Friday, 15 August 2008

Book of Five Rings Examination, Part 7

One of the most important things a martial artist must develop is where he/she should be looking during combat. Musashi states,

“the eyes are to be focused in such a way as to maximise the range and breadth of vision”

If you keep your eyes fixed at one of your opponents legs, chances are when a kick is thrown with the leg you are looking at, you shall defend successfully. However, your opponent has another leg, plus two arms. It is impossible to look at all your opponent’s limbs at the same time. So how do you use your eyes to see which attack is coming. Where do you look on your opponents body when you’re sparring or fighting.

In this part of the book Musashi also states,

“In martial arts it is important to be aware of opponent’s swords and yet not look at the opponent’s swords at all”


“It is essential to see both sides without moving the eyeballs”

These are some of the best explanations of peripheral vision in the martial arts. Straight punches/kicks can easily be seen coming as they move straight towards you. Strikes which come from an angle however (roundhouse kick, uppercut punch) don’t. By developing your peripheral vision, (the ability to see around yourself without pointing your eyeballs in that direction) you become more aware and are able to see more clearly what is at a certain distance around you whilst keeping your eyes fixed at a certain point, your opponents chest for example. With good peripheral vision you shall be able to keep your eyes on your opponent’s chest and be aware of attacks coming from all angles and from all of his limbs. The importance of this when dealing with multiple opponents should be more than obvious.

A good method for developing your peripheral vision is to look straight ahead. Have someone hold fingers up whilst standing to the right and left of you. You should be able to see this persons fingers whilst still keeping your eyes looking in front always. The aim is to distinguish how many fingers are being held up. A simple exercise which provides great benefits.

This is the last in this series of explanations regarding Miyamoto Musashi’s writing from the Book of Five Rings. I strongly urge you to purchase a copy of the book and study it well as it can be of great value to all martial artists. I hope you have found this short series to be of use and hopefully it has prompted you to figure out ways in which Musashi’s teachings can help you within your own fighting style.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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