Anthony's mental state

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Anthony's mental state

Postby miked » Tue Mar 02, 1999 8:09 am

Anthony wrote:

When we begin our workout, we kneel, bow, clap twice, bow again and start our workout ... Inbetween all of these exercises and drills are the proper bows and courtesies and such...I bow in all of my katas (when he is present) and even ensure it is done properly.
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I responded:

The concept of mushin (loosely translated as "no mind") is very important in the practice of kata. The bow is meant as a ritual to prepare your mind to enter into the state of mushin. At the end of the form you mind should be in a state of "zazen" which I understand is a state of total alertness and yet complete calmness. The ending bow marks a demarcation in the state of mind for the practitioner. (And lets face it, how would all those tournament judges know when to score you if you don't end the form with a bow?)
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Anthony replied :

I do some other stuff instead of a bow. I like to move my head around and then push it forward as though I where pushing my consciousness through a membrane. Once through, my whole world goes black. I imagine that every move I make illuminates this black world with FIRE and so my sight is dependent totally upon my spirit! With every strike I burst into flames and I can see into the darkness. In beween moves there is a residual glow that will soon fade away if I do not continue. So what I try to do when I do Kata is to illuminate and maintain that illumination. It's kind of like Glory or something...Not exactly Mushin but...

My rejoinder to Anthony’s reply to my response to Anthony’s initial post (Did you all follow that? J)

Anthony,

UM, blackouts are not supposed to be part of the forms unless of course you are practicing "cerebrum - kitae".
Actually your mental state appears to be excluding activities that are going on around you. Sanchin should be teaching you complete awareness and perfect calmness.

Now activating your spirit in the manner you describe does have its appeal (at least for me). Illuminating the dark spaces in our minds and mentally striking down terrifying foes with powerful strikes does give one a sense of omnipotence. I would kindly suggest, however, that you may wish to asses your reasons for imaging this type of D&D illusionary projection.

I have contended with my own personal demons in dream after dream via the use of all-pwoerful Uechi strikes. When I first started to train I often lost these mental fights. As I gained more skill, I won more mental fights than I lost. Eventually I was winning all of the fights and now I very rarely, if ever, have to contend with anyone in my dreams.

I believe that our sense of self is directly impacted by our performance on the dojo floor and the rights of ritual (masqeurading as dan tests) are vital in confidently directing our sense of self. Modern US adolescents (especially males) still retain a tribal instinct but some no longer have the tribal adult leaders to rely upon to engage them in rituals of manhood. These individuals turn to neighborhood gangs and the associated initiation rights to assist in their development of self. The rituals of a dojo including dan testing would be most helpful in providing direction to these individuals.

Of course this all just my opinion and I could be wrong.


Mike
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Anthony's mental state

Postby miked » Wed Mar 03, 1999 2:41 am

Anthony,

Whatever your doing seems to work for you so go for it! I was merely suggesting that since you have recently earned dan rank that you may consider the incorporation of some of the aforementioned concepts (i.e. mushin, zanshin - not zazen as Joseph and Maurice kindly pointed out for me), into your practice.

From my own personal experience, I find that the practice of kata is enhanced via the attempted perfection of bunkai. There is nothing like experiential learning to discern whether your kata performance is effective.

You may also want to start experimenting with performing kata "switched" and/or "reversed". By "switched" I mean performing the katas in the opposite direction and with the opposite sides of the body than as you would normally perform the kata. Thus the Kanshiwa beginning would start with a turn to your right, followed by a right circle block and then a left punch. By "reversed" I mean starting the form with the last technique and working your way backwards though the form both in normal and in 'switched' mode.

I have found that "switching" and "reversing" are great challenges to my coordination, mental focus and helps to create a well-rounded performance. The greatest challenge for me is performing the elbow strikes "switched".

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Mike
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Anthony's mental state

Postby Kevin Mackie » Wed Mar 03, 1999 2:57 pm

Test
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Postby Kevin Mackie » Wed Mar 03, 1999 3:01 pm

Okay, I seem to be back on line.

Anthony, I also sometimes perform kata in mirror image. It's a challenge, a bit like learning a new kata.

VTY

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Postby natalie lane » Wed Mar 03, 1999 3:49 pm

Hi Anthony and Kevin-

I like to do kata mirror image too. Seisan is a killer.

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Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Mar 03, 1999 7:44 pm

Folks

Just wanted to validate the use of "mirror image" here. It seems to communicate the concept with little additional verbage.

Lately when we do kata in the dojo, I start the "regular" kata with a bow, go all the way to finish, and then continue on with the mirror image before doing the final bow. It is one good way to ensure that you don't get lazy and skip this part.

Katas like seisan can indeed be quite difficult initially as mirror image, particularly the seisan jump. What I have found useful is that whenever I teach a new kata, I first teach all the new moves as hojoundo-like exercises. As you know, Uechi Kanei choreographed all our hojoundo to be done both ways. Once you have mastered the individual movements either way, then doing the entire kata mirror image is a much-less daunting proposition.

Bill
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Postby joseph » Thu Mar 04, 1999 12:43 am

hey Anthony,

It's pretty handy having the option to edit our posts once the flames die down and we've had a chance to return to our breath.

I noticed this recently when someone else got a little offended and started ranting and disparaging his fellow karateka in foolish indignation...soon the thread vanished.

There may seem to be no trace but our anger does leave a trail..

Sheep? what sheep?
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Postby joseph » Thu Mar 04, 1999 12:17 pm

So what is Mushin?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Jap., colloquial, lit. "innocence"; in Zen an expression for detachment of mind, a state of complete naturalness and freedom from dualistic thinking and feeling. (also--> Mosshoseki).


Karate guys will emphasize a heightened state of awareness, alert, ready, but calm and unfocused on any one object...the unfettered mind, the non-abiding mind (that rests nowhere).

It's handy for multiple attacks, boring factory jobs and the integration of mind, body, spirit...

Is doing Kata backwards the only way to cultivate it?

..no, knitting and sewing can be excellent, too

What can I do with it that I'm not doing now?

what are you not doing now?

Can I create with it?

you cannot avoid it
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Postby maurice richard libby » Thu Mar 04, 1999 4:11 pm

Tony,

Mushin literally means "no mind". It is a state where the conscious mind, with all it's distractions is effectively "turned off". Your reactions are quicker because you're not thinking about what you're doing.

Case in point: after my brother had trained long enough to get his green belt he came to me and told me that he'd been washing dishes and knocked a glass off the kitchen counter. He said that he reached out and caught the glass before it had fallen more than a few inches. He said it was as if the glass was falling in slow motion. he also said he did it without any conscious thought. That is mushin.

------------------
maurice richard libby
toronto/moose jaw
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Postby joseph » Thu Mar 04, 1999 6:43 pm

hey Antonio!

..haven't tried knitting yet but I am getting into sewing. The practice of mindfulness takes many forms. Martial arts can be one, but for many it never becomes such. To my way of thinking, this is like eating the pit without tasting the peach.

The book I quoted from (a dictionary) seemed to be fairly concise but as you want original material I'll do my best.

Think of sewing as cross-training; where high repetition, careful attention to detail and correct posture merge. Think of life as cross-training; where awareness, presence and non-obsession (those nasty ruts) are the pathless path [no-gate to some]. When you do these things for some time it may come as effortless effort and no-mind can be realized in your every effort...

This became my goal in karate and my constant battle. Now, I'm cross-training and i never quit...
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Postby joseph » Thu Mar 04, 1999 9:16 pm

oh dorothy, don't be afraid, YOU ARE ALONE WITH EVERYONE ELSE..i recommend as an alternate, clicking your heels together three times while uttering the eternal mantra lightly under your breath, "there's no place like home" Image
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Postby JOHN THURSTON » Fri Mar 05, 1999 12:01 am

Anthony:

Fire breathing is good. kata is your tool and it is flexible.

Your method is simply one way one can use "kata".
Obvious ways:

1. Meditational device.
2. Visualization
3. Conditioning
4. Body programming


Mushin, an example:

Judoka exits the ring, friend says "nice throw". Judoka responds "Great----What'd I do?"

JOHNT

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Postby JohnC » Fri Mar 05, 1999 3:22 am

Mushin for me means the state of seeing everything but yet seeing nothing. It is a relaxed, yet attentive state without focus on any particular movement or specific thing.

"Buddha breathing" or the full natural breathing of filling the abdomen by using the diaphram fully and then uplifting the upper chest to complete the breath and then completely exhaling is helpful in attaining and maintaining this state. Zen, zazen, meditation, yoga, all these practices help to build this capacity we call mushin.

Another sports analogy for mushin, would be when an athelete is said to enter "the zone" where an instinctual, effortless performance follows. Those atheletes who seem to enter this zone most often are the hardest trainers as well as the most gifted.(Michael Jordon)

It is a melding of the mind, body and spirit into an altered state. It is a little like getting high, but with roots and centeredness.

Sanchin, the "moving meditation" kata is probably the most elegant tool to build the level of mushin and to learn to let go and become one with Sanchin. To let the kata unfold and reveal it's spirit. This to me is mushin.

BTW, when the melding mushin is really strong, it seems a fiery glow burns within.


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Postby Kevin Mackie » Fri Mar 05, 1999 5:59 am

Anthony, How does one get Mushin you ask? The same way one gets to Carnegie Hall.

The concept of Mushin is not attained by instinct. It has to be learned in the same way as other activities. I studied classical piano for several years and something similar if not identical to Mushin developed. I did not have to think where my hands were, where they were going, or even the notes themselves. It takes concentration although not concentrating on what's coming up but what I am doing at that precise moment in time. It's tough to explain but amazing when you get there!

Don't confuse "no mindedness" with the other concept "absent mindedness". This gets me in trouble too. For example, if you knock a cup off the counter as did Maurice's brother, absent mindedness would cause you to reach for it even it is full of boilng water (bad move.)

Mushin is deliberate but without thought. Get it?

Bob Bethony wrote about this on George's main page a while ago. You probably can find it there.

VTY

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Postby miked » Fri Mar 05, 1999 7:55 am

Anthony,

Please accept my apology for misunderstading your mental state.

How does one get Mushin you ask?

IMHO, Kevin's response concerning repetitive perfect practice and total concentration hit "the nail on the head".

I can only offer the following practical tips which may assist in the attainment of mushin.

1) relax your mind and body prior to your performance

2) clear your mind of all other thoughts

3) don't think of the movements, just let your body perform the movements (doing so will allow you to 'explode into the strikes' and "flow" into the other movements)

4) consider every technique within a form as a kata unto itself. You should not be thinking of what techniques came before or are coming next. The only concentration you should have is on the current technique. This prepares you to stay focused on the present, not the past or future.

5) do not be distracted by anything going on around you (including any other student's performance)

Perhaps you are doing all of this now. It is hard to tell based on your descriptions.

All the best,

Mike
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