Thought For The Week
(Click here for index of past articles)

"Training Without Fear"

Daniel W. Gobillot, Ni-Dan,
Pine Forest Karate of Northampton

It is my observation that people gravitate towards Karate for specific reasons. Their hope is to fill a void that they have somehow identified. These reasons can have many forms. Some of the most common are, to develop discipline & Focus, Physical enhancement, mental and spiritual cleansing or simply the intrigue of martial arts. On the other hand some people begin training with the sole purpose of pursuing a challenge and building on what they already have.

I believe most people begin their training because of fear. Not because they are afraid, although some may be, but because they want to understand, control and conquer fear. Fear can easily become a part of everyday life. It can halt your productivity and becomes contagious when dwelled upon. Fear can manifest itself in many ways. You could be afraid of your boss or meeting deadlines. You can be afraid to drive in heavy traffic or at night. You can be afraid to let your children watch TV or eat some of the processed foods out today.

My job presents the opportunity for daily failure and rejection. Through my karate training I have learned to accept this and use it as a tool to my advantage. Now when I hear "No" from a prospective customer, it is not perceived as rejection but rather as one of the inevitable No's required before I get a "YES". Not everyone wants or needs what I have to offer. I think of this as business Mushin. I give it no thought.

Mushin, Mind without training, Mind - No - Mind. This is the single trait most characteristic of classical martial artists. Training in this state of mind produces lightening quick reactions and steely calm. The concept seems simple but it can take many years of hard training to achieve. First, we learn conditioned responses through repetition. Once we've learned a technique or series of techniques with the body, there is no need to think about it. When we can turn off the mental chatter we experience action without thought. Smooth fluid movement with complete control. Kata is a perfect vehicle for developing Mushin. While it is easier to quiet the mind through stationary meditation, kata, a dynamic form of meditation can develop a more powerful and useful Mushin state with Kiai surging through the body. When Mushin is achieved you may begin to sense danger before it arrives, and reaction speed increase. There will be no fear or self-consciousness. You will discover an alertness that verges on dominance.

I've learned through my training that I can successfully handle my insecurities, fears & uncertainties by viewing them Not as a doorway or a wall that I can hide behind, or if I feel like it, find a way over or through. Now, when I encounter a difficult situation, I view it as an archway, a huge Tori Gate, and without pause, standing tall with Mushin, I enter.

Daniel W. Gobillot
Ni - Dan
Pine Forest Karate of Northampton