Purity of Mind, Simplicity of Martial Art

It’s your mind that makes effective martial arts training, fighting, and success, no matter how you define it. For many Martial Artists, the benefits and feeling that training creates are mostly on the physical, and many are trapped and imprisoned by their own egos as they fight to maintain to the demands of today’s competitive society.

The essence of Martial Arts, which is mastery over mind, body, and spirit offers a solution to this problem but for most it becomes a temporary fleeting experience lasting only as long as the duration of the training session.


Temporary rest bite from the challenges modern life brings. Most people aren’t sure what they should be thinking and feeling when they train? This is the purpose of ‘Mushin‘ No Mind. Mushin is a state where martial arts’ masters are said to enter during combat.

The term is shortened from mushin no shin, 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. Mushin is achieved when a fighter/practitioner feels no anger, fear, or ego during combat or performance.

Purity of Mind, Simplicity of Martial Art

Unnecessary thoughts are discarded, and so the individual is free to act and react towards an opponent or situation without hesitation or thought pollution. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively.

Be in the moment!

The problem is the human mind is caught up in the disease of thought, which can be all-consuming and controlling. Incessant mental chatter, judgment, and labeling leads to imbalance and will certainly dilute and pollute the benefits most of what your martial arts training brings you.

The Ultimate goal of learning martial arts is to settle the waves of the turbulent mind and enable you to recognize the power of the present moment. All discomfort and pain are outside the realm of this moment: and this moment is all you ever have. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is stillness and silence being at one with each technique and that presence resonating within you way beyond the completion of the training session.

You seek what Zen masters call a sacred emptiness. You go beyond ego and the gratifications of negative craving, which is often based on feelings of inadequacy and over competitiveness. How do you stop yourself from losing focus when you practice Martial Arts?

Spiritual unification

It’s very simple. All you need do is remain very consciously present. We spend most of our time thinking about the past and the future, projecting our mind into the illusion of some distant utopia: when this or that happens or when I can kick to head height or defeat this or that person, then I will be happy.

Giving away your sacred power to a person or situation. You will never be any happier or unhappier than your ability to stay completely connected with where you are right now. Then the question becomes how much of your mind is not here?

Most of the modern ‘non-traditional’ training environments are designed to take you away from what it is that you are trying to achieve, which is a complete mastery of mind and body, that is complete awareness of your body not as something separate from you but as a synergistic vehicle of spiritual unification.

Don’t let your mastery of the art get into your head!

When people see Martial Arts as a way of achieving egoic gratification, this is not freedom but changing one prison for another. Judgment, labeling, opinions, all contribute to the attachment to ‘thing consciousness’ which forces the mind to constantly think about stuff and Martial Arts can often be another form of egoic conceptual identity when it is used to boost the social position or make an egoic standpoint.

Be in the present when you are doing or should I say ‘being Martial Arts.’ Forget about the past or future as they are of no use. Make this your sacred practice to live your life as the ever-present being who elevates their consciousness through the portal of Martial Arts training.

Am I suggesting that you never think about the past or future again? No, you simply use the past and future to assist you in the present and relinquish your attachment to it.


There is the Zen term of Zensho, which is living every moment to its fullest potential, which, of course, can only ever be achieved in the present. The ancient Samurai were aware of Zensho in the sense that each day could be their last, and every moment or situation is most beautiful no matter what the content.

Many projects their minds away from what they are doing and lose the essence of Martial Arts, which is not doing, thinking, or taking, it is at its highest formless state. Whenever you label an experience, you automatically pigeonhole and categorize it.

Freedom is entering the gap between thoughts and tuning into the frequency that is the present moment. This is how you can get the best out of your training and capture its powerful infinite qualities. Become more self-aware during each technique and what you focus your mind on. The way you perceive each move and the effect it has on you. Do you feel a mental contraction if your expectations are not realized in the time frame you have chosen?

