Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mushin no shin (mind of no mind)

Mushin no shin (mind of no mind) or the state of “no mindness’” is the state of mind that all karateka and imo all martial artists would like to achieve in actual combat, be it competition or self defence.

This state of "mind of no-mind" releases you from all emotion and thoughts which may pre-occupy your mind such as fear, anger, wild thoughts or any other distractions other than being totaly commited with concentration and good judgment to the moment at hand.

Whether we know it or not we see Mushin no shin in everyday sports, whether it’s an individual athlete in the Olympics or your favourite footy team crushing the old enemy.

All competitive athletes at the top echelon of their sport posses similar physical attributes, while they all try to find an edge to their physical training, something that will enable them to stand out above the rest and be successful most of them posses about the same physical strength and ability.

The reality is that they all have similar training schedules and methods to enhance their physical attributes; anyone of these athletes could potentially be champion at a particular meet.

The thing that really distinguishes a champion apart from his peers is in my opinion not so much the physical attributes which in most cases are very similar, but the mental state of mind the athlete poses throughout the competition.

It is widely known that Olympic athletes use meditation and even hypnosis techniques to focus on their performance so they might get an edge.

In a martial arts sense having Mushin no shin allows you to become one with your opponent to feel his rhythm, to anticipate his next move, to work out and know his strategy or tactics, to find the weakness in his armor and finally gives you the edge to overcome him.

If two athletes in a martial arts competition both have excellent Mushin then it will become a game of chess until someone makes a mistake and the other capitalizes on it.

Masatoshi Nakayama sensei talks about the state of mind, posture and the highest stage in the art of karate-do here.

We all know there are many different types of meditation but what about the meditation that can produce good Mushin for martial artists.

Is there a way to train for Mushin?

Without Zen priests or psychologists.

One of my old sensei’s who was an exceptional karateka once suggested a way to gain Mushin and focus through the following exercise.

Get an A4 piece of paper and draw a circle on it about 100mm (4 inches) in diameter, make sure the paper is white and the dot penciled in black.

Place this dot on a light colored (white) wall that has little other decorations (paintings, photos etc.) so it stands out.

The position seiza

Sit in seiza about 3 metres (10 feet) from the wall directly facing the dot.

Have some sort of timer maybe a stop watch to record progress.

Your breathing should be natural, not forced or shallow and try to breath with your tanden drawing air into what feel like the lower stomach, this way your lungs will be filled to capacity.

The exercise is to focus on this dot on the wall without having any thoughts running through your mind, that is no thoughts at all, so don’t think about your children, girlfriend or mates or wife or your flat tyre or anything else just a big blank.

When you focus on the dot look at it in such a way that you are trying to see whats behind it, like in a 3D set, as an example lets say you focus on a tree in the park then keep looking at that tree but with the intention of seeing what is happening behind the tree in the far of distance, treat the dot in the same way.

To add to the difficulty try not to blink at all just stare at this dot no blinking, eventually tears will start to run from your eyes but still try not to blink for as long as you can.

If you blink then stop/start the stop watch again and see if you can go further this time.

The aim is no thoughts, no blinking, no moving about, just sit in seiza and stare at the dot on the wall with focus.

How long can you last?

Shin Koyamada in NO MIND (The Last Samurai)