Shoshaku Jushaku – mistake upon mistake, one continuous practice.

This is an important concept in the martial arts or life and is the road to achieving a black belt or beyond.  Shoshaku Jushaku means one continuous practice, mistake upon mistake.  On the mats, as in life, people make mistakes.  How you deal with the mistakes of life determines how successful you on or off the mats.

Shoshaku Jushaku implies recognising when you make a mistake, learning from it, and continuing to make new mistakes.  This is how winning is done and leads to a successful life.  Most people either refuse to acknowledge their mistakes or are too critical of themselves when they make mistake.  Shoshaku jushaku means to recognise your mistake, acknowledge it, learn from it and try not to repeat it, however this mind set allows compassion towards ourselves.  We do not condemn ourselves but endeavour to be gentle on ourselves.  Because we know improvement in life cannot be made without mistakes.

Do not be harsh on yourself.  Do not condemn yourself.  Guide the mind as if it was a small child.  Have patience, be mindful, be present.  It does not mean an acceptance to making mistakes.  But a gentle approach to dealing with your mind.

In training karate, we repeat each technique thousands of times, seeking perfection which can never be achieved.  Beginners start with large obvious mistake and strive to make the techniques better.  Black belt’s techniques may not exhibit external mistake, obvious to lower grades, but may be more internal, felt by the student either physically or mentally.  This continuous practice is the journey of karate to black belt and beyond and this is Shoshaku Jushaku.

On Bowing

To bow is to bend. This requires flexibility, otherwise things might crack or break. When one bows as an act of the heart, this is humility. You are not bowing down before someone but before your own buddha nature. Bowing to a buddha image, the image is a symbol not an idol. The image symbolises the realisation of the highest human potential, your highest potential. Bowing not only acknowledges the value of this potential. We are all capable of wisdom, kindness, patience etc to some degree and in one way bowing points back to one’s own buddha nature.

Bowing & Mindfulness
On entering the Dojo (training hall) this sets up a point of stopping, of recollection, “I am in this room, relating in this way, at this time.” You are taking a moment out of your life, a moment to space, a moment of mindfulness.

Bowing to others
This requires a sensitivity and presence of mind, “I am Junior/Senior, what is this situation now, what is the time.” Bowing is ideally a beautiful & graceful act and it is very un-beautiful to see someone rushing in at the last minute and “whipping off” 3 quick ones. One should never talk to someone while they are bowing.


“In The Beginner’s Mind There Are Many Possibilities, In The Experts There Are Few”

The goal of training is always to keep beginners mind. An empty mind is a ready mind, it is always ready for anything and is open to everything. Think of Yoi or ready stance, from this position all things are possible, advancing, retreating, forward, backwards, sidewards, ducking, jumping. Responding not reacting, the mind should mirror the body, relaxed, calm, centered and ready for all possibilities.

It is easier for an expert to defeat someone with a few years training then a novice beginner. The beginner is untrained or unconditioned to a particular style of movement that the expert expects within their style so is unpredictable.

A judoka and a kendoka agreed to fight in each others art.  The judo lost in the judo fight and the kendoka lost in the kendo fight.  The reason is cause both forgot Shoshin.  Both expected the other to play within the rules of the game they knew.  The other not knowing the rules of engagement rushed in and either threw their opponent or hit him with the sword thus winning.

In feudal japan, in Tokyo, a sword fencing school where having their students killed and could not understand why even high ranking students where being killed with a simple sword thrust to the chest.  When the killer was found he explained that the school trained a technique repeatedly when the sword was drawn from the scabbard and raised above he head before delivering a downward cut.  Because it wa a basic technique it had been trained 1000s of times.  And students where conditioned to block the downward strike.  The Killer aimplw awitched his aword in his hands, raising the scabbard high in the air, forcing the students conditioning to kick in.  The student blocked the downward scabbard strike, while the killer stabbed them in the heart from below.  A complete lack of Shoshin.  Shoshin definitely contains Zanshin.

In training your opponent learns to move with you sometimes facilitating the move, lock, th row, strike etc.  Train to flow and respond with a different technique in the case the chosen one doesn’t work on the street.

Nothing outside yourself can cause you any trouble unless you let it. You yourself make the waves in your mind. If you leave your mind as it is, it will become calm.  This is zazen/meditation or the correct mindset while training.  Always keep your mind open to new possibilities.  Experts believe they know best cos they are trained and conditioned but in life listen to the opinions of everybody sometimes the simpliest solutions come from the mouths of babes or beginners.  In Shoshin let every being be your teacher.  Learn, adapted, respond, grow.

You drop something into a hole in the ground. Too deep for your arm to reach it. It remains just out of reach. You ask people passing by for help. Those that try all claim the hole is too deep. This story teaches us to come back to ourselves. Ask 100 people and a majority of people will say the hole is too deep. Very few, if any, will acknowledge that their arm is too short. As human beings it is easier to blame outside forces for the failings in our life, rather then admit our own hand in it. (pun intended).

