1) Sho-shin – Beginner’s Mind
This refers to the type of mentality you probably had when you first started martial arts. everything was new and exciting. You were eager to learn. You had an open minded eagerness, and you had no preconceptions of how to do your techniques. you had nothing to compare it to or relate to any previous experience. You just wanted to learn. This is the mentality that you need to have even at at advances level or experience in you martial arts training.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you know everything that you need to know.
ALWAYS Maintain a beginner’s mind. Remain Humble. The person who thinks he or she already knows everything, is not open to learning anything. Maintain Sho-shin when you are training with others and continue to learn from everyone you meet.
2) Zan-shin – Lingering Mind “Awareness”
Zan-shin is a state of mind where you are totally in the present moment. It is a state where you are completely aware of your environment and your surroundings. You are relaxed, but completely aware and alert of everything around you and even a sense of the time that has passed or events that are about to come.
It is a state of being totally aware of your environment – front, back, up, down, and both sides. It is total awareness, a state of where your mind is always alert and prepared for action. Zan-Shin can only be achieved by serious practice and training, not playing around.
3) Mu-shin – No Mind
Mu-shin literally means mind-no-mind or “empty mind”. It is a state where you are acting but not having to think about your actions. Achieving the state of Mu-shin is at the core of Japanese martial arts and can only be achieved by years of practice.
The moon’s reflection in a lake is only clear when the water is perfectly still. If there are waves or ripples, the moon’s reflection is distorted. You could think of Mu-shin as being a state of mind where there is no distortion or thoughts, yet you are still acting.
The Japanese say that Mu-shin cannot be understood with the intellect, but rather, it must be experienced. And that is true. When you go into Mu-shin, your mind is quiet, but your body is acting. To achieve this state, your mind must be free from any conscious thought, including anger, hesitation, doubt, fear, or thinking about how to do what you are doing. You simply act. You allow your spirit to guide your body.
4) Fudo-shin – Immovable Mind
Fudo-shin represents a mind that is totally at peace and unwavering in every situation. It is a mind that filled with courage and determination. There is no fear in the immovable mind; it is in a state of complete composure and peace.
When you have achieved the immovable mind, you will feel that you can achieve anything, that you are invincible. Fudo-shin is a fighters mind too. In order to have the fighting spirit to over come challenges, you must adapt Fudo-shin. Your mind cannot be disturbed, no matter what. In this state, you are able to face fear, danger, and even death with a calm spirit.
When you develop your mind to the point of having Fudo-shin, or an immovable mind, you will be free from anger, fear, and doubt. You will approach every situation with a calm mind that can’t be moved. Fudo-shin is also like having a mind of calm determination.
5) Sen-shin – Enlightened Mind
The enlightened mind is the highest level of the 5 Spirits of Budo. At this level, you will hold all life as sacred and precious. You will be able to visualize how everything fits together to make the whole. You will able to see the balance in the universe clearly. You will understand how each part of the Universe is connected and how everything effects everything regardless of how big or small somethings seems in the grand chemed of things. Everything is connected.
Once you reach this level you will see the world in a totally different way. Your thoughts and intentions will be pure and sincere. You will wish harm to no-one. you will always seek PEACE in your surroundings and that of others. Your mind and spirit along with your actions will become one. Reaching Sen-shin is truly rare. It cannot be forced, its something that comes after a lifetime of practicing controlling your thoughts and purifying your spirit. There is saying: "Everything is by intention" Put your spirit, mind and body into your training each and every session.
Honesty with yourself is the toughest challenge in the Martial Arts.
~Either you are GOOD, or choose not to be.
~Either you have talent or you don't.
~Either you think talent is everything, or you understand that the Mother of all skill is hard work, repetition and practice.
~Either you TRAIN, or you don't.
~Either you are a Sweater, or you are not.
~Either you improve, or you don't.
~Either you keep teaching 5 step sparring, Or you expand your horizons.
