Dokkōdō – The Way of Walking Alone

As anyone in Kyokushin knows, Sosai Mas Ōyama was heavily influenced by the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, including going into isolation to hone his martial arts, taking Musha shugyō –  Warrior Quest, etc., as did Musashi before him. Sosai was noted as saying that Musashi had changed his life completly. An amazing story in own’s right. I find it absolutely incredible what Sosai did and beyond inspiring. Musashi_ts_pic

I read the book Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa as a teen, and was in awe of the tale. I am now re-reading it much later in life with a different perspective and still in awe.

Besides being famous for his martial skills with two blades (developing the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship), he was also famous for his very influential writings.

The Go Rin No Sho (Book of Five Rings) and the Dokkōdō being the two most famous. He also wrote the Hyoho Sanju Go (“Thirty-five Instructions on Strategy”), which formed the basis for the later Go Rin No Sho. Go Rin No Sho - Source Eisei-Bunko Museum

In 1643 he retired to a cave named Reigandō (Spirit Rock Cave) meditating and writing his views on the world, which included The Book of Five Rings. He finished it in the second month of 1645.



ReigandōThe Dokkōdō (“The Way of Walking Alone”, or “The Way of Self-Reliance”) was written by Musashi in the final few days of his life, for the occasion where he was giving away his possessions in preparation for death. Musashi died of what is believed to be cancer. He died peacefully after finishing the Dokkōdō. 

It was given to Terao Magonojo, his most skilled disciple in Niten-Ichi-Ryu. After the Gorin-No-Sho, Dokkōdō is the summary of Musashi’s life, his will and his philosophy. It is 21 precepts on self-discipline to guide future generations.

Here now are the 21 precepts of Dokkōdō. I was going to add my own interpretations, but I believe it is better for one to decipher their own meaning out of them. As then, you can meditate on each and what it means to you personally.




book of five rings

Comments 4

    1. George L Spaeth

      Brilliant comments for one who wants or needs to walk alone. Walking alone is surely one of the tragedies of life, both for the walker and the world.
      Completely absent from these precepts about “how to live and act” are ways of thinking and doing that lead to a better world for others or to a world of true growth for oneself. The person who does not regret what he/she has done lives without com passion or empathy, emotions that connect us to others, and it is those connections that allow us to grow. Completely absent is loving. The world does not need people who are good at killing others, or people who walk alone.
      It needs people who
      1) see the world as it is,
      2) do not seek pleasure for its own sake,
      3) feel passionately,
      4), think deeply,
      5) do not bind to them selves joys, but kiss them as they fly,
      6), learn from honest recognition of their mistakes
      7), are not jealous,
      8), are saddened by every separation,
      9), do not resent or complain,
      10) fall in love with life and are guided by love
      11), are inclusive,
      12), make the most of where they are,
      13) celebrate all beautiful aspects of life,
      14), do not hold onto beliefs or thoughts or possessions that are unnecessary for growth and helping
      15) do not use custom as a guide for behavior
      16) are pragmatic
      17) fear death as the endof the opportunity to live and help
      18 take risks
      19) respect the teachings of those of great wisdom, and do not count on the gods for help,
      20 ponder what is right and good
      ’21 act justly, love tenderness, and walk humbly with their beliefs. acknowledging fully to themselves that they are always at least partially wrong and never see the complete picture.

  1. Pingback: 仏教 Buddhism within 宮本 武蔵 Miyamoto Musashi | 現成公案 Genjōkōan – Actualization of Reality

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