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  • Zanshin

    In addition to demonstrating good technique and following through on your strikes, is the additional purpose of zanshin to move past your opponent in such a way and at such a speed as to make a successful counter-attack improbable?

    My kumdo teacher taught me that after we make a successful strike to move back, raise our hands to jodan to get them out of the cutting zone and then go back to chudan. Have other, especially kumdo practitioners (hey, Old Warrior are ya out there?) been taught this same thing?

    Since you are moving forward with a fair amount of momentum when making a successful strike, it would seem to me to make more sense to hit and move through rather than go back.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Iv read zanshin is not only a good kiai, and ki ken tai ichi, but a fighter spirit, flowing from your body. You (in some peoples perspectives) have emense ki at your tanden and zanshin is the ability to harness that raw ki from your tanden and make your self enter a very aware state of mind. Im not saying to act like dragon ball z and pretend you can shoot energy balls from your hands, but when your in a really good keiko, and you dismiss any fears, you can actually feel energy run through you, and actually have that very aware kind of feeling.

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    • #3
      Hi Bed F.

      With Zanshin that means awareness it is usual to when doing a Men cut move past your partners right shoulder then turn anti clockwise. If you do Kote move past your partners left shoulder and move anti clockwise to Chuudan. You should also not let your eyes be taken off your partner.

      Going into Jodan and moving backwards is usually done after tsubazeriai or Taiatari Hiki techniques.
      Uchi komi means to dedicate your self to a cut and when you do Men for example you are dedicating your self to cutting a forwards Men. So it is not good to cut Men, stop then Hiki back and do Joudan.

      I used to think that Zanshin was like telling your partner you have won. Like in Kendo kata Ippon. You strike Shoumen, then Zanshin pulling your Katana out of his head. I'm not sure why this is also Zanshin but in Kendo it is usually just avoiding another attack and being aware of your opponents counter attack .

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      • #4
        Zanshin your Mind

        Here is my two cents.

        Zanshin is many things. Other people will agree with some of the things I am about to say and disagree with some parts.



        Zanshin is not losing your mind. Ok, what does that mean? Ever cut a great kote, so fast your opponent didnt even move, and you stand there thinking oh-yah. Then not get the point or worse he hits your men because you just stood there. You lost your mind! Zanshin is having your mind still ready and fighting, still involved in the process of combat and ready to act. When you stand across an opponent, you are like a cat ready to pounce, reading you opponents mind (non-verbal communication and body), very alert and on the fine edge of executing a waza. This should be the same state of your mind after you attack. If your attack fails or is successful you must still be in the same state of mind as when you started.



        Zanshin is a declaration of victory for those watching. Things move fast in kieko help those watching you understand that you have won. This could be the difference in getting a point or not. If someone watching you is not sure it you should be awarded a point but sees a strong and very aggressive Zanshin you can convince him or her it was good. Remember the non-verbal communication I spoke of earlier, a strong Zanshin will express to those watching your dominance.



        Zanshin is a declaration of victory to you opponent. You can defeat your opponent with a strong Zanshin. After a successful attack a strong Zanshin will demoralize you opponent. Even if your attack fails a strong Zanshin may save you from a counter attack and tell your opponent that you are superior. After a failed attack with a strong Zanshin you may find your opponents mind has stopped and be able to attack again quickly.



        I am sure Zanshin is many more things I am not thinking of now, but that is what I use as Zanshin.

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        • #5
          I appreciate the responses but I guess I am looking for a more "practical" response. Is zanshin also used to avoid getting hit by moving quickly past the opponent? Like I said, that would seem to make more sense in terms of sheer physics than going backward after striking.

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          • #6
            Zanshin refers to a mental state which can be very vaguely described as "awareness". You seem to suggest that zanshin is like a type of waza, which it's not - hence the lack of "practical" response.

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            • #7
              Andoru is right. Zanshin is not a type of waza. Zanshin is a state of "alertness" when and after attempting to score an ippon (point). Without zanshin an ippon is subject to cancellation. My $.02

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              • #8
                Although zanshin is not strictly a type of waza, in kendo we have very clear expected physical things that we do. If you hit a point going forward, you should continue in a generally forward direction (we often go diagonally, especially for kote or doh). If you come in forward, hit at the apex of your movement, then move back, that signals to me that your attack is uncommitted and you are attempting to sneak in and out without risk. We see this sort of thing a lot with kote. And yes, one of the points of moving away from the opponent is to lessen the chance of a counterattack.

                The backwards movement in jodan is normally done only after a backwards men attack from tsuba-zeriai or taiatari. If you attack forwards and then do zanshin in this manner you are unlikely to get a point.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ben F.

                  My kumdo teacher taught me that after we make a successful strike to move back, raise our hands to jodan to get them out of the cutting zone and then go back to chudan. Have other, especially kumdo practitioners (hey, Old Warrior are ya out there?) been taught this same thing?

                  I have been told in the past that after striking and going through when you turn to face your oponent you should raise into jodan. This makes it easier for you to attack again if your opponent is still in range, and makes you appear much more agressive and fierce

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Craig Jones
                    I have been told in the past that after striking and going through when you turn to face your oponent you should raise into jodan. This makes it easier for you to attack again if your opponent is still in range, and makes you appear much more agressive and fierce
                    Do you normally play from jodan? What makes you think you would be more effective from jodan in that situation? What makes you think you would be in a better position to defend? I think you're better off in chudan.

