By Joe Maurantonio

Many people studying the martial arts seem to find the concept of mushin quite elusive. They think that mushin is the process of not thinking, or the process of not not-thinking.

Takuan (1573-1645), a Zen Buddhist priest, described the pinnacle of mushin as a mind and body in flowing harmony. Mushin is a mind free from the process of active thought, ready to freely move the body in accord with its surroundings. Make note that mushin implies that the mind (consciousness) is relaxed and ready to flow with events that are occurring, or that will occur, and does not judge these events. It is, in training terms, a 'flowing mind' which, at peak times, acts as situations develop, rather than reacting to them having occurred.