Secrets of the Japanese Art of Warfare is Thomas Cleary's translation of the seminal writings attributed to Yamamoto Kansuke (1501-1561) on Japanese martial arts and military service. A mysterious man of humble origins, Yamamoto distinguished himself in the service of the redoubtable Takeda Shingen (1521-1573), heir to a long lineage of warriors and renowned for having fought thirty-nine battles without a single defeat. Yamamoto was a career soldier and founder of the so-called "School of Certain Victory," from which the famous Miyamoto Musashi (The Book of Five Rings) emerged. His school developed the art of discerning situational combat advantage, so that the attentive warrior or general would commit himself to action only when success was virtually assured. This approach demanded patience, mindfulness, and discipline, but in return yielded dividends on the battlefield and longevity for warriors. This strategy was studied and adopted by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who used it to great effect, ultimately pacifying war-torn Japan under his single, unified banner in the early seventeenth century—a monumental achievement.
The science of warfare—particularly the study of enemy formations and movements in evolving combat situations—will be appreciated by all persons engaged in military, law enforcement, or emergency response, as well as by martial artists, athletes, business executives, diplomats and politicians, who will understand how to adapt them to their specific needs. Whoever the adversary may be, the insights to be found in this treatise hold the keys to certain victory!