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Old 09-12-2014, 08:35 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

There is lots of talk about being aware and about zanshin. What you are you being aware of, what are you paying attention to when you practice zanshin? I start digging into this in my blog post at

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2014/09/...in-paying.html

What does awareness mean to you?

Peter Boylan
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:05 AM   #2
Mark Uttech
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Awareness = The Big Picture, peripheral vision, that type of thing.

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Old 09-24-2014, 09:11 AM   #3
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Mark Uttech wrote: View Post
Awareness = The Big Picture, peripheral vision, that type of thing.
I would say it also includes knowing how to interpret what you are seeing.

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Old 09-25-2014, 12:45 AM   #4
Patrick O'Regan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

I think it also includes knowledge and interpretation of your internal experience.

Paddy
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Old 09-25-2014, 11:36 AM   #5
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Patrick O'Regan wrote: View Post
I think it also includes knowledge and interpretation of your internal experience.
Could you elucidate please?

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Old 09-30-2014, 01:12 AM   #6
Patrick O'Regan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Hi Peter sorry for the delay in reply,

I am referring to the process of interoception. You suggested my meaning in your blog when you mentioned the experience of someone being to close. My experience of a maai that is to close involves my exteroception through my five senses as well as an internal experience. I am suggesting that being aware includes a template to notice the inner, middle and outer zones of experience. These include the five sences, my internal feelings and my memories, cognition and associations that I am developing and experiencing at any one time.

Thanks for your request for more info.

Cheers

Paddy

Paddy
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:43 AM   #7
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote: View Post
Awareness = The Big Picture, peripheral vision, that type of thing.
how do you differentiate that from enzan and ninan no metsuke?

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Old 09-30-2014, 06:44 AM   #8
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Zanshin isn't a concept that translates very adequately into English. Its literal translation is along the lines of "remaining mind". It's called this because after you have defeated a person, you must remain in and connected to the situation, aware that something might yet happen. It's not enough to cut a person down, then simply put your sword back in its sheath, turn your back and walk away. The person you cut might swipe at your feet, or one of his comrades might leap to his aid, and so on.

This concept of maintaining focus at the end of an interaction is called zanshin, but depending on people's interpretations of it, has been expanded into the more general concept of awareness. People say that you should be 'aware' all the time, and I suppose that's true. But either this is a profound insight into the deeper implications of zanshin, or it's a warping of its original meaning, shoehorning it into the closest English word we have.

In any case, I think most would agree that saying that zanshin is 'awareness' is a simplification. In my ever-limited understanding, I'd say it's an expression of one's sincerity towards the present moment. As for what, specifically, one is supposed to be aware about - I think the idea is to see through the present moment and understand what is happening. In doing so you are really "connected" to what is happening and ready for the future.
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Old 09-30-2014, 10:36 AM   #9
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
how do you differentiate that from enzan and ninan no metsuke?
I haven't run into the phrase "ninan no metsuke." Can you explain it? I tried to google it and didn't find anything in English language searches. Do you have the kanji?

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Old 09-30-2014, 10:46 AM   #10
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Matthew Bowen wrote: View Post

This concept of maintaining focus at the end of an interaction is called zanshin, but depending on people's interpretations of it, has been expanded into the more general concept of awareness. People say that you should be 'aware' all the time, and I suppose that's true. But either this is a profound insight into the deeper implications of zanshin, or it's a warping of its original meaning, shoehorning it into the closest English word we have.

In any case, I think most would agree that saying that zanshin is 'awareness' is a simplification.
残心 or zanshin is both very tough and very easy to translate. The difficult part is trying to carry all of the meaning of kokoro 心 into a single English word, because it encapsulates concepts split into heart/mind/feeling and other English terms. For budo purposes though, I haven't seen a strong argument for calling it more than awareness. Zanshin just implies retaining a state of awareness, something that we should maintain to a certain degree all the time. It gets emphasized in budo because of the tendency of people to relax and drop their focus as soon as stressful event seems to be over. Hundreds of years of warfare taught the Japanese warrior the danger of this and they codified it into their training.

Last edited by Peter Boylan : 09-30-2014 at 10:57 AM.

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Old 09-30-2014, 08:29 PM   #11
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I haven't run into the phrase "ninan no metsuke." Can you explain it? I tried to google it and didn't find anything in English language searches. Do you have the kanji?
I could be writing it incorrectly, but same as enzan no metsuke but 'two mountain vision,' instead of 'distant mountain vision.' Maybe I'm getting it confused with 'ni no metsuke,' but I feel there was a concept of a 'two mountain vision,' not just a 'two focus 'vision.'