~Either you add to your arsenal, or you don't.
~Either you are well rounded, or you are not.
~Either you look outside the box, or you don't.
~Either you sacrifice and dedicate to Karate, or it is no more than a hobby.
~Either you strive to become a better instructor, or you remain mediocre
~Either you strive always improve as an Instructor, Or you pretend to be an expert at everything.
~Either you Actually Practice what you preach, or you just preach.
~Either you understand what a bunkai is saying, or you KNOW the technique and DRILL it!! "Most never drill the bunkai they learn"
~Either you really understand Bunkai, or you think WKF Bunkai is the REAL deal..LOL.
~Either you "know" how complete your art is, or you assume how complete it is.
~Either you study Karate completely, or let politics control you and hold you back.
~Either you understand that Grappling belongs to Karate too and you NEED to learn it because it is so important, OR you ignorantly ignore it and believe it is only part of Jiu-jitsu.
~Either you think the WAY "Do" is only character based philosophy, OR you understand the WAY is actually a mindset to training and limitless.
~Either you understand, Technique is always adaptable, Or you think Kihon AIR technique are the best in the world and nothing else matters.
~Either you expand your Knowledge, or you restrict it.
~Either you study Karate realistically, Or you focus on medals.
~Either you allow Karate to fit each student like a High end Tailored Suit or you FORCE Karate in to a SMALL Tiny little polished looking box that no one can use in the street for the sake of a MOLD of a rigid cookie cutter system.
~Either you ACTUALLY strive to always learn / improve like a flowing waterfall "SHIBUMI" or you quit at Shodan and never let the REAL journey begin.
Like the Title os this post says,
Honesty is the best policy.
Before you begin your journey in Karate, make sure to do your research and seek out a credible and legitimate sensei who clearly displays their passion in teaching and intentions behind why they teach. Find a Sensei who is dedicated to teaching and karate is their own personal lifestyle. Find a Good Sensei First, before you begin your journey. Once your do, TRUST they will lead you to what is best for you. GOOD Sensei's teach Karate for the LOVE of the ART and what it does for people.
Karate Kid Excerpt:
Miyagi Sensei to Daniel: Danial San, I SAY , YOU DO, NO Questions! Deal? My job TEACH, YOUR job LEARN.
The main point here is that students must TRUST their Sensei. The order of training and when you are taught something OR NOT is because your Sensei knows what is best for you.
Just like a parent, your Sensei determines what you need to learn, WHEN you need to learn it, and WHAT you NEED to learn next and IF you need to learn something at all.
Just remember, it's NOT the student's job to tell their Sensei how to teach or what to teach or how often to teach something. A Student DOES NOT know what is best to learn and most of the time they dont even know what is best for them, regardless of the students age OR rank. If it were not for your sensei, You wouldn’t have a clue what you are being taught ANYWAY!
That would be like a child telling their parent how to raise "them" and what to feed them and what manners they should learn instead of how the parent sees fit.
Would you ask a college professor to strike out a certain chapter and to only teach specific topics YOU the student deems important to FOCUS on? They have a curriculum and a process to follow. Students don't know what they need to learn before taking the course.
Personally, I teach my own students as if they were "my own" children. This is my main objective and I cannot see a more honest approach to developing my own Students. In this manner, I see a more honest relationship with my students. A sensei is Equal but he is also owed the respect of a senior. Traditional values teach us to respect our elders. IN karate, a HIGHER RANK is considered an ELDER in the ART.
TRUST in your Sensei. He is there for you to benefit from them the most and cares for you.
TRUST him/her especially if you know that your sensei makes personal sacrifices FOR YOU and the dojo as a whole. Choosing the best interest of the over-all dojo environment over a member’s tuition is a great indicator of a Sensei’s Sacrifice. Their willingness to sever ties with anyone who harms the dojo or its members on any level or brings negative energy.
