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William Jerry 06-12-2018 02:08 PM

What is "Mushin" in Aikido?
Hi I'm asking can any member tell me what is "Mushin" and how should it be used in Aikido.

Peter Goldsbury 06-12-2018 05:23 PM

Re: William Jerry shodan Aikido,
The Chinese characters are 無心 and the commonly accepted English term is detachment. The explanation given is 心に何も持ちためこと, which is something like having nothing in the mind that clouds one's judgment. I think you could probably relate this to aikido.

Erick Mead 06-13-2018 08:55 PM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?

William Jerry wrote: (Post 353448)
Hi I'm asking can any member tell me what is "Mushin" and how should it be used in Aikido.

Mushin is one of four traditional terms that stem from Buddhism, describing psychological states: Shoshin, mushin, zanshin, and fudoshin.

I would relate mushin as the empty tea cup of the Zen tale. To learn to prepare tea, the cup must first be emptied. But it doesn't stop at the beginning. Once you have learned you must again return to the empty state -- both to learn more, and to not let preconceptions from what you think you have learned drive you into mentally anticipated responses based what you imagine you have learned. If you have really learned it -- it won't flow from mind at all. You just do it. That's mushin.

Peter Goldsbury 06-13-2018 10:27 PM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?
Eric is quite right and as you develop your training in aikido, you might well want to relate it to its Buddhist antecedents. I did not do this in my post, since I wanted to keep the term strictly contemporary, which I think the present-day Hombu tries to do.

Best wishes,

Peter Goldsbury

lbb 06-14-2018 11:48 AM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?
Takuan Soho's "The Unfettered Mind" is a good reference. Don't skip the introductory material, though; context matters.

dps 06-14-2018 03:03 PM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?
Although it is about Tai Chi the principle is the same for Aikido.

The Unfettered Mind - Tai chi vs the combative mind


Peter Goldsbury 06-15-2018 08:21 PM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?

Mary Malmros wrote: (Post 353455)
Takuan Soho's "The Unfettered Mind" is a good reference. Don't skip the introductory material, though; context matters.

As does practice. Before I came to live here, I was fortunate to be able to practice za-zen for a few years and the teacher was a Buddhist priest, the headmaster of the Japanese school in London. We would sit for 90 minutes, interrupted by the slow walk round the dojo, and then practice aikido--usually sword work, for another 90 minutes. In the UK, the tradition of combining sitting with aikido was started by K Chiba and continued by M Kanetsuka. I never encountered the practice elsewhere, however, least of all here in Japan. Perhaps there is no need, for there are zen temples all over Japan and some of my dojo colleagues would sometimes go off for s few days and stay at a temple. I could never do this because of my university commitments.

My version of Takuan's book is the Kodansha edition with the Scott Wilson translation, the notes of which reveal the problems of making a good translation from a language like Japanese. I am currently reading two books, which are very enlightening: The Invention of Religion in Japan, by Jason Ananda Josephson, and Sympathy for the Traitor: A Translation Manifesto, by Mark Polizzotti.

Best wishes,


Erick Mead 06-19-2018 07:34 AM

Re: What is "Mushin" in Aikido?
Takuan is excellent, and highly applicable in martial contexts. He speaks about both fudoshin and mushin at length with many examples or images. He shows that where mushin is emptied and unpremised, fudoshin is flush in the middle of things and events, but which but pass by on their way, while the mind neither attaches to anything, so it does not sway with them in succession, nor is it carried off in the chaotic flow of them altogether.

The tree in the river flood, which is fully in the flow of ideas and perceptions and sensations but the mind moves not while all that water and flotsam of the world flow around it, and while fully present in all of that flow, is not concerned whether the flood rises, or falls, or recedes entirely.

Mushin aids in acting without needing to plan or premise intentions according to prescripted habits or expectations that may be a poor fit to the (often dangerous) reality of a situation.

Fudoshin aids you in not being distracted by events or surprises or the efforts of your opponent to trap your mind into his rhythm, his break of a rhythm, a change of space, or anything else.

He also briefly discusses an aspect of zanshin, that certain "stickiness" of mind with the natural flow of events. But it is something other than the notion of attachment to any particular aspects of it. He illustrates it as a ball in a current, carried wholly along within the flood of events themselves, and which rests easily in its surroundings and is untethered even though the movement as a whole does not cease. Even though the flow of waters is very dynamic, the ball is relatively still within them. I would say he views this as of a piece with his idea of fudoshin.

In some respects, I would say he also touches on shoshin ("raw" or "fresh" mind), which he illustrates with the image of cutting off the edge of before and after. That is, cutting off the progression of the previous to the present and the present to the next moment. Thus, each event is seen as lacking predictive causes or any previously experienced predicating conditions. Each moment is then seen as newly arising, unconditioned, and just as it is, without our imposed trappings of experience. I would say that he views this as of a piece with his idea of mushin.

All of these are perspectives on recognizing and then getting rid of the processes within us that cloud or lure or bind our minds.

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