Mushin - Aikido Knowledge Base - Aikido Glossary
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Mushin (無心; Chinese wúxīn; English translation "no-mindedness") is a mental state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat. The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning mind of no mind. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. For the origin of the mushin concept, see Muga-mushin.
Mushin is achieved when a person feels no anger, fear or ego during combat. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively. It is not a state of relaxed, near-sleepfulness, however. The mind could be said to be working at a very high speed, but with no intentions, plans or direction.
A martial artist would likely have to train for many years to be capable of mushin. This allows time for combinations of movements and exchanges of techniques to be practised repetitively many thousands of times, until they can be performed spontaneously, without conscious thought. If he is capable of truly listening to his teacher, however, he could attain this level in only a few years. Some masters believe that mushin is the state where a person finally understands the uselessness of techniques and becomes truly free to move. In fact, that person will no longer even consider themselves as "fighters" but merely living beings moving through space
The legendary Zen master Takuan Sōhō said:
The mind must always be in the state of 'flowing,' for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy's sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man's subconscious that strikes.
However, mushin is not just a state of mind that can be achieved during combat. Many martial artists, particularly those practising Japanese martial arts such as aikido or iaijutsu, train to achieve this state of mind during kata so that a flawless execution of moves is accomplished — that they may be achieved during combat or at any other time. Once mushin is attained through the practicing or studying of martial arts (although it can be accomplished through other arts or practices that refine the mind and body), the objective is to then attain this same level of complete awareness in other aspects of the practitioner's life.
Mushin is very closely related to another state of mind known as heijoshin,, wherein a complete balance and harmony is attained in one's life through mental discipline. Musashi Miyamoto, the great swordsman, alluded to these mental states briefly, and his conversations with Jattaro were often repeated in Japanese folklore as lessons to be learned for the practice of one's life. Mushin and heijoshin are closely related to the teachings of Buddhism, specifically Zen teachings, and indeed the more mental aspects and attributes draw heavily from these philosophies.
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Aikido is a modern Japanese Martial Art and is very different from disciplines such as Karate, Kick Boxing, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, MMA, BJJ, Kempo and Krav Maga where there is emphasis on kicking, punching or wrestling.
Aikido is an extremely efficient self defence (also as Self-Defence Women London) system utilising balance-taking and posture-breaking movements to achieve joint locks, pins and throws. It contains elements of Ju Jitsu, Kendo, Judo and other budo.
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Aikido is essentially a non-violent Martial art system that encourages the avoidance of confrontation and harmony with an aggressor. The classes are well attended with Aikido students always on the mat and aimed at all levels, from beginner to advanced but everyone is welcome to come along regardless of fitness or experience.
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