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Turn off your Brain and be in the moment

posted Apr 26, 2009, 8:24 PM by Robert Collins II   [ updated Apr 26, 2009, 9:14 PM ]
Last week, we had a sparring class and I noticed a pattern emerging, there was way too much thinking going on.  Sparring can be a difficult task for some, I myself struggled with this concept a lot coming up through the ranks.  The endless possibilities of what the attacker would do, the endless possibilities of how I could counter and all the while getting hit because I had failed to turn my brain off and let myself be in the moment.  It was not until Sensei Ader introduced me and consequently I started investigating the concept of Mushin or "no mind" that I truly started to understand sparring.  It also opened the door up to a new way to approach life.

Mushin, pictured to the left, is a concept where the mind is allowed to not be fixed on any one particular thought and is allowed to be completely open and in the moment.  By clearing the mind we are better able to see the bigger picture, to rid our bodies of emotions that will only get in our way such as doubt, anger, or fear.  Instead of thinking what if I get hit, we dismiss the thought, enter mushin and embrace the situation.  Our body takes over and we come through the victor.  But at this point, you might be wondering how do I enter Mushin?

Coming through the ranks, we repeat and repeat move after move in order to ingrain certain reactions into both our muscle memory and into our mind.  It is with this knowledge that we should be able to embrace Mushin but it is also with this knowledge that we let our brains try to run the show.  I have heard people talk about how they know 50 ways to counter an attacker but it is not how many ways you can do it, the real test is, Can you actually counter the real attacker?  I can tell you this, if an attacker came to you with just a straight punch and you were thinking of the 50 ways you could counter it and which one would be the best for this particular situation, you would be hit by the time you would select one.  It is this precise reason that we have to turn off our brains and be in the moment.  We can't be thinking about all the possibilities of ways to block/counter, we have to rely on our intuition that provides us with one move that comes from the many hours you have put your mind, body, and spirit through in the course of your training.  This of course does require that you have put in the time of practicing the moves repeatedly through "conscious" practice.  I say conscious practice because as my Sensei says often, "Practice does not make perfect, Practice makes Permanent, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect."  We should always strive to have conscious practice knowing that we are doing the moves to the best of our abilities with application in mind, this then gives us peace of mind that the move will work when applied, which in turn allows us to Turn off our Brains and be in the moment.

Homework assignment:  Focus on perfecting your technique in your training and having conscious practice this week.  Select one Kata you already know and practice and perform it daily a minimum of three conscious times.  At the end of the week, turn off your brain and let the Kata flow from your body, this is the start of your Mushin training.