The Art of War arose from the Daoist reflection on warfare, strategy, and tactics. Daoist analytical methods emphasize the power of holistic frameworks. Placement of soldiers cannot influence the outcome if the soldiers starve due to broken supply lines. Sun Tzu and the classical commentators who expanded The Art of War brought together logistics, psychology, and martial experience to provide a holistic analysis of warfare. While not a Buddhist tradition, Daoist philosophy harmonizes with Buddhist philosophy as evidenced by influence on the Zen Tradition.

Later Zen-influenced reflection on the martial arts echoes both death imagery in Zen and the holistic analysis characteristic of Daoism. Like The Art of War before it, The Book of Five Rings holistically reflects on warfare and dueling. It describes a warrior philosophy of detachment from both life and death, liberated from fear to enter battle but forsaking glory found in murder. While Buddhist ethics discourages combat, its analytic methods have been successfully applied to the practice of violence.