Zen/Karate teaches us to come back to ourselves, to expand from the centre and return to the centre. To acknowledge our short comings. We are the centre of our universe, we must take responsibility on and off the mats for the life around us. We teach people how to treat us, our own subconscious beliefs determine our worth, our levels of determination and perseverance determine whether we settle or make our dreams come true. So breath, return to center, accept responsibility and if your not happy with some aspect of your life, CHANGE IT… Placing the blame outside ourselves, is a victims mentality, and we choose not to be victims.

Thoughts Are Not Facts

You are walking down the road. When you see your friend on the other side. Unable to cross the road, you wave and call their name. Your friend continues to walk on. How do you react? Many people have different reactions when told this story. Some accept that their friend simple did not see them and thus continue their day. And if they remember they may mention to their friend that they saw them, the next time they speak. Other people feel slighted and ignored. Wondering what they did to their friend to deserve being ignored.

Convinced their friend is not talking to them. They race off upset, determined to phone their friend and find out what they did. Thoughts are not facts. That you think something does not make it true or real. Put emotions, feeling, rationale, and assigning motivations to people without the full facts, makes you react to situations that are not happening. Recognize that thoughts are not facts and learn to respond rather than react for a calmer heathier life

Elite mental training program

Lesson 13 – Mindfulness

Mindfulness means we become present in the moment, aware of one’s actions and environment. Becoming mindful we begin to see the world as it is, not as we expect it to be or what we fear it might become. There is a close link to Zanshin (awareness) and it is contained in Mushin (no mind) . ….

As students we aim to be mindful in our training at all times and to extend that mindfulness to all areas of our everyday lives. It takes continued practice to make this become second nature. Proper correct training leads to increased mindfulness, ideal for daily living and being aware of threats around us.

Lesson 12 – What is Karate?

Karate can be whatever the student needs it to be. Karate can be an effective form of Self Defence, an excellent form of Fitness, a Sport or a Way of Life. Karate does improve Self-Confidence & Self-Esteem but Karate is basically a training to bring a person back to the natural state of mind, they were born with, dispelling delusions. Your real mind or authentic self is an inborn, pure mind and the wordly mind is a mind soiled by evil thoughts and impressions through the experiences of life. Karate aims to restore this soiled, vicious mind to its natural state of purity, as it was at birth.

A baby does not have a complex of fear. A person who narrowly escapes being run over by a car will remain motionless, their limbs frozen by fear. But a baby would continue to move innocently, because they have no fear complex.

The essence of Karate then, is to have a pure empty mind, as at birth, free from doubts, fears, and delusions. This requires years of dedicated training under correct supervised instruction, leading to increased awareness and wellbeing, more mindfulness, reduced stress level and a more positive outlook on life.

Lesson 11
Zanshin (Remaining Mind) in English is often translated as awareness but this word does not fully cover the full meaning of the word. One understanding of Zanshin is the accumulated information already processed by the brain, as well as the presence of your character and spirit within the current environment. It is not enough to be an observer in the world.

Warriors with Zanshin have an innate sense of their surroundings and the ability to reach out into the environment to capture information that others might find insignificant or irrelevant. The ever present need for more information is why Zanshin appears to be most present at the end of a technique or Kata. The mind remains present and hungry. It searches for more information and perceives any changes as it occurs.

Zanshin is to fit exactly within one’s environment, ever present and in harmony. Perceiving threats before or after an attack, snatching that seemingly irrelevant piece of information that gives insight into relationships both business and personal, being aware of your own body and emotions and how it responds to the stimuli from the environment around you. Zanshin is an experiential experience. It must be felt not thought, lived not taught.

Zanshin is free of fear, worry, emotion and prejudice. Words may describe the experience but never fully convey the true experience. Once experienced it may be recognised in others. One may experience Zanshin without having Mushin (No Mind), but Mushin does not exist without Zanshin. And we will cover Mushin in a later post.

Elite mental programme – Lesson 6
Kohai / Sempai / Sensei

Kohai means junior, whilst Sempai means senior. This relationship is very important in martial arts, making students like family, with everyone having older or younger brothers and sisters. Sempai help Kohai by modelling the correct behaviour, training with them, showing them the correct way to train, under the watchful eye of Sensei. While Kohai watch the Sempai in training to see the sensei’s teaching in practice.

Sensei is often mis translated as teacher or instructor. But it actually means “one who came before”. The one who is further down the way. A good Sensei is a teacher or instructor but a great Sensei is more then that, being a motivator, mentor, parent, psychologists, priest, personal trainer, dietician.

The difference between a student and a Sensei is not personality or skill set it’s flight time, they have thousands more hours on the mats then you. A Sensei has travelled the path your on, he knows the pitfalls and perils, they’ve learnt the lessons your learning, they’ve trained harder then you and climbed the mountain you think you can’t climb. The open secret to success in the martial arts, practice, practice, practice, no mystery to mastery, just flight time