Friday, January 16, 2015

The Art of War

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." ~ Sun Tzu
(Photo credit: iz quotes)
The Art of War
by Al Mozingo

Over the years I've heard references to The Art of War several times. But, I never read the book. Recently I picked up a book called The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Within the context of that book, he writes about The Art of War.

The book is divided into three segments: The Killing Sword, The Life-Giving Sword, and No Sword. Even though this book is about ancient times and about war, it may be applicable to us today. There are references that these apply to business, our everyday lives, and what we say and do. They apply to our interpersonal relations and how we behave and act.

The Art of War describes a conflict between good and evil; between life and death. The book describes how we can use our ability to create strategies to win. There are people who present good as bad and pretend to be righteous. We must be on the lookout to observe with utmost attention to discern what is right and wrong. People will be concern with their own interest and not acting in consideration of others. This causes problems, resentfulness, and angriness.

The Art of War is to give you knowledge, to have strategies to give life to many people by killing evil. The three scrolls (swords) convey this knowledge to strive for goodness--to do what is right.

The Killing Sword
The first lesson is the attainment of the way. To learn, to understand, and to articulate these principles learning is the gate.

Next, we must practice the art and study. To spontaneously conform to learning without consciously being aware of it is part of The Art of War. When you have succeeded in learning, it is a part of you, incorporated into your personality. This achievement is built on cultivating learning a practice.

In the Zen Arts, this learning has progressed into harmonizing your self-conscious knowledge into your unconscious. The inward attitude is called the will and what emanates outwardly is called mood. It is essential to control your mood by your will. If you're not mindful of this, the will can be drawn into by the mood. Then you're using your emotions.

To allow you to succeed and to gain victory you must control the mind. Get the other person to make the first move. This is the appropriate strategy to The Art of War. The methods of seeing what is happening is implementing a strategy and to induce the other person to tip their hand. This will allow you to gain victory by seeing what strategy they are using.

To gain the victory you need to keep your mind on the idea before you, This is done by developing single-minded concentration. This must be practice. This single-minded concentration will allow you to conceive, act and follow through to win.

Now concerning an attack. A hasty attack is a bad thing. To press aggressively is only after preparing yourself mentally and observing the situation. It is essential not to get flustered or you may loose. Observe your adversary's condition for resentfulness or anger. Be aware these things can cause you a problem.

One who thinks they know everything is inept. One who has attained realization and is upright is called "enlightened." The upright mind is called the mind of the Way. Attainment of the Way is important and will allow you to know much and to be adept.

"The First Sword" is a code word for seeing any incipient movement. You are to be observant and be able to perceive the impulses and actions of an adversary. To perceive this is called "one seeing." Perceiving with the eyes is called seeing something. To perceive with the mind is called observing something. You need to develop both.

The primary reason for "one to see," is to perceive what is happening, whether it exists and to understand the abilities and intentions of another. Seeing with the eyes is subordinate to seeing with the mine. The mind can see things far away, before the eyes can actually see it. The mind can help prepare you beforehand.

The Life-Giving Sword
People's abilities and intentions are manifested in many ways. You must be on the lookout for these to win. Do what is good; throw away what is bad. You should not be too quick or too slow. In a casual manner, do what is right. When you act to quickly, you will be flustered. When you act too slowly, you are timid.

"The First Principle" is a code word in marital arts. In the context of the Art of War, it means to keep a clear mind, pay close attention and make sure you don't get caught unprepared.

The face can tell intentions. The color of the face changes with feelings and moods. If the blood rises and the face turns red, the person may be angry. Keep watch. If their is a flow and a smile, this is good. Keep a watch for this. It is the energy in the body, and the body that tells a story. The principle is very relevant in dealing with people.

No Sword
When you have no sword and unarmed you can still prevail. You can take another sword away. This is the aim of the swordless, to win the fight with no sword. Attitude is the basic idea of swordlessness.

Zen monks are able to harmonize with the truth. Using the truth in what you say and do is very important. This allows one to have "great spiritual power." Working freely and independently, you can perceive the concealing of intentions, deceptions and actions of others. Always keep aware and see with your mind.

Mastery is what your trying to attain as a good fighter. You have great potential if you are attentive to everything. Your potential will mature and increase if you are watchful. To be attentive your mind must not linger. It is essential to practice an attitude of not dwelling on any one thing. You must be ready at all times. Always do what is right, keeping your mind on that which is needed (rightness).


The book is very complex and esoteric. We need to reflect upon our thinking on what is being said in its' pages. Our own enlightenment comes from reflection, training, truth, and doing what is right. Let us all affirm what is right and strive to do what is right.



The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi, translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA 1993

About the Author:

Al Mozingo is well-versed in leadership training and a certified leadership development instructor. He teaches Basic and Advanced Leadership. See Mr. Mozingo’s website:

Printed with permission from the author.

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