© 2012 niall. All rights reserved.

miyamoto musashi

The Way I Go By Myself

  1. I never act contrary to traditional morality.
  2. I have no partiality for anyone or anything.
  3. I never try to snatch a moment of ease.
  4. I think little of myself but much of the public.
  5. I am entirely free of acquisitiveness throughout my life.
  6. I never regret what I have done.
  7. I never envy others for their good luck, or on account of my ill luck.
  8. I never grieve at parting from anyone or anything at whatever time.
  9. I never reproach either myself or others; never complain about myself or others.
  10. I never dream of falling in love with a woman.
  11. Likes and dislikes, I have none.
  12. Whatever my dwelling house may be, I take no objection to it.
  13. I never desire dainty food for myself.
  14. I never have antique objects or curios in my possession.
  15. I never perform purification or observe abstinence to protect myself against evils.
  16. I have no taste for implements of any kind, excepting swords and other arms.
  17. I would never grudge my life in the cause of righteousness.
  18. I never wish to have any estate that would make my old age comfortable.
  19. I worship Gods and Buddhas, but never think of depending on them.
  20. I would sooner lay down my life than disgrace my good name.
  21. Never for a moment does my heart and soul stray from the way of swordsmanship.

The 12th day of the 5th month, the 2nd year of Shoho (May 12, 1645) Shinmen Musashi

This translation appeared in a Japanese Sword Society/US newsletter. The translation was made in 1965 by Professor Giichiro Ikeda.

I wrote about Miyamoto Musashi as an aside to my post yesterday about Tokyo Sky Tree.

There are a lot of superficial internet sites about martial arts. And a very few good ones. I found one cool budo site http://www.kampaibudokai.org/ while I was looking for a quick way to convert Japanese measurements for swords – shaku and sun – into centimetres. There’s a lot of good information about the Japanese sword on it. Some good book reviews too including books about aikido.

One page was about Miyamoto Musashi and on it there was The Dokkodo, the above list of his personal precepts.

Very cool. I have no taste for implements of any kind, excepting swords and other arms.


photo: Miyamoto Musashi by Szabolcs Arany


  1. niall

    Angus! It’s a real pleasure to hear from you. I checked out the Irrational Scientist. Is it OK to quote your cool description from What’s with the rocks in a blog post?

    And thanks for your interesting comment. Wow. That is humbling.

    Best regards,


    • Angus

      Quote whatever you like Niall.

      My favorite story of Musashi came from the same Sensei. He was meditating outside with a zen priest when a poisonous snake slithered out of the long grass towards them.

      It took a large detour to avoid Musashi…

      …and slithered blithely over the crossed legs of the priest before going on its way.

      Which of them was really following the way, Musashi or the priest?

  2. Hi Niall, good to find you again, and to see this translation. My sensei in Osaka who is also a zen priest and practices shodo (calligraphy) wrote all these precepts out in shodo for every student who attended one of his gashukus.

    At least 30 versions. Each would have taken hours.

    As a way of showing his appreciation for his students.

    That is teaching.

  3. niall

    Thanks Carina. I was very impressed with Miyamoto Musashi’s clear statements about his policies.

  4. Thanks for this post Niall. It brought to my mind why I began aikido, I knew someone who did ninjutsu and I read a lot about the philosophy there was also a poem, I think it was kind like this one

    The Essence of Ninjutsu
    My parents are the heaven and earth,
    My home is my body,
    My power is my loyalty,
    My magic is my training,
    My life and death is breathing,
    My body is control,
    My eyes are the sun and the moon,
    My ears are sensitivity,
    My laws are self protection,
    My strength is adaptability,
    My ambition is taking every opportunity with fullness,
    My friend is my mind,
    My enemy is carelessness,
    My protection is right action,
    My weapons are everything that exists
    My strategy is one foot in front of
    the other,
    My way is ninjutsu.


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