Cutting Edge Issue 2 - Page 61

FUDOSHIN An insight from Stephen Coniaris I t was a cold November evening in the Kochi Budokan. The windows were open and you could see your breath as we trained iai in the kendojo. It was my seventh month training in Kochi under the guidance of Takeshima Sensei. He had been most generous with his time and his efforts on my behalf. However, on this day he was correcting everyone else. He had not corrected me once and we were 45 minutes into the class! Why wasn’t he helping me, giving me corrections? These thoughts passed through my mind. Eventually Sensei did come over and gave me a correction, and then another and 20 or so more. Despite the cold I was Fudoshin may be translated as immovable mind or body or spirit. Fu is a negative prefix and Do means to move thus, Fudo means unmovable. Shin is the pronunciation of the kanji kokoro when used in a compound word. Kokoro is often translated as mind or heart but is more likely something akin to mind/ heart/spirit all in one. Fudoshin has also been translated to mean ‘immovable heart’ or ‘immovable mind’ or the state of imperturbability. It is a mind that is not captured by attachment, but is free to put its intent into effect. It is a mind that is not moved by fear or greed or lust or desire. When the bushi (warrior in Japanese tradition) is attacked and the sword of the opponent is flashing – the immovable mind remains unmoved by fear and thus does not freeze. The immovable mind is unattached to winning or losing bathed in sweat and I was thinking, “Why doesn’t he go and correct someone else?” “Why is he picking on me?” In time class ended and Sensei gave a small talk on fudoshin, and his words struck to my core. When Sensei was not teaching me, I was unhappy. When he was teaching me, I was unhappy. My mind was distracting me from learning and doing. I told myself, I would strive to be where I am – getting no corrections or 50 corrections. I would learn how to take in and make a part of me, each correction Sensei offered, no matter the number or his approach. No judging, just learning and training. So I began my study of fudoshin. and so moves naturally without undue tension, and is able to flow freely from motion to motion. The mind that wields the sword successfully needs to be immovable when faced with challenges, and yet, always free to move anywhere and everywhere effortlessly, thus acquiring fudoshin has been a much sought after skill. It is a mind that is not captured by attachment, but is free to put its intent into effect. It is a mind that is not moved by fear or greed or lust or desire. Fudoshin can be considered a philosophical or a mental dimension of Japanese martial arts that helps the advanced practitioner achieve greater effectiveness and raise their level of skill. It is not done to be stylish or trendy. It a skill pursued by advanced practitioners who seek to take their skill to a higher level and more fully unleash their potential. The concept of fudoshin was adopted from Zen and Shingon (esoteric) Buddhism, both of which played a role in the training and outlook of the bushi and classical Japanese martial artists. The Zen priest Takuan (1573-1645), who influenced many samurai, in letter to the swordmaster Yagyu Munenori (1571-1646), speaks of fudoshin far better than this article. Takuan’s letter has been passed down as Fudoshin Shinmyoroku (The Wondrous Record of Immovable Wisdom) and is a highly recommended read. Takuan states that ‘the sword and zen are one’ – that the warrior and monk have much in common in terms of the skills CUTTING EDGE | 59