Mushin ~ A State of No Mind

My take on Mushin is creating a state of relaxed calm leaving the mind open and clear of thought, not stopping or resting at any point.

Mushin

 

 

In his book “The Unfettered Mind” Takuan Soho talks about not allowing the mind to stop. “Stop stopping!” he tells us. The open mind is always flowing, all directions at once yet finely focused and fully committed with total resolve.

 

 

From The Unfettered Mind ~ “If ten men come at you with swords slashing, if you parry each sword without stopping the mind at each action, and go from one to the next, you will not be lacking in a proper action for every one of the ten.” ~ Takuan Soho

One way of coming to experience this state in aikido was to engage in around two hours of solid training then be subjected to Jiyu waza, continuous multiple attacks, with four or six attackers. One became so tired that the conscious mind just switched off and you went on auto-pilot. The object was to then recreate this state of mind at a later time during general training and eventually be able to enter this state at will. Relaxation and breathing were important factors in this.

The mind-body relationship that we see in Budo is often best described in paradoxical terms. As is true for most principles in Budo. I used to tell my students quite often that “the body teaches the mind”. This was mainly in response to questions of why we needed to practice repeated suburi, aikido undo and tai sabaki exercise routines. But also to get across the importance of conditioning and readiness for the experience of Mushin.

All movements need to become totally ingrained into the psyche so that when we need to respond instantly to a surprise attack, or other happening, the body will be moving in the right way before we even form a conscious response to the situation.

takemusu

All Shinryukan dojos have a banner on the front wall (Shomen) facing the training area with the kanji script for Take, Musu, Ai and Ki.

Takemusu Aiki is a term used by O Sensei to describe the correct attitude and mind set for training in Aikido. The literal translation is – Takemusu = spontaneous and continuous technique, and Aiki = blending with movement, or harmony.

The meaning however is “Life-generating force capable of unlimited transformations” ~ O Sensei.

Takemusu Aiki is seen as both advice in correct training and also a goal that can be applied to one’s own lifestyle. When you look at how this sits in with the advice of Takuan Soho’s concept of Not Stopping then it becomes evident that training hard in the spirit of Takemusu Aiki sets one up for reaching the state of Mushin.

The one thing that needs to be remembered is that the attainment of Mushin can never be forced and no amount of training will ever suffice if the spiritual attitude is not in place. Mushin just happens. Often with surprise and when you least expect it, but once the body has experienced the state it will always remember it and will return to it as needed without any conscious invocation.

~ Dent
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Dojo Files ~ The Other Dynamic

I see discussions on-line regarding comparisons between Aikido, Karate, BJJ, Taekwando and MMA — but one of these things is not the same, and that is Aikido.

 

Aikido is not a martial art.
(Excuse me while I remove the arrows from my back.)

 

Aikido is Budo and shares the Bushido ethos. The related martial art is aikijutsu, often also referred to as akibujutsu and these are fighting styles.

 

O Sensei developed his Aikibudo out of Aikijutsu and Jujutsu as a spiritual method of training the mind and developing a focused centre. His intention was that Aikido should be a method of spiritual development with the personal self defence component as a side benefit. Aikido was never intended as a fighting, or combat, form but more as a means to develop personal confidence and the ability to avoid confrontation, yet also have the skills to fend off an aggressive attacker. The attacker envisioned here being some random street thug and not a trained specialist fighter.

 

The key is ‘do’ meaning way or path in contrast to ‘jutsu’ (jitsu) meaning art, or mystical skills. Hence you have judo as the sport variation of jujutsu and kendo as the sport variation of kenjutsu. The development of the ‘do’ styles was for the purpose of zen practice and not as fighting styles or bujutsu.

 

To my way of thinking, Budo is the way of warfare, tactics and strategy and is the domain of the warrior monks and samurai, whereas bujutsu is the art of war, fighting and soldier craft.

 

So, although there is a definite bujutsu component in the taijutsu routines in aikido training it is only half the story. The development of ki and attitude form a large part of the skill development through the practice of ‘breath throws’ (kokyu-nage and zagi kokyu-ho) plus the sweeping dance-like movement of the basic throwing techniques.
These are meant for the development of poise, balance, control and follow through, and those are the main components that make the bujutsu versions of the techniques actually work.

 

During the later years at my dojo in Greerton as membership grew and senior students became more advanced I introduced back to back classes two evenings each week. The first was a general and beginner’s class where the slower flowing forms were practiced, then this was followed by a senior class of faster, harder and more dynamic technique execution. Jo-dori, tanto-dori, jiyu waza, etc.

 

There was no warm up at the second class: the first class was the warm up. For a senior to attend the second class they had to also attend the first.
So, in consideration of this I offer that aikido is in fact a warm up for aikijutsu.

 

This is really putting it in a nutshell and you really need to think harder about this to gain the complete picture. These are personal observations and the reader really needs to explore these concepts and relate them to their own experiences and ethos.

 

~ Denton

 

Ownership

Take ownership for all of your actions and that will moderate what you undertake. Only in full truth to yourself will you ever realise the full potential of your own life and experience fulfilment.

No Remote

The way to enlightenment is not necessarily by the direct path. The crooked path can be far more interesting and the point is not to arrive as soon as possible, but to actually arrive.

It’s not where you walk. It’s how you walk! This is what I always told my dojo students.

“See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body” – Yagyu Munenori

Some people go through life totally oblivious to the havoc they wreck due to their indifference and lack of consideration for others. Like a bull in a china shop they have no comprehension of the finer points of life nor any inkling that their own lives could even be made richer if they actually opened their eyes and made an effort to understand the true depths of human interaction, expectations and social empathy .

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself” – Chinese Proverb

A lot of the current social situations in the “civilised” world today seem to be the product of inept thinking and limited understanding. Too many people are happy to be ill informed and gaining real understanding of any situation, process or viewpoint is just too hard.

Similarly, I hear many people grumble and whine about the sorry state of the country, society and their own lot in life, yet when it comes to doing something about it – “It’s not my job!

So, if life is not what you expected get out there and change it — Jump in at the deep end.

When it comes to martial arts, there are those who want to learn and other who want to be taught. No amount of teaching will help those in the later group fully grasp the intricacies of true Budo technique. They expect to be given the secrets to “the hidden arts” but without expending effort to truely understand the underlying ethos that drives the final mastering of the skills.

Instructors can show you the path to the top of the mountain, but you must walk it yourself.

~ Dent

Footnote – Yagyu Munenori (1571 – 1646) was a swordmaster, teacher of sword to the first Shogun and head of the Palace Guard of the Tokugawa Shogunate at Nijo Castle. Also a contemporary of both Miyamoto Musashi and Takuan Soho the zenmaster.

Photo – When it rains, go shopping!