Martial Arts And The Art Of War

When it comes to the martial arts and military strategy or heiho, the two go hand in hand. Both martial arts and military strategy developed at a time of war and extreme violence and arose from a need to find better ways and methods of surviving under such threatening circumstances.

During the Warring States Period in China and Japan’s Feudal Era, it was a matter of life and death and of utmost importance to create the best methods possible to counteract and defeat an aggressive enemy without having to resort to violence. From this need, military strategy developed and evolved.

If it was not possible to neutralize an aggressive foe non-violently, the best, most powerful means of defeating them using weapons were devised and perfected. In case a soldier found himself weaponless on the battlefield, unarmed techniques of self defense were also created.

This in part, was the beginning of today’s martial arts. Of course, as most people know, the origins of Kung Fu can be traced back to the Shaolin temple in Henan province, where the temple monks needed a method of self-protection to keep themselves safe from local bandits. This had a huge impact and contribution to the state of martial arts today.

The 2,500 year old classic work by military strategist Sun Tzu has had a massive influence on both the ancient and modern martial arts world. Principles and concepts from Sun Tzu’s classic are studied and integrated into martial arts schools and systems around the world. The 13th chapter of the Sonshi, or Art of War deals with spies and had a profound effect on Japans ninja clans as the developed their espionage based art of stealth, intelligence gathering and invisibility.

Another famous work is called the Bubishi and is well known to martial artists. It dates back to between the 1300’s and 1600’s. This seminal work most likely, originated in China, made its way to Okinawa and then to Japan, where it influenced some of the greatest Karate masters in history. Gichin Funakoshi of Shotokan Karate, Tatsuo Shimabukuro of Isshin Ryu, Chojun Miyagi and Gogen Yamaguchi of Goju Ryu Karate, all were familiar with the Bubishi or Wu Bei Zi and were powerfully influenced by its contents, which included references and quotations from Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

Two other works dealing with philosophy and military strategy come from Japan and were authored by two very distinctive masters of the sword arts. They are the Gorin no Sho or Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and the Heiho Kadensho or Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori. Miyamoto Musashi developed the Niten Ichi Ryu sword school, while Yagyu Munenori created the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu school of swordsmanship.

Both of these men were amazing tacticians, who wrote extensively about strategy and tactics in each of their individual works. Their systems have influenced martial arts schools of Iaido and Kenjutsu over the ages and up until today. I will close this article with several quotes from Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Musashi and Yagyu Munenori. These excerpts can relate to sword arts, martial arts in general and life!

“Strike at positions that are not defended.” Sun Tzu. “You win battles by understanding your opponent’s timing. Use a timing which your opponent does not expect.” Sun Tzu. “If your enemy opens the door, you must rush in.” Sun Tzu.

“Face your enemy directly. Take the initiative.” Miyamoto Musashi.

“One should learn to improvise.” Miyamoto Musashi. “The secret of the Niten Ichi Ryu School is the middle position.” Miyamoto Musashi.

“Prepare yourself carefully before facing off with your enemy.” Yagyu Munenori. “When you strike a blow, don’t let your mind dwell on it.” Yagyu Munenori. “As long as your enemy strikes out at you, it is as though you have already struck him.” Yagyu Munenori.“If you are in harmony with your Original Mind, you will excel in the martial arts.” Yagyu Munenori.

This has been just a brief glimpse of the time tested wisdom and inspiration of military strategy and tactics. If you would like more information on unorthodox methods for your business or life, get our FREE no obligation “Giveaway” at or follow me on Twitter at @Master_N_Chase. Look for my book on Amazon Kindle “Ancient Secrets Shadow Warriors.”

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Nicholas J. Chase