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The Five Spirits of Budo

The Five Spirits of Budo

  • Shoshin: (初心) Beginners Mind

  • Zanshin: (残心) Lingering Mind

  • Mushin: (無心) No Mind

  • Fudoshin: (不動心) Immovable Mind

  • Senshin: (先心) Purified spirit; enlightened attitude

There are 5 fundamental minds or spirits of budo; shoshin, zanshin,

mushin, and fudoshin, and senshin. These very old concepts are largely

ignored in the modern aikido dojo. The budoka who takes the time to

understand the lessons of these 5 spirits in his heart will mature to

become a strong and competent martial artist and human being. The

student who does not take the time to know and embrace these spirits

will always be lacking in his training.


The state of shoshin is that of a beginners mind. It is a state of

awareness the remains always fully conscious, aware, and prepared to

see things for the first time. The attitude of shoshin is essential to

continued learning. O-Sensei once said, “Don’t expect me to teach

you. You must steal the techniques for yourselves.” The student must play an active role in every class, seeing with a shoshin mind, in order to

steal each day’s lesson.


The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining or lingering spirit. It is

often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness and

mental follow-through. However, true zanshin is a state of focus or

concentration before, during, and after the execution of a technique,

where a link or connection between uke and nage is preserved. Zanshin

is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only

to a single attacker, but to multiple attackers and even an entire context;

a space, a time, an event.


The ASU handbook, defines mushin to be “No mind, a mind without

ego. A mind like a mirror which reflects and dos not judge.” The

original term was “mushin no shin”, meaning, “mind of no mind.” It is

a state of mind without fear, anger, or anxiety. Mushin is sometimes

described by the phrase, “mizu no kokoro”, which means, “mind like

water”. The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly

reflects it’s surroundings when calm, but whose images are obscured

once a pebble is dropped into its waters.


An unshakable mind and an immovable spirit is the state of fudoshin. It

is courage and stability displayed both mentally and physically. Rather

than indicating rigid, inflexibility, fudoshin describes a condition that is

not easily upset by internal thoughts or external forces. It is capable of

receiving a strong attack while retaining composure and balance. It

receives and yields lightly, grounds to the earth, and reflects aggression

back to the source.


Senshin is a spirit that transcends the first four states of mind. It is a

spirit that protects and harmonizes the universe. Senshin is a spirit of

compassion that embraces and serves all humanity and whose function is

to reconcile discord in the world. It holds all life to be sacred. It is the

Buddha mind and O-Sensei’s perception of the function of aikido.

Fully embracing senshin is essentially equivalent to becoming

enlightened and may well exceed the scope of daily aikido

training. However, the first 4 spirits are probably attainable to any

serious student through awareness and hard training. Embracing these

states of mind can reward the student in countless ways.

Shoshin can free a student from a frustrating plateau of learning, giving

him the sight to see what he would not see before. Zanshin can raise

one’s total awareness enhancing randori and free-style training. Mushin

can release the student’s anxiety under pressure enabling better

performance during testing. Fudoshin, can provide the confidence to

stand one’s ground in the face of overwhelming physical attacks. The

serious aikidoka should find ways of incorporating these budo spirits in

his daily training.

#budo #spirits #shoshi #zanshin #mushin #fudoshin #senshin


​© 2020 Budo Dojo

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