By Garry Parker

The power to succeed, fail, grow and change is within you. We all have it within us. Extraordinary acts are accomplished every day by ordinary people just like you and me. 
What sets apart the ordinary from the extraordinary? Is our DNA code different? Are we genetically determined to be above average? What factors determine who will be the next great inventor, physician, artist, or philosopher? Will we ever see another Nikola Tesla, Jonas Salk, George Washington Carver, or Socrates in our lifetime?

What is it that drives us to succeed? Friends, we may not have the mind of Albert Einstein, the creative genius of Leonardo DaVinci, or the focus and physical prowess of Miyamoto Musashi; however, we have the greatest force in our world that drives us to persevere, failure after failure, until we achieve our goals. 
Nothing is greater than the absolute power of the mind. Within our mind lies the power of in/yo (yin/yang) or positive and negative. Our minds can allow us to achieve things that are seemingly impossible by driving us to continue, even as our bodies are ready to give up.

Conversely, our minds can deal a crushing blow to our aspirations of success by allowing doubt and fear to set in. Our minds can become a breeding ground for the poison of negativity. Our minds become weak and allow us to create excuses to quit instead creating reasons to persevere, fight harder, and achieve.

How then do we control what direction our mind will lead us? The answer is simple, the act is not. We control what we allow into our minds. Refrain from negativity; do not allow it into your ears or your mind, and especially, do not allow negativity to come out of your mouth. 
We are mere humans, yet we continually shock and amaze ourselves as a species when we constantly crash through our walls of impossibilities. Do something great for yourself today: set your goal and achieve it. You can do it, for within you lies the absolute power of your mind.


Shoshin: Beginner’s Mind

In karate dojos throughout Okinawa and Japan, the concept of shoshin (beginner’s mind) is commonly taught to students—especially intermediate and senior students. The concept and practice of beginner’s mind is a valuable lesson in humility for all students, regardless of skill level and experience. The brown-belt student and the black-belt teacher alike can benefit from shoshin. Remember the first day, week, or month of training in a new dojo? Remember the overwhelming excitement, the realization that you know nothing, the thirst for knowledge that could never be quenched?
That is beginner’s mind. That is shoshin. A student should always remain excited, thirsty for knowledge, and above all realize that no matter how much skill and experience they acquire, there is always much more to learn—in the mind of the beginner.
zanshin-script The Three Minds of Karate

Zanshin: Remaining Mind

To be vigilant and always ready is zanshin. It’s not a place, an event, or attitude—zanshin is a state of mind. It doesn’t mean that we should live our lives in a constant state of paranoia; no, quite the opposite is true. We should remain calm, sharp, and ready for anything. Zanshin means not letting your guard down even in social situations or at home where we are most comfortable. Simply put, pay attention to all of your surroundings, all of Mushin is a mental and emotional state in which we can see clearly. A mind void of the clutter of our busy lives and void of the distractions around us. We should never get so comfortable with people or places that we completely let our guard down.
mushin-script The "Three Minds" of Karate

Mushin: Empty Mind

Mushin. Mu is void, not in the sense of being empty of all thought, but in the sense of being void of conscious distraction. Mushin embodies the very essence of the warrior. Mushin enables us to overcome fear, doubt, uncertainty, and distraction in order to focus fully on the task at hand. Mushin isn’t living in the moment. Mushin is becoming the moment.

Mushin—the empty mind, or clear mind—is a mental and emotional state in which we can see clearly. A mind void of the clutter of our busy lives and void of the distractions around us. Mushin is not empty, as in void of all thought; on the contrary, this state of mind allows us to see clearly everything around us, allowing us to focus one hundred percent of our effort with no distractions.

Think of your mind as a pool of water. When the water is still, it clearly reflects everything around it: the blue sky above, rustling tree branches, swaying grass, and gently falling leaves. Drop the smallest pebble in the water and it ripples—small at first and increasingly larger until the entire pool of water is rippled. Everything becomes distorted and blends in the reflection of the water. The trees, the sky, the grass, and the leaf; everything from the wide open to the smallest detail has distorted into a rippling mass of confusion and chaos.

We have control of our minds and what goes in and stays in. Let your pond remain clear and still. This is mushin, and it will effectively enhance your personal growth in the dojo and in life.


If you enjoyed that insightful piece, you must read Garry Parker’s critically-acclaimed book, Chanpuru. 

Chanpuru Cover Mockups 4_Page_2 The Three Minds of Karate

“Anyone who is looking for more in a martial art than just kicking and punching, should read Chanpuru and will enjoy it as much as I did.” —Jaredd Wilson, Martial Thoughts

“I enjoyed this book very much. The importance of respect, friendship and gratitude in cultivating long lasting relationships… is a message that comes through strongly in Garry Parker’s stories.” —DOJO Bar, Okinawa

“Chanpuru… is a wonderful recounting of a young man’s journey through traditional Okinawan Karate-do… A perfect book.” —Jake Burroughs, The Ground Never Misses

“Fascinating and important lessons from a man who lived and trained in a place most people only every dream about.” —Joe Swift, Tokyo Mushinkan Dojo (Japan)

“As a glimpse into the cultures, training, methods, and daily life from the perspective of an American student in Okinawa it’s a great opportunity to see how all the parts actually connect.” —Wade Chroninger, Meibukan Okinawa Dojo (Okinawa)

“Parker is kind enough to give those of us who have only dreamed of actually living in Okinawa and dedicating ourselves to our training, a chance to live it through his eyes, his sweat, and his relationships.” —Russ Smith, Burinkan Dojo

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