Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Correct Zanshin

At Kenshi 24/7, there was a post about what is correct Zanshin, what isn't and also a surprising definition of zanshin.

An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.

The common meaning of ZANSHIN nowadays is exactly as the kanji suggest – 残心 – “remaining spirit.” In other words, once you have struck you have to remain aware of your opponent in case they attempt to strike you back and, if they do so, you should be in a position to counterattack. In modern kendo this usually (for men) takes the physical form of turning around, facing your opponent, and going into kamae after a strike. I’ll explain why this can be slightly odd behaviour further down.

Coincidently, Andy Fisher just recently made an excellent video describing and showing what zanshin is (how it’s supposed to be) today. He also clearly shows postures that can be described as “zanshin-less” (but that we commonly see in shiai, more on that below). His textbook description and demonstration is spot-on, saving me both time and effort! Specifically, please watch the video between 1:27-6:18:

Going back to our topic of discussing what “zanshin” is, did you know that there is an older, more classical, and almost unknown definition of the term? This is something I have puzzled over for years, but I have avoided introducing it on kenshi 24/7 because of both the potentially confusing nature of the definition, and (mainly) because it flies in the face of pretty much everyone’s idea of what “zanshin” is. A recent edition of the magazine Kendo Nippon mentioned it, re-fueling my thoughts on the matter and supplying the impetus to talk about it today.

So, what is this other definition?

Zanshin and Sutemi

Here we go:
“Zanshin is the consequence of striking with full spirit (without attempting to leave anything behind).”
In other words, ZANSHIN IS THE RESULT OF SUTEMI. If you do not attack with full spirit (sutemi), that is, if you try to force “zanshin” or try to keep something back, then not only will you not have any real zanshin, but your attack will be half-baked.
“If you imagine you have a cup full of water. In one swift motion you flick your wrist and the water flies out at speed. Looking in the cup you will see a little bit of water left. This is zanshin.”
By attacking with sutemi…
“… not only will you naturally be ready to face any counter-attack by the opponent but, in fact, no opening for your opponent to strike will appear.”
So, our two definitions might look different, they might even seem like they are saying the opposite thing, but the end result is more-or-less the same.

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