Muzosa: More Than a Name

Here’s a question: how many people know “muzosa”? I’m sure everyone who’s reading this Journal would say “of course I know “muzosa.” It’s the name of our dojo, duh!!’, which is OK. However, how many people know the meaning behind the word “muzosa”?

Here’s a question: how many people know “muzosa”? I’m sure everyone who’s reading this Journal would say “of course I know “muzosa.” It’s the name of our dojo, duh!!’, which is OK. However, how many people know the meaning behind the word “muzosa”?

In the native Japanese, muzosa may have a negative connotation of being unorganized and careless, or a more positive one meaning to do things with ease. However, in Buddhism the word has an esoteric definition. In relations to a specialty, say martial arts, muzosa can mean ‘doing nothing will lead to mastery’. Lately, I’m starting to get an idea on how it can be associated with Bujinkan Taijutsu. I’ll try to explain this through my own personal views and experience.

Recently, when I train at the dojo or outside with some friends of mine, I feel that when I don’t think, I’m able to perform better in my taijutsu.  This was not so years ago; my beliefs were the complete opposite, where I strategized and planned my next move during an engagement with another person all the time. The problem with this is once you get “brain freeze” and aren’t good at your basics, you get stuck. Believe me, I have had my moments when I’ve been stuck (and have been told on numerous occasions when I’m thinking and not acting). It’s easy to want to be in control of every action one does with their taijutsu in order to create something “fancy” and “cool,” and to make the art yours. However, I think we have to let go and let our body make the decisions when practicing or even fighting. To make this happen, We have to let the art own us.

It may sound weird, but it’s not really difficult to understand. Here are 3 examples:

1) Movements and techniques taught in class need to be internalized.  This requires more time spent on reviewing notes and just drilling everything until it becomes second nature, like riding a bike. But a person can’t just drill in a mechanical manner; they need to make sure their movements are precise and meaningful. Precision is very important, (something Jeff has stressed to all of us on numerous occasions) being essential aspect in well-timed movement, taking balance, and striking kyusho. Thus, repetition until one’s movement have become internalized is important.

2) When doing techniques, kata, or randori, one’s movements should be done much slower and deliberate. The hardest part in this is to maintain a continuous flow. While it’s ok (especially in the beginning) to observe, check our position, or even break up the sequence to see what’s happening, sooner or later it will become a bad habit. There are no pauses in a real fight where one can look at oneself to make sure the technique is “correct.” If you try it, your taijutsu will “die” (along with you, I might add). We need to keep moving the minute we perform a technique or do a kata from the start to finish. If you do it slow, it’s possible. It’ll be great practice in learning how not to ‘think’ when using taijutsu as well.

3) Drill, drill, drill, drill, drill the sanshin and the kihon! When you feel you can do it naturally, start doing it in different ways. For instance, try the sanshin from different kamae. Or change the distance and footwork when doing the kihon. Lastly, start incorporating it into EVERYTHING you do during training, even if it’s just a slight motion. I feel that if we practice the sanshin and kihon enough, it’ll become second nature and we won’t have to think about applying it.

It’s a lot of work to properly train and internalize the movements and techniques taught in the dojo. But if you can do this, I feel you don’t really need to ‘try’ to defeat your opponent. Instead, it’ll just “happen,” if that is your intention. Taijutsu will ‘make’ your body move, not you. To me, the word “muzosa” can teach us how to do this. It may just be the key to understanding and utilizing Bujinkan Taijutsu.

 

(Originally published 12/16/05. Author retains all copyrights.)

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