Thought For The Week

Thought for the Week (February 9th, 2004)

From Sensei Michael Mackay
Midtown Karate Dojo
New York, NY.


Sho-shin, or "beginner's mind" (also translated as first or
original mind), describes a desire to learn that is unrestrained by
judgment or fear. Unlike the "expert's" mind, it is filled with
infinite possibilities, as natural as a newborn child discovering her
hands. In amateur sports and performing arts sho-shin is the purity of
effort that humbles the seasoned professional.
As martial artists, our challenge is to regain that unfettered
desire to learn. The best way to do this is to go back to the basics
and work one-on-one with the newest white belt in the dojo. Aside from
learning humility, you might even figure out (finally) how to make that
basic block work (there are no "ineffective" techniques in our system,
only techniques that are not understood). Another way is to accept your
Shihan's next correction without scrutiny or debate. Attending tip
tests and promotions is another great way to regain sho-shin, not to
measure how far you've come, but to reflect on your starting point,
particularly the commitment that brought you to the dojo in the first
Sho-shin is often lost because of impatience, disillusionment or
the power-trip of newly-acquired knowledge or rank. But it's just as
easily regained: one need merely witness Hanshi's humility and strength
on the deck to experience the consuming "joy and vigor" of learning our
art form anew.

Domo arigato gozaimasu,

Michael Mackay
Midtown Karate Dojo