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Please note: This article is about the war treatise written by Akodo. For other uses of the term, please see Leadership (disambiguation).

Akodo's 'Leadership'

Leadership was a treatise on war written by the Kami Akodo in the 1st century. It was a collection of thoughts on Bushido, Battle, and Leadership [1] It was perhaps the most read book in the military arts, and could be found in most dojo throughout Rokugan.

Structure Edit

The first half was written by Akodo in the final years of the Kami's life, drawing on his experiences in the First War. The second half of the book was left deliberately unwritten, so his successors would be able to add their own experiences to the book. [2]

Copies Edit

The Ikoma were said to have the only complete, unedited version of Akodo's Leadership, as it had been changed through history to suit each Emperor's views on warfare. [3] The original was the possession of the Lion Clan Champion, and the massive volume begun by the Kami Akodo was appended by every Lion Champion since. [4]

The Importance of Warfare Edit

War is inevitable, and in such times a daimyo would call upon his men. A samurai would serve and command, but before that, a samurai must prepare and study. Victory was not taking the lives of the enemy, but saving the lives of ones kin. Those who would falter first would be the first to fall, that the price of defeat was greater than honor or pride. Learning to win was not enough, it was necessary to learn how not to lose.

Those who said warfare was selfish, or who studied it seeking only to increase their own glory and position were fools and would lead Rokugan to doom. Nothing is more important than the art of warfare, for it protects all other art. Generals who did not study warfare would become uncertain and hesitated on the battlefield, causing an army to fail. [5]


Duty was the samurai's soul, neglecting his duty a samurai would scar his soul. Fulfilling Duty was all or nothing, black or white, there were no grays. This was what it meant to be a samurai. [6]

A Samurai's PurposeEdit

A samurai kept in mind and heart the understanding that he must die. Surrendering to ambition, lust, greed, or any other thing, a samurai would hesitate for that one crucial moment when it came time to sacrifice his life for his lord.

Samurai lived, trained to fight and fought to live. Only alive could a samurai fulfill his Duty and protect his lord. Duty beyond all things was the soul of a true samurai. Living to fulfill Duty was why a samurai forewent ambition, abstained from lust, and sacrificed his personal morals. [6]

Ignorance and StupidityEdit

The ignorant and the stupid were two kinds of fools. The first put his hand into the fire because he did not know it would burn him. Once he was burned, he would never do it again. A stupid man would keep putting his hand into the fire, because he would not learn.

A leader would teach his men what they must know, because a student was blameless for his ignorance, he only did what his teacher told him. [6]

Good and EvilEdit

Shinsei said, "Nature does not recognize good and evil." But men recognized the difference, and to ignore the way of the world and hope it to be a better place than it was. [6]


Loyalty was not learned, neither was it inherited, it must be earned. Once it was forgotten, a samurai had done his enemy's work for him. Loyalty, unlike the others, must be given constant attention. A leader had to build loyalty in his men. [7]

The GeneralEdit

A general who led with perception and intelligence need not be a master of tactics or strategy. With perception, a leader would find those who understand such things, and directed them to their proper duty. With intelligence, a general would know not to get in their way. [8]

The Five MeasuresEdit

An army was made of the Five Measures:

Measure of Wind:Edit
An army began with its general, the true and virtuous, who would lead from the light, quickly, because he never needed to look back. [8]
The Measure of Earth:Edit
When a leader understood the ground upon which he fought, the advantage was his. [8]
The Measure of Fire:Edit
A general must lead his army under the Imperial Law. When he did so, he gave a soul of fire, for it knew its actions were just. When you did not, he suffocated the fire and robbed the fuel from the flame. [8]
The Measure of Emptyness:Edit
Lastly, there was Heaven, so understanding the passage of the stars was the final understanding. There was no explaining the Measure of Emptiness, only recognizing its virtue when it manifested. In nothing, there was everything. [8]

The Way of DeceptionEdit

Charging ones army into battle without foreknowledge of an opponent's capabilities and weaknesses brought no glory and branded its leader as a coward. Blind death was swift death. When facing the enemy, a leader lets him see what he wanted him to see. [8]

Entice Him With FalsehoodsEdit

When an enemy is entrenched and secure, he must be lured from his nest. Take him from his sanctuary and take him at the proper time. [8]

Strike Hard and QuickEdit

When an enemy is more powerful than one, a leader must strike quick and hard, and retreat. Commanders without courage or confidence did not know how to retaliate against this. Those who understood what was happening, knew that their strength had been turned into weakness. [8]

Hammer and AnvilEdit

When a man had time to think, he could make plans, otherwise he could only make mistakes when reacting. A leader used cavalry and speed to harass the enemy, giving him no rest, and rotated his legions. [9]

Break the Heart Edit

A general who made his enemy doubt what he foughts for had already won. [10]

Chances Edit

When a leader were faced with desperate odds, never relied upon one chance, but a thousand. If he only trusted all of his strength to one blow, a single error could destroy all of hos chances. [10]

Ambition and Virtue Edit

A man of virtue never worried about his position; he concerned himself solely with virtue. [10]

Nurture the Strong Edit

When an enemy was stronger a general would nurture him. Then, when he faltered, the general might attack at his leisure. [10]

Fixed Formations Edit

Fixed formations did not allow an army to adapt and change, and those two were the key to victory. [10]

Chastising Those Who Follow Edit

A leader never chastised his followers in front of others who followed him. If men began to speak ill of his leader the seed of doubt would bring defeat. [10]

Your Enemy's Errors Edit

Showing the errors of others taught the men confidence in themselves. Showing them their own errors taught them doubt. [10]

The Enemy Edit

When an enemy was strong, a leader avoid him. He fought him when he was not ready. When the enemy had advantageous ground, a leader would goad him into attacking, appealing to his anger. When the enemy had virtue, a leader spread dissent among those who followed him, because if they doubted his virtue, they would not risk their lives for him. [10]

Quick Like the Wind Edit

Quick like the wind was how a leader should strike. By giving the enemy no time to think, he would make mistakes, making it easier to crush him. A protracted war depleted own resources, starved own farmers and weighed heavy on the souls of those who serve the leader. [10]

My Enemy's Food Edit

Never requisition more food than you need, it would be less food the men needed to carry. Rewarding men by sacking the supply lines of the enemy, a leader showed them how cunning they were and how stupid their foe was. [10]

Victory Without Conflict Edit

Sparing an enemy was always better than destroying him, for showing him mercy only raised his opinion of a leader in his own eyes. If a leader could not defeat his enemy through nonviolent means, the elader would defeat him with allies. An enemy outnumbered and surrounded by an army of allies would capitulate. [11]

Two Armies Edit

If the leader's army was greater than his enemy, the leader surrounded him. If twice of size, a leader would divide the forces and outflank him. If equal, a leader would find his weaknesses to exploit them. If lesser, a leader would outmanouver him. [12]

The Ten Orders Edit

  • A leader always carried a text with him. The mind must be exercised as well as the body.
  • When a lord called his samurai, he ran, fall at his feet and spoke his name loudly and proudly.
  • Keep one's sword close and ready and clean.
  • Keep servants only if necessary.
  • Lady Sun and Lord Moon made a samurai with a left hand and a right hand. In the left hand went the text and in the right hand went the sword.
  • When a samurai came before a superior, he dropped hands at his sides, and bowed lower than they, showing trust.
  • Men followed the example of those they admired.
  • A samurai went to bed early, then, at midnight he would be fresh, rested and ready for any foe who creeped in late hours.
  • Be clean, because a dirty man must itch and scratch, and an itching and scratching man was slow.
  • Be ready to die. [13]

History Edit

Presented to the Emperor Edit

In the year 55 Akodo presented the Emperor Hantei Genji and the Lion Clan with Leadership. Bayushi noted that a canny general would either never reveal such hard-won wisdom, or share only lesser insights with outsiders, but Akodo did not reply. [14]

Partially censured Edit

During the reign of Hantei Muhaki some portions were condemned by the Emperor himself. [15] influenced by his sensei Kakita Kuga. The Emperor declared heretical those parts which supported deception in warfare. [16]


  • “There are only two alternatives: Win or die”. [17]
  • “On the battlefield, all actions are honorable”. [18]
  • “A great general accepts none of the credit, and all of the blame.” [19]
  • “It is one man's duty to serve his lord. One man's duty to give his life that his lord may live. One man's duty to avenge, if his lord fall before him. If it is one man's duty, in all things, to know truth. [20]
  • “Even in times of peace, a samurai always carries swords.” [21]
  • “One must lead by example.” [22]
  • “While you rest, your enemy practice.” [23]
  • “I borrow my name from my ancestors. I must return it to them unharmed. I borrow my honor from my descendants. In shaming myself, I shame them as well.” [24]
  • “Know your enemy. Know yourself.” [25]
  • “Suspect everyone of being your enemy and you will never be disappointed.” [26]
  • “When we defeat the armies of our enemies, we will feed our men with our enemies' rations”. [27]
  • “War is never as simple as it seems to the young, or as complicated as it seems when one looks back on a lifetime of campaigning.” [28]
  • “Every army needs brave warriors, but a truly wise rikugunshokan understands the limits of courage and the power of a full belly.” [28]
  • “Do not make the mistake of treating the approach march as a separate thing from the battle. If you can force the enemy to fight in a disadvantageous position, you have already won half of your victory.” [29]
  • “As a form of warfare, reducing a fortification has only this to recommend it: After you have participated in a siege for the first time, whether as attacker or defender, many things in life will seem less troublesome.” [30]
  • “With the spirits of his ancestors standing beside him, a samurai never stands alone.” [31]
  • “Sending an army without a scout is like leaping from a mountain without looking below” [32]
  • “A great man's heart can pump the life's blood of a thousand men.” [33]
  • “Make your enemies doubt what they fight for: take away faith, and they will surrender.” [34]
  • “He who is intent on dying can be murdered. He who is quick to anger can be insulted. He who is self-conscious can be humiliated. He who is compassionate can be troubled. But the commander whose mind is focused, and whose soul is taken up by the strike, he will know victory.” [35]
  • “No enemy was ever overcome by repeating the same strategy. Innovation creates victory.” [36]
  • “A simple spear makes one man an obstacle that can daunt a dozen cavalry" [37]
  • “Be wary of that which is formless, for it cannot easily be countered.” [38]
  • “Surprise and strength and the battle is won.” [39]
  • “Without honor, there is no victory. Without fear, there is no defeat.” [40]
  • “Even the simplest tool can be a deadly weapon in the hands of a samurai.” [41]
  • “Show weakness where you are strong.” [42]
  • “Let your enemy see what he wishes to see, so that he will underestimate you.” [42]
  • “Draw courage from the colors of your clan.” [43]
  • “It is not difficult to find good advice, though it may be difficult to listen to it.” [44]
  • “No army has claimed as many lives as ignorance.” [45]
  • “Be like unto the sea, which washes over all without thought or hesitation.” [46]
  • “War is the most noble pursuit of a samurai. It gives him purpose, and brings honor to his ancestors.” [47]
  • “The tale of a hero can cripple the unworthy.” [48]
  • “Put down your blade after your enemy does.” [49]
  • “The finest defense that can be mounted is an offense against one’s enemies.” [50]
  • “Whether in court or on the battlefield, the Scorpion rarely attack in an expected manner.” [51]
  • “Allow the scout to pass, and the true target will reveal itself shortly thereafter.” [52]
  • “Live alone and you shall die alone. Stand with your brothers and you shall celebrate your victories in this life and the next.” [53]
  • “Powerful fortifications can protect a stronghold from attack. How well will those barricades work if your enemy chooses another target?” [54]
  • “Control the terrain. Control the battle.” [55]
  • “It is a matter of regret to allow the moment when one should die to pass by.” [56]
  • “The purpose of ashigaru is not necessarily to earn victory. To simply delay an enemy’s cavalry, and immobilize them for archers, can be a victory in itself.” [57]
  • “The rank of nikutai shall be first among a gunso’s men, to lead when the gunso can not. It is a sacred trust.” [58]
  • “Defeating an army without destroying him is the most noble victory of all.” [59]
  • “In times of war, a samurai's devotion is to his lord, but he must not forsake his home. A home is essential, and it fuels a warrior's zest for victory.” [60]
  • “There is no greater strength, no greater resource, than those who share your bloodline. A family's abilities can be harnessed in war to tremendous effect, and should be.” [61]
  • “There comes a time when the value of a vassal must be weighed against the value of victory. This is the unfortunate reality of war.” [62]
  • “For one’s worth to be recognized by one’s own lord is one of the most sublime pleasures a samurai can enjoy.” [63]
  • “Diversity is a great strength that allows a commander to use his forces in any way that circumstance demands.” [64]
