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Thread: Mouse's Head Horse's Neck

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Default Mouse's Head Horse's Neck

    I have been in the habit of looking for and studying different animal based martial arts ideas each year of the Chinese Zodiac. I actually was going to give it up this year. Although it does help with being a walking encyclopedia about martial arts it adds little to my real goal of being an unstoppable fighter.
    I changed my mind when I read Chris Hellman's blog about rats and mice. (definitely a good blog).
    He brings up the fact that towards the end of Musashi's Fire Book in the Book of Five Rings it talks about "the mouse's head and the horse's neck". It also says it could be an ox head.Now my first thought is that the kanji for horse and ox are not even similar.
    I got out David K. Groff's translation and he has a footnote explaining that the characters have changed over time. Also seem to remember Musashi originally used "grass script". those of you with real knowledge let me know.
    Next I got out Stephen Kaufman's translation. Same passage he talks about snakes head and tail???
    My other translations definitely do not go to snake. Anyone have any thoughts?
    Anyway interested in anyone else's thoughts on rats/mice in martial arts or any amplification you can give me on this passage from Musashi.
    Thank you Len McCoy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    So To Go Shu: The ideogram in Musashi's text is "Bull". It is pronounced as "go" or "uma" meaning horse. But the related ideogram is "go" or "ushi" meaning "cow". There is an aphorism used, "The warrior must have the meticulous attention of a mouse/rat but at the same time the courage of a bull.

    Taylor 2014 sums this up as Mouse/Rat Head - Cattle Neck: To have this “so to go shu” understanding in normal life is essential for bushi. In the big or small battle, don’t lose (forget) this attitude. Bushi must be able to think about this very well.

    At the beginning of the Water Book Musashi writes, "Read this text thinking it is written for you. Do not think you are learning written things.

    In other words he suggests you read and add this to your already practiced sword art (Niten Ichiryu)
    Hyakutake Colin

    All the best techniques are taught by survivors.

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