Saturday, December 20, 2008


In his book Flashing Steel, Masayaki Shimabukuro Sensei examines the essence of the Martial Artist and what sets him apart from others in society.

Peace of mind – which we all are looking forward to as a mean to achieve something else or an end in itself, is what Shimabukuro Sensei refers to as heijoshin:

Heijoshin (or peace of mind) is the by-product of a persons complete inner being. It can only be achieved by refining the whole inner essence and this can only be accomplished if ones intellect, emotions, and character are developed in balance. Heijoshin literally translated means constant stable spirit. Such a translation hardly does it justice. To understand the full nature of heijoshin one has to look to the nuances of the Japanese language. Heijoshin is comprised of three kanji (ideograms):

I) Hei - peaceful, calm, steady

ii) Jo - always, constant, continually

iii) Shin - translates as heart or the whole inner essence of the individual

Combining the kanji heijoshin is the whole inner being of person being continually at peace. One has peace of mind. Heijoshin is best understood not as a single attribute but as a culmination of several character traits. As mentioned above, to achieve heijoshin requires a high degree of mental development in three key areas: intellect, emotions, and integrity (or character).

Why is heijoshin important to us as martial artists? Although our bodies may give way to time and age, we can continue to practice and develop our character and mental faculties. Heijoshin is an unlimited quality. As martial artists, and in life, there is always room for more knowledge, greater compassion, stronger love, and a higher level of character development.

To achieve heijoshin as a martial artist requires a lifestyle of discipline, effort, sacrifice and commitment. Such a commitment to developing excellence of character is what sets the martial artist apart from most people in a confused and unhappy society. As we discover, the true nature of martial arts training leads us to a fuller understanding of the nature of life itself. With this understanding comes peace of mind and true and lasting happiness.

Some practice Zen to calm their minds, and they may reach elsewhere. Some practice to reach enlightenment. They may never find it, but might find Heijoshin. I do not think they are the same thing, but hey, I am not enlightened, so who knows ?

Lately I have been struggling trying to reconcile Martial Arts and Zen. They have a lot in common, and then, there is that precept : Do not Kill....

I understand that under certain circumstances, killing might be the only alternative. In that case one should be ready.

This is a difficult question, it might take a while, and it won't be through reading other's books or listening to self appointed experts or masters.

Nothing comes for free, I have no choice, we have no choice – Let’s train hard !

Shimabukuro Sensei will teach a seminar in Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu Iaijutsu in Pensacola on March 6, 7 and 8, 2009. The seminar will be held at the Pensacola dojo (Big Green Drum Japanese Martial Arts.)

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