Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

Technique of the Week (March 14th, 2010)

From Sensei Lyle Kleusch Shihan,
Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Club (Hong Kong)
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Mindfulness/Empty Mind

We often mention the terms “mindfulness” and “empty mind” in passing while training on the deck. However, due to the physical nature of our workouts, we don’t often elaborate on these very important concepts. So, let’s take a moment to delve deeper into their meanings and application.

In Buddhism, mindfulness is known as a calm awareness of one's body functions, feelings and content of consciousness. It is an awareness of your own body and mind without focus on any particular item. In Shorin-Ryu karate, we expand this meaning to include awareness of everything in our environment. There are many levels of application for mindfulness, like the layers of an onion, but the core application is to aid in meditation, which leads to insight (wisdom).

In order to achieve true mindfulness, you MUST empty your mind. Empty mind is the key to mindfulness. Empty mind leads to mindfulness. They are not separate but inter-connected. Only when your thoughts are NOT FOCUSED on specific internal or external phenomena can you be truly mindful. So mindfulness is the fruition of empty mind.

Discipline is our tool to develop concentration, which aids us in emptying the mind of pre-conceptions.
Discipline à Concentration à Empty Mind à Mindfulnessà Meditation à Insight

This is why we do kata over and over and over, each time striving for perfection. It is our discipline. Our powers of concentration are strengthened with each repetition. We learn to control the thoughts of our mind, which becomes pure and calm. We become masters of ourselves. Only then do we gain true mindfulness, true selflessness. We become the kata.

A tamed, controlled mind is a powerful tool indeed. It can be put into instant meditation in the middle of intense combat in order to gain insight into victory. It can be used to truly understand the motives and needs of others and used to develop harmonious relationships with them. It is the gateway to the ultimate knowledge and answers to any solution you seek. It gives you the greatest power of all, the ability to become “selfless” in any situation.

Summery:

1. Do thousands of kata in order to develop discipline and concentration.
2. Practice concentration in everything you do.
3. Use your powers of concentration to empty your mind at chosen times, on and off the deck. Practice this skill repeatedly, in diverse situations when you want to achieve mindfulness. If a specific thought arises, just let it pass. Do not dwell on it, no matter if it is good or bad, happy or sad. Let it go.
4. Mindfulness can then be used for meditative purposes or just for “peace of mind”. (Meditation topics: A. complete mindfulness. B. object meditation. {a specific weapon, kata or concept.}There are many more but these are good for karate)
5. Insight, wisdom.

Domo Arigato Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei, Senpai and Deshi,

Lyle Kleusch
Shihan,
Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Club (Hong Kong)