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4 Powerful Mindsets of Traditional Karate

Everything begins in the mind.

If your mindset is wack, you can’t even get out of bed in the morning

Karate is no exception. The art of Karate involves many states of mind. Today I’d like to share 4 with you: Shoshin, Mushin, Fudoshin and Zanshin. Check it out…

1: Shoshin (Beginner’s Mind)

When I visit a new dojo, I put on white belt. Why? Because I’m expressing Shoshin. Shoshin is Japanese for “beginners mind”. It’s the open-minded attitude of being ready to learn; without preconceived notions, judgement or bias. Shoshin is essential for Karate, because your mind is like a parachute – it doesn’t work if it’s closed.

The difficult part is to maintain Shoshin as you advance in grades. Some people think they “know it all” when they reach black belt. Those people probably don’t know that the first black belt is called “shodan” in Japanese; literally “first level”.

Black belt is not the end. It’s the beginning. Keep this mindset.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971)

2: Mushin (No Mind)

Next up, we have Mushin. In Japanese, Mushin means “no mind”. Sounds like a paradox, right? How can you have a mind of no mind?

Well, even nothingness is something. Mushin refers to that empty-mindedness you might experience when you’re fully focused on an activity. In essence, you enter a zone of full presence where you brain is not occupied with anything else but the task at hand. This is what athletes and sport scientists refer to as the “zone” or “flow” state.

The difficult part is to find Mushin. Some people can access it easily on their own, but other people need a specific stimulus (optimal stress) to reach Mushin. One of the best ways to reach Mushin is by meditating. Think about nothing…

…without thinking about nothing.

“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.” – Bruce Lee (1940-1973)

3: Fudoshin (Immovable Mind)

If I see carrot cake, I eat it. Nothing will stand in my way. This unshakable resolve is called Fudoshin. In Japanese, it means “immovable mind”. Simply put, Fudoshin means that no outside influence affects your mind. It’s like being in a fortress that nothing can penetrate, or standing in the eye of a hurricane.

Fudoshin is especially important when the stakes are high – like if you’re fighting, competing or grading. You cannot leave any room for doubt or hesitation to creep into your mind, because that can cause a negative spiral that spins you out of control.

Personally, I use Fudoshin for goal setting. If I set my mind to something, I don’t allow anything to shake my belief in achieving it. Be steadfast.

“Mankind is divided into three classes: Those who move, those who are movable and those who are immovable.” – Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

4: Zanshin (Remaining Mind)

Finally, we have a classic. Zanshin means “remaining mind” in Japanese. This is actually a judging criteria when you compete in kumite.

After scoring a punch or kick, you must keep your attention on the opponent – even though you already scored. If you jump around like a puppy to celebrate the point, it will not count.

Why? Because “it ain’t over till it’s over”. Zanshin means keeping your focus lingering to make sure all potential threats are neutralized.

This is especially important in self-defense. Relaxed awareness.

“Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.” – Conor McGregor

That’s it.

All these mindsets are important in Karate.

The following article was written by Jesse Enkamp from and republished with permission!

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