By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 20 2013 11:00AM
Zanshin Is a term frequently used by martial artists to describe a state of mind that will benefit martial ability, but what does it mean?
If we look at the etymology of the word we see that it is composed of two kanji. The first (Zan) is a character commonly used in Japan to describe those with a disability, whilst (Shin) is the character for heart.
So how does 'disabled heart' become "awareness"?
(Zan) is better understood of we consider it to mean 'not fully achieved', 'hesitant' or 'cautious'. Though this may not be a politically correct way to describe people with disabilities, we can understand why during less enlightened times this character may have gained its current usage. A preferred definition for the martial context is 'non-committed' or 'aware'.
(Shin) is more than just a character used to describe the physical heart comprising aorta and ventricles, it can be more poetically used to refer to the 'soul', 'spirit' or the 'unconscious mind'. Similarly in the west we will refer to somebody as a 'braveheart'.
By fighting with an "Aware Mind' (Zanshin) a martial artist is less likely to make mistakes.