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Friday, July 30, 2010

Mokuso or Meditation: is it important?

Mokuso (pronounced "moh-kso") is Japanese for “meditation” and is performed before beginning a training session and following it in order to "clear one's mind of everything around you". I would add that mokuso is necessary after class to clear one’s head of aggressive thoughts following geiko.

The procedure is simple: sit in formal kneeling position or seiza, eyes closed, back straight, hands placed at navel's height and closed in the shape of a circle. Focus in circle's center because as your hands are empty so is your mind. Breathe in, hold your breath, and breathe out. Don’t force breathing and don’t hold it for too long. Relax and concentrate on your breathing. After a certain amount of time your sensei will say ‘yame’ signaling that meditation is over.

There is no easy way to explain mokuso because it’s a very intimate experience for each kendoka. Before beginning of class it helps wipe out mundane thoughts from your mind in order to focus on kendo tasks ahead. After class it gives you time to relax and collect yourself before heading out to the world.

While some may attain peaceful thoughts during this brief period of meditation others may very well be thinking about how to improve waza or if they’ll have pasta and meatballs for dinner. But, if you don't do mokuso properly chances are you will be distracted and get hit easily by others.

Meditation is commonplace to all martial arts so it is very important to develop mokuso without losing awareness of your environment. Do it right and you will reap the full benefits of mokuso: calmness, responsiveness, and the anticipated perception of your opponent’s moves.

Do you think mokuso has helped you improve your waza? What has your sensei taught you about mokuso? Please share your thoughts.

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