035) Aikido and Senshin: Week of May 3, 2009

Fights are overwhelming events at a physical, psychological and interpersonal level.  People who typically “win” these encounters are usually more focused than the other person.  Developing this intense concentration is part of our practice.  One of the two philosophical pillars of thisdojo is “Mushin” – Empty Mind.  i have recently written about “Fudoshin” – Calm, Indomitable spirit.  Another aspect of this process is “Senshin” – Undivided Attention, or Concentration.

I have spoken about the need to empty our minds from the day and begin to focus in on the moment when we enter the dojo.  This ability to maintain an undivided attention on one’s immediate surroundings (both internal and external) is not a given, nor should it be taken for granted.  We need to develop an acute awareness of our internal and external experiences in order to remain truly connected to the other person.  This “Senshin” needs to be on the other person.  This might seem easy, but think of how easily it is to lose focus on the attacking body part of the opponent, or our own body movements.  Think of how often I have said that a hand does not attack you, a person attacks you!  If your focus is divided, not intense, or at some irrelevant aspect of a situation, then the ability to execute a clean technique (without creating unnecessary openings in yourself to a counter attack) is difficult.

This task is difficult when you are trying to just learn the mechanics of a particular technique.  This task is difficult when there is a lot going on around you.  This task is difficult when you have had a hard day and your mind keeps on wandering back to some past event.  The mental training of “Senshin” cannot be neglected!  Maintaining focus on the other person requires a lot of practice at both a physical and mental level.  Senshin is not something that simply helps you survive an attack, it is a life skill that is critical to success in many aspects of our life.  I have frequently said that studying  a martial art embodies all aspects of our life.  A gym is just a place where we work out.  Adojo is a place to refine our being.  This week, I would like us all to work on “Senshin” so that it translates into positive growth in all aspects of our lives.

Marc  Abrams Sensei

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