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Old 10-01-2014, 07:14 AM   #12
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Maybe I'm getting it confused with 'ni no metsuke,' but I feel there was a concept of a 'two mountain vision,' not just a 'two focus 'vision.'
is that like twin peaks? is that real or not real kind of thing? *sorry, couldn't help meself*

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 10-01-2014, 09:36 AM   #13
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
I could be writing it incorrectly, but same as enzan no metsuke but 'two mountain vision,' instead of 'distant mountain vision.' Maybe I'm getting it confused with 'ni no metsuke,' but I feel there was a concept of a 'two mountain vision,' not just a 'two focus 'vision.'
Adam, I have to admit, I've never encountered that. What context did you encounter it in?

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Old 10-01-2014, 05:09 PM   #14
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
is that like twin peaks? is that real or not real kind of thing? *sorry, couldn't help meself*

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Old 10-03-2014, 06:02 AM   #15
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Adam, I have to admit, I've never encountered that. What context did you encounter it in?
Enzan no metsuke: implies taking in the big picture. Encompass everything in your field of vision. Don't get lost in the details (defensively and philosophically)

Ni no metsuke: two foci. Most prominent Aikido example is the initial contact (from shite's perspective) for yokomen ichi waza, omotoe, where shite's one hand controls uke's attack and the other punches to uke's face. You must be fully engaged in both foci to execute the technique skillfully. The two work together to achieve the same goal.

Both, I feel, are ideas of 'awareness,' with 'awareness training' being a big portion of my uchideshi training and kenshu (metaphor) classes.

While there is awareness and readiness in zanshin, I've always more attached the idea to staying connected with your opponent even after you are physically disengaged. I like O Toku in kumi buki as training zanshin - maintaining that zanshin throughout the O toku process. There's probably a better word for that, though.

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Old 10-13-2014, 01:58 PM   #16
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Enzan no metsuke: implies taking in the big picture. Encompass everything in your field of vision. Don't get lost in the details (defensively and philosophically)

Ni no metsuke: two foci. Most prominent Aikido example is the initial contact (from shite's perspective) for yokomen ichi waza, omotoe, where shite's one hand controls uke's attack and the other punches to uke's face. You must be fully engaged in both foci to execute the technique skillfully. The two work together to achieve the same goal.

Both, I feel, are ideas of 'awareness,' with 'awareness training' being a big portion of my uchideshi training and kenshu (metaphor) classes.

While there is awareness and readiness in zanshin, I've always more attached the idea to staying connected with your opponent even after you are physically disengaged. I like O Toku in kumi buki as training zanshin - maintaining that zanshin throughout the O toku process. There's probably a better word for that, though.
I don't recall ever hearing of the "ni no metsuke" concept. I know that in my jo and kenjutsu training, we maintain the same focus on teki's eyes/face all the time, even when our targets are very small, precise points on the solar plexus or the tsuka. We regularly and precisely hit targets we aren't focusing on at all.

Now you've also got me curious about the term "O toku" because "toku" has so many possible meanings in Japanese that I can't even begin to guess at which one you're referring to. For me, zanshin has always had a strong meaning of staying aware and in touch with your entire environment, and not just the immediate opponent. The classical assumption is that he may have friends or allies that you haven't spotted yet, so limiting it to maintaining a connection to your opponent seems too limited.

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Old 10-13-2014, 08:06 PM   #17
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

I wrote a long response but aikiweb likes to kick me off if I don't post fast enough, not saving the work in progress. I really don't have the time to rewrite all my thoughts on ni no and enzan metsuke. Apologies. PM Sent on otoku.

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Old 11-17-2014, 07:51 PM   #18
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Aware? ... I was reminded of an incident that happened some years ago.

Around midday, I was waiting at a busy major intersection in the Central Business District, waiting for the pedestrian lights to change so I could cross the road. At a guess, I estimated there were at least 20 people waiting with me all bunched together.

As a type "A-person', I would habitually walk very briskly across the road just after the very instant when the little red stick man changed his colour to green. But for some inexplicable reason, I didn't want to rush across the road that occasion. Why? … I don't know. Instead I looked around and noticed that a woman close to me was priming herself to rush across the road as I would have normally.

As she was about to step off the curb, I saw a truck running through the red light at speed in her intended path. But she didn't see it.

"Look out!"

She froze in mid-stride. And the truck barely missed her.

In that instant, we both understood that she would have been mashed had she'd taken that extra half step.