SO, if your Sensei says Fundamentals first, Then 2 Man drills are next, then Self defense technique after that and maybe sparring techniques after, and co-incidentally he does not feel you are ready to learn a specific technique yet even though YOU WANT TO learn it, It's most likely for your best interest. Trust YOUR Sensei.
If your Sensei says Shotokan or Shito Ryu are Close-minded labels and that KARATE has no labels OR LIMITS, and he advises you to learn beyond the Scope of a style, avoid close-mindedness and self limitation. Again, TRUST your Sensei.
If your Sensei says FOLLOW the code of Etiquette & Manners and RESPECT your class-mates and most importantly all your KOHAI, TRUST Sensei again.
TRUST is Everything!!
It seems in these times, most people want everything delivered without regard to the process, or without appreciation or loyalty to the one who taught them from A - Z.
The pieces of the puzzle will come together in the end with a GOOD Sensei. BTW, it does not take very long to know your Sensei Loves you. Just pay attention to his message a few times and you will see..
Actions always speaks loudly, and so do good words of wisdom and experience.
But you must have TRUST and RESPECT. THIS LEADS to LOYALTY, success and lots of Learning!
Good Sensei’s prefer to have Good students, Not customers.
A Dojo is a Family.
Q; What is Mokuso?
A: The practice of clearing the mind before and after training while sitting in Seiza. Or in layman's terms "meditation"
With all that goes on in our lives and all the rush, distractions, videos games, television, Internet, advertisements, traffic, bills, stress, anxiety and stimulation overload that comes with living in the era of the 2000's, we have to wonder, why do so many of us often get distracted or find it difficult to mentally focus and releive stress and in some instances we cant even find the time to just relax.
Mokuso (meditation) is a simple exercise that can help with many of these challenges.
The real importance of mokso is not just doing it once in a while, rather it's the benefits of practicing it sincerely when you do actually perform it. Just like a computer, sometimes we need to push the reset button.
Mokuso can help the student clear their mind and DE-STIMULATE. It can help a person relax and slow down after a hard long day or after an intense training session at the dojo.
After a full day of school, work or life in general, the mind has experienced so many things at such a fast pace that it is a wonder why we often feel we're in the fast lane lifestyle and never seem to have time for anything or cant seem to slow down until the day is over.
Mokuso allows us to clear our mind both before an activity we wish to excel at as well as relax and RESET afterwards.
Karate practice benefit the mind, body and spirit. Typically the mind and body follow each other almost in unison while the spirit or the inner-self of a person tags along and feels the effect that the other two are engaged in.
Example, when we do acts of kindness or positive actions, our spirit or inner-self tends to feel the positive effects of the actions we are doing. This goes for NEGATIVE actions as well.
This can apply to clearing the mind too. If we practice Mokuso often and sincerely eventually our inner-self will feel the effects of it as well. We can start to feel relaxed and calm, yet even more alert and energized than before.
Personally I feel it is a very important part of training and it should be practiced often on your own time, not just in the dojo.
Children, with the help of their parents can learn to re-focus themselves while doing homework to re-energize their efforts and minds enabling them to complete their studies with less effort simply by doing a couple minutes of mokuso.
Good Mokuso practice habits:
- Sit upright in Seiza (kneeling) or Anza (cross legged)
- Keep eyes closed entire time.
- Breath deeply and completely at a steady and natural pace.
- Ignore sounds or distractions.
- Remain completely still
- Focus on OR think about techniques you just practiced during your training. Performing a KATA in your mind is also a great exercise. (this helps information burn in to your memory)
- Ignore any Itches, aches, numbness in your legs while sitting or even sweat dripping down your face.
- Visualize what you are thinking about with mental images.
- Do not rush, perform Mokuso between 30 - 60 complete breath cycles, (should take about 3 - 5 minutes.)
There are many other helpful tips but these are just some of the important ones.
Parents and children alike can practice this at home together, I encourage it. Try it out and see the effects of clearing your mind during Mokso and let me know if you have seen a difference in yourself.