Many of us have heard of the word Samurai, which brings to mind fearless warriors wielding impressive swords with which they used to cut down their enemy. What many do not know is that the word Samurai means “to serve and attend” or “those who serve”.
Few also know that Jiu Jitsu itself originated from these warriors (bushi) which encompassed any means of victory over an opponent when unarmed. Bushido is the warriors way or code by which the bushi conducted themselves. Many of the tenants were constructed around upholding the samurai’s honor in which failure to do so resulted in an honorable death (Seppuku or hara-kiri). Tsunetomo Yamamoto states in Bushido “The essence of bushido is to die!”.
While we know them for impressive armor and fighting skills, one of the greatest weapons a samurai possessed was mushin or “emptiness”. My first exposure to this term was found in The Book of Five Rings written by undefeated sword master Miyamoto Musashi. What mushin represents is more than just “nothingness” but a state of where thought and emotion did not exist. Such things were thought to slow a samurai and cloud his judgement where absence of fear will bring the samurai victory while simultaneously upholding his honor. Honor being of utmost importance in Japanese culture and especially for a samurai or bushi.
How one goes about reaching mushin is relatively simple. Many athletes have described this as “the zone” or “flow state”. As kids we encounter this quite often as we look to build something with our legos or try to figure out how to advance to the next level in a video game. In a sport setting I and many others have definitely encountered numerous occasions where we “overthought” and lost as a result versus times where our minds were fully focused on the task at hand and absent of any distracting thoughts or emotion. If you can relate to any of these experiences you yourself have experienced mushin.