k [...]


  • This was a solid biography with obvious research behind it. There was enough context provided to understand importance and reference to source material and commentary on why this or that might be what actually happened. The man himself was amazing and intriguing. I was amazed by how much mental work and philosophy was part of the swordsman life and hadn't know he was a painter, even though I've read the Book of Five Rings. However, since I had to push myself through parts of the book, it only ge [...]


  • بعد أن قرأت كتابه, عرّجت لسيرته الذاتية, و كما توقعت, لا يتوقف أسطورة اليابان و أحد اعم رجال الساموراي عن ابهارنا. كما كان موساشي مياموتو محاربا فتاكا (هزم 60 خصما في عدة مبارزات حياة أو موت بين سنّ الـ13 و الـ29) كان أيضا فيلسوفا (متأثرا بالبوذية في مذهبها الزن) و رساما و نحاتا و ضل [...]


  • Udah pernah baca gua pas jaman SMA. Menurut gua ini lumayan ok, meski dia bilang nih buku jelek. Yah, kalau gua kan taunya Jepang emang ga cuman komik, ga melulu ikut2an tren biar gaul. Heh, emang pengarang asli literatur Jepang ga terlalu dilirik sekarang, yah liat aja besok, hehe.Btw, nih buku ngasih tau sejarahnya Miyamoto Musashi. Menurut gua ini terlalu singkat sih, yah termasuh ringan lah.


  • It was OK. It didn't set my world on fire, because it didn't tell me anything new, and it desperately needed a decent sub-editor, I think. This utilised a very gentle writing style that drifted (wallowed) from idea to idea which, to its everlasting credit, didn't allow information to get in the way of thr narrative. I stopped when Musashi himself did and couldn't bring myself to read the rest. I had seen enough.


  • On content: Awesome research, fascinating history, Miyamoto Musashi was an actual superhero.On execution: Mostly great delivery of what could have been dry historical content in someone else's hands. I fell out of it at times when Wilson decided to put on his art critic hat and tried to psychoanalyze this long dead man through a handful of very old paintings though. I say let Miyamoto Musashi's actions speak for themselves; they do not need our help to transcend the ordinary.


  • Far too long winded. Only about a quarter of the book is about Musashi Miyamoto and most of that about his post fighting days. The rest is waffling on about other people and unnecessarily talking about other books. An eighty paged book on his life would have been much better than 250 odd pages of mostly filler.


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