Strategy First

Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.

A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

Strategy First

Many years ago in Feudal Japan, a Ronin and Master found themselves together on a crowded boat, crossing between two islands.

The Ronin was boasting of his strength, technique and prowess before the intimidated boat passengers. Noticing the Master standing proudly and unimpressed, the Ronin snorted;

“Old man, by way of your two swords, I see you suspect yourself of the Samurai class. Surly your feeble body is no match for my power and technical ability. I challenge you to a duel!”

The Samurai Master calmly replied,

“I am indeed old, and from the still older school of ‘Winning without the Sword’. Have you ever heard of this school?”

“Winning without the sword?” Laughed the Ronin, “You can’t possible win without your sword!”

Mayamito“We shall see. I humbly accept your challenge. However, we shall not fight upon this boat, for there are too many innocent people who would surly perish. Let us ask the boat-driver to alter course, and take us to an abandoned island.” 

The Ronin agreed, and the boat course altered to a small island. As the boat approached the island, the Master said,

“After you, young Warrior. My step is careful, and I must be cautious leaving the boat. I shall use an oar to help me balance.”

The young Ronin leaped off the boat and drew his sword. The Samurai Master, having borrowed the boat-drivers long steering oar, stood at the bow of the boat and thrust one end into the shore near the waters-edge. Then, with the strength of a man nearly half his age, he pushed the boat back into the open water, leaving the Ronin stranded on the island.

The Master then said to the passengers delight,

“Young Ronin – you have much to learn. This is how one may win without the sword.”

In spoken Warrior tradition, legend has it the Samurai Master was non-other than Miyamoto Musashi, winner of 60 lethal duels, and author of the now famous text on warfare and strategy, “A Book of 5 Rings.”