  • “Drill your men daily. Laziness breeds defeat.” [65]
  • “Never neglect the task of probing an enemy’s strengths. It is an essential step in the preparation for war. Give each step the reverence it deserves, and they will shield you from the disgrace of defeat.” [66]
  • “When the time comes to fight, cast yourself into battle with no thought for your own survival.” [67]
  • “In a well-structured fighting force, the young and inexperienced among your men will look to the veterans, those with experience and age, to distinguish them, and they will draw strength from their company.” [68]
  • “The superior warrior is not always the victor. If your opponent has better options than you, seek to eliminate those options.” [69]
  • “In true combat, self-preservation cannot be your goal. Every thought, every motion, indeed every breath, must be spent only towards the destruction of your enemy.” [70]
  • “A wound is not the end of a true samurai. It is merely a momentary inconvenience that can be cleansed by once more entering battle.” [71]
  • “This is the path of the warrior. All men who call themselves samurai are measured by it. Those who stray from this path will perish. Those who adhere to its teachings will prosper.” [72]
  • “Through intense training the samurai becomes quick and strong. He is not as other men. He develops a power that must be used for the good of all. He has compassion. He helps his fellow men at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, he goes out of his way to find one.” [72]
  • “Rise up above the masses of people who are afraid to act. Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A samurai must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is dangerous. It is living life completely, fully, wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong. Replace fear with respect and caution.” [73]
  • “Samurai have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. A samurai is courteous even to his enemies. Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than animals. A samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle, but also by his dealings with other men. The true inner strength of a samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.” [73]
  • “For the samurai, having done some ‘thing’ or said some ‘thing,’ he knows he owns that ‘thing.’ He is responsible for it and all the consequences that follow. A samurai is intensely loyal to those in his care. To those he is responsible for, he remains fiercely true.” [73]
  • “Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. To a true samurai, there are no shades of gray in the question of honesty and justice. There is only right and wrong.” [73]
  • “A true samurai has only one judge of his honor, and that is himself. Decisions you make and how those decisions are carried out are a reflection of who you truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.” [74]
  • “When a samurai has said he will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not have to ‘give his word.’ He does not have to ‘promise.’ The action of speaking alone has set the act of doing in motion. Speaking and doing are the same action.” [74]
  • “You are samurai. Train as samurai, live as samurai. Foremost, from the moment you rise at dawn to when you lay at dusk, keep in mind and heart the understanding that you must die.” [75]
  • “Surprise makes ten men worth a hundred.” [76]
  • “To defend is to be hopeful. To attack is to be victorious.” [77]
  • “A soldier can fill his soul with duty and bushido, but only for so long. Eventually, an empty stomach will weaken him, and then an army becomes vulnerable. Exploit this whenever possible, and victory will follow.” [78]
  • “A proper samurai retires to a monastery at the age of forty years. However, some retired samurai may yet serve their lord.” [79]
  • “Focus is the key to victory. Know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on them, and you can achieve victory in the face of any hardship.” [80]
  • “Sunrise to sunset, keep death foremost in your mind at all times.” [81]
  • “Understanding chaos is the key to victory.” [82]
  • “The man who does not keep death foremost in his mind will not be prepared when the moment comes. It is disgraceful to allow the moment when one should die to pass by.” [83]
  • “There are many ways of disrupting the opponent's balance. First, attack his spirit with your voice. The blade follows shortly after.” [84]
  • “When an act will bring dishonor, the rule of the samurai is simple. He must not do whatever he was about to do.” [85]
  • “A true samurai acts without claiming credit; he does not wish to appear superior to his lord.” [86]
  • “You win battles by knowing the enemy's timing, and using one he does not expect.” [87]
  • “Loyalty is not learned, neither is it inherited. Unlike Imperial positions filled by right of blood, loyalty must be earned. Forget this, and you have done your enemy's work for him.” [88]
  • “When one commits fully to a course of action, with no doubt or remorse in one’s heart, defeat cannot be the outcome.” [89]
  • “The majesty of bushido is that it can manifest itself even in the least of souls. Courage can rise from humbleness and honor any lord with its service.” [90]

