Zanshin and Mushin

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Karate techniques should persist within the minds of all who witness them, long after their completion. When anyone does something truly remarkable, it is always followed by a moment of stunned silence before someone shouts “Whoa!” or “Dude! That was awesome!” That stunned silence is zanshin, the “lingering mind,” and you will find all forms of inner peace and self-actualization within that one moment. Also, this moment serves as an atemi to those who observe the zanshin-inducing technique.

Achieving zanshin requires constantly practicing under stressful conditions, until you can meet attacks with an icy, jaded attitude instead of reacting out of fear. This is why we require mandatory sparring for every student, at the end of every class. It is imperative for this icy, confident, and professional attitude to linger after a technique completes. Zanshin is the only defense against becoming lost in the moment, or succumbing to the thrill of danger. These are crucial, since you must remain completely aware of your surroundings to ensure that you are mentally and physically ready to defend yourself again, if needed. As such, zanshin precludes all thoughts of celebrating victory, or turning your back on a fallen opponent. Success requires maintaining the same level of focus throughout all phases of a techniques execution. It's much like target shooting; if you flinch when squeezing the trigger, then you will miss.

Applying zanshin to all aspects of your training and daily life will gradually cultivate mushin (literally: “no mind”), a state-of-being characterized by an endless flow state. Mushin is not a zombie-like brainlessness, nor is it a form of autopilot. Mushin is a focused mind that has been freed of all distractions, clutter, unproductive emotions, and self-imposed limitations. Mushin is a freedom from definitions.