The legendary seventeenth-century swordsman Yagyu Munenori was the sword instructor and military and political adviser to two shoguns—and was a rival to the great Miyamoto Musashi. Despite his martial ability and his political power, Munenori spent his life immersed in Zen teachings and practice. These teachings formed the framework for his deeply spiritual approach to sword fighting; Munenori saw in the practice of the sword a way to transform the student into a total human being.
The Life-Giving Sword is Munenori’s manifesto on his approach. His central themes are the “Life-Giving Sword”—the idea of controlling one’s opponent by spiritual readiness to fight rather than by actual fighting—and “No Sword,” which is the idea that the mind must be free of everything, even the sword itself, in order to get to the place of complete mastery. Munenori’s ideas are essential reading for martial artists of all kinds and can be applied to business and human relations as well.