External Links Edit


  1. Way of the Lion, pp. 26-27
  2. Great Clans, p. 109
  3. Way of the Lion, p. 40
  4. Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 36
  5. Way of the Lion, p. 27
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Way of the Lion, p. 28
  7. Way of the Lion, pp. 28-29
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Way of the Lion, p. 29
  9. Way of the Lion, pp. 29-30
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 Way of the Lion, p. 30
  11. Way of the Lion, p. 31
  12. Way of the Lion, pp. 31-32
  13. Way of the Lion, p. 32
  14. Imperial Histories 2, p. 33
  15. Imperial Histories, p. 79
  16. Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 84
  17. Clan War: Rulebook, p. 65
  18. Way of the Scorpion, p. 81
  19. Way of the Lion, p. 99
  20. Unexpected Allies, p. 4
  21. Unexpected Allies, p. 123
  22. Winter Court: Kyuden Kakita, p. 14
  23. Player's Guide: 2nd Ed, p. 34
  24. Way of the Samurai, p. 7
  25. Way of the Shugenja, p. 31
  26. Secrets of the Dragon, p. 14
  27. Way of the Thief, p. 73
  28. 28.0 28.1 Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 239
  29. Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 240
  30. Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 242
  31. A Samurai Never Stands Alone (Scorpion Clan Coup, Scroll 1)
  32. The Fog of War (Scorpion Clan Coup, Scroll 3)
  33. The Soul of Akodo (Scorpion Clan Coup, Scroll 3)
  34. Low Morale (Gold Edition flavor)
  35. Focus (Jade flavor)
  36. Superior Strategist (Lotus flavor)
  37. Spearmen (Diamond flavor)
  38. Gunsen of Water (Diamond flavor)
  39. Ideal Conditions (Khan's Defiance flavor)
  40. Season of the Lion
  41. Menhari-gata (Fall of Otosan Uchi flavor)
  42. 42.0 42.1 The Father's Legacy, by Brian Yoon
  43. Family War Banner (Hidden City flavor)
  44. Karo (Winds of Change flavor)
  45. Unfamiliar Ground (Samurai flavor)
  46. Wedge (Samurai flavor)
  47. Vigilance Keep (Stronger than Steel flavor)
  48. Venerable Plains of the Ikoma (The Heaven's Will flavor)
  49. Wary Peace (The Heaven's Will flavor)
  50. The War of Dark Fire, Part 10, by Shawn Carman
  51. Unexpected Arrival (Glory of the Empire flavor)
  52. A Warrior's Patience (Celestial flavor)
  53. Those Who Stand Alone (Celestial flavor)
  54. First to Fall (Path of the Destroyer flavor)
  55. The Earth Flows (Second City flavor)
  56. O-Yoroi Troops (Seeds of Decay flavor)
  57. Heavy Chargers (The Shadow's Embrance flavor)
  58. Nikutai (The Shadow's Embrance flavor)
  59. Preserving Beauty (The Shadow's Embrance flavor)
  60. Fortifications (Promotional flavor)
  61. Family Maneuvers (Promotional flavor)
  62. Tactical Sacrifice (Torn Asunder flavor)
  63. My Lord's Favor (Ivory flavor)
  64. Versatile Army (Ivory flavor)
  65. Practicing Kata (Gates of Chaos flavor)
  66. Ritual Preparation (Gates of Chaos flavor)
  67. A Warrior's Brutality (Aftermath flavor)
  68. Senior Infantry Legion (Aftermath flavor)
  69. Steal an Advantage (Aftermath flavor)
  70. Thoughtless Sacrifice (Aftermath flavor)
  71. Wounded in Battle (Promo-Ivory Alternate Art flavor)
  72. 72.0 72.1 Legend of the Five Rings; Fourth Edition, p. 42
  73. 73.0 73.1 73.2 73.3 Legend of the Five Rings; Fourth Edition, p. 43
  74. 74.0 74.1 Legend of the Five Rings; Fourth Edition, p. 44
  75. Enemies of the Empire, p. 259
  76. Springing the Ambush (The New Order flavor)
  77. Book of Fire, p. 26
  78. Block Supply Lines (Alternate Art)
  79. General's Hatamoto A Matter of Honor (flavor)
  80. Marshal Your Strength A Matter of Honor (flavor)
  81. A Test of Courage (Twenty Festivals flavor)
  82. Breaking the Rhythm (Twenty Festivals flavor)
  83. Feign Death (Twenty Festivals flavor)
  84. Startling Kiai (Twenty Festivals flavor)
  85. The Code of Bushido (Twenty Festivals flavor)
  86. Sword and Fan, p. 121
  87. Deadly Ground (Promotional flavor)
  88. Akodo Toshigure (Thunderous Acclaim flavor)
  89. Shield of the Honored Soul (Thunderous Acclaim flavor)
  90. Courageous Ashigaru (Evil Portents flavor)

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