I acted nonchalantly and a warning didn't really come from me -- being the reserved type, I didn't really want to draw attention to myself. But the woman turned and thanked me, and she was able to go home to her family that night.

Incredibly no one else in the waiting crowd apparently noticed the drama?! The drama was only experienced by the woman and me. It was a very surreal moment like an episode of Twilight Zone that lasted no more than micro-seconds. …

I wasn't actually training in aikido at the time. But I had trained in various martial arts for several years, on and off, when this incident happened. So maybe I could say that my senses were heightened by my martial arts training and I was alert to my immediate environment… (excerpt from my blog)
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Old 11-17-2014, 08:16 PM   #19
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Don't put too much hocus pocus into the meaning of zanshin. Zanshin in English basically means the stare down or to give a person the evil eye. You see it all the time in sports. A boxer stands over his opponent while he is flat on his back, a basketball player looks at someone he just dunked over, etc...
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:53 PM   #20
Rick Berry
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

To Tom Seeto, you entered the zone, so to speak. What caused you to hesitate instead of doing your normal jump across the street? Awareness happened. Usually it is not possible to call it up, and if you search long enough you may find one who may be helpful in furthering your experience on this path. But do not be disappointed in not finding him, or her.

Usually, if one is open enough, calm enough, relaxed enough and working with meditations ( internal practices) one may experience more. But be careful not to chase after it. The more you chase, the more it recedes. I remember reading this in a book somewhere: "Do not seek to be like the men of old, instead, seek what they sought." Again, a little wisdom is required in the seeking. Peace.
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Old 11-24-2014, 06:31 AM   #21
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Don't put too much hocus pocus into the meaning of zanshin. Zanshin in English basically means the stare down or to give a person the evil eye. You see it all the time in sports. A boxer stands over his opponent while he is flat on his back, a basketball player looks at someone he just dunked over, etc...
I don't think that's it. I've always heard it described as "ready mind": a state of awareness and readiness without a specific focus. It's got nothing to do with staring someone down, although I can see how, if you are in a conflict with someone who has zanshin, you might see it as being given the "evil eye". In fact, it's simply facing someone who projects relaxed readiness for whatever you might be going to do. Certainly it's intimidating, but no, it's not a "stare down".
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Old 11-24-2014, 10:51 AM   #22
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I don't think that's it. I've always heard it described as "ready mind": a state of awareness and readiness without a specific focus. It's got nothing to do with staring someone down, although I can see how, if you are in a conflict with someone who has zanshin, you might see it as being given the "evil eye". In fact, it's simply facing someone who projects relaxed readiness for whatever you might be going to do. Certainly it's intimidating, but no, it's not a "stare down".
Yep. It should really be impassive. Just. There.

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Old 11-27-2014, 02:50 PM   #23
Robert Cowham
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

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Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
What does awareness mean to you?
I tend to find that the biggest awareness blind spots are our own posture, attitude, pre-conceptions, over focus on particular issues etc.

The more aware we are of the details of our own posture, balance, muscular tensions etc, the more we can address them. That leads to increases in our awareness of other people I find. If you aren't aware of your own balance and tension you can't feel the other person - you have one or more blind spots.

However, if we focus inwards too much we miss the external. So balance has a dual meaning.

There is an element of projecting or extending awareness. I experience with senior practitioners the feeling that I have stepped into their force field. Like a spider with its web, they read the energies of their parnters acutely.

It can be annoying to have someone see or sense your own imbalance, or tension. But then you develop your own abilities and start annoying the next generation
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Old 11-27-2014, 02:54 PM   #24
Robert Cowham
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

On a related note, the writings of Peter Ralston, and some workshops in Cheng Hsin brought home to me how easy it is to get mentally caught up in thoughts and feelings while sparring or playing with a partner. "I evaded that easily" or "wow she caught me there" or "that movement is becomign boring" can all lead to lacks of attention and awareness. With a skilled opponent they also lead to a bop on the nose or worse!

Takes training to "be in the moment".
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Old 11-30-2014, 08:05 PM   #25
Peter Boylan
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Re: Everyone says you should be aware, but what does that mean?

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
Don't put too much hocus pocus into the meaning of zanshin. Zanshin in English basically means the stare down or to give a person the evil eye. You see it all the time in sports. A boxer stands over his opponent while he is flat on his back, a basketball player looks at someone he just dunked over, etc...
Not at all sure where you get that idea. Focus has to be displayed throughout a koryu kata, but it is specifically called zanshin when the action might be over. You don't want to drop your guard and relax too soon. Thus you display that you are remaining aware.

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