“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3)
This brief quote is a fantastic description of what many martial artists strive for, that feeling of oneness, flow, mushin. When I am asked about what is mushin, I usually respond with “living and being in the moment, deal with what is there, not what has past or what will be, just now.”
There is no easy path to reach this aspect of the martial arts or with any skill that you are seeking mastery in. What this brief lesson will bring you is a few tips to help you accelerate your journey to mushin.
#1) Master the fundamentals. (A simple statement yet so profound in its measure.) Over the last few decades I have met and trained with fantastic martial artist from many different systems, yet only a few have truly master the fundamentals of their respective arts. Each session practice the fundamentals of your art, if it is ninjutsu then start with sanshin no kata or the kihon happo, ukemi, aruki, and taisaabaki, if it was boxing then jab, cross hook, uppercut, feinting, footwork etc. Without a firm grasp of the fundamentals you cannot hope to move effortlessly.
#2) Put in the time with real training partners. These are the ones that everyone avoids because they “train to hard”, or like to “mix it up a bit.” These are the ones who will push you beyond your comfort zones.
#3) Controlled randori with a good coach. You cannot achieve mushin through meditation alone, you must deal with an attacker, multiple attackers and that has to happen many, many times. A good coach/teacher will push you safely with multiple attackers challenging your skill level while keeping it as safe as possible.
#4) Mental development. Just because I said you cannot achieve Mushin with meditation alone, does not mean you can neglect this critical aspect of your training. A calm, focused mind is not an easy thing to gain and you will need to learn to quiet those doubting thoughts, master your breathing, visualize your movements just as you are required to deeply grasp the fundamental physical techniques you should know.
#5) The last tip…..TIME! It takes time to gain this level of skill, with hours of diligent practice and the additional mental training your skills will develop over time, so be patient!
Airyu –“Living the ninja lifestyle!”