Do you give yourself a hard time when your performance is not the same as the time before? This is all part of the misinterpretation of an egoic motive that often clouds the mind and gets in the way of finding unity. Every experience is imbued with the seed of wisdom but you can only see it when you become more conscious.

Be in the present situation

Become the infinite spiritual portal

You train your mind to become aware of the presence within you, not defined by how well you can stretch or how high you can kick but rather how the more you learn about yourself the more you realize you know nothing.

You become the infinite portal through which the Martial Arts physical form unfolds. Past and future evaporate into the present as you melt away into the depth of each technique. You see you are not your past, your style, your uniform, your thing identity.

The second you begin to define your Martial Arts by what belt you are or who you can beat up; you instantly fall into the predicament of trying to be somebody and trying to feed the ego’s insatiable appetite for status and things.

You are infinite!

You can never be any more than you are right now. What you are is infinite, immortal and magical, not in the egoic sense but rather as an awakening consciousness. No definition, no shape, nothing on which to impress labels and opinions. Just energy at its evolving source.

It’s not about how intelligent you are; intellect and wisdom are not the same. I would rather be thick as two short planks than be intelligent but imprisoned by a mind that won’t shut up and an ego that can’t be satisfied. There are plenty of ways you can improve your intelligence these days but few that raise your consciousness. Just physically training in Martial Arts without the mind is like sunbathing without the sun.

‘I just can’t stop thinking; my mind won’t stop’. This is one of the many questions put to me during my teachings. Firstly you will find it difficult to go from total mind/thought identification to discovering the gap between this thought and that, you need to become aware of the source of the thought. There cannot be a thought without the thinker.

Ego and Discipline don’t go together

So you need to become aware of the thinker; yourself. The ego does not like discipline and the mind has to be tamed with awareness. Awareness of the fact that the thought and the thinker are one and the same. As you recognize yourself as the thinker and the source of thought you become more in control of your mind, your thoughts, your life.

The reason why many experience pain is because they are unable to adapt to life, control their thinking and their egos. They carry the psychological weight and negative energy to the class. Adopt the discipline of never allowing a situation, thing or person to control you, do not buy into the emotions but seek the solution.

If this is not easy then stand back from the thought and observe the thinker. Most allow the energy created by their situations to pull them into reaction and out of stability dragging them away from feeling solid. There is the powerful concept of Fudoshin which the Zen way of remaining calm under pressure and detached when confronted by danger, problem or difficulty.

Respond, don’t react

It means having an unshakable will or immovable spirit. Not being inflexible but whatever happens, you are able to adapt with courage, conviction and resolve. You respond to life with a clear, open and present mind. You choose your responses carefully based on balance and the maintenance of serenity. People will always try to wind you up, and get up your nose subtly and often so acute it feels like a nasal obstruction.

Often the circumstances of life contradict your expectations and emotional energy begins to rise. Negate this by having little solid outcomes. This means if you don’t get what you want you aren’t that bothered anyway. Often the more you want something the more you push it away.

It does not mean giving up on your dreams it means having your goals but avoiding the devastation when they don’t materialize in the expected time frame. There is a very fine line between pushing and forcing, that few understand.

respond instead of reacting

Learn to accept failures

We’re trained from an easily age the more we push for our goals the better we’ll feel but no one ever taught how to cope when things don’t work out – which sometimes happens. When we perceive things as loss, disappointment or failure.

You will never make a good decision when in fear, imbalance or anger. The whole essence of what I am speaking of here is to control your emotions and balance your external (yang) and internal (yin) energy. It doesn’t mean not feeling what you feel rather you decide the best response and action (if any).

There are times when you need to decide the best way to respond which could be at the very last second. The more balanced, calm and in control you are the more precise and aligned your reaction.

You can begin to create your Fudoshin by remaining calm when stuck in traffic or when challenged at work, on the phone to a difficult person or when speaking to a client who tends to be a PIN (pain in the neck). Once you have mastered the basics you can then move on to the challenging situations where perhaps before you did not react at your best.

