Correct Posture for Fighting
by Musashi Miyamoto

Do you have a good posture? Yes? Great! But what is the good posture? I recently had an opportunity to re-think about the correct posture. And I remembered something that Musashi Miyamoto says in his book, “The Book of Five Rings”. 

I would like to share that with you.

The Correct Posture Is the Natural Posture


In kendo we learn shizentai, the natural posture. The natural posture is the posture you can move when necessary. That means you shouldn’t be tensed up and cannot move at all when you need to.

So what does the big man, Musashi Miyamoto says about the correct posture? 

I would like to translate what he says about the correct posture from “The Book of Five Rings”.

Mind you one thing, though. The Book of Five Rings was written in the old Japanese language so it has to be translated into the modern Japanese language first. So I checked three books on the Book of Five Rings that I owned and googled to see if there were some different translations on the posture.

And the conclusion is that they are pretty much the same. Of course, some are a slightly different but not too much. So let’s trust these translations.

Well, here comes the English translation.

22 Things to Have the Correct Posture for Fight

  1. Do not look down (keep your face up)
  2. Do not tilt your head up
  3. Do not tilt your head to a side
  4. Do not have your head crooked
  5. Do not move your eyes around
  6. Do not have wrinkles on your forehead
  7. Have wrinkles between the eyebrows
  8. Do not move your eyeballs
  9. Do not blink
  10. Keep your eyes narrower (than usual)
  11. Keep your face calm
  12. Keep your nose straight
  13. Have your chin slightly forward
  14. Keep the back of the neck straight
  15. Stabilize the neck by tightening the neck muscles
  16. Keep your body well-balanced
  17. Keep your shoulders down
  18. Keep the back straight
  19. Do not stick out your butt
  20. Keep the knees to the toes active
  21. Do not bend your lower back
  22. Keep the lower abdominals tight as pushing your tummy against the belt or obi, we call it “kusabi wo shimeru (tighten a wedge)”

Musashi concludes this part as followed.

After all, our ordinary posture should be the same as the posture in fight and our fighting posture should be the same as our ordinary posture. This must be studied thoroughly.

Keep Your Nose Straight?

Yeah, funny, isn’t it? I agree with you. This is very hard to translate not because the old Japanese was too difficult but it is the vagueness of Japanese language.

I translated it literally. It says, “Keep the nose straight”.  So what is it?

OK. In No.11, it says keep your face calm. One book translated that part as “keep your face beautiful” and the other one says “Keep your face calm”. I chose to use the latter. I also researched the meaning of the Japanese word. I concluded that “calm” is the best fit here.

So considering that you have to keep your face calm, “keeping the nose straight” means that you should not make any facial expressions. If you move your face a bit, you can tell your nose can move as well. 

Also imagine those fashion models. When they walk on runway, they look elegant unless they make some faces.

So I conclude,

Keep your face calm and nose straight equals look elegant.

22 is Too Much? Just Remember 3

1.  Straight, 
2. Relax and
3. Look elegant

They will help you to look good and fight good.

Learn from the detailed translation of  "The Book of Five Rings" by Musashi Miyamoto