View Full Version : States of Mind: Mushin

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Peter Boylan
02-25-2015, 12:15 PM
I was trying to explain mushin, and it became this week's blog post. What is "mushin?" Is it really "no mind?" A few of my thoughts are at


I'm really hoping to learn from everyone else's experience and understanding.

02-26-2015, 11:31 AM
Many years ago when i was training in Gojuryu karate, we used to do a type of sparring where 3 people would engage each other. When my sensei and sempai both attacked me, I had a moment where I moved in such a way as to avoid all of the blows and reestablish maai, all without conscious thought. My sensei recognized the moment and called it mushin no shin, mind without mind. Thanks for your article.

02-27-2015, 08:51 PM
".. without conscious thought. "

There it is.


Brian Sutton
02-27-2015, 10:48 PM
The closest western translation is disinterest. Then there comes the joke of everyone in the class room being in mushin. But seriously, when you think of "disinterest" meaning unattached to any particular outcome or point of focus, you reach a level of saturation of the moment.
"If I'm concentrated on my sword being taken, my enemy can strike me, if I'm concentrated on being struck, my enemy can take my sword." Also called "the zone". Easy entry: simply unfocus the eyes and take in as much in the peripheral that you can, deep breathe, and wait.
IMO, the whole mind, no mind business is a dead end.Don't think about thinking. See what I mean.

03-01-2015, 11:57 AM
Maybe a better translation would be "mind of no- mind". Can you do budo without the mental/spiritual aspects? Of course. Is it true budo? I do not think so.

Adam Huss
03-01-2015, 12:31 PM
I feel like the concept of mushin revolves around a strategy for consuming more single modes of focus than the brain can normally process, by absorbing whats happening collectively. Going hand-in-hand with the idea of a 'distant mountain vision' where one oberseves everything going on but isn't directly ordering one particular train of thought at one particular thing, rather allowing whatever is happening to process as a whole. In my opinion a prerequisite for this is having enough physical understanding, developed in training, where you can trust the body to react with what the mind is processing it. I can't claim to know what 'true mushin' is, but I've certainly have experiences where I'm not really paying attention to whats going on, mostly relying on semi-councious reaction. From time to time I slip in a direct train of thought such as "ok I think those last two techniques were more judo style throws and this is an aikido test so I better do xyz variation," or something like that.

Recent examples. Last class I attended was finished with my training partner and I executing 20 techniques each: I attacked 20 times, then we switched roles and he attacked 20 times. When I was attacking it was pretty straight forward, up tempo, jiyu waza. When we switched my partner started throwing spinning hook kicks, lunge takedowns, and whatever other assortment of unorthodox attacks. I went into that training segment with an agenda of doing some clean kihon waza, but ended up just reacting to whatever he was throwing at me. I vaguely remember thinking about moving inside a couple the crescent and roundhouse kicks, and I recall specifically like an ikkyo and kotegaeshi at one point, but for the most part I really don't recall what techniques I applied...mostly because I never really consciously chose what techniques to do. I don't know, maybe that is mushin.

Similarly, I attended a weapons seminar this weekend where we focused on a sword style unfamiliar to me. It was a rough beginning - one of those deals where you are focusing on doing something their way, and that focus leads to you starting to neglect basic stuff you should know (for me, I started holding my sword incorrectly for no apparent reason, lol). Anyway, as the day progressed our techniques refined. We basically did two things all day, just increased the level in which we were doing them. It worked out well, after we got the movements of the kata down, we focused on finer points such as proper posture, breathing, kiai, and movement. Once that started getting down we had to focus on our surroundings as we went through the paired kata. Where we started off trying to remember what foot went where, we ended the day executing the movements of successfully beating an opponents attack by cutting through it, blocking a counter and countering, while basically just 'noticing' what your partner was doing and simultaneously paying attention to other's movement around you (which was tested).

Maybe that has some aspect of mushin as well.