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Being in zanshin without losing your head

In the last article, we discussed the zanshin state in the warrior. I remember a story that I used to tell in my karate classes to explain the zanshin state (state of alertness). This story takes place in Japan, many centuries ago.

It is the story of a young disciple who asked his sword master how long it would take him to develop an excellent state of zanshin. The master replied that it depended on the intensity of his intention and asked if he preferred a quick or slow method. The disciple was surprised by this answer and thought that if there was a secret to achieving this state more quickly, he would like to know it. He replied that he preferred the faster method. "That's good," his master replied.

The master called his servant and ordered him to bring a glass of water. Then he summoned two samurai. He took the young disciple to a large room and placed him at the end of the room.

After bringing him the glass of water, he asked the servant to place some obstacles in the room to make it difficult for his disciple.

The master put the glass full of water on the novice's head and told him that he should cross the room to the door at the other end without spilling either the glass or a drop of water. He asked the first samurai to draw his sword and follow the novice, and ordered him to cut the novice's head off if the water or glass was spilled. He ordered the second samurai to draw his sword and follow the first samurai, because if the first samurai hesitated to cut the head of the novice, the second samurai had to cut his head. He warned the latter that if he hesitated at all to carry out his mission, he would be dishonored and expelled from the clan, along with his family.

I won't tell you the end of the story, but which one of these samurai or the novice do you think is going to be the most zanshin? Do you think this novice will quickly understand what zanshin is?

There are many ways to practice zanshin without the risk of losing your mind. Follow our blog, the Warrior model: English and French versions.

Gaëtan Sauvé

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