I first encountered the writings of Musashi when I was eighteen years old.
On the recommendation of a friend I went to a dojo on Selby Avenue and Chatsworth in Saint Paul, the Inner Truth School of Self Defense.
I introduced myself to the Sensei, Clifford “Chick” Moody, asked me what I was doing there, and on the advice of my friend I told him that “I wanted to learn strategy and self-defense.”
I think my response took him by surprise, it sounded a bit formal and it sounded a bit theatrical coming out of my mouth, but his demeanor changed. I think he decided he could take me seriously (at least in the moment).
He asked me to take a seat in the front of the studio to watch a demonstration, and I watched for a while as his students warmed-up.
Sensei moody was ancient already, he had two of his black belts come to the place where I sat, they proceeded to work through a series of blocks and strikes and falls. This gave me an idea of what I could expect the course of training might be at the way place.
At the end of the demonstration he gave me this bit of advice, he told me to read two authors, Carl von Clauswitz, on War, and Miyomoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings.
For the next three years I attended classes at the dojo, three hours a day, five days a week, with one on one training after the regular session on Sundays.
Sensei Moody was a sixth dan, he held black belts and weapons proficiencies in dozens of styles. He taught his own system, which he called Muashi, way of the wind, but its roots were in Okinawan Karate, the hard forms of Goju Ru and Goju Kiyokai, and he taught Ninjitsu.
Sensei Moody’s teachers were the men who first brought Japanese martial arts to the United States like Ron Duncan Jr. and Peter Irving, the children of American servicemen who grew up in Japan after World War II.
There were classes where Sensei would have us sit in sanchin while he read from the Book of Five Rings, the Go Rin No Sho. It was through Sensei Moody that I discovered the greatest practitioner of martial discipline and combat strategy the world has ever known.
Musashi, Kinsei (Saint of the Sword).