Last nights keiko was one of those memory bank sessions for me. It was simply pure joy. Everyone had attended. The atmosphere was slowly becoming electric as each student stepped onto the mats at the beginning of the night. We were all in attendance. Game on!
Morris’ perspective was different to those of his students. He sees more in our actions, movements and energy than we could ever hope to know about ourselves at this stage in our training. He is the observer, the mediator and tone setter. He was disappointed in our efforts for one very simple reason. Zanshin!
We were in the moment during the techniques, but our attentions were oscillating outside of the waza. We were buoyed to see each other all on the mats together, enjoying the camaraderie. For one reason or another we’d all not been able to get to keiko on the same night for weeks.
We allowed ourselves to become distracted and too jovial between the, “Arigato gozaimashita”, and the next, “Onegaishimasu”.
Morris pointed out to us at the end of keiko that this was simply not acceptable. While he was pleased with how we were progressing, he was crest-fallen at our inability to sustain our focus for a mere two hours.
“Sure, it’s encouraged that you enjoy your training and that you’re not robots the whole time, but don’t forget your zanshin!” he reminded us harshly but fairly after our cool down.
I had been feeling the high we often get from an intense and enjoyable session, but it was soon replaced with a degree of balance on reflection at my own lack of zanshin at times during the night.
To summarise, Morris, pointed out that although we can’t walk through daily life with a warrior’s frown and snarling focus we should at least take the awareness and mindfulness from our training into our everyday lives. We train for a reason. We train in order to heighten our awareness. We train to become more mindful. We train to polish and refine our character. The least we can do while in the dojo is train that focus as if our lives depended on it. And they do depend on it in the realm of Jissen Kobudo training.
“These are dangerous and sometimes fatal techniques we’re dealing with here. We have to stay in a state of zanshin for our own and each others safety.”
I know we will always enjoy our training but I also know that we will all do better to remember this lesson. We owe it to ourselves and to each other.