Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Who is the Strategist: A Book of Five Rings (Part 1)

There are several concepts of what a "Strategist" is- the way in which a man masters the path to victory. Today, we will look at the conception of a strategist as conceived by Miyamoto Musashi.

"Book of Five Rings"

The "Book of Five Rings" (Go Rin no Sho) is the masterpiece of Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary swordsman from Japan, who was active during 16th and 17th centuries (known as the Kyoto Renaissance). He fought from his youth to his old age without losing a match, and killing several opponents in duels, before becoming somewhat of a warrior poet and immersing himself into the more mental and spiritual part of combat rather than the physical. At the end of his life, he wrote this masterpiece that summed up his style and thought on strategy.

Given that Musashi was a swordsman and duelist, his conception of a strategist and strategies tend to be more involved with clashes between individuals, rather than the movement and control of men (as opposed to Sun Tzu's Art of War).

You can find a version of Musashi's masterpiece here.

Content and Organization

Musashi divides his book into five parts, named after traditional religious principles that relate to meditation: They are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void. And each part relates to a specific topic or concept.

The Earth component is the introduction. It talks about the "way of martial arts" as well as Musashi's own style. It is important because it describes how Musashi believes one should practice the way of martial arts: by knowing the large you know the small, and by knowing the shallow you can know the deep.

The Water chapter is about flexibility to circumstances. To understand the principles of swordsmanship so well that by defeating a single opponent, you defeat every opponent in the world. It should be noted here that he says defeating an opponent the wrong way, is not worthwhile. So victory alone isn't right, you need to win "the right way", only then can you become the one who can defeat every opponent by defeating one.

The Fire component is about fighting. In this chapter, Musashi talks of the tactics and methods of combat, as well as the vigilance that is required.

The Wind chapter is about "style". Musashi notes the importance of knowing the different methods and styles of other people. He notes that it is important because if you do not know your opponent, it is difficult to know yourself.

The Void/Emptiness chapter talks of the value of "natural freedom". Once you know the principles of combat, you must be able to be natural and not constrict yourself. Great power and ability comes from natural movement, and from the ability to strike naturally and hit naturally.

We will discuss each chapter, and then come to a conclusion to the type of strategist he wishes the reader to become.
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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Half-Blog post: Espanol current progress.

I find that the best way to demonstrate understanding of something is to try and teach it.

To test my proficiency (or lack thereof) of Spanish, i'm going to attempt to write this blog post in spanish (sorry about the lack of accents):

Este es una entrada de blog que dice sobre mi progresos en aprendar espanol. En el mes anterior, aprende los conjugaciones de espanol verbos. Durante mi tiempo, Aprende los conjugaciones de "presente", "pasado", y "futuro". Pero no aprende muchos verbos o sustantivos.

Para practice escribir espanol, yo enviaba textos a mi amigos y amigas en espanol. Necesitaba "google translate" para sabi los verbos y sustaintivos. Pero quieria usar mi cabeza para construir las sentencias.

Cuando estoy leyendo los articulos espanol, yo entiendo el profundidad de espanol. Las sentencias de articulos de "BBC el Mundo" es muy diferente de mi sentencias. Los Articulos hablarian "cuando", "como", "donde", y con que emociones los eventos ocurrio.

Entiendo no estoy el "Shakespeare" de Espanol. Mi Sentencias despues de un mes no es muy complejo. Pero, quiero estudiar los sentencias muy complejo para entendar mas. Entiendo los partes mas importante para aprendar.

If you didn't understand that, this is roughly what I said:

This is a blog post that talks about my progress in learning spanish. In the last month, I learned the conjuctions of spanish verbs. During my time, I learned the conjunctions of present, past, and future. But I didn't learn many verbs or nouns.

For practice in writing spanish, I sent texts to my friends in spanish. I needed "google translate" for knowing the verbs and nouns. But I wanted to use my head to constuct sentences.

When I read spanish articles, I understood the depth of spanish. The sentences of "BBC el Mundo" articles were really different from my sentences. The articles talked about "when", "how", "where", and with what emotions the events occurred.

I understand that I'm not the "Shakespeare" of spanish. My sentences after a month are not very complex. But, I want to study complex sentences to understand more. I understand the parts that are most important to learn.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Learning 3 Languages in a Week: Day 3 Japanese and Spanish


I've found a source for my Japanese articles. Unfortunately, its also presented me with a great deal more work. The source is http://news.google.co.jp/, and sadly, the articles are written in a mix of kanji and katakana, of which I have issues.


Here is the next Spanish article in the meantime
Here's time for review. Before I started devoting hours to learning an entire new alphabet (hiragana), I had begun to learn the grammar that structures sentences- given that nouns and verbs are so many (I didn't want to merely focus on vocabulary).

Learning How to Construct Sentences (Spanish)

Essentially, all sentences in English have a subject and a verb, whether apparent or implied. Given that English and Spanish are so similar (even though English is not a Romance language like Spanish), I've decided to treat it as being the same in that regard.

Thus, I decided to first compile a list of pronouns to become familiar with. In English, we have things such as "Him, Her, He, She, Them, We..." because they show up so commonly.

Here is a list I stole from Wikipedia
Additionally, I've also added two things:
  • Esos- "These"
  • Estos/Aquellos - "Those"
To decipher this chart, i've made a few notes:
  • Nominative- refers to naming who is doing the act (much like I, He, She, They, We)
  • Accusative- refers to the direct object (such as Him, Her, Them)
  • Dative- is similar to Accusative, but it is indirect rather than direct
  • Prepositional- Used for objects and complements (I can't find an english equivalent) 
  • Comitative- Complementary uses that are preceded by "con" (with me, with her, with us)
In addition to this, I am complimenting my learning of the grammar with Television. I'm watching the BBC's special spanish learning program "Mi Vida Loco". Which, while a bit cheesy, is at least in spanish that I can follow.

In the meantime, i've been trying to immerse myself in spanish sentence construction the best I can. I essentially communicate through text using spanish only- to the chagrin of my friends.


I've taken a look at Katakana, and decided that despite it being longer than Hiragana, shares a lot of things in common. So perhaps I will be able to learn it more quickly this time. Update soon.

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