Fine-tune your Fudoshin

Remember also sometimes the best course of action to take is doing nothing. The best defense is to have nothing or little to defend. Isn’t it ridiculous how people go to great lengths to protect their egos or status, sometimes spending fortunes on court battles just to protect their point of view.

Seek out situations where you can fine-tune your Fudoshin or just wait for life to send you the gift of experience. Practicing your Fudoshin takes practice and commitment. Not something you do once in a while. Everybody is full of good intentions but make this your Tao (way).

The best time to begin Fudoshin is right now. It would be true to say that most people do not know who they really are and can only identify themselves by what they own, their status, credentials, etc. I live in a big house, drive a nice car, have lovely clothes, so that makes me who I am? I define myself based on how much I have achieved and collected in this world.

Relax and accept the “isness.”

It is very interesting that many glamorous stars turn to drugs, drink or withdraw further into a void between normality and abnormality. Rehab is the buzz word of showbusiness. This is because they realize what they own or what people think of them is not who they really are. If you have not yet found yourself the only way you can is when you stop looking. Relax and accept the ‘isness’ of things. Relinquish the need to be so attached to your identity of self.

I love the Japanese proverb ‘Adversity makes a jewel of you’ but this can only be so when you have not created a ‘sorry story’ out of the adversity part. Find time to be still. Imagine that even when you are pressured you are in one of your favorite stances, breathing and creating vast amounts of chi.

Become aware of the presence of your own ‘sorry story’, please feel sorry for me pantomime. You have to get tough with yourself and recognize the difference between being tough and being hard. Being hard is where you become your own worst enemy and self sabotage your opportunities for growth. Being tough, however, is self-assertion imbued with love.

Practice stillness

If you want the pain to go away, take away the cause. Practice stillness as this is the essential Martial Arts mental move that few adopt. The real you and the stillness within are one and the same. This is why after a traumatic experience or intense pain people seek stillness. A walk in the fresh air, on the beach or forest, reminds you of your essential nature free from ego, judgment, labeling and object identification.

It is whether you are conscious enough to recognize this within yourself and then do something about it, this is the real question. You need to be able to find the stillness within even in the midst of chaos. Your opponent cannot affect you when you are at the place of peace and stillness, which can only happen when you stop labelling and naming.

You have to accept the “isness” of all things. Yes, if the situation needs appropriate action then act but always from a place of peace within you. The master acts out his or her ability in their every action. So it is a powerful realization that you experience when you lose it in class or allow the trials of life to wind you up.

Peace is good

It is not a bad thing, because there is neither good or bad, its just that you are a receptacle or projector of pain in one form or another when you allow yourself to go unconscious and react.


One of the many mantras I teach is that of DNR (Do Not React). When a modern living challenging scenario arises that could place me in a reactive state I simply repeat this to myself over and over combined with deep breathing until the unconscious part of the reaction has passed. I then choose what my response will be. Your life shrinks or expands in direct proportion to your ability to choose the right response at the time.

When you are unconscious, any person or thing can control you. That’s when life can become more painful than blissful and one may resort to false stimuli to take away this discomfort. This then becomes an unconscious pattern this pulls you deeper and deeper into circumstantial quicksand.

If you are aware enough you can catch yourself right before the reaction takes place or actually in the process itself. Either way, this very awareness is the gateway to higher consciousness and enlightenment provided this; it does not just happen now and then.

Hone it through training on the battlefield of human unconsciousness. Your dojo buddies, family and work colleagues become your teachers. And what is it they teach? How to understand what it means to be self-aware and step out of the groove of negative reaction and emotion.

Change yourself, not others

You can’t blame people for being unconscious, and unaware and it would be pointless trying to change them and besides the very moment, you try to change or improve people you’ve just slipped back into unconsciousness yourself as you begin to make a ‘sorry story’ out of it when you realize its impossible until they are ready that is. When you accept this moment unconditionally, without reservation or resistance you discover a godlike power that few have ever experienced in this world.

Thought and thinking keep you trapped in the world of thinking and the disease of thought. What you cant overcome you have to transcend. Once you do this you will feel incredibly alert like you have awoken after a very long sleep.

It also takes away power that people can have over you through control, manipulation or prejudice. When you see a situation, person or event as the cause of your pain you remain stuck. It may appear that way, but the real cause is your resistance to the situation.

Martial arts is not a possession

The mental contraction, the emotional turmoil, the holding on to it. These are the things that cause pain. Everything come to pass eventually, all forms die. But you should also realize this applies to your mind also. Only one thing is constant; the here and now. There is no past, no future only moments spent in former moments or thoughts of the future experienced in the future now.

Martial Arts is not a possession

When you project yourself away from the present you miss the part of life that you can only ever know and can’t get back this instant. You must not see Martial Arts as something to possess or own. Nor do you want to feel as though you cannot do without it. This is not real – it is the ego telling you what to think. I have met many people who see Martial Arts as only a form of physical exercise and not as the transformation portal it is.

Untimely you want to feel and experience more personal power in your life, that is one of the reasons your practice Martial Arts. Your ultimate goal as a Martial Artists is to master the body as this is the portal through which you master the mind. This is why physical challenges happen. Why are some techniques more difficult for you than others, not that you want to push through them, rather master the way the lack or limitation makes you feel.

Rise above circumstances

If everything was easy nothing would be worth having. Those who win money do not feel the same as those who earn it. The spiritual goal of your life is to rise above your circumstances whatever they are. This can take time and there will be times when you feel as though the pressure is too great and the path too long. One slip of back into unconsciousness and everything goes back to the way it was.

The mastery path is not easy nor is it straight. Unless you seek this kind of thing what you probably experience is the futility of a modern society that is obsessed with glamour and status. This only affirms the lack that is the benchmark of most people’s lives. Wherever you are in life, whatever your circumstances that’s where you begin the transformation that will take place within you. Your destination is going beyond the mundane but if mundane is there then accept it fully.

The truth is once you accept something you no longer feel its weight or negative yank. Its meaning changes and so with it your perception. You have had to go through the experiences of your life to bring you to where you are at this point. Sometimes life can be raw and unkind. But if you stand back and catch yourself the moment before you go unconscious you stand the best chance of responding not reacting.

Law of attraction

You will awaken to the present and the realization of self-awareness will drift into your life more and more gradually from within you. It is at this point your life takes on a new shift a rebirth in some respects the old pattern dissolves (as all patterns do) and the new one, which was always there by the way emerges into being. Many have issues with their bodies, the way they look, their size and shape etc but none of this really matters when you lose yourself in mushin.

The more you think about something the more you manifest it. If you are always thinking about how useless your sidekick is you will pull ‘useless sidekick’ energy towards you.

The universe says ‘may I say how attractive your thoughts look tonight darling’ and then sends you a bunch of like mind flowers! If you want to be a better kicker than you are right now then accept wherever you are right now. The power of Martial Arts beyond ego, the love of movement, the creative flow, which is beyond thought, can only enter your life when you let go of thoughts, thinking and egoic dysfunction.

Thoughts are time conscious

When you realize the only thing you ever have or really want beyond the material are these things. 10 years from now the future will arrive that is for sure but it will only ever be experienced in the present moment, which is the only thing you can ever experience in totality.

Projected thoughts, desires or goals are never the way you think they will be because perception and reality can be very different and thoughts are almost always time conscious. Imagine if you were to take time away from thought? If you have read this far, well done because this shows that you are evolving. If you never got this far or scanned the article to save yourself some time because you don’t have it?

Then you are missing the signs when they appear. You have these choices now. 1: You can dip your toe in the stream of consciousness and then dry off and slot back into the ordinary or 2: You can allow the seeds of these words to grow over time and remind you when the echoes of life’s experience appear. Either way, I wish you well – go forth with courage and a peaceful heart.