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Jocko Willink’s Commentaries on the Martial Way of Modern Musashi

jocko willink

My obsession with Miyamoto Musashi began when I was 13 years old, right after my sensei gave me a copy of Go Rin No Sho, The Book of Five Rings.

It was while researching Musashi that I first ran across the name Jocko Willink — I discovered an episode of his Jocko Podcast dedicated to the samurai and his writings.

For the first time, I got to listen to an analysis of Musashi by someone who had faced enemies in war and seen death up close. You see, Willink is a former Navy SEAL lieutenant commander who led his team in the battle for Ramadi during the Iraq War. He’s the recipient of the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. He’s also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

Listening to that podcast, it was as if Willink was channeling Musashi. The message of both men is so powerful because each describes a warrior’s experiences. It’s not a message gleaned from a book, not one learned from a teacher. Musashi himself said, “I have no teacher in anything,” and when you listen to Willink speak, you hear the same truth. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to interview him for Black Belt. It’s my hope that you gain as much from our conversation as I did.

How did you become interested in Miyamoto Musashi? Was it before, during or after your military service? 

It was during my service. You get interested in Musashi when you hear about a guy who fought 60-plus sword fights — most of them to the death — and won them all and wrote about it. So when you spend your life like I did in the combat arena, you try to listen to people who have knowledge to pass on to you.

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