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.