Just about everyone who is involved with karate or other budo/ martial arts knows this term: Zanshin! In the dojo sensei or trainers preach it up and down. Zanshin is something you have to have, especially in Kumite (free fight), but also in Kihon, Kata (form and especially in the belt examinations.
But what does that mean? What is Zanshin? Why is it so important? And is Zanshin needed in popular sports? Questions upon questions, but let me anticipate the latter at this point: YES! 😉 Because this article will deal especially with the question how to combine the Budo mentality and the inner attitude towards martial arts with mass sports.
Zanshin - What does that mean?
Zanshin means translated as "balanced mind" or also "lasting mind". Zanshin refers to a physical and mental state of increased vigilance, attentiveness, attention and concentration not only, but especially in combat situations even after an attack has taken place.
According to Far Eastern traditions, Zanshin describes, among other things, an open state of mind, without aggression or intention, free of fear, leaving all options open, even your own death.
I would say that very few ( thankfully ) have ever been in a situation where you had to fight for life and death, or started karate training for that very reason. This is also the reason why I think that the interpretation of Zanshin today is a little different than it was then. Whether this is good or bad, it remains to be seen.
Oshima/Ando: Kendo, 1998, ISBN 3878920377
Zanshin - in mass sports - Karate
The following is a list of some examples, especially of karate as a popular sport. I would like to give some food for thought on how Zanshin can be interpreted and implemented in daily/weekly karate training.
Although most of these points should be known and taken for granted by everyone, it can't hurt to do them again consciously.
Note: I make no claim to completeness or accuracy 😉
1. Concentration / attitude
Already with the salutation or the mokuso (calm thinking) at the beginning of the karate lesson, one should turn on an inner switch and leave the everyday life behind, and only concentrate fully on the karate training. Everything else (work, problems, obligations, etc.), should not play any role for the duration of the training.
Conversations and other distractions should be avoided, especially during an exercise or when the trainer is explaining something or assisting another Karateka.
2. Control / Mindfulness
Everything you do, every exercise, every technique, every training on your partner should be done with absolute control. Especially beginners tend to want to make up for missing technique with strength. Nobody wants injuries on the partner or oneself due to negligent actions. So rather shift down 1 or 2 gears and do the exercises more slowly until it works.
3. self-confidence / self-assurance
Self-confidence and self-assurance should be visible over time. For example, if you have trained a kata for months for the next kyu. / belt examination, and you "can" do it, you should show that. To stroll forward shyly and before the beginning of the kata, to beep its name into the room is not enough.
An upright posture, a certain announcement and of course having fun will help. And even if you make a mistake in the kata, it should be finished with the same determination with which it was started. Just don't give up in the middle of the kata and sneak off the floor!
4. fighting spirit / will
Even if it becomes strenuous and sweaty, giving up is not an option. Everybody should give as good as he can and within his possibilities always give everything. No matter if in Kihon, Kata or Kumite. The will to achieve something should also be present in mass sports!
Conclusion - Zanshin and attitude
In principle, none of the points listed excludes the other and merge seamlessly with each other. It is the overall package that matters. Of course, these are only some aspects and examples of how Zanshin, martial arts and popular sports fit together, but I think martial sports has its right to exist alongside martial arts.
However, I am firmly convinced that a certain schlendrian (a german word for doing things not with best quality, no motiviation, ...) has no place in mass sports / popular karate. The inner attitude to karate must be right, regardless of physical conditions and possibilities. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how he sees karate for himself, what it brings him, and how much he wants to invest in Karate-Do...
This might also be interesting for youYoga exercises - also as a supplement to karate training
The word yoga comes from Indian and means "unity" or "harmony". Yoga and related yoga exercises are used in many different areas. From mental training, relaxation exercises, meditation to physical training, holding exercises to strengthen the muscles to yoga therapy to treat physical complaints such as back pain. Yoga sees itself as a holistic exercise … Continue reading "Yoga exercises - also as a supplement to karate training"
Fitness: forearm support, plank and holding exercises
Everyone knows the Plank or forearm support. One lies down frontally on the forearms and halves his own body weight. Don't let your knees and hips hang down, tense your back, stomach and butt! Depending on the duration (60-180 seconds) very strenuous, but also very effective to train abdominal muscles, back, shoulders, buttocks and the … Continue reading "Fitness: forearm support, plank and holding exercises"
Fitness: Jump training 3 - coordination and technique
In the previous parts of this series on the subject of jump training (Jump Training Part 1 / Jump Training Part 2), particular emphasis was placed on the physical aspects such as strength, power, speed, explosive power and maximum power in order to improve, among other things, the jumping height and jumping distance. Once you … Continue reading "Fitness: Jump training 3 - coordination and technique"
Nutrition and protein - Protein-rich foods
Besides carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the main nutrients. Especially competitive athletes, but also hobby athletes have an increased protein requirement, in contrast to non-athletes. The protein requirement for athletes is about 1.1 to 1.5g per kilogram body weight, for bodybuilders even up to 1.8g per kg body weight. Table of contents:Basic building … Continue reading "Nutrition and protein - Protein-rich foods"
Training equipment: Makiwara 2.0
A Makiwara is a piece of sports equipment originating from Japan, which in karate is known mainly as a wooden hitting post. In the past (and partly still today) a makiwara is made of a flexible and non-splintering wooden board. One end of the board is driven vertically into the ground, and the other end … Continue reading "Training equipment: Makiwara 2.0"