                    In the case of moving back after men, raising your hands back helps with the mechanics of moving backwards, as your body tends to follow where your shinai is pointing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Craig Jones
                      I have been told in the past that after striking and going through when you turn to face your oponent you should raise into jodan. This makes it easier for you to attack again if your opponent is still in range, and makes you appear much more agressive and fierce
                      If that is what your sensei has taught, then I guess it is okay.
                      I have been taught to continue in the direction I was going, then after a couple of steps, turn around, and be in chudan no kamae. I don't do this if I engage my opponent in tsubaseriai. If I do a hiki men uchi, I step backward with my shinai up and back as in the back-swing of a men uchi, but not in jodan no kamae.

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                      • #12
                        you may want to do zanshin in jodan while moving forward to move out of the way better.. to make the point more clear do it when you know you would run into the guy, but generally you shouldnt.. it is also kinda of dangerous, if your opponent knows you got a clean ippon and gets desperate he might shove you and in this position you will lose your balance pretty easily and you could even get hurt..

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Migoto
                          Zanshin is not losing your mind. Ok, what does that mean? Ever cut a great kote, so fast your opponent didnt even move, and you stand there thinking oh-yah.
                          Yup. That can be a big problem. It seems also to depend a lot on your opponent. If s/he is weak/average, it seems easier to manifest good zanshin. But it's an issue I'm currently having with a giant senior jodan-fighter. His seme is so strong that I often end up trying half-assed in-and-out strikes, or, when i finally land a beautiful kote out of nowhere, that half-second shock of having done so ruins the flow and it's over, followed by his men and some pointed words of advice.

                          As it was said, zanshin is not a waza, although it takes a while to develop. it is a bit "esoteric," but ignore it at your peril. There's a reason you need it to get a point. And, I venture, it can also be a very clear reflection of the way you do things in everyday life (committing yourself, following through with things, etc.)

                          As to the background of the concept, I found the following helpful and quote it at length. It's from a book by Dave Lowry called Sword and Brush - The Spirit of the Martial Arts, which deals with individual concepts like kata, hara, kage, etc. It's rather poetic, but also thought-provoking. (The following also reminded me of Takuan Osho's old book The Unfettered Mind.)

                          Zansetsu is the snow that resists spring, melting slowing in the shaded lees of the hills. Zansho refers to the heat that hangs on into early autumn, reluctantly loosening its humid grip to the cool fingers of frost that finally spread across the land. The gaze of the bugeisha in the midst of confrontation is as cold as snow, while penetrating with a heated intensity. It is a manifestation of his zanshin.

                          Zan has a fascinating derivation as a kanji. Its radical, on the left side of the character, is that of "bare bones." Other strokes depict a pair of halberds. The implication is martial, one of cutting until nothing is left but the bones. Zan has come to mean "to disintegrate," "to be extinguished," but to do so gradually, like coals giving up heat within as they cool to ash. Zanshin, the "spirit that lingers on," is an inevitable characteristic of the more experienced bugeisha. He exhibits it in the most chaotic moments of battle as well as in the periods of his life that are perfectly peaceful.

                          The concept of zanshin is a complex one, integrating physical presence, technical skill, and emotional attitude. Vigilant calm. Action in repose. Mentally, zanshin is the quality of diffusion, a steadfast awareness of all that transpires without focussing on, and so being distracted by, any one phenomenon. Bodily, zanshin is expressed through a posture that is relaxed yet resonant with potential power. When an accomplished bugeisha moves decisively, his technique appears to vibrate past the conclusion of the action. Facing multiple opponents, his concentration is never arrested by one of the many. Both these occurrences reveal a state of advanced zanshin.

                          The beginner is apt to mistake a fierce grimace and a stance of rigid aggression for zanshin. But such artifice is only a caricature that cannot be maintained for very long. It is too exhausting an effort, and it misses the point. True zanshin, developed over a lengthy period of rigorous training, is never so concentrated a force. It is not tsunami, a single wave expended at one place in one moment and then gone. Zanshin is like a great ocean, bottomless and alive with latent, surging energy. Like the rhythmic pounding of its surf, which echoes beyond the range of its actual sound, the force of zanshin lingers on.

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                          • #14
                            My kumdo teacher taught me that after we make a successful strike to move back, raise our hands to jodan to get them out of the cutting zone and then go back to chudan. Have other, especially kumdo practitioners.

                            As mentioned by the others. Going backwards into jordan followed by chudan, is done from taiatari or hikiwaza. It's correct. I think maybe there might be a reason your sensei is teaching you this. Maybe he feels your taiatari or hikiwaza needs work, or that it will become one of your strong waza??? This forum gives good advise (sometimes mixed) You should take this information, and ask your sensei about it. Asking questions is learning and your sensei is the best person to ask, if you want to know why he is teaching you something. Take a look at everyone else in the dojo. Do they all go backwards into Jordan even when the momentum is going forward?? Ask your sensei and post his reply.

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                            • #15
                              Zanshin is just the state of mental awareness.....I found it odd when I heard the term being used when I started kendo. It is not meant to imply moving past your opponent or thru them like some think....it is meant to teach you to maintain your awareness and return to a ready position as quickly as possible so that you are always ready for a counter attack.

                              Personally....I think that the whole idea of moving past your target is a bad idea...granted in a sport match it's what you do...but in a real sword battle...or any encounter for that matter...giving your back to your attacker is not good at all.....that's just my .02


                              John
                              Last edited by OSatsu Jin; 4th April 2004, 02:15 PM.

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