Finding the “no mind”

In the training of Kobudo we seek a state of mind called Mushin (無心 no mind). Reaching this means that your mind is not bothered by unnecessary thoughts. It does not mean that the mind is “empty”, rather that the mind is open and receptive without being stuck on any one thing.

One of the best ways of reaching this state of mind is by hard, physical training (in the martial arts), sometimes called Shugyo (修行). In the training of Jissen Kobudo, once you have learnt to apply the basic movements somewhat, the training gets intense and will help you develop Mushin. How?

In Japanese, practice is called Renshu (練習). However, when training classical budo like Jissen Kobudo, we use the phrase Keiko (稽古) instead. This means something like “training to acquire knowledge from the past”, compared to Renshu which is more to “repeat over and over to learn”. So, when starting your journey, we might say that you do Renshu, to learn the movements. As you progress this changes to Keiko. Both of these words, when applied in an intense setting, can be described as Shugyo (see above).

While taking part in Renshu, Keiko and Shugyo, essentially you are doing something that we call Tanren (鍛錬), which means “to forge”. Consider for a moment a sword being forged. If your body is the sword, the heat in your body produced during Shugyo is the fire and your sweat is the water which cools down the heated iron. This way your body and your technique will be forged like a sharp blade.

By doing this, there is no place for unnecessary thoughts. Your mind, like your body, will be forged, sharpened and shaped until you reach the “no mind” where everything will be clear and “simple”.

So, get off your couch and start your journey to find your Mushin!


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