Recently finished this classic, most of which was primarily practical, but some of which I found useful. This passage on the presence of rhythms in all things, even in the act of killing, was quite beautiful:
Rhythm is something that exists in everything, but the rhythms in martial arts in particular are difficult to master without practice.
Of particular interest is the seriousness with which Musashi approaches his subject matter. He is writing about combat, about life and death, and yet the metaphors transcend the martial arts:
Generally speaking, fixation and binding are to be avoided, in both the sword and the hand. Fixation is the way to death, fluidity is the way to life. This is something that should be well understood.
The mental game of combat is endlessly fascinating:
First of all, when you take up the sword, in any case the idea is to kill an opponent. Even though you may catch, hit, or block an opponent's slashing sword, or tie it up or obstruct it, all of these moves are opportunities for cutting the opponent down. This must be understood. If you think of catching, think of hitting, think of blocking, think of tying up, or think of obstructing, you will thereby become unable to make the kill. It it crucial to think of everything as an opportunity to kill.
And perhaps my favourite passage of all, for its matter-of-fact tone:
When you are even with an opponent, it is essential to keep thinking of stabbing him in the face...
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis