As most people are aware Miyamoto Musashi wrote a number of works the most famous being the scrolls of the Five Elements - Gorin no Sho. Some call this the tombstone book as the shape of each element constitutes the whole shape of a tombstone. This shape comes from Tibet as the script written on each part is Tibetan script. Gorin no Sho was written in Hiragani (simplified Japanese). At the beginning of the work Musashi states, "In writing this work I will not borrow from Confucian or Buddhist precepts". The fact of the matter is, if he had used Kanji to write the works it would have immediately relate to either Chinese or Buddhist precepts as each kanji has deep significant meanings both obvious and hidden. The very core of education in Japan stems from Buddhism.

Dokkodo is not "Another sword manual". After Gorin no Sho it was summary of Musashi's life, his will, a philosophy.


This online work is a part translation of Imai Masayuki Nobukatsu Soke's book, 'Understanding Dokkodo' He was the 10th Headmaster of the Hyoho Niten Ichiryu. The original book also contains the Ito and Nito Seiho techniques of the ryu. But as the 11th Soke, Iwami Toshio Gensho chooses to interpret the waza by doing the full sets rather than an annotated version done by the 10th Soke to improve fundamentals it is wise to do what is right to follow instruction of the present head of the ryu in practice. For this reason I have left the explanation of waza out.

Reading both Dokkodo and Gorin no Sho will give some people a much further insight into the strength and purpose behind techniques. What has to be realized is that the actual will left by Musashi stating certain rules to go by in life is a simple summarization. One can take take each individual part and describe it in great depth using buddhist precepts.

I met with a few unexpected problemsworking on translation. To do it requires a knowledge of Buddhist texts I first approached Japanese language scholars the find out the deeper meaning of the words. They in turn advised me to consult with colleagues of mine that I had worked with for many years with priests in the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect.


This at times was was disastrous. Some would not be a party to helping with an English translation of what was in Musashi's time a brave radical opinion. Also Musashi has said that the biggest stumbling block in understanding Buddhism was it's priests who gave Buddhism a bad name! Understandably some refused to help. Musashi's basic philosophy also tells us not to think too much of religion. That I will leave you to decide for yourselves as you read the explanation! To translate the word Dokkodo as "Going my Way seemed to be most apt. I felt that the work was not long enough to publish as a book. Secondly if I added a few pictures and did publish, it would be against Musashi's principles. He would not have liked it!All are free to read it. Please feel free to make a link to it. But do NOT copy it, publish 'any' part of it anywhere, without my permission. It does have a copyright. I would strongly advise anyone wishing to research this further and Gorinno Sho to do search for Prof Kim Taylor-Canada. He has recently published work on Gorin no sho, Dokkodo and Sanjugokajo. Many people have attempted to translate work offering their own opinions. Such work really needs the opinion of someone who has actually practiced the ryu such as Taylor Sensei. Other HNIR foreign members and practitioners will surely identify with his observations.

There are in all 21 precepts. I have left out a detailed description of some, as to me they are self explanatory.

1: Yoyo no michiwo somukukoto nashi:.

In no way should one act contrary to the great future you have before you.

What is your bright future? It is the customary lifestyle of an enlightened person? It is the way in carrying out all matters both old and new in a natural manner? In Buddhism the word Makoto (truth) means the historical tradition of the original wish. Buddhism created by Buddha has been passed down generations to the present day through seven high priests including Ryuki, Tenshin and Unran. When we look at the history of tradition we refer to it as the discovery of tradition. This is way of truth. To act contrary is this case means to step out into the open world alone.

In the beginning of Gorin-no-sho, Musashi relates, "Since childhood I was interested in the martial ways and fought for the first time when I was thirteen. I beat my opponent, a man called Kihei Arima. At the age of sixteen I fought and defeated the martial exponent Akiyama from Tajima. At twenty-one I went to Kyoto and fought with several strong fighters and never lost, not even once. After my stay in Kyoto I visited places all over Japan and never losing fought some sixty times. From thirteen years of age to between twenty-eight and twenty-nine this amounted to about fifteen years. When I recalled my experiences at about thirty years of age I realised that the perfection of the martial way was not just in winning. Fortunately I had continued to win, perhaps because I had followed natural precepts, or, perhaps it was because all my opponents were weaker than myself. When I realised The natural rules of the martial way, I was already fifty years of age".

In other words he had fought over sixty times and won every time, but only through being lucky.

Each fight was very unstable and he could never summon up the complete confidence to win. After every fight Musashi reflected upon things and felt emptiness. This made him develop a higher degree of human character.

He realised and was enlightened as to how immature and inadequate he was. It was a very similar experience with the venerated Priest Nichiren. After many years of Buddhist training at Hieizan Temple he visited the revered Priest Honen. He could not find enlightenment and confessed to Honen, I am only a human being an cannot find the true way in life and begged for advice. The famous Chinese philosopher Koshi (Confucius) says in his analects, I decided to study when I was fifteen, when I was thirty I became independent, at the age of forty I discarded hesitation. By fifty I realised my purpose in life and at the age of sixty I became able to obey matters I heard with my own ears. On reaching seventy I started to act naturally. One way of explaining, 'In no way act contrary to ones future' is to become a real human being or to mould a correct human constitution.

What is correct constitution? It is the accomplishment of our own lives. As children we go to school. We grow up and acquire employment. Then get married, have children and look after them. This is our bright future. Having a good job, getting married to an attractive person. Living in a big house does not always constitute content. Even if we are materially poor our heart and spirit are fulfilled. It is form of happiness. Musashi is saying that life is to break out of ones shell and become independent.




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