Once upon a time, I recall a simpler life. It was a time when I could dedicate my attention to one task at a time and excel in it. However, nowadays, it feels as if we inhabit a world where we are expected to be “everything to everyone all of the time.” Unfortunately, this is an arduous endeavor as there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish everything. The key lies in prioritising what truly matters to you and approaching those goals with a composed, focused, and resolute mindset.
My Sensei has always emphasised the significance of focus and awareness. This state of mind is known as Zanshin, characterized by being fully present and calmly prepared. Zanshin entails complete immersion in the activity at hand while maintaining awareness of your body, emotions, and surroundings. The aim is to cultivate a natural flow in everything you do, enabling you to live a purpose-driven life rather than being easily swayed by distractions.
In a recent class, I put the concept of Zanshin to the test, deliberately pushing the students out of their comfort zones. They were given one opportunity to execute their Self Defense technique or ‘Multiple Defense’ flawlessly. Some succeeded, while others fell short. However, every student gained valuable lessons from the experience. In life, there are instances where you only have one chance to get things right. Therefore, approaching every endeavor with complete focus and concentration will serve you best. You must sharpen the sword of “Zanshin” in all your pursuits.
Our Zanshin Sword
How do you know when the “Zanshin” sword needs sharpening? It starts with your internal dialogue. Do you sometimes:
- Feel lazy?
- Lack 100% commitment to your actions?
- Overlook seemingly insignificant details, such as your breath, the sensation of your uniform against your skin, the mat beneath your feet, proper body positioning, and the intent behind each movement?
- Experience a lack of mental or emotional engagement?
- Assume that you already possess all knowledge? Remember, Zanshin is performing with focus and energy, regardless of whether the objective has already been achieved.
While I subject my students to these tests, it is merely a reflection of my own experiences. I have been training and teaching martial arts for over 20 years, and at various points, I have encountered all of these feelings. Through these experiences, I have come to understand that the enemy of progress is a lack of commitment to the process. The right process is paramount.
Progress cannot be solely judged by results, as they are not always tangible. However, unwavering commitment to the right process is the most reliable measure of your growth. If you can consistently adhere to the correct process, regardless of internal feelings, every minute spent in class and in life will yield progress. Repetition is the foundation of all skills. Embrace the repetition. Embrace the focus and concentrated effort, and success will follow.
Martial Arts for Life
Lastly, while we emphasise the concept of Zanshin within martial arts, it is imperative to practice it beyond the confines of the dojo. For this week, actively listen to what others are saying. Hear the emotions conveyed in conversations. Even when life gets busy, focus on the joy that your actions bring to others. Remember, the mark of an evolved martial artist lies in their ability to apply the lessons learned in the dojo to their everyday lives, promoting peace and harmony.
For “martial arts classes near me”, where we practice Zanshin to help with your martial arts and life, please refer to the timetable link on this website. See you in class!