The Iaido Journal  May 2001EJMAS Tips Jar

Miyamoto Musashi's "Self-Precepts" and "Nine Articles"

      Copyright John Stevens © 2001. All rights reserved.

The celebrated swordsman and Zen artist Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) formulated a series of self-precepts that he grouped under the title Following the Solitary Path. The precepts are austere and uncompromising, as is to be expected of a wandering samurai who devoted himself to the forging of mind and body. There are two versions of Following the Solitary Path: one containing ninteen precepts and one containing twenty-one. The older, and longer, version is given here.

Do not violate the laws of society.

Do not seek comfort for your person.

Do not play favorites (be free of bias).

Do not think lightly of yourself, and deeply about worldly affairs.

Do not have many desires throughout your life.

Have no regrets regarding personal affairs.

Do not be jealous or envious of others' affairs.

Do not grieve when you have to separate yourself from something or someone.

Do not begrudge yourself or others.

Do not think about falling in love.

Do not become infatuated with physical objects.

Do not wish to settle down.

Do not take fine food for yourself.

Do not pile up possessions.

Do not overvalue the things you have.

Do not become obsessed with having splendid weapons.

When following the Way, do not be afraid of dying.

Do not hoard money for your old age.

Venerate buddhas and gods but do not rely on them.

Abandon self-interest, and do not seek fame or fortune.

Never separate yourself from the Way of a Warrior.

In the "Earth" chapter of Musashi's Book of Five Rings, Musashi lists Nine Articles for those who wish to follow his strategy.

1. Do not think dishonestly.

2. Constantly forge body and mind.

3. Become acquainted with all the arts.

4. Know something about every craft.

5. Learn to guage the merits and demerits of things.

6. Develop understanding of all matters.

7. Perceive things that are not obvious.

8. Pay attention to the smallest details.

9. Do not waste time on nonessentials.

This excerpt comes from Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters ISBN 1-57062-446-1 Edited by John Stevens and to be published July 2001 by Shambhala Publications (

TIJ May 2001