Musashi Miyamoto    
Book of Five Rings
Main Principles
Main Book Translations

There are several translations available of Musashi's book of five rings. Two of the best translations are the one published by the Overlook Press and translated by Victor Harris and the one published by Shambahala and translated by Thomas Cleary. The Overlook Press was the first company to release an English version of the book and make it popular. Much of its original success was due to good marketing and targeting the book at business people, touting it as the secret to Japan's success in the business world. Quotes such as "Japan's Answer to the Harvard MBA", referring to the strategy in A Book of Five Rings, were put on the cover. The book did very well and other companies followed with their own translations. The language of the text of this version is more philosophical and abstract, so it is good for thinking of how the concepts of strategy apply to other areas. It also includes several pictures and a longer historical background on Musashi and the time period in which he lived.

For someone more interested in the martial arts or sword fighting techniques, Thomas Cleary does a good job in making the language more concrete in terms of how Musashi's words refer to specific body movements and fighting techniques. The translation overall is also written in a straightforward manner that is more understandable to English speakers. Also included in this book are some of the writings of Yagyu Munenori, who lived during the same time as Musashi, and was the sword instructor of the Shogun. As these two books by Thomas Cleary and Victor Harris have their own feeling and strengths, reading both versions is advisable for getting a deeper understanding and appreciation of The Book of Five Rings.

Other notable translations include the one by D.E Tarver, William Scott Wilson, and Steven Kaufman. For other information on Musashi, the book, Musashi Miyamoto: His Life and Writings, is an excellent, in depth resource. It has a lot of information about Musashi that is hard to find elsewhere as well as containing its own translation of The Book of Five Rings. Another good resource is The Japanese Art of War by Thomas Cleary, which explores the concept and history of the Samurai